The Unchanging Sea (1910)

Multi-generational romance and amnesiac drama. The actors are phony from the second they step onscreen, but there are long shots of people looking away from camera staring at the sea, trying to match the tone of the poem they’re adapting, which makes up for the rest. The not-actually-widow is the future Mrs. Griffith, their daughter grows up to be Mary Pickford.

A Drunkard’s Reformation (1909)

The reformation comes from taking his daughter to a play where he sees himself in the lead character – a drunk guy with enabler friends who’s violent with his family. The spectator returns home and vows to give up liquor immediately, instead smoking a giant pipe in the face of his young child. This couple is the same actors as the fishing couple, sans Pickford.

getting really into the play:

The Mountaineer’s Honor (1909)

Is he a mountaineer because he wears high boots with his suit and tie? That’s no kind of costume to go mountaineering in. Pickford is playing teenaged, sneaking away from family gatherings to hang out with this guy. Her brother chases the guy into town, shoots him and some passer-by. The law chases the brother to the house, catches him, says he’ll be hanged, so mum shoots her son dead (death before dishonor). Continuity between shots is maintained by having actors always point where they came from, then point where they’re going next.

autographed still of Pickford pointing to where she’s going next:

Enoch Arden (1911)

Enoch and Annie go home after their wedding, a title card says “later” and now they have three kids. Enoch goes to sea and might never return. Movie gets a lotta mileage out of people standing on the beach in front of crashing waves. Homely Philip pines after Annie and she finally agrees to marry him after Enoch has been lost at sea for a decade, but we’ve seen The Unchanging Sea and know that anything is possible. Sure enough, Enoch gets home after years on a desert island, sees his wife with Philip, then crawls away and dies. Remade a few years later with Lillian Gish (and Griffith in the cast), then twice in 1940, as Too Many Husbands and My Favorite Wife.

Island Enoch:

The Painted Lady (1912)

More like the Unpainted Lady, our heroine refuses to wear makeup to impress the boys, so she’s unpopular. When some mustache guy finally goes for her, he was apparently only trying to get to her whitebeard father’s money, and she shoots him when he breaks into the house. In the aftermath, she does put on makeup, goes mad, and dies, not necessarily in that order. She was Blanche Sweet, and her dad was later in a Bela Lugosi movie called Murder by Television.

ice cream festival of wicked temptation:

The Mothering Heart (1913)

Griffith’s concerns seem entirely domestic in these movies. Men go off to work – work where? Doing what? It doesn’t matter. Lillian Gish’s husband gets rich, somehow, and they start going to awful rich-person gathering places, where The Idle Woman starts pursuing the husband. Lillian catches on to the shenanigans and leaves him, goes to her mom’s and has a baby, which gets sick and dies. Meanwhile, The Idle Woman tires of the husband/dad and picks up a new guy. What’s the moral here?

Woman Haters (1934, Archie Gottler)

An entire Three Stooges short with dialogue in rhyme! And usually not so great. The plot goes that new members of the titular club have sworn off women, then each one is caught alone with the same blonde girl (Marjorie White of sci-fi musical Just Imagine). They sing too much in this one and the rhyming doesn’t work, but they do hit each other a whole lot.

Not trying to make sense of the historical context of these shorts, I ended up watching “the first official Three Stooges short” per a professor of Stoogeological Studies. Director Gottler wasn’t a Stooges guy but had a regular gimmick (his other movies feature “dialogue all in rhyme” and “young men competing for the affections of a beautiful blonde”).

Aged Stooges:

World of Glory (1991, Roy Andersson)

And I rewatched this, after catching up with You, The Living.

I’ve seen one short Owen Land film before and wasn’t so high on it, but I’m ever intrigued by the idea of a structural-experimental parody artist, or whatever he was, so I’m checking out everything I can find. All these were credited to George Landow – he changed his name soon afterwards.

Film in Which There Appear Sprocket Holes, Edge Lettering, Dirt Particles, etc. (1966)

Approx a one-second loop repeated a couple hundred times. Possibly one of those color reference images. Mekas was a fan. Why add film projector sound when any proper screening (not on a digital file in my living room) would have its own film projector sounds – is that part of the meta nature of the project or was it added during the video transfer?

