SXSW11-Animated Shorts/Attack The Block/R.E.M. Collapse Into Now Films
Don’t worry about me, ma’am.
THE BEAUFORT DIARIES (2010)
Directed by: Alex Petrowsky
Written by: T Cooper
David Duchovney narrates this short as a polar bear named Beaufort. He leaves the Arctic because of global warming to become a star, lose his fame and make a comeback all in about four minutes. Pretty damn funny stuff done with stick puppets. Find it and check it out if you’re into political/anti-Hollywood humor.
Directed by: Leah Shore
Written by: Leah Shore
This is a short film that is OBVIOUSLY influenced by Bill Plympton. It’s about a secretary who types/writes/drinks/etc…all with her boobs. It’s so heavily influenced by Plympton that I’m not exactly sure that it wasn’t actually directed by him. Time will tell. Pretty funny, but not as good as what inspired it.
Directed by: Daniel Fickle
Written by: Daniel Fickle
A mixed-race crustacean wants out of his tank because of the pollution. A little heavy-handed, but the animation is really good. I think I fell asleep a couple of times during this one (and many others…TOO many late nights for having not seen any midnight flicks yet), so I could be wrong about some things.
Directed by: Ross Butler
Written by: Ross Butler
One of the funnier films without a social commentary going on, this is about exactly what it sounds like it’s about…dinosaurs performing ballet. All done in crayon. It doesn’t wear out its welcome before getting to a lightly funny punchline.
Directed by: Mikey Please
Written by: Mikey Please
Very pretty black and white stop-motion animation make this story of a man going through the important moments of his life one of the best of the program. The man talks about a few moments of his time growing up and then notices how time moves so much faster for his young son than it does now for him. How do you stop that?
Beautiful film. I can’t wait to see what Mikey Please does next.
Directed by: Jennifer Drummond Deutrom
Written by: Jennifer Drummond Deutrom/Mark Deutrom
Another one that I didn’t fully understand, but the animation was pretty cool. A race of creatures in a dystopian society go through their humdrum lives, but they always think of new ways to escape. Interesting looking blob-ish creatures made this one pretty funny, but it didn’t really seem to add up to much.
Directed by: Erick Oh
Written by: Erick Oh
A strange creature finds a heart. He has to fight to keep it and nearly makes it until a female comes along. When he gives it to her, all hell breaks lose and another tries to steal it from her. We fight for love…but is it always worth the cost?
Some crazy animation here that is at once beautiful and gross. Not the best of the program, but a very good one.
Directed by: Martin Wallner/Stefan Leuchtenberg
Written by: Martin Wallner
This was my absolute favorite of the program. A young man’s father dies and he goes through every emotion that could come from it. Narrated by Ian McKellen and voiced by Joseph Feinnes, this is an amazing film that doesn’t flinch away from the pain and recovery of loss. Written in Suessian rhyme, it almost sounds childish. But it makes sense because, to your parents, you’re always a child. And you never feel more childish than when you lose on of them.
It’s hard to find anything wrong with this film. See it if you can.
Directed by: Damian Nenow
Written by: Damian Nenow
This one is about two fighter pilots who just can’t seem to kill each other, no matter how hard they try. They run further out of fuel and ammo until…well, you’ll have to see it. Very cool animation and a great view of how hate blinds you to all else…even love.
Directed by: Alan Dickson
Written by: Wayne Ching
Another super-funny one that used Suessian dialogue. This one is about how much the Easter Bunny hates Santa and Christmas. Great stuff.
Directed by: Rob Munday
Written by: Rob Munday
How does a lemon have legs? Who cares? As long as Teddy Goldblatt can walk and think, he can be a lemon and live in his own post-apocalyptic world. Pretty funny and just the right amount of deep.
Directed by: Olivia Taussig
Written by: Olivia Taussig
This one was an experimental short with a few bright spots. Not my thing, but not as bad as some experimental stuff.
