Stanley Kubrick was a bloody brilliant director. Provocative. Visionary. Even chilling. But hey let’s face it, the guy was never accused of being… well, especially resourceful. Or speedy for that matter. Known for shooting as many as 95 takes of a man walking through a doorway, he was exacting to the point of absurdity. The makers of the superbly twisted short film “White Bitch Down” however, couldn’t even afford the time it took Kubrick to chew out Shelley Duvall during the making of “The Shining”. You see, “WBD” was entirely conceived, written, cast, produced, and shot within 2 days! Made in conjunction with the 2002 Atlanta 48-hr Film Project, “WBD” went on to sweep every major award of the project, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing. And it’s easy to see why. From its hilariously dark humor to its whip-smart direction, this is one craftily made film, hurried production or not.
By the rules of the game, the 48-hour filmmakers were randomly given a genre in which their films would be based, however loosely. Director Jon Hill and company (whom comprise Boondogglers Films) ended up selecting “mystery”, which worked well with Hill’s desire to do something “darkly comic”. What resulted was a crime farce very much in the tradition of a “Pulp Fiction”, replete with a surf-rock soundtrack, cheeky suburban gangsters, and outrageously deranged predicaments. “The Bonnie Situation” in particular comes to mind as three small-time hoods, following the orders of their ruthless house-frau boss (Leigh Hill), attempt to dispose of all evidence of an “accidental” hit. The bumbling hoods invariably make a mess of things with their less-than-brilliant disposal methods (the funniest of which involves the stashing of the “smoking” gun in the “White 80’s Rappers” section of a record store) and herein lies the film’s mischievous fun. The hows and whys of the incident that initially sets things in motion are only revealed at the very end, after the film rapidly rewinds to the chronological beginning of the story. And while morally repugnant (the scene involves a young boy and a gun), I must admit to a satisfying belly laugh. In lieu of recent events rendering this sort of thing expressly verboten, this is ballsy comedy… and damn funny.
Sure, “WBD” is a bit rough-around-the-edges (at one point you can see a cameraman in the rear-view-mirror of a car) and feels more like a well-executed stunt than an actual movie. But stunt or no, the film is surprisingly polished and even coherent. Though only 10 minutes long, it actually demands multiple viewings to fully appreciate all the little details, like why the severed hand is holding a yo-yo, for instance. This is instant guerrilla filmmaking at its finest. (For those lucky enough to obtain a copy on DVD, there’s a nifty, though appropriately brief, behind-the-scenes look at the insanely rushed production.) I’ll always worship at the throne of Kubrick, but sometimes less really is more. Sometimes.