Diploteratology: Bardo Follies (1967)

1. A few-second loop of a boat exiting a tunnel while a person (real? animatronic?) waves on the left side
2. Three porthole views of the same image distributed across a mostly black screen
3. The image begins to get replaced with the bubbly butterfly-wing textures of celluloid melting or dissolving
4. Replacing the porthole views, we get fullscreen strobing freezeframes of the melt-dissolve textures
5. Left/right split-screen of film melts in motion
Fully silent.

Remedial Reading Comprehension (1970)

“This is a film about you … not about its maker.” That’s more like it, layers upon layers. A woman dreams a classroom, a man jogs in place in front of a screen of someone jogging, an alarm sounds while we read about phony teaching techniques at a preordained pace, and why not throw in a commercial for pre-cooked rice.

Thank You Jesus for the Eternal Present (1973)

An annoying one – high-contrast images of street scenes, closeups and a trade show, while overlapped sound loops are praising God/Jesus. Pretty short, at least.

Wide Angle Saxon (1975)

Lively one with usually-sync sound, cutting between all sorts of things. Bible stories, and stories of modern people influenced by bible stories. Repeated outtakes of a reporter self-conscious that he can’t remember Panamanian generals’ names but who keeps pronouncing “junta” with a hard J. A terrified artist pouring red paint on things and people, who gets his own title sequence. “Oh it was a dream” – does this end with the woman from the beginning of Remedial waking up? Were the six years between films all her dream?

New Improved Institutional Quality (1976)

Woman is giving exam instructions on the soundtrack, and the guy onscreen is following them. The instructions involve writing numbers on a photograph, so the guy goes inside the photograph, writing the numbers with a giant pencil. Then he shrinks further when confronted with a woman inside the picture, nestles in her shoe, and then flies silently through some previous Land films (Film In Which, Remedial). Weird, I would not have got the references if I hadn’t been watching these together.

new improved sprocket holes, edge lettering:

On The Marriage Broker Joke (1979)

People in panda suits introduce versions of films about the marriage broker joke, which it sort of eventually gets around to telling. Marketing discussion with an offscreen speaker doing a bad Japanese stereotype accent. Ends with more religion stuff. The onscreen text was probably meant to be readable, but my video copy is horrendous. Rosenbaum called it an “obscure blend of deconstructive slapstick and various issues arising from his then-recent conversion to fundamentalist Christianity”

P. Adams Sitney in Artforum:

From the start, Land was unique in his subjects and in his relationship to the processes of filmmaking. Television, advertisements, linguistic confusions were the materials of his first films, and they remained his favorite subjects. Above all he used cinema as a means to explore the illusory nature of images.

He had no scruples about mercilessly making fun of his fellow filmmakers (and of me) so long as he prominently mocked himself and his own works, as he did with wry humor in films such as New Improved Institutional Quality and On the Marriage Broker Joke. His religious convictions never dispelled his fascination with the absurdities of human behavior. The drives for possessions, certitude, beauty, sex, money, and food — especially sex — make Land’s fictive humans ridiculous, confused, and devious. His ability to invent and to people his films with memorably ridiculous characters was unmatched, even by the late George Kuchar, among American avant-garde filmmakers.


I… developed the technique of fabricating fantastic stories about myself and relating them in a perfectly deadpan manner so as to convince my hearers of their authenticity. This was not done maliciously, but out of a sense of the absurdity of all phenomena and the arbitrariness of all information. This may be a form of poetry, which in Greek means making—as in “making it up.” Usually it is called “lying.”

I’ve got no handy documentary on Chomon like I did with Alice Guy, just watching some films. I’d only previously seen The Golden Beetle – these all turned out to be less colorful and more coherent.

Electric Current (1906)

Pretty good one-minute gag film. A couple steals from the grocer, has a picnic then goes back for more, but the grocer has rigged his wares to the electric lights. When they grab the food they’re paralyzed from electricity – and so are the cops who arrive to arrest the thieves, so they arrest the grocer instead.

