Something new in watching movies online is available for you. All that’s required is creating a free account at Haydenfilms.com and you can watch what has proven to be an eclectic set of films from humorous, thoughtful, creative, and devoted filmmakers who aren’t readily found on the usual online film sites. But first, a few reviews of the Haydenfilms Online Film Festival 2005 selections:
Directed by Jonathan Davenport
At first, an inner monologue doesn’t even fit this buzzcut guy, a variation of many whom I’ve seen in my own school. The ones that wander through the halls, up the stairs, and down the stairs of College of the Canyons don’t even look like they’d have this kind of monologue with themselves, let alone whether or not they like their shoes. “The Connection” starts off awkwardly in that way, as the machinations of the inner monologue are put through many paces, including two burly, tough guys who serve as the Greek chorus, commenting on how the main man is doing in his attempts to attract the girl’s attention. What first seems weird and off-putting becomes off-beat and even slightly charming. Connections are made sometimes in the most unusual ways.
Directed by Brad Leong and Tony Vallone
How many more years will it take before Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” can be banished from movies, television, and the grips of anyone else who plans to use it in a form that will be shown to an audience? It’s been so overused that hearing it for the umpteenth time almost determines the worst for “Spin Cycle” which fortunately deflects attention away from the song, as much as it can, as a blonde-haired girl dances to the music, uninterrupted for a brief time. Her dancing is spirited, yet the editing says otherwise as there are cuts from her dancing in front of a few Laundromat machines to a close-up of her facial feelings. If she wants to dance, let her dance! Close-ups don’t do this justice.
Directed by Adam Patch
Sy Parrish (Robin Williams) lived in a nondescript world, always smiling behind the photo counter of a Wal-Mart satire; lonely, wanting to connect with people, somehow. The Yorkins were his target, but in “CU”, the entire city is a compulsive man’s bulls-eye. His black pens are neatly lined next to one another while his appointment book contains just one location and time. What he’s after with his camera and his too-sharp eye, perpetuated by his ever-present coffee cup, remains to be seen by those who see this but there’s one thought afoot right after seeing the climactic ending: Perhaps it’s a city he’s building, a city only seen through the eyes and lens of one who wants something a rigidly certain way.
Color Me Blind
Directed by Will Drinker, Douglas Keller, and Kyle Kabel
There is a satire and irony at work here that is entirely mind-blowing, mainly because there’s so much talent here. There’s not a particular mold to fit this one into, though there seems to be shades of Christopher Guest, but this is a much more pertinent topic to our nation, that of activist groups. This one, “Color Me Blind” is all about supporting diversity. How can diversity be supported, though, when its members are completely clueless. Ironically, all the members before Caroline joins, are white. Ironically, she’s reamed out after a speech at a diversity rally for bringing up the issue of immigration. Everything meshes here as a perfect allegory to what’s wrong with some activist groups. Just like Color Me Blind, some of them are blind to other viewpoints. They have one desire, one thought they want to convey and that’s it. Nothing else can come up if it doesn’t fit what’s already been established. Plus, advantageously, these actors are immensely talented. They look clueless at all the right moments, putting their heads down toward their notebooks in unison when Caroline starts speaking about the issues important to her, writing down presumably everything. And just like Guest’s ensemble, this group should come together again and again to come up with more comedy like this. It’s subtle, it’s a tad wacky, and it’s entertaining all the way through.
The Gnat and the Lion
Directed by Burke Higgins and Tony Prohl
Partially inspired by the scope of the lands in “The Lion King”, there’s a morality lesson in here…..somewhere. Maybe over there. It starts with a gnat who bursts through some flowers and decides to bother the lion sleeping under a tree. As the computer animation proves here, it’s the story that matters first and even for three minutes, it’s not much of a story, or even much to be tickled about. Of course the moral seems to be clear for young ones: Don’t bother kids who are bigger than you lest they kick your a*s and stomp your body into a finely-shredded pulp. Those playgrounds can be rough.
Dear Sweet Emma
Directed by John Cernak
As if Spike and Mike hadn’t already done enough to bring twisted animation to adults and other perverse minds, “Dear Sweet Emma” brings computer animation forcefully to the same audience, mixing together a little bit of Pixar, a little bit of DreamWorks and a whole lot of dark irony. Darker to the point that while this is animation, it won’t be featured at any children’s film festival because Emma is not the kind of sweet old lady you’d expect, “mourning” her deceased husband after news comes across the radio that the search for him has been called off. Her small town has lots of sympathy for her, as demonstrated through the radio host who reads the sad news. With that kind of respect and even love, they feel for this sweet old lady. But not all old ladies are sweet and neither are their minds old. It starts off nicely enough with that animated mix of both major animation names and a comfortable house, but wait until the bird, and the cat, and the freezer. Mouths will be more agape than usual.
