Digital video has certainly become a dicey issue among filmmakers over the course of its existence. Who would want to give up the beauty of 35mm and the visual joys that it can bring in terms of cinematography? Well, you do what you can on the budget you have and many filmmakers opt for digital video for that reason. There are times when budgets aren’t going to get you a foot’s worth of 35mm. This compilation disc, made up of shorts (both narrative/documentary and experimental) from DV-Cinema’s various events, shows what many filmmakers have come up with using this technology. The DVD is divided into two parts, which you shall see in the course of this review.
Program A: Narrative/Documentary
Bee Boy ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Almonzo Beckeno The entire story of Bee Boy is shown in the form of a movie trailer. Bees stung him at an early age and it gave him the power of bees, or something like that. Through the power of bad costuming and rear-screen projection, he fights crime, follows a good piece of ass, and gets roaring drunk at one point, at a time when he’s doubtful of who he is. It all changes when his wealthy Irish benefactor is kidnapped. The costume’s a bit strange, but Bee Boy’s drinking really brings back thoughts of wondering what would happen if Spider-Man got blasted one day or if Superman decided to get smashed. The only slightly original bit in this trailer is policemen who are strangely attracted to Bee Boy.
Tiger Show ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Nate Gubin Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey is probably the only circus you’ve ever heard of. But have you ever heard of a roadside one based in Aniwa, Wisconsin? Yeah, I figured you didn’t. And who in the hell has heard of Aniwa anyway? There’s an old gent in this documentary who ran a circus in the past, but time can be an ugly thing as times have changed for this fellow and not many people show up to it. There are instances where we see this fellow performing with a tiger and an associate of his juggling beach balls, and we hear applause, but the camera never whirls back to where the applause is coming from, leaving that aspect all the more mysterious. The man’s wife also gives us insight into where they live, revealing many of the animals they have, including an Egyptian goose. Because of Nate Gubin’s skill in capturing exactly what should be captured in terms of this man’s past with training and performing with animals and so much more, the short ends up with a lonely sort of feeling that’s just right for this documentary.
The Inheritance ^ *** ^ Directed by Teddy Schenck Well this is a bit of an odd bird. We open on June 6, 1956, amidst a washed out bluish background (trying to stand in for black and white) where a guy in a black suit is telling a man in a t-shirt to give something up, and we the audience are not clued in as to what. Flash-forward to June 6, 1976 where we now meet the deceased “man in a t-shirt’s” son who still doesn’t believe that his father died the way his mother claims. Supposedly his car ended up in a lake, but he won’t stand for that answer. Soon enough, he’s at a bar and he’s approached by a man in a black suit who claims to have known his father and it just goes on from there. The mystery man seems to be the same one from 1956 in the 1976 scenes, but he seems to not have aged much. It’s only one detail that makes this slightly confusing short ever so intriguing.
I Told You Not To Tell Anyone ^ *** ^ Komedy Koven
There are many sides to comedy, including absurdity. This fake trailer for a film called “I Told You Not To Tell Anyone” wallows in absurdity. A girl cradles a banana and tells it that she’s going to draw a face on it, while other people whisper hurriedly about some secret surrounding the same girl and then we see the grandmother (Now is that a woman or another random guy in drag?) scream at her granddaughter that she shouldn’t have told anyone. Not much of a point to be made here, but the actors are clearly into the whole gag.
Heterosapiens ^ **** ^ Directed by Jon Springer
Based in part on Anthony Burgess’ “The Wanting Seed”, “Heterosapiens” focuses on our Earth in a different light, where homosexuality is embraced and heterosexuality is outlawed, due (according to the source material) to extreme overpopulation. One of these outlaws is John A. Seed (Jeff Gilson), whom we see walking away from his office job, where he was fired for being straight. Now THERE’S a switch! Things get stranger when John goes to Simulingus, a place where sexual role playing experiences can be easily purchased. We learn about this from the get-go where he asks a woman (supposedly his lover) to marry him and she tells him that he knows the drill. As it so happens, she’s part of Simulingus and can be bought for a certain period of time, but after that, that’s it. Jon Springer is certainly a filmmaker who sees nothing as taboo and perhaps that’s a good thing because his imagination is really something to behold.
Radio Rails ^ ***1/2 ^ Pixelflex
He walks along the railways, carrying his music with him in two boxes. There’s his record player and his collection. File-sharing users would likely tell him to get a computer like the rest of the population because he might reach more people online. But this is refreshing because he’s not looking to do something like that. He seems like the type that would be satisfied if just a few people heard his music. He lays out two cords, selects a record, puts it on his record player and lets the needle glide on it, releasing some terrific melodies. Within time, we see shots of people listening to the music and really enjoying it, but sirens lead our intrepid hero away from his current area and on to the next place. He’s apparently not welcome there anymore. The guy is a “radio pirate” and this is the kind of short that many artists and writers and anyone who wants their work seen or heard would relate to. This guy just goes out and lets the music flow. I’m not sure if it’s his or not, but it’s awesome.
Program B: Experimental
Endless Transit ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Katherine Gordon
Flashes of light whiz across a screen slowly at first and then faster and faster until it’s realized that a subway train is going by. This keeps going on for a couple of minutes and during that time, a girl appears several times in brief spurts and the passengers on the train can also be seen.
Spilling Circadia ^ *** ^ Directed by Ryan Philippi
Recalling dreams by way of experimental film is a good idea. Where else will images be as messed up as the dreams they try to represent by way of the filmmaker? Memories of a childhood flash by along with someone hanging. Is this someone’s life flashing before their eyes? Well, maybe…
Such Love Exists ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Shana Kaplow
A pair of hands continually play around with a thick, black string and it constantly makes a heart shape and sometimes the hands do too by way of the fingers. Apparently, love exists in hands and string. Next week…paper towels create an erotic samba.
Mr. Sandwich ^ ****1/2 ^ Pixelflex
No matter what time of day it is, there’s always time for a good smackdown. In this case, a battle rages between a slice of bread with peanut butter on it and one with strawberry jelly. They take a bite out of each other and then become intertwined. There’s definitely no love here, especially when the bleeding starts. It makes perfect sense, though. After Freddy vs. Jason, “Peanut Butter vs. Jelly” seems like the next obvious move.
Aus Blue ^ ** ^ Pixelflex
Battle tanks rumble on as various colors splash around. And it runs over and over again. Joy!
The Man Who Couldn’t Breathe ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Chuck Olsen
What’s the proper song for a short with the above title? “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” usually does the trick. A guy sits on a chair, against a plastic background. He sits…and sits….and sits, and then has trouble breathing. Soon enough, he falls off the chair, followed by the expected “thud”. I’m sure the dude’s ok (this is cinema after all), but wouldn’t you just hate it if it happened to be someone who owes you money?
Super 8 Animation Sampler ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Tom Schroeder and Dave Herr
This sampler features animation done by the above guys, using Super 8mm. One guy does jumping jacks so fast, it’s surprising that his arms don’t fall off and a metal arm draws what appears to be some kind of construction plan. There’s also another guy running crazily. It’s all in a day’s work for these filmmakers….and this reviewer.
On this DVD, you’ll also find two Easter eggs. When you click on “Program A” (and let the hands flip through the notebook pages and find the menu), let the screen sit for about a minute and 7 seconds and the hands come back, flipping to a page that has the word “Dog” on it, along with a black box. The hands then rip the black box off the page, leaving you to watch….a dog! “Program B” is nearly the same Easter egg, only this time, you’re left to witness a toy tank kicking ass the pyrotechnic way. Why couldn’t I have had that kind of toy when I was a kid?
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