Kiriki, Japanese Acrobats (1907)

Splendid gravity-defying stunts, using the same which-way-is-up technique as Massive Attack’s “Protection” video. The actors really sell it, trembling and straining in their positions.

En Avant La Musique (1907)

If we’re meant to believe that elite Japanese acrobats have developed incredible skills of strength and balance, this one tosses believability out the window. Just a Mr. B Natural-type conductor transforming the musicians into musical notation and miniaturized song-slaves.

The Diabolical Pickpocket (1908)

A liquid-metal T-1000 criminal escapes two clueless cops by making a mockery of spacetime physics.
Looks like this was part of a series about uncatchable thieves in checkered suits, along with The Invisible Thief and Slippery Jim.

The Electric Hotel (1908)

Before people knew what electricity could do, this imagines a fully automated hotel. Guests get a small electric switchboard and accompanying instruction manual. Each switch causes a whirl of stop-motion – shoe-shining, hair-cutting, suitcase-unpacking. One writes letters home using AI. I was waiting for something to go comically, catastrophically wrong, but all the tech works properly, until a drunken basement employee starts throwing switches haphazardly and all the hotel’s objects violently revolt against their masters.

Legend of a Ghost (1908)

At 14 minutes this is over twice the length of the others, a de Chomon epic. Old fashioned set building and fireworks create a hellscape of dancing demons, or maybe tortured souls, or reveling partiers – in the cavernous set I can’t make out faces. Yeah, it’s either a Halloween parade float or the beginning of the apocalypse, maybe the point is not to know. Then we got hula-girl vikings in a Meliesian underwater scene? An anarchist blows up the parade float and we’re sent to heaven for a minute. It’s almost halfway through the movie before the grim reaper provides some transformative camera tricks, then back to cavorting with fireworks and costumes. The death parade reaches its cavernous destination and the participants celebrate with a scythe dance (The Seventh Seal was a remake of this). But the movie’s not over – the viking frog queen’s servants do an involved dance with the lizard people, layers upon layers. Morning comes and everyone lays dead, except for Death Himself, who transforms into a fancyman. Certainly more expensive than the shorter films, not necessarily more fun to watch.

I Take These Truths (1995)

It took a frustrating few minutes to figure out how to play albums alongside silent movies on the new TV setup, but it was worth it… Brakhage films are up to 10X more effective at relaxing the mind after a work day than Three Stooges shorts. I Take These Truths is one of the hand-painted films, full of color and texture, and there’s not much else I can say except that I love it very much. Sometimes it feels like you’re seeing a flicker party of unrelated images, every frame a painting, and sometimes you catch a vertical line and feel the film flying through the projector, and if you’re locked in you can fly along with it.

The Cat of the Worm’s Green Realm (1997)

These first two were silent so I played the new Prefuse 73 album. It’s a basic groove compared to the wildness of the films and I wondered if I should’ve put on something more crazy or abstract, but maybe it’s good to just have some beats and let the film do the talking. We’re back to photography – both the cat and the worm make appearances, and for a green realm there’s an awful lot of orange and pink and yellow. Seems like the realm might be the backyard, but the camera is so very close to every leaf and blade of grass (worm’s-eye view?) that the yard is reduced to blobs.

Yggdrasill: Whose Roots Are Stars in the Human Mind (1997)

Now I’m picking songs to match the length of the movies, and I do have a 17-minute song, an eerie ambient piece from the new Kevin Drumm record. Instead of a rush of imagery in a particular style, this one edits all the styles together, a rush of rushes of imagery. I keep feeling like there’s a Framptonian pattern to crack in the edits, but maybe he just chopped together some mothlit leader, hand painted pieces, too-close photography, shots of whipping the camera around fast enough to leave trails, and the sun sparkling on turbulent water, at semi-random and appreciated the synchronicity.

… Reel Five (1998)

This one has its own music, an avant-piano piece. We spend some minutes adjusting to the music over a blank screen, then the background turns blinding white, with light black and colored patterns flickering across.

