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a handful of shorts

Posted by martinteller on February 16, 2015

Spalding Gray’s Map of L.A. – A short, possibly produced for television, in which Spalding Gray monologues about his youthful experiences with cars.  The monologues are his usual blend of humor and melancholy, that sardonic detachment allowing him to be confessional.  They’re fine stories.  Unfortunately, they’re interspersed with these lame skits, all starring Gray with this guy Marshall Efron.  In one, Efron is half of a bickering couple picking up Gray at the airport, in another Efron is giving a lesson in how to drive a Rolls-Royce, and in the third he’s tow truck driver giving some kind of complicated directions.  The Rolls-Royce one is okay, but the first one is grating and the third one doesn’t seem to be anything at all.  There’s also this framing story of Gray going to meet a woman (Mary Woronov, of Warhol’s Factory group and cult films like Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Night of the Comet).  That doesn’t serve much purpose either, and culminates with a bunch of driving footage around Los Angeles.  Not worth hunting down unless you’re a diehard Spalding Gray fan.  Rating: Fair (61)

Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair – Guy Maddin being all Guy Maddin-y.  In this one, Isabella Rossellini gets strapped into an elaborate, almost Rube Goldbergesque, electric chair while some guy races to rescue her.  I really do find Maddin works so much better in short form… that initial feeling of “What the hell is going on?” gets obliterated by the sheer cinematic frenzy, sending you off in a state of euphoria before you can too bored with it.  I don’t know exactly what’s going on here, or why there are cabaret girls involved, but it’s just the right amount and the right style of crazy.  Wonderful camera techinques as usual.  Rating: Very Good (82)

Lady Blue Shanghai – Marion Cotillard enters her hotel room and is disturbed that an old record is playing.  She turns it off and in a cloud of smoke, a blue handbag mysteriously appears on the floor.  She suddenly recalls a distant, whirlwind romance.  Okay, so it’s a commercial for a purse… but I wouldn’t mind if all ads were like this.  Dior commissioned David Lynch to produce this film and there’s no doubt that the bag is at the very least a supporting player, if not the star.  But it’s still drenched in Lynch’s style, full of mystery and dread and his over-the-top romanticism.  It feels like it could be an outtake from Inland Empire.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Nice looking bag, too.  Rating: Very Good (84)

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