Directed by Robert Castillo
“Tales of Mere Existence” by Lev isn’t the only way to go for drawn entertainment now. Robert Castillo joins Lev as one of the two most talented sketchers ever to dabble in short films. Lev has most of his pictures done, continuously drawing lines as he speaks; he draws it from behind the paper. Castillo has sheets of paper with four boxes on them and he’s masterly at what he does. As he relates a story about drawing a picture of his high school principal and vice-principal, with the former as a cow and the latter as a farmer milking the cow, he shows a little Al Hirschfeld in his lines. It’s subtle enough to also allow him his own vision. He narrates that memory with outstanding clarity, remembering his reaction when his picture was photocopied and posted all over the school. His fellow classmates found it hilarious just on the basis of his comment about the administration of the school through his drawing, and while it is funny to us as well, it’s also the result of an artist who has truly made it. Further research informs that this may or may not have been taken from his 24-minute short film “S.P.I.C: Storyboard of My Life”. Either way, we need more of his work. He’s got a style to watch for a very long time.
Directed by Jason Saltiel
Love will always be fickle, but dance and music will never change on a whim. Here, in romantic song and light-hearted dance, an older salt-and-pepper-haired man (Jiri Stanislav) tries to make a downtrodden woman (Hana Vagnerova) happier than she is after the fight with her boyfriend. Cinematographer Marc Georges moves the camera appreciatively, as we slowly take in all the sights, the stage being prepared for the happy wonder that follows. They dance, kicking around balloons with him stomping on one, and it’s all so sublime and beautiful.
Directed by Zach Wolf
An evocative, delicate piano score highlights a young boy’s curiosity as he tours Prague with his parents and ultimately runs off for a brief time with a kite, panicking his folks. He has the right idea about travel. His parents explore the city through a camera and a map. With eyes wide open, he sees the city’s beauty, the wide streets, and his kite fluttering over his head. Sometimes it’s enough just to put down the camera and the map and run like this kid.
Directed by Will Drinker
Remember that kid in middle school who wouldn’t bother doing any of the assigned work but would create drawings of such staggering creativity that your own work would be interrupted because of all the time spent looking at them? If not in middle school, then in other time when we gained enough motor skills to draw anything. Will Drinker is exactly one of those kind in simply letting a totem pole’s heads bicker amongst each other, including that of a monkey, the usual freaked-out face mask, and the owl on top who is subjected to one of pop culture’s deepest questions: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? Drinker was also 1/3 of the team who made “Color Me Blind” and his talent had better not dry up. More entertainment by him would be most welcome; totem poles, misguided activist groups or otherwise.
Success is Mine
Directed by Ly Bolia and Annie Rimbey
The killer’s inside the house, but it’s not the classical one nor is it good news for Jessie (Vincente Thompson), a self-help guru with Tourette’s Syndrome who excitedly tells the curious Beatrice (Arin Logan) that she can do what she wants in life and for her, it’s all about killing someone, namely Jessie. It’s hard at first to laugh at his plight with Tourette’s and then with his bicycle constantly falling down in one scene, but Arin Logan plays her role with such delicious campiness that every other kind of unfunny moment is forgiven as the terror on Jessie’s face is just as comical.
Directed by Danny Brown
No matter what happens in our lives, the years always go forward, never backwards. Danny Brown sees it all a different way. Even if our lives move forward, with a new number as our age every year, reflection should be a time of peace, of deep thought and emotional balance, and Brown runs his footage backwards, from rocks being knocked down to being rebuilt into their imagined structures. He believes that if the rock can fall, it can certainly rise back up. Someone has to do that, of course, and that, to him, is the nature of our lives, even if watching him make this point over and over again proves to be a bit too long.
Directed by Jun Heon Oh
It’s not that much fun to watch a bachelor slob spring out of bed in panic over being late for work, so a robot works better, especially this green computer-animated one who realizes how late it is and dashes off to his job, with a robotic dog and its teeth latched to him all the way there. Animation like this proves it’s all about us but it’s more entertaining when it doesn’t look like us.
Hurry, now. Get right to the site and start watching. These films are waiting for you, along with a documentary heralding the appeal of Shakespeare, a private investigator at work in Salt Lake City, murder without memory, and the bold act of breaking out of a humdrum life. Hayden Craddolph has gathered a number of names destined to live beyond his own festival, but make sure to bring them to life for your entertainment, as it all ends on October 30. It could very well be the best couple of hours you spend this month.