Persian Series 1-3 (1999)

Persian 1 gives us peak swirling oil painting flicker action, then #2 bends our minds by tracking into and out of the frame, an effect I can feel without being able to tell how they’re doing it without a consistent background to zoom into, and #3 cranks the pace into overdrive and adds a Rorschach mirror effect. Just outstanding. I played an anxious saxey Sons of Kemet song, a good fit.

Chinese Series (2003)

Just white scratch-figures on widescreen windowboxed black background for a brief, light ending to the program. I unwisely played a heavy Zappa-quoting Pere Ubu track.

For Stan (2009, Marilyn Brakhage)

Marilyn traces the landscape with her own camera and provides valuable footage of Stan filming in a cave wearing a Canyon Cinema shirt – and also walking into a wall because he couldn’t see where he was going. I played the Simon Hanes album – track 2 made the film too cartoony, then track 3 settled in nicely.

By now it’s been forever since I watched some of the other shorts on this blu-ray, and instead of pining for the 400-ish Brakhage films that it’s very hard to see, I could watch one from this set daily on a loop, forever. It’s not like I run the risk of memorizing them or tiring them out.

Loved the Brakhage on Brakhage series in the extras, like a scrapbook of choice Stan quotes, speaking clearly and sensibly about his work.

…the scratching of titles directly onto the film surface which had this effect: that from the beginning the viewer was given the rhythm of the very projector that was going to show them the rest of the film. They were given the sense of the film’s surface itself.

There’s crazy footage of him filming in the field. He says he edited a film for Joseph Cornell in Maya Deren’s apartment, talks about learning from Marie Menken, and his thoughts on the labels “experimental” and “avant-garde” and “underground.” Then the Sunday Salon segments are Q&A pieces about one film at a time:

  • Psalm Branch is a Freud film, Stan is a big Freud fan
  • Under Childhood was recognizing the dark side of his children’s existence
  • Murder Psalm was a “trance-state miracle” made in a rage after a nightmare about killing his mother
  • Boulder Blues: “I wanted the film to be composed of things that are mostly in people’s peripheral vision.”
  • Worm’s Green Realm: you can attempt to follow narratively with the “kinds of feelings that are intrinsic to story” but are purely visual

The Emperor’s New Clothes (1953, Ted Parmelee)

Everyone pretends they can see the emp’s “invisible clothes” until a kid gives the game away. The writing and dialogue is odd, Emp’s face-symmetry oval is visible, UPA maybe not firing on all cylinders here.

The Unicorn in the Garden (1953, William Hurtz)

A pleasant man finds a unicorn eating his flowers one morning, wakes up his shrew wife to show her. She calls the cops instead to have him committed, but when they arrive he acts cool and she’s hopping around talking unicorns so they nab her instead.

Steamboat Willie (1928, Walt Disney)

My favorite out-of-copyright Disney short… but wait, why did I not know that this movie is a cavalcade of animal cruelty? Mickey throws things at a parrot, a cow is force-fed, A goose and a goat and pigs are turned into musical instruments, a cat is swung by its tail, a baby pig is kicked. On top of this the ship captain aggressively chews tobacco and Minnie gets lifted by her undies. On the plus side, Mickey invents the Anvil Orchestra.

A Corny Concerto (1943, Robert Clampett)

Two mini-musicals as Elmer conducts Strauss.
McKimson, Tashlin, and Stalling – all the boys turned out for this one.

1. Porky and his dog hunt Bugs in time to the music.

2. A quacking swan rejects the grey duck until he violently rescues her babies from a vulture.

Felix in the Ghost Breaker (1923, Otto Mesmer)

Why does the Felix DVD open with a text crawl telling us that after Mickey Mouse stole Felix’s merchandise sales, producer Pat Sullivan’s wife “fell or jumped from a hotel window?” Why not add that Pat had a history of incompetence, was a convicted child rapist, and drank himself to death the following year? Anyway, we’ve all decided to give New Jersey’s own Otto Mesmer the credit for Felix and these films, and Otto continued the Felix legacy for another sixty years.

A ghost is tormenting a farmer and his animals, Felix leads it away with a bottle of rum (which ghosts love) then holds it at gunpoint (future note: Felix is armed) until the farmer arrives for the scooby doo ending. When did ghost breaking become busting… there were Ghost Breaker films through 1940, and Ghost Busters and Chasers in the early 1950s, then busting became the default after the famously unprofitable 1984 film.

