Brothers Bearhearts (2005, Riho Unt)

I think it was stop-motion with 3D added… if the whole thing was 3D I’ll be impressed. The adventures of three bears modeled after historical artists taking cross-continent revenge on the hunter who shot their mom. Looks like Unt is a prolific shorts director and I can find some of his early 80’s work.


Down to the Bone (2001, Rene Castillo)

Guy is buried, falls into a Mexican afterlife nightclub full of skeletons, while trying to ward off the carnivorous worm that will turn him into a skeleton. Won prizes at every fest that year, including Annecy which had a good year between this and The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg and Father and Daughter and Mutant Aliens. The director was working on a feature called Thingdom but I can’t find evidence that it ever came out.


Restart (2010, Miao Xiaochun)

Throwing everything at the wall, adding opera music, and listing classic influences in the credits – trying to turn machinima into art. This sort of thing should not be encouraged.


The Selfish Giant (1971, Peter Sander)

An overly long and precious story of a giant who selfishly kicks out the children who love to play in his garden, then permanent winter comes to his walled-off castle until he breaks down the walls and lets in the kids and the springtime. I was already pretty mad, then one of the kids turns out to be Jesus Christ. Presented by Reader’s Digest, with a very based-on-a-storybook vibe and a couple hippie harpsichord-and-choir song breaks. The snow and frost characters are cool, at least. Peter Sander worked on the animated Beatles TV series. Based on an Oscar Wilde story which was also adapted as a Jackanory story, a Pete Postlethwaite short, and most confusingly, Clio Barnard’s feature follow-up to The Arbor.

That’s twice in a row this list of the best animated short films ever made has steered me wrong… but my other list of the best animated short films ever made is full of Mickey Mouse and Woody Woodpecker cartoons… please, I need more lists of the best animated short films ever made.


The Road to Zennor (2017, Mark Jenkin)

Shaky handheld film photography of rural settings, an unseen narrator speaking I think in quotes and listing quizzical British placenames. Little sketch of a movie. Interested in Jenkin because of the recent feature Bait.


To Kill a Dead Man (1994, Alexander Hemming & Portishead)

Wow, it’s rare that a movie opens with an apology saying they didn’t realize how hard it would be to make a movie. Black-gloved sniper walks suspiciously through public spaces, assembles his rifle and takes down a politician-looking guy, at which point the Portishead soundtrack shifts from classic chill Morricone to action Morricone. The dead man’s wife’s trauma is visualized as her in a screening room with a feeding tube, watching films of the death on an endless loop, before we return to sunglasses-sporting suit dudes playing chess games under noir lighting. I guess in the end the husband wasn’t dead and she hires the same hit man to kill him again, but I needed the internet to explain that to me. As a band demo it’s perfect – nice bit where the music plays a reversed guitar as confetti “falls” upward – though it’s not until recently that Barrow started getting regular soundtrack work. Maybe he wasn’t looking. Nobody else involved in this went onto any sort of film career, but the makeup person worked on The Cat With Hands.


Deborah Harry Does Not Like Interviews (2019, Meghan Fredrich)

Oh no, I’m sorry I made Katy watch this. Adding credits and titles doesn’t make your vhs/youtube clips collection a short film. Not as snarky or awkward as reported, the average KCRW band interview is worse. One good mid-period song I’d never heard, so we got our money’s worth.


If Only There Were Peace (2017, Carmine Grimaldi & Deniz Tortum)

An entry in the select genre along with Jodorowsky’s Dune and Clouzot’s Inferno and (kinda) Lost in La Mancha of making-of docs for features that never existed – this one a Turkish anti-war drama. I get the feeling the script isn’t in the lead actress’s native language. There’s a lotta direct address to camera, and the sound mix is off. We saw Grimaldi’s very different One of the Roughs, a Kosmos at True/False, and Tortum has a new feature-length doc set in a hospital.

This is about the fifth Nawapol movie in a row with a can’t-miss premise, and the first we’ve watched. Jean is extreme-decluttering her home studio, forcibly moving family members aside, and returning all borrowed items and even gifts from friends. The movie’s full of quirky-romcom behavior turned on its end, making Jean seem more psychotically stubborn as she hurts the feelings of everyone around her. The major mid-film development is when she visits an ex boyfriend who she ghosted when moving away and never contacted when she returned. He has moved on, has a cute new girl, and they start hanging out, which threatens her cleaning timeline and the streamlining of her life. She’s not particularly sympathetic, though we spend enough time with her to care about her feelings, and we don’t get a good sense of whether all this was worth it – movie starts at the end, and doesn’t repeat the scene, which Katy wished it would’ve. Jean and the ex were both in Nawapol’s Die Tomorrow, which didn’t feel like as good a Katy film premise as this one.

Competing groups arrive for a faithful abbot’s retirement, each scheming with one of the abbot’s protege monks to get their hands on the monastery’s priceless scroll. Such smooth editing, hard to find scene breaks as the whole thing flows together, and modern looking for 1979. Almost the entire cast was in King Hu’s Legend of the Mountain the same year.

