B.C. Jones’ short film “Dada” is about two brothers who want to steal Marcel Duchamp’s shovel from the fat man that outbids them in an auction. Strange, yes, but not nearly as strange as Duchamp or his art.
Dada artists adopted the phrase “anti-art” to describe their performance pieces. Absurd and a bit silly, Dada incorporated sounds and movements and shapes into strange modernist art. You probably know Duchamp best through his most famous work, “Fountain” – a urinal with the letters “R. Mutt 1917” printed on the side. In other words: weird, strange, and unconventional, especially for the early twentieth century.
“Dada” the short film attempts to incorporate some of that absurdist spirit through exaggerated costumes and an unexpected plot, but ultimately follows a conventional storyline that devolves into pee pee jokes.
The film doesn’t quite work as an absurdist piece and it doesn’t quite work as a straight forward comedy. It lies somewhere in the uncomfortable middle. The sepia tones are pleasing to the eye, and the nods at modernist art are fun, but the short seems amateurish when it goes for the easy laughs and fails to produce them. Perhaps a more thorough dive into the Dada movement would have served this film well, because it’s just not appropriately weird enough.
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