By James Sweeney | June 1, 2000

This five minute opus featuring a combination of live action and claymation portrays a rather unhealthy relationship between a man and his parrot, and explores the problems of inter-species substance and sex abuse. “Polly want a cracker?” sneers the saltine-pusher mockingly. Parrot responds with confused mewling pleas. He could be a feathered Tommy Chong after graduating from pot to heroine. The shadow-play proceeds within a dreamy rain-spattered live-action backdrop. The pusher is also a live actor(director Tony Nittoli). Without the bug-eyed claymation parrot, this black & white short might aspire toward the lyrical brutality of a Harmony Korine offering, though it is light on the lyricism and heavy on the brutality. The parrot eventually gets his fix, and realizing that the cracker has been laced with something stronger, vomits stop-action clay blobs before lapsing into fitful unconsciousness. Suffice to say that the bird is then taken advantage of.
The action is both amusing and disturbing. Nittoli’s violent delivery of the dialog is always good for a laugh. It would be less disturbing and funnier if the scenes didn’t play so much like a little kid in protective care, acting out abuses with stuffed animals. The tone of the film begs us not to take what we see too seriously. On the other hand, scenes such as the opening exterior shot of an apartment building, in which the camera hovers over a swimming pool, make us wonder whether the circumstances in Nittoli’s film are, at least in part, dredged-up rather than imagined. This sort of ambiguity can benefit a film. Here I wish that Nittoli had dropped more of these personal visual clues, or left them out entirely. As it is, I’m not sure whether I’m laughing at or with the filmmaker at Polly’s expense.

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