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By Mark Bell | June 3, 2014

Circulation Hustle: The Art of A Con is a nine-minute movie by animator Brian Ross. The film is, by all intents and purposes, a documentary about the artist, but it also appears to be something else. You decide what that may be…

The film begins with a cartoon figure telling us something, not readily understandable—almost rap-like in disorganized-presentation— yet still compelling in its own way; we want to know more. About a minute later, Brian Ross as “narrator” appears, explaining that he is an aspiring cartoonist with lots of rejection letters to his name. Ross than explains that he has always been fascinated by animation and when he was old enough, enrolled at an art school, only to quit two months later. As he circulates in and out of the animations he creates in his head and on paper, Ross decides that his career needs a jumpstart, and so he becomes a marathon runner.

Maybe you can see where this film is headed, or maybe not. As for me, I couldn’t be sure, but still was intrigued by whatever game Ross is playing with my head. To a point, that is…

What I least enjoy about the film is it’s over abundance of animated running scenes, with or without a tangible (albeit, cartoon) runner. It feels as if the filmmaker is stuck on this particular premise, which creates a lengthy edginess not expected in a documentary film. At the same time, I kind of appreciate what Ross is attempting, and particularly enjoy his argument with himself as other, i.e. his animated-self. That’s just plain clever.

Circulation Hustle also brings up a very important point about filmmaking as an art form, and whether it is something to be taken seriously, or a con. Certainly, the land of make believe contrived by a filmmaker could be seen as a game, but in the back of my mind, I would like to believe that what a documentary filmmaker is dishing out is more than well controlled gibberish. Nevertheless, it is this provocative question that makes Circulation Hustle incredibly powerful in spite of itself, and that concept is something I can only respect— in spite of the fact that I may have just been had.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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