Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #58


End Of The Week Shorts #58

Today's shorts: Jason And The Argonauts (1963), Deadpool (2016), Paheli (2005), Force Majeure (2014), Bill Burr: I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (2014), Tabu (1931), Pete's Dragon (1977)

It is no doubt dated and quite dry, but Jason and the Argonauts may be the best Greek mythology film ever made.

First and foremost, this is a technical masterpiece - and it is made so just for the final scene with the skeletal 'dragon offspring'. The stop-motion animation put on display in this sequence, which took four months to put together and lasts just a few minutes, is truly astounding; it is probably some of the most advanced and impressive animation of its age and can quite easily contend with all else.

It cannot be overlooked, however, that there is a strong story holding this film together. It deviates from classical mythology quite a bit, but remains symbolically and archetypally expressive whilst exuding clarity and spectacle. And it's this unity of technique and story that makes Jason and the Argonauts, arguably, the best mythological film ever made.

I remember having a real blast with this when it first came out. Having seen this quite a few times since, I have to say that it has depreciated quite a bit. This is primarily due to the fact that the outcomes and sources of most jokes are too obvious. There's a few ingenious lines and pieces put here and there, but it's hard not to say that this is trying a little too hard to be subversively self-aware and comic. In fact, despite what the opening credits tell us, I don't think the writers are the real heroes; for the large part, they seem to simply let loose a snarky flow of consciousness onto the page.

I nonetheless think that this is a pretty awesome movie; maybe a classic in the making that film students will look back on in 50 years and, despite their initial groans concerning the old superhero movies with crappy CGI, will love; our age's Singin' In The Rain if you'll have it.

Imperfect on the surface, but, at its heart, this is a pretty brilliant movie.

Paheli, or Riddle, is about a husband who leaves his wife on business with plans of not coming back for 5 years. A spirit falls in love with the woman and impersonates the husband, finding a place in the family. This fairy tale construct picks up on the duality of a husband and formulates an allegory about the concept of presence and materiality; what is objective and tangible is nothing if it is not given meaning and value attached to a cohesive moral and human good. Wealth is for people; people are not made for wealth.

If this was more concise in the story department (an elaboration on one or two songs wouldn't do harm), I'm sure I could call this perfect. As is, Paheli has a bit too much fat and CGI in it, but is nonetheless a good watch.

Absolutely brilliant.

Force Majeure deals with angst, reversal and imbalance in an imperfect familial equation; in a family where the bratty kids seem to run the show, where the father is dishonest and rather pathetic and where the mother wants to escape. This family is confronted with a symbol of their faulted state of being that sees the father fail to be the man he is expected to be and who he knows he should be. And the film blossoms from here, not necessarily analysing this symbol, but observing how the interpretation and confrontation of this symbol effects the family dynamic. In turn, we are made to question the validity and purpose of the symbolic event with all the arguments that emerge from it being about what the argument is about, in turn, what family means, as opposed to anything literal. As a result, this becomes a brilliant, slightly tragic, slight comic, uncannily human open study in what family is supposed to be. My second Östlund film and I like this director even more.

I can return to this a thousand times over and it will still be hilarious.

Yours goes quack-quack, mine goes quack-a-fukin-QUACK... the stuff of brilliance. This might be Burr's most physical and acting-centric specials - and it benefits so much from this. In not just telling stories, but stepping inside and getting lost in them, Burr moves past whatever his opinion may be, bringing us with him, and reveals his subject matter's hilarious side. The jokes then become infectiously funny and a straight face impossible to keep. Recommended to all comedy fans.

Tabu is a film that provides an answer to the question: When does a system of customs become tyrannical? Its answer is beautifully constructed with the use of expressive symbols and archetypes, and it goes as follows...

When a system not only disregards an individual's will, but betrays those that become heroes by swimming into the depths of the forbidden, shadow-unconscious to defeat a monster (that which is tyrannical in the system) and emerge with a precious jewel that represents their triumph and will be shared with a greater community, then a system is corrupt. When ritual becomes dogma that squashes all worthy rebuttals to concrete law then only tragedy can befall the innocent and the good. This is the quintessential Murnauan story seen in Sunrise and The Last Laugh powerfully told with mythological and futile overtones. I highly recommend this.

I used to watch this a bunch as a kid. It wasn't a particular favourite, but some of the songs and the image of Elliot the dragon has stuck with me. As I started to re-watch this today, I didn't expect too much - you never really should when it comes to live action Disney - however, I hoped it'd be clunky, but likeable. To a degree, this is, but... it is, technically, far worse than I imagined it to be.

The acting is pretty poor, the writing is ridiculously childish, the special effects are shockingly hammy and the direction never manages to sell the magic that the narrative really relies on. And I think the lack of magic is really the core problem with this movie; the fantasy just doesn't take. So, whilst a song or two made me smile and, overall, this kept me awake for 2 hours, I can't say this is any good for anyone over the age of 4.

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