Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #44


End Of The Week Shorts #44

Today's shorts: The Devils (1971), Moonlight (2016), The Misadventure (1905), Un Chien Andalou (1929), Touched Piece (1989), Go! Go! Go! (1964), Blackfish (2013), Coco (2017)

An insanely graphic, incomprehensibly twisted, gratuitously melodramatic, incredibly conceived masterclass of cinematic storytelling. 
There is a strong and clear truth below the surface of The Devils as a film about corruption that sees the fall of a city manifested not by one fell swoop of powers that be, but the clawing hands of individuals overwhelmed by almost trivial conflicts that are channelled into a horrendous positive feedback loop. Hysteria may then be the film's core theme, but it cannot be overlooked that its primary conflict belongs to singular characters who remain torn between religious evocation and internal truths. As messy as this story appears, The Devils shouldn't be a controversial film. Highly recommended.

A solid film. I didn't care for this the first time I watched this, and though it hasn't really clicked with me, I can say that it did pull me in quite considerably today. 
The substance of Moonlight lies in questioning the emotional subtext and the elements of the story that are lost to ellipses; how does Chiron change in prison; what it the impact that Juan has on him before he leaves; how much does the absence of a father figure matter? Whilst these are questions that locked me into the film, I certainly think that the story is rather weak and not supported well enough by character. In the end, this isn't great, but it's pretty good.

For its time, The Misadventure is an ingenious film. This combines the flourishing chase film with one of the earliest kinds of film: the street scene. This doesn't capture anything like the distant scenes of the Lumières. Instead, the life and vibrancy of Mitchell and Kenyon shorts, two filmmakers who would encourage passerby to interact with the camera before screening what they shot later on for local audiences. 
Just as much a public stunt as this is a genre film, this is fluidly shot with a semi-dexterous use of the camera's pan that wasn't too common around 1905. Recommended to all those interested in film history.

I've completely lost count of how many times I have seen this, but am nonetheless always surprised by how... for lack of a better word, surreal, An Andalusian Dog actually is. 
I've always seen this as a failed romance and a film about deception or betrayal of some kind. The utter absence of morality and direction in this narrative, however, has me lost between knowing who is wrong and who we are to sympathise with; is the female a projection of a man's imagination, is this her nightmare, or is she her own person in a 'real' setting? Each of these questions leads to hugely different conclusions and radically different films. On this watch I suppose this relationship between subjective and omniscient perception struck me most. 20 more views and I may find something substantial to say.

This is the kind of experimental or essay film that just gets on my nerves. Touched Piece takes 18 seconds from the 1954 film, The Human Jungle, and manipulates it into a 15 minute jittery dance through the reversal, repetition and inverting of the footage. Director, Martin Arnold, did this to try to reveal a Freudian concept; through stuttering it is implied that you are repressed. He then makes the characters of this film stutter to imply that they are sexually or spiritually repressed by Hollywood (which he says is 'a cinema of exclusion, denial and repression') and the American culture of the 50s. The point of this short is then Arnold projecting his feeling that the characters don't want to be in a relationship, they don't want to be the traditional husband and wife, and that the Hollywood film noir reveals this subconscious truth. 
Whilst some may then find this intriguing, I have to say that these ideas, which seemingly signify an unenlightening meeting of politics and psychoanalysis, just tire me.

A fascinating city symphony of sorts, one that depicts 60s New York at an extremely fast pace, projecting the rhythms and forward motion of the collective masses within. In such, this isn't necessarily just a day in the life short for a city, but a short that has some hints of the different pathways through life that people take. We then see the camera stop for a while and focus on its human subjects in a way that has us consider lives blending into one; one day we're free on a beach, one day we graduate, the next we're at work, another we're getting married. All of this happens through time and all at once. And such a sense of everything and nothing happening in a blurred cycle and in a dazed flash is inherent to the city symphony, but Go! Go! Go! certainly captures this quite well.

Though, as a film, this follows standard procedures and isn't at all inventive, the content is all that seems to matter with Blackfish. Whilst this has been seen as sensationalist, and whilst I can certainly see evidence for that, this doesn't seem to be a film that wants entities like SeaWorld to change. Rather, this wants them gone. I find it very hard to rationally oppose this stance. Whilst people would lose money and jobs, and whilst orcas would be much harder to see, it seems to me that they should have never been put in concrete pools and made into an attraction. I don't have a particularly strong opinion on captivity and zoos, but, looking to orcas, it seems that we're dealing with a completely different kind of animal - one frighteningly close to people. 
Though the documentary itself falls very subservient to these ideas, this seems to be a significant film.

Coco is a solid Pixar film, but, in my view, is quite distant from their best work. Substituting the mythological sensibilities seen in something such as Disney's Moana for emotional drama, Coco's strengths lie in the hands of characters, not the created world. Unfortunately, the story is too predictable and weighed down significantly by on-the-nose writing. I mention Moana as, though both films deal with mythology, Coco fails to balance exposition with symbolism where Moana succeeds brilliantly. The end result of Coco's direct writing is a rather touching narrative about a reconciliation with the dead and the realignment of a family tree, one that lays itself bare, leaving the viewer with very little to think about. 
All about the feels, less about thinking, Coco was good fun and a film I can certainly see myself warming to. Nonetheless, this leaves Pixar still seeking to reach the heights that they last managed with Inside Out.

Previous post:

The Narrative Singularity - Where Do Stories Come From?

Next post:

Every Year In Film #34 - Romeo e Giulietta

More from me:

No comments: