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.