In the 1920s Felix looked like a snaggletoothed black cat – I’m more familiar with his 1930s character model.

Useful meme for later this election year:

Felix in Hollywood (1923, Otto Mesmer)

That’s more like it – now Felix is pranking people. He makes his wannabe-actor owner rich through shoe sales, then the owner is off to Hollywood to find a job in the movies. Felix does get another gun… his magic bag of tricks wasn’t invented until the 1950s but he disguises himself as a black bag to stow-away to Hollywood, where he meets caricatures of nobody I recognized (reportedly Gloria Swanson, Ben Turpin, Tom Mix, and Cecil De Mille) and poses with Chaplin. These are mildly meta, then, since he’s already in a movie, and in the previous one the ghost came towards camera and threatened the viewers.

Face Like a Frog (1988, Sally Cruikshank)

Absolutely wild all-things-possible animation at a frantic pace, like a PG-rated 1980s Superjail. I guess a frog gets seduced into entering a spooky house, then escapes through the basement. I was gonna say this has insane music for a short, turns out it’s by Danny Elfman, same year as Beetlejuice.

Quasi at the Quackadero (1976, Sally Cruikshank)

Quasi (pronounced KWAH-zee) lives a decadent life in bed watching TV programs of other people doing work. Anita and Rollo take him to a psychic carnival, plotting to lose him there, and succeed in knocking him down a “time hole” into the dinosaur age. All the best animators come from New Jersey. The score composers wrote a book called “The Couch Potato Guide to Life” which is also about getting warped from watching too much TV.

After Quasi’s disappearance, Chairy found a new home in Pee Wee’s Playhouse:

The roll-back-time mirror also rolls back your clothing:

And with that I’ve seen all of Jerry Beck’s 50 Greatest Cartoons, and written up all but nine in the book – five of those being Tex Avery shorts. Now to rewatch those nine, and find the sixty-ish runners-up. A man’s life work (watching cartoons on the couch) is never finished.

Out West (1918, Roscoe Arbuckle)

Bullets and arrows to the ass and bottles to the head are minor invonceniences, if that. Roscoe is a vagabond thief sharpshooter who takes a job at Buster’s saloon and helps fend off the invincible but highly ticklish Wild Bill Hiccup. A very silly movie.

Life is But a Dream (2022, Park Chan-wook)

Pretty good for a phone ad. Coffin maker steals wood from a famous fighter’s coffin to bury another famous fighter, the two ghosts agree to marry and be buried together. Ends on an underworld dance party, all pretty extravagant for a short.

Wrecked (2013, Benson & Moorhead)

Shitty pilot crashes/destroys his plane in desert, needs water, makes radio contact with a bizarre unhelpful individual quoting annoying platitudes, who turns out to be a stoned music festival participant. Cute, better than the Park.

The Heron and the Crane (1975, Yuri Norshteyn)

Animated birds and live-action fireworks. Crane would like to marry Heron, she refuses, then reconsiders but he refuses, then reconsiders, and so on. I thought there’d be some reconciliation and compromise, but nope, narrator says they go back and forth eternally.

Hedgehog in the Fog (1975, Yuri Norshteyn)

Hedgehog gets distracted on his way to bear’s house to count stars, when he sees a white horse in the fog. Wanders in there, gets terrified by all the creatures, but they keep helping him and he makes it out. Beautiful movie, abrupt ending. How’d they do the fog? Characters remind me of the Winnie-the-Pooh Russian shorts (Khitruk was Norshteyn’s mentor).

25 October, The First Day (1968, Yuri Norshteyn)

Ah, glorious October 1917, the people marching in one mighty red undistinguished blur while cartoon priests and fatcats run in terror. Lot of text slogans. Not my kind of thing, but neat layered images. Newsreel footage at the end with red flag waving over it, exclaiming that the people now run the country with no exploiters. Did it still feel that way fifty years later?

