By David Finkelstein | July 2, 2003

Lowave, an independent DVD label, is on the right track in terms of bringing new works to their world. On the website, it is stated that the label “will be dedicated to supporting and promoting new independent film from Europe and around the world.” It’s a damn fine purpose and the first release, Urban Visions, shows great promise for Lowave. This compilation of 11 short films focuses on urban living and there are many good ones to be found here. The great pleasure is to be able to see independent foreign works that would have much difficulty in being seen any other way, with the exception of film festivals.
Push ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Gorka Aguado ^ “Push” focuses on buttons being pushed throughout its running time and by and large, it starts to form a coherent music beat. It’s a great one to watch.
One Last Thing ^ *** ^ Directed by Hilton Earl ^ A man’s thoughts are conveyed through narration about who he thinks he is and then we are exposed to a random mugging, which as it turns out, the guy speaking to us is the mugger. Not a major surprise of course, but good thoughts are found here.
Fausse Solitude ^ **** ^ Directed by Pierre-Yves Cruaud ^ After seeing this one, I found myself wondering what the hell kind of ride I was just on. Pierre-Yves Cruaud stares into the camera for the entire time, though in various places while the background and Cruaud himself spins slowly at first and then even more wildly. Of course any Hollywood film can do this sort of thing, but none as meaningful as this where Cruaud seems to be trying to convey how fast and crazy life can be sometimes.
Der Letze Flug (The Last Flight) ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by the Lombardi-Clan ^ Now this is really an amazing piece. Four druggies shoot themselves up with heroine and are spaced out for a bit. Soon enough however, one of them are found to be dead, or so it seems. Problems arise for the other three are they try to figure out what to do next and finally, a decision is settled upon, but it’s a decision that makes the situation worse than it already is. The Lombardi-Clan, two filmmakers named Gerd and Silvana Lombardi, found the right actors for this one and it might be surprising to know that all you see here is actually based on a true story that happened in the duo’s entourage at one point. A great soundtrack strengthens “The Last Flight” even more.
Pako ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Nosfe ^ Images of electrical wires, roadways, and other things flash in the background while words on the screen seem to be a call to stop oppression and focus on freedom.
Hi-Fi ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Sean Baker ^ Four teenagers (The standard two guys, two girls) head out on the road for heroine. They find their fix and yeah, that’s pretty much it. Interesting work by Sean Baker along with a fine soundtrack does justice to this work, with an ending that’s really something to consider.
Novanta ^ **** ^ Directed by GG Tarantola ^ You’ve got to see this! GG Tarantola has created a mixture of animation and real-life textures that works very well together. It’s a day in the life of a bus in Milan, but here’s where it gets interesting. You won’t find any Steve Oedekerk touches in here, as in something like his “Thumb” films, but here, photographed hair becomes the hair on some of these characters, and fingers become faces of these characters with eyes drawn by Tarantola. Great stuff!
When the Floor Became the Ceiling ^ ****1/2 ^ Directed by Rudolf Buitendach ^ A short bit of humor right at the beginning of this one leads up to a great ending. A guy’s trying to practice lines for an audition he has the next day (At first, I thought he was trying out pickup lines for a woman that would likely never come), and hears banging in the apartment above him, the moans of a woman going right along with it. The woman knocks on his door and that first part alone is great. “Hi, I’m from upstairs,” she says. “Yes, I’ve heard,” he replies. He complains about the noise and to her and later on finds where it’s actually coming from. Oliver Pollack and Tatiana Obolenski, the man and the woman in this short work wonders with the material.
Raus Aus Seinen Kleidern (Get Out of Your Clothes) ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Corinna Schnitt ^ A woman stands on the balcony of her apartment, continually airing out a red dress. Subtitled narration “explains” her thoughts and feelings on certain matters, such as how she believes it’s ridiculous that a man she was with could be jealous of her laundry as she seems to spend more time doing that. We also hear about her having a futon instead of a real bed, the mess in her apartment that her father says looks worse than what could have gone on in the war, and more. The camera pulls back slowly as the narration continues, revealing an interesting surprise at the end. The first part of the narration is frustrating, but soon becomes understandable and makes more sense.
Promenaux ^ **** ^ Directed by Stefano Canapa ^ Movies can change your perspective on so many things and “Promenaux” did just that to me. Beautiful black-and-white images of the city of Paris are shown. There’s a supermarket, schoolchildren, a motorcyclist, narrow walkways, idle trains, sunset, dancing, railroad tracks, walking feet, and so many others. It certainly made me look closer at where I live and appreciate such imagery.
The Strip Mall Trilogy ^ *** ^ Directed by Roger Beebe ^ Yep, this one was most certainly for me being that I live in Florida and director Roger Beebe is also a resident of the state. The first part of this trilogy goes through various images of strip malls extremely quickly and with fast-paced music to boot. The second part has a child reciting the alphabet on the soundtrack while the letters of the alphabet are shown. The third part focuses on various things like handrails, parking spots, etc. The easiest thing to recognize here was Publix, which is a Florida-based supermarket. It certainly covers all angles of strip malls.
The DVD contains a trailer for the program as well as “Commentary”, which is actually a 6-minute piece from various filmmakers on what their films are about or why they made the films featured here. Unfortunately, 6 minutes is not enough and I wish that there had been more from these filmmakers. Perhaps the reason for the brevity is so that people who watch this can figure out on their own what these short films might mean. Most disappointing for me was no comments by Stefano Canapa of “Promenaux”. His name comes up and while it is up there, we see someone struggling to sit in a chair (very old footage, I might add) and then it cuts footage of his film and that’s it. Canapa’s one guy I’d be very eager to listen to in terms of learning about his work. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to see unique works from around the world, this is the ticket! Lowave needs to do more compilations like this.

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