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random grab bag of shorts

Posted by martinteller on June 29, 2013

The Stork – A 3-minute mixed media animation by Nina Paley.  The iconic stork with a bindle-bound baby in its mouth flies through the sky.  Soon there are three storks, then a dozen, then a massive squadron.  Like B-52 bombers, they drop their payloads, blanketing the world in identical babies with identical parents in identical homes with identical possessions.  While most blatantly a comment on overpopulation, it also touches on environmental concerns, consumerism and the bland uniformity of modern society.  Not bad for three minutes.  A little snide in tone, perhaps (like people who derisively call people with children “breeders”) but amusing and well-done.  Very Good (80)



The London Story – Since I enjoy Orlando so much, it’s high time I checked out more by Sally Potter.  This short involves a woman (Jacky Lansley) who recruits a cabinet minister (Arthur Fincham) and a cabinet doorman (George Antoni) in a plot to expose governmental wrongdoings.  The scoring consists of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and at the end of the film the three principals break into a ballet.  There are some funny moments (Antoni practicing his door opening) and it works okay as a spy spoof.  But any commentary on Thatcherite politics seems to fall flat and overall it left me with a feeling of “So what?”  The Technicolor photography looks dynamite, though.  Fair (64)



The Little White Cloud That Cried – Commissioned for a Jack Smith festival, this is Guy Maddin’s tribute to the delirious, infamous Flaming Creatures.  As in the original, a series of old-timey pop tunes play as men, women and transsexuals indulge in a bacchanalian orgy (there are very explicit images).  There are references to death and especially religion, including a woman with stigmata and a crown of thorns made with cocktail spears.  Maddin is a visual artist on his own magical planet, and the film looks utterly spectacular.  Varying film stocks alternate between rough footage that approximates Smith’s work and crystal clear pictures in gloriously vibrant color.  Really captures the spirit of the original while maintaining that Maddin vibe.  I should check out more Jack Smith.  Very Good (84)



Thot-Fal’N – My 117th Stan Brakhage film.  This one is supposedly about “falling away from conscious thought” (“Thought-Fallen”, get it?) and I guess it achieves that goal.  In a way.  A lot of Brakhage is pretty hard to defend.  Certainly the editing between mundane images like a newspaper stand and indecipherable abstract images and a woman (Stan’s wife) floating in serene blue water suggests a transition between different levels of thought.  But ultimately it doesn’t say much to me and just comes off like “It’s irrational because it’s about not being rational”.  Poor (54)


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