Cowboy Jimmy (1957, Dusan Vukotic)

Wow, exaggerated looney Wild West characters, Jimmy arrives and kills a whole table of card cheats with one shot then throws them his smoke rings as wreaths, chases down the blackhat villain, who trips Cowboy J so he falls out of the movie screen and into the audience in front of a pipsqueak fan. The kid takes J to his wild west playhouse, where the child villain brutalizes the real cowboy until the kids all lose respect for him and carry him to the kino to throw him back through the movie screen.

Cow on the Moon (1959, Dusan Vukotic)

Soccer hooligan smashes a girl’s model rocket, so she builds a full-size rocket to get even, knowing he’ll steal it, then she scares the hell out of him by pretending to be a moon person. The tormented cow thinks it was a pretty good joke. An even better frame-breaking gag than Cowboy Jimmy when she zooms out and tilts the movie’s background to get a cart up a steep hill

You Ought to be in Pictures (1940, Friz Freleng)

While the animators are at lunch, Daffy talks Porky into telling Leon Schlesinger he wants to quit and go into features. While Porky is getting chased by security and thrown off sets, Daffy is auditioning for Porky’s job in Schlesinger’s office. Terrific live/anim hybrid. Top Looney story writer Michael Maltese played the guard.

Happy Go Nutty (1944, Tex Avery)

Armed with a Napoleon hat and giant hammer, Screwy Squirrel breaks out of the nuthouse and gets chased all over by a guard dog. Good meta jokes, only one racist bit.

Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952, Hannah & Geronimi)

Lion is raised with sheep, “he was big but he was yellow.” Rhyming narration by Sterling Holloway. More tame / less fun than the others, but very professional looking, and who doesn’t like Holloway (reprising his stork role from Dumbo).

Felix in Exile (1994, William Kentridge)

A person sits in a bare room while a bunch of others bleed to death. Ah, he is a writer, either inventing or recounting the deaths, the animation leaves half-erased trails – a cool effect when you know it’s done on purpose, less so when you’re not sure if you got a dodgy MP4. His walls become covered in paintings of a woman in water, the bleeding bodies transform into landscapes, the woman is connected to telescopes and sextant, and appears as a constellation. It’s all depressive-obsessive. Honestly I messed up watching this after Tex Avery shorts – even though I noted it was from the 1990s I had Felix the Cat in my mind when I hit play.

Ben LaMar Gay opened, solo with recorder, conch, mini gong, rattles and drones. The cornet was by his side but he didn’t feel inspired to pick it up, or miscalculated how much time he’d get. Q&A after, with Lynne Sachs and team giving context on their piece, and the Two Sun director all alone.

Amma ki katha (Nehal Vyas)
Four stories/myths/dreams/histories told by the elephants holding up the world. Mythic and symbolic about India in ways I didn’t usually follow. Some paper animation, a high-school play, some mothlighting. Didn’t see any of this coming after the simple hair-braiding intro.

The Sketch (Tomas Cali)
The speaker is new in Paris, learning to draw. He connects with a trans life model, represented with different drawing styles and also nude/real, the protag visually sketchy until self-realizing at the end. Better than it sounds.

Four Holes (Daniela Muñoz Barroso)
After a half hour of serious metaphor, this one’s comically-presented camera tech issues brought down the house. DIY solo golfer and filmmaker both have hearing issues, hanging out, playing with her sound equipment together.

Two Sun (Blair Barnes)
Dense in language, speech, music, and edit, but light in tone. A poet friend of the filmmaker’s puts on a fashion show for the camera and shares deep thoughts.

Contractions (Lynne Sachs)
Performers with hidden faces in the parking lot outside a former (due to repressive new laws) abortion clinic in Memphis, voiceover of clinic workers’ experiences, fears, and thoughts on the current situation. Artfully done, lovely.

