Historia del Desierto ^ Directed By: Celia Galan Julve ^ *** ^ The best thing I can say about this film is that I wish it had been longer. It’s a “documentary,” filmed in claymation, about a woman named Rosita Guzman. She’s a notorious criminal born without a thumb on one hand.
What’s interesting about the film is the way the story is told. It’s presented as a series of interviews with various people who have encountered Guzman, including a masked wrestler. The parts of the story are pieced together in a non-linear order that seems meant to present the idea of the larger-than life-criminal (the film alludes to a comparison with Jack the Ripper).
It’s such an interesting premise done in such a fascinating medium that I felt gypped by the story lacking a real ending. It simply establishes a “legend” and then closes, which is rather unsatisfying.
Good while it lasted, though.

Monkeys and Lumps ^ Directed By: Nancy Andrews ^ * ^ As I was finishing up my education degree in college, I was forced to sit through two weeks of training on alternative teaching methods.
While this film is only 38 minutes long, I felt as though I somehow had been forced to endure those two weeks all over again.
The film is presented as a documentary of sorts, dealing with a person by the name of “Ima Plume.” Ima lectures using an idea called “chalk talk,” based on a book she read called “Chalk Talk Made Easy.”
Now that we’ve been “introduced” to Ima, we’re then forced to watch a series of “lessons,” and “tips,” which gave me a “migraine,” and made me want to “question” the “sanity” of the person who thought this might be “entertaining.”
This didn’t feel like a movie – it felt more like an endurance test.
A couple of examples:
Ima’s first “lesson” is a series of “tips” drawn on a chalkboard. As in, the maxim “A piece of chalk is worth more than a lot of talk,” are said by the narrator. Then they are written on a blackboard.
Followed by some unrelated animation.
There are five or six of those lessons, I think, because the numbering skips around a little and ends on lesson twelve. But it doesn’t matter.
Another of the lessons is about monkeys (there’s also one about lumps, hence the title). After some drawing, the animation goes to claymation, and the narration turns into a musical number with lyrics borrowed from statements by anthropologist Jane Goodall. Trust me, it sounds much more entertaining than it actually is.
This is followed by another lesson, on faces and melancholy. We’re forced to watch a series of mouths, or perhaps the same mouth, open and close again and again. It’s pointless, but also manages to be sort of gross.
This is capped off by three minutes of watching faces being drawn and erased from a blackboard, while waves crash in the background.
Oh, and did I mention that at the end there’s a whole story about how Ima got abducted by aliens?
When I finished my class on teaching techniques, I got a degree. By watching this movie, all I got was thirty-eight lost minutes of life.

monstruo ^ Directed By: Carolina Esparragoza ^ ** 1/2 ^ This film is two minutes long. The first thirty seconds are a procession for a monster’s funeral. It is gorgeous to look at.
The last minute and a half is a really long quote about monster death. Then it was over, and I felt like a professor reading a term paper who just realized that the margins of the page were slightly squashed to make the correct page count.
Oh well. It was a very pretty minute.

Chronicles of an Asthmatic Stripper ^ Directed By: Sarah Jane Lapp ^ ** ^ This film lacks – story, narration, and form.
This film has – pencil drawings of what I guess is the bum of a stripper, covered by lingerie maybe, or underwear. I have no idea, as it was a black-and-white pencil sketch. We also get to see the stripper’s lungs in an X-ray.
As it seemed to have an asthmatic stripper, I can’t claim false advertising. At five minutes, however, it was a little shy on the chronicles part.

Anorexie ^ Directed By: Jenni Tietze ^ **** ½ ^
Remember when you were in high school, and the teacher would start pulling out the TV movies? The anti-smoking, the anti-drinking, maybe the anti-drug one? And somewhere in there, you’d probably get a movie about other dangers?
Like anorexia?
They should show this instead.
“Anorexie” starts with the autopsy of a girl who has perished due to anorexia. But the film doesn’t use the word perished – it opts for “murdered.”
The doctor who performs the autopsy is overtaken by the spirit of the girl, and he goes in search of her killer. He visits the house of her parents, where he picks up various clues. He eventually determines that the girl was a victim of:
Mr. Diet.
I will grant that this sounds like a ridiculous plot. But the film is shot in a pencil-tone black and white, with minimum dialogue and maximum creep factor. This film is an assault on the senses as strong as “Requiem for a Dream,” and it had the same effect on me.
Well, maybe not the same effect. “Requiem for a Dream” didn’t make me both want to eat and never eat again at the same time.

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