Sailor Wen (Yueh Sun: City on Fire) brings thief White Fox (Touch of Zen star Feng Hsu) and tassel-face Gold Lock (Ming-Tsai Wu, a student in Fist of Fury). His rival The General (Feng Tien of Green Snake) brings cop Kuang Yu Wang (in a John Woo, a Wei Lo/Jackie Chan, and a “Bruce Li” the same year), who is archenemy to the newest monk, reformed criminal Chiu Ming (Lin Tung, the movie’s assistant director). Old master Wu Wai (Chia-Hsiang Wu, in movies since the 1940’s) may be up to something, or maybe just a distraction. Chiu Ming is made the new abbot and his first act is to destroy the scroll, and the villains go home unhappy.

Fox / Lock / Wen:

The cop gets his:

Many Thousands Gone (2015)

Better in concept than in specifics. Juxtaposing street scenes in NYC and Brazil with emphasis on dance, silent film with improv music added after, this all sounds great. What we get: so-so photography with blowy sounds in the audio, reminiscent of that grating windbag noise on Nine Inch Nails “A Warm Place”.


Kindah (2016)

Flutey frequencies that bugged me even more than the windy blowing, but the middle half was all percussion and the photography seems to have improved even if the subject matter (group dance routines in Jamaica and New York) is less inherently interesting, so we’ll call it even.


Fluid Frontiers (2017)

Short poems and segments about slavery and blackness, read to us on camera, the book covers visible. Detroit and Southern Ontario, the split locations in these films getting closer together each time.

Sicinski in Mubi says the locations are an Underground Railroad reference and “a tribute to Detroit’s Broadside Press, a publishing house of the late 60s and 70s that specialized in radical black poetry … They are reciting works by the Broadside poets, reading them directly from the original chapbooks … Asili insists on a place-based activism, making it clear that only certain kinds of interventions could occur in certain places.” Asili’s debut feature The Inheritance looks to be worth watching.

X-Men Origins: It’s a Good Life. Some Stephen King in here, psychic powers developing with sexual awakening. And Trier, like his distant relative Lars Von, isn’t above killing a baby to give his lead characters a tragic backstory. Homeschooled Thelma doesn’t adjust well in college, having seizures and disappearing her crush into the cornfield, but finally learns to take out her rage on her repressive father and let the hot college girls live… though there’s an unsettling suggestion that the hot girl only likes Thelma because her mind is being controlled. From the poster I’d expected more birds, but it’s mostly the live bird that Thelma barfs up towards the end. Trier is a festival fave whose new film plays Cannes next month, Thelma was in Norwegian disaster flick The Wave, and her dad costars in Blind.

Memorial screening for Charles Grodin and Yaphet Kotto, here playing a criminal banker and an FBI agent with his identity stolen, respectively. Robert De Niro is the bounty hunter returning Grodin from NY to LA. It’s a wacky crime comedy road movie, with the cops and the gangsters (led by Dennis Farina) and RdN’s rival hunter Marvin (John Ashton of Beverly Hills Cop) all after them, so it’s sufficiently incident-packed to be a hugely successful commercial hit. Throwing in a sad visit to RdN’s family, and morally letting the criminal off the hook at the end turns it into a solid 80’s classic (pretty sure I saw it in theaters on first release) and also a semi-remake of Remember The Night. Got tired of Marvin, didn’t buy that the criminal snipers would open fire on the cops, otherwise lives up to the legend.

A bunch of silliness in the first half which escalated wonderfully in the second. At the beginning Cowboy and Indian try to construct a last-minute birthday gift while Horse takes piano lessons with a cute female horse. But pretty soon they are all enslaved by snowball-prankster kung-fu scientists within a giant arctic penguin robot. Plastic toy stop-motion!

The rare studio-compromised movie with sloppy enough edits that you can witness the butchery. Who knows what this movie, which the director and star both said was good before the editors got hold of it, could’ve been in its original form, the same year Ray made Rebel Without a Cause. But all we’ve got is what we’ve got, and it ain’t much. MVP the soft-spoken town doctor (Welles regular Gus Schilling), runner-up a grinning Ernest Borgnine, who arrives late as a bank robber, and third place townsperson Squinty McGee, aka Jack Lambert of the same year’s Kiss Me Deadly.

Squinty pulls a knife:

Per Filipe Furtado: “Cagney’s perseverance in front of a life of disappointments is the best use of the actor’s mature strengths in any of his post war roles.” Playing a twice-falsely-accused man, Cagney becomes sheriff of a nowhere town, falls for a Swedish woman (Viveca Lindfors, star of Swedish cinema in the 40’s with a long successful Hollywood run ending in Stargate). Cagney spends most of his time trying to rehabilitate 20-year-old lost soul John Derek (Scandal Sheet), who is simply too handsome for common morality and ends up joining Borgnine in the robbery that leaves Cagney’s new father-in-law dead. The Swede’s dad was probably fourth place – actually Danish, Jean Hersholt had costarred in Greed. Cagney kills the kid, better late than never.

The law of the land, wielding a carved wood gun:

Tight, tense movie in grainy 4:3 with amazing sound design, the soundtrack playing sfx in a doom-loop, predicting what’s going to happen next. In a very small town, David (Clayne Crawford, the Mel Gibson character in TV’s Lethal Weapon) can’t be cooly anonymous while stalking his wife’s new lover because he’s always running into people he knows. Movie introduces David attempting to murder them in their sleep then sets him on a long road to a sort of redemption, through work and caring for the kids and, in the end, winning pity when the new man makes the first move in the violence game. The wife is Sepideh Moafi of The Deuce, new man is Chris Coy (Treme and also The Deuce). Both Mikes D’Angelo and Sicinski covered this one well.