The Glass Harmonica (1968, Andrey Khrzhanovskiy)

I’ve seen this style before, some hinged limbs but most “motion” is cuts or fast fades between drawings. The townsfolk are greedy and private, and all beauty is kept away from the people by spooks in black suits. They hear the glory of a glass harmonica, then see the government thugs destroy it, and get back to hoarding wealth, transforming into animals until there’s a wacky war of mixed-up creatures in the town square. From the first half of this you’d never predict it would have such wild character design. Our glass-wielding dude come back a-strummin’ and turns the people from abstract art back to realism – the hoarder becomes generous, everyone so enlightened that they float into the sky, rebuilding the town commons they’d looted earlier, even after the agent of money smashes the instrument again. I don’t think any glass harmonicas are heard in the symphonic score, nor do glass harmonicas look like the portable glass pipe organ the animated musician strums like a guitar. Not only was this banned for screening in soviet territories, the director was ordered into the navy for two years.

A Return (2018, James Edmonds)

Houseplants, sheep, and windowlight, superimposed and cut with stuttery editing. The soundtrack is all crashing ocean waves until the last couple minutes when new tones arise, sounding coincidentally like a glass harmonica. A short and pleasant abstract piece.

Seven Songs About Thunder (2010, Jennifer Reeder)

Uniformed marching band girl flees through the woods, is later found dead by apparently-pregnant jean-jacket Libby, who narrates about death and reincarnation. After offending her psychiatrist (who later offends her husband), Libby keeps getting calls on the dead girl’s phone with its “Sweet Child o’ Mine” ringtone, finally calls in the dead girl to the cops. Kind of a stagy, unreal short film, low-budget but accomplished. The psych’s husband went on to play Anne Hathaway’s brother in Dark Waters.

And I Will Rise If Only to Hold You Down (2012, Jennifer Reeder)

Dancer alone, saying aloud insults and affirmations… another marching band girl running, this time getting home safely. Mostly locked down shots (the last movie kept gliding in straight lines towards then past the characters), dialogue repeating in different contexts.

The Three Stooges in Termites of 1938

I’ve got this Stoogeological Studies zine sitting on my desk, but I haven’t seen the Three Stooges in action since I was a kid. Let’s watch some classic shorts and see if they hold up.

Muriel (Bess Flowers, “Queen of the Extras”) wants the escort bureau to get a date to Mabel’s party, but maid Etta “sister of Hattie” McDaniel calls the exterminators instead. Larry/Curly/Moe are in their office attempting to blast the mouse with a cannon, but the mouse blasts them – a real Wile E. Coyote situation – Chekhov’s crate of “gopher bombs” sitting on the floor. At the party they’re alternately trying to mingle and exterminate critters. Since our guys start eating first, the fancy people all take their table manners cues from them – they cause a ruckus and get ejected. Characters are named Clayhammer, Mrs. Batwidget, and Lord Wafflebottom. This was loads better than Ferrari. Stooges also have a short called Ants in the Pantry, and between that title and this one, I’m getting Ants in Your Plants of 1939 vibes.

Wee Wee Monsieur (1938)

These Stooges movies are more complicated than their <20 minute runtime would suggest. Multiple locations and a lotta plot here, but it doesn't lose focus from the main attraction: conking people on the head. Our guys are broke Parisian artists, fishing out the window to steal from food carts while completing their masterpieces, then chased off by landlord and cop, and join the foreign legion not realizing it's the army. Put on guard duty by Sgt. Bud Jamison (of the Chaplin Essanays), their charge is immediately kidnapped. Now on a rescue mission, they need a disguise because “no white man has ever entered” the palace of whatever exotic land we’re in – I feared the worst, but they all dressed as Santa Claus, conking suspicious guards and loading ’em into the sack. Masquerading as harem girls they save Captain Gorgonzola from the enemy (recurring antagonist Vernon Dent) and harness the man-eating lion to get home (well, back to base at least).

Tassels in the Air (1938)

The previous two were directed by Canadian hero Del Lord, this one is by Charley Chase. Bess Flowers and Bud Jamison are having the house redecorated, come to visit a snooty artiste decorator’s office but our guys have mislabeled the office doors, so they get hired for the decorating job. They start out by painting the antiques, not that anyone notices, but I caught them apologizing a lot in this one, aware of their own incompetence for once. Curly fails to learn pig latin, and has a nervous condition where he goes barking mad when he sees tassels. Lboxd useless as ever, the top three user reviews call it “the worst Three Stooges short,” “one of their best,” and “the median.”

Bud is sent to mix some polka-dotted paint: