The Letters

I watched all the shorts I could find called The Letter,
and some related shorts that were on the same DVDs.


The Letter (2008 Gael Garcia Bernal)

“Achieve universal education” – this is from an anthology in which overqualified filmmakers (Sissako, Wenders, Gaspar Noé) created little issues dramas. Bernal had made one feature before this and never really took off as a director. Mustache man Ingvar Sigurdsson (lately star of A White, White Day, soon to be seen in The Northman) is working in Iceland. He helps his son with homework, reads to him. Any time he’s not talking with his kid, a narrator is speaking, and none of this is in English or subtitled on my disc, so I dunno, but the man seems to be divorced and the only letter they receive is a credit card bill.


The Water Diary (2008 Jane Campion)

From the same anthology as the Bernal. Drought caused by climate change causes a farming town to fall apart. The little girl at the center loses her horses, loses her uncle to suicide, spends the day pretend-galloping with her cousin through the dry riverbed. The neighbors tell each other their dreams of rain, and imagine that if the prettiest girl in town plays her viola atop a hill, the clouds will gather and weep. Second movie I’ve seen in a year where people collect their tears in jars. Lovely short, even on DVD, with some unusual visuals. The lead girl later played opposite Elle Fanning in Ginger & Rosa.


The Letter (1971 James Gore & Adam Beckett)

Silent freeform animation, the figures constantly transforming, returning to a striped-shirt character writing then mailing a letter. Besides the figure mutations (just while addressing and stamping the letter, the person becomes a stick figure, a mouse, a bird, a pig and a wolf) we spend some time inside the letter itself, a blue-on-blue field of growing and folding shapes.


Sausage City (1974 Adam Beckett)

Single-color pen drawings of mutating geometries, gradually becomes more 3D as colorful blobbos appear and begin taking over the image, a chaotic jazz combo underscoring the whole thing. This for a while, then it zooms out and a man jumps into the drawing table, where he’s transformed into a hip mouse creature. Music by “Brillo”


The Letter (2002 Vladimir Leschiov)

Man sitting under tall apple tree is writing a letter. Plays around with scale, and the nature of apples. Nice pencil-looking drawing style, with soft music that adds fx and transforms along with the visual scene. Leschiov is described as the most famous of Latvian animators, though he made this in Sweden.


Lost In Snow (2007 Vladimir Leschiov)

A man leaves his shack for some ice fishing and a drink. But the man begins multiplying, differently dressed ice fishers in different nearby spots, as the ice sheet cracks and they all float around each other. Prompted to watch this after we went to the lake today, saw some ice fishers and got very close to a bald eagle. The movie loses points for featuring no eagles, but there is a penguin at the end


The Letter (1998 Michel Gondry)

A boy with a photography hobby is anxious about Y2K and wanting to kiss a girl he likes. His older brother tries giving him advice, the boy dreams that he’s unable to connect with other humans because his head has become a camera, the girl writes a letter saying she likes his older brother. B/W with some nice photochemical effects, I think this was Gondry’s first narrative work that wasn’t a music video.


The Letter (1968 Jacques Drouin)

Only a minute long, simple animation on white background of a person attempting to write a love letter, the words of the discarded drafts appearing onscreen and self destructing.


Pismo aka Letter (2013 Sergei Loznitsa)

Cool jump-cut on a thunderclap, and there is a cow. Either this town is in heavy mist or the film is fogged. This goes beyond Slow Cinema into Sokurovian smear-cinema, without even a pretense at story or characterization, the camera too far from whatever daily menial activities are going on. There’s a four-hour Loznitsa playing True/False next month, and the guy’s not convincing me that’ll be time well spent [edit: a month later, after reviews and global events, now I’m dying to see the T/F feature]

Official description:
“A remote village in the Northwest of Russia. A mental asylum is located in an old wooden house. The place and its inhabitants seem to be untouched by civilization. Over 10 years ago, Loznitsa shot astounding black-and-white footage at a psychiatric institution in a forgotten corner of Russia. Since then it has resided in his archive.”


The Letter (2018 Bill Morrison)

A young man falls for a nurse. Her friend reads alarming news in a letter. A maid is being harassed by her employer. Is Bill a great preservationist, showing us the remnants of old films before they’re physically corroded away? Or is he the cause of the corrosion, has he realized that 1920’s studio pictures of well dressed people having conversations in rooms are inherently uninteresting without an added Decasia effect, and he’s out to document his chemical destruction of silent film history? I like my theory, gonna run with it, though now I see this was made from the Dawson City films.


The Letter (1976 Coni Beeson)

Big keyboard music, voiceover fragments of a man’s breakup letter while a blonde woman in a robe is montaged through all different scenarios, some of them nude. Her voice responds, “what if I change, what if I stop” as the movie deteriorates into hippie-manson-orgy territory with prominent ankhs. She achieves some kinda (still nude) peace at the end. The official description mentions “a symbolic rape by the Devil.”


The Letter (1970 Roman Kachanov)

Daddy’s off at war, and wifey gets very mopey when he hasn’t sent a letter lately, to the concern of their kid. Cute stop-motion.

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