Hello ladies and gentlemen, Muldoon here straight out of the Drawn and Quartered screening where I figuratively had my face blown away at all the amazing picks. This fest programs like no other, so I was super pumped to check out what shorts made the cut. Below are a few thought jots about each film in case you’re curious. When I write up SATURDAY SHORTS, I typically have seen each short twice (in most cases), and having literally just walked out – forgive if some are more in depth than others!
This is a hyper animated single shot. You could absolutely argue otherwise and you’d have some legit ground to stand on, but this film is (in essence) one image of a man in a medium shot, the kicker is every single frame is different. There is so much going on that’s just jammed into the minute or two it was on screen. I feel if I had it on DVD there would be a whole hell of a lot of freeze framing going on. In the fraction of time it takes you to blink, you’re already looking at a brand new image. I really dug that.
This film is organic and while at times I had no idea what I was looking at, the sound design helped guide my imagination. The animation is a mixture of all sorts, rotoscope, painting, digital… it’s all there and all comes together to set the mood for an animal sacrifice (what the film’s actually about). Gut Squishing. Feet stomping on dirt. The THWACK of a knife coming down on a piece of flesh – it’s all there and it all works. It’s super contrasted black and white (a theme I saw a lot during this block) worked on many levels, the most being to simplify what was on screen. With so much information and experimentation, had this film involved color it might’ve been a bit too much to handle.
Speaking of simplification with black and white imagery, we have this little bit of trippy fun. (It does include color, just not much). I can’t stress the word “trippy” as this thing was a visual swan dive into an incredibly bizarre filmmaker’s mind. It’s funny. It’s visually interesting. It’s definitely something you should check out if you can.
THE SAD HOUSE
What a spot on title. Holy hell is this a grim American gothic tale. “Fantastic Fest Alumna Sofia Carrillo (BLACK DOLL) returns with her most ambitious stop-motion film yet: the epic history of a family beset upon by war, illness and death, told with antiquated trinkets on a single dilapidated desktop.” The stop motion was superb. It was like if Adam Jones (Tool guitarist and director) fell in love with an American history book. It’s a solid film that handles sticky themes like the death of a loved one, survival, and love. Again, sound design played a massive role in this film’s power. (I could be wrong, but it felt like there were some adjusted whale cries in there, just to give you an idea.) It’s great.
No lie, I didn’t really “get” this one. “In this promising debut from Lithuanian animator Reda Bartkute, a nervous female fox retreats into the shifting landscape of her subconscious to face a shadowy doppelganger.” I wish I had more to say other than “Well, it looked cool.” It’s a bit heavy for my tastes, but looked great. (Again, black and white.
BREAKFAST ON THE GRASS
Hurray for color! Here’s a Claymation style short that follows a group of (my guess) drunks after a night of partying. (Again, I could totally be projecting) It’s interesting, but if you’re looking for an obvious story, this might not be for you.
DRUNKER THAN A SKUNK
Yes! Yes! And Yes! This might be my favorite of the block, a simple, but visual experience of a being the town drunk, the town “funk up.” It’s comically animated with wiggly horses and overly stylized perspectives. It put a smile on my face and on that fact alone, I’d recommend it to you fine folks. It’s funny. It’s simple. It knows what it is and plays around in that territory. “Animation vet and Fantastic Fest fave Bill Plympton’s latest is a wily adaptation of Walt Curtis’ 1973 poem 'The Time The Drunk Came To Town And Got Drunker Than A Skunk, Or So He Thought', about a roving drunk who is brutally tormented by mean-spirited townsfolk.” I’m definitely anxious to see more from Plympton
Fish boy! Black and white with selective colors (think SIN CITY). One thing that struck me as unique is the mastery involved with lighting. The highly contrasted images at night are so detailed… There’s a shot of fish(eels?) in a bag/barrel that slither in and around each other and it’s a beautiful example of how skilled the animators are. The story follows a fisherman’s hand, a bizarre guy who can’t sleep, who just doesn’t seem to fit in (on land). Toss a cute gal into the mix and you get a fun little film with a touch of TELL-TALE HEART added in for kicks. I really liked this one.
WOMAN WHO HATES PLANTS
Ahh! A short I was lucky enough to feature on SATURDAY SHORTS a few weeks back. Funny. Short. (I guess the FF programmers and I have similar tastes.) It was a joy to see on the big screen.
WE, THE MASSES
“In a snowy landscape after an unnamed cataclysmic event, a lost man looks for signs of civilization, falling in with an anarchic smattering of humanoids whose destructive impulses are at odds with his need for transcendence.” Yep, that’s exactly what you get. This film highlights the idea that unique thought isn’t necessarily always welcomed. I feel like the school “nerd” can absolutely relate to the film’s lead as “transcendence” is an almost tangible thing in this film. As you can imagine, it’s not the happiest of films and might have you a tad jaded by the time the credits hit. Cool visuals. Bummer of a story that has slices of things like in the bible (Noah’s flood?) and would feel right at home with any track off Tool’s Aenema record. I liked it.
Bam! Strong colors and over the top everything. I LOVED this film. It’s Romeo and Juliet meets NACHO LIBRE. It’s fun, funny, and fast. “The latest from anime outlaw Masaaki Yuasa (MIND GAME) is a candy-colored story of secret obsession: professional wrestler Maskman M derives masochistic pleasure from being pummelled by his Amazonian opponent Lady S, who clearly reciprocates in savouring their violent public trysts. But do they have a chance in the real world?”
“A brilliant and disturbing pastiche of melodramatic 1940s radio dramas, former Texan Eric Patrick’s distorted domestic characters - with their cracked faces and murderous longings - offer an uncanny underside to the idyllic nuclear family.” A heavily stylized animation that uses old radio/movie/TV audio clips for its entire dialog? I’m there. I really liked the style of the film and enjoyed this piece, though I feel it was a smidge too long, like it sliced out 3 minutes it’d have been stronger, but that’s not to say its not good. No, no, no… Definitely a must see, if only for the bizarre cemetery ghosts laying poker scene (which I swear was an episode of FRESH PRINCE).
So BAM! those are my thoughts, just that and nothing else. I hope you fine folks get a chance to check these all out – you wont be disappointed!
- Mike McCutchen