Directed by: Beomsik Shimbe Shim
Written by: Beomsik Shimbe Shim
I think I fell asleep a lot during this one. I barely remember it. Dammit.
Directed by: Joe Cornish
Written by: Joe Cornish
After the shorts, I booked it over to what may end up being my favorite narrative film of the festival. Attack The Block is a Critters-like horror flick about chavs becoming human.
Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is mugged by a bunch of kids led by Moses (John Boyega). At the end of the mugging, something falls from the sky that ends up attacking Moses and running off. Sam runs away and Moses and his crew run after the creature, eventually killing it.
That might have been a mistake. Soon enough, hundreds of bigger and tougher creatures are falling from the sky, and they’re all after the kids.
I had heard that this movie was great, but I still went in with no expectations. It ended up being the most fun I’ve had so far, and I really had fun with Paul.
It’s not JUST a horror film, either. It starts off showing the chavs as being assholes who only want to cause mayhem, but by about the middle of the movie, we start to realize why they are where they are and how they feel about each other. They’re brothers and would do anything to protect themselves and The Block. When they ugly interlopers threaten, they do everything it takes to keep everyone (including Sam, who also lives on The Block) safe.
And then, of course, there are the creatures. They’re fucking amazing. I don’t think there were any digital effects in the movie at all. The creatures were either animatronic or guys in suits…and they are fucking beautiful. The gore, too, is pretty amazing.
Even with Nick Frost’s involvement (he produced and stars as a cowardly drug dealer), this movie is having a problem finding American distribution. The companies think that Americans have a problem with the accents and the occasional rhyming slang. Fuck that. Even if I didn’t understand them 100% of the time, it didn’t keep me from enjoying the fuck out of this movie.
If it comes to your town or shows up on video, go see it. You won’t regret it.
R.E.M. has been one of my favorite bands since high school. I found them a little late, but whatever. I found them and managed to see them twice. When I found out that they were hosting a series of short films based on their new album (which I, sadly, have not had a chance to pick up yet), I knew that I would have to let The Beaver go and see this instead.
I’m really glad that I went, because there is no way that I would have been able to put any meaning to some of these films at all. Now, I at least know where they came from.
Michael Stipe went to a bunch of different directors, giving them a song from the new album, Collapse Into Now, and asked them to direct a short film based on the song. One director, James Franco, he sent two songs for him to choose from. He chose both, of course. That’s what James does.
Michael showed nine of the twelve films last night. I wish that the Franco films and the Albert Maysles films had been among them.
The program started off really strong with Sam Taylor-Wood’s film for Uberlin, starring her boyfriend, Aaron Johnson, as a dancing fool. I didn’t recognize the kid because he now looks like a dude-bra version of Patrick Dempsey. It was a good, fun film, though, and Aaron put in a LOT of training to be able to dance and move the way he does.
Then came Dominic DeJoseph’s film for Mine Smell Like Honey, where a group of people help Michael fall up some stairs. Good stuff.
The best of the bunch was Tom Gilroy’s It Happened Today. It involves a young boy who wakes up, goes to breakfast and then goes out to play in the snow. While he’s at home, his life sucks. It’s black and white and he’s bored and completely detached. When he goes outside, though, everything is in color and comes to life. It is truly a beautiful piece of film.
The WORST of the lot was the one directed by Sophie Calle for the song Walk It Back. Michael asked the conceptual artist to do a film and, at first, she respectfully declined, asking him to send a song anyway, “just in case.” 20 minutes later, she came up with something.
What she came up with was an insult, I think. Michael didn’t see it that way. It starts with a woman dancing a jig. Then it cuts to a fly on a French menu. Then, in the Big Insult, it cuts to a horse pissing. Not even the whole horse. The top is above cameraline so that the pissing penis is the main focal point, telling Michael that his pop music is horse piss.
At least, that’s how I saw it. Michael saw it as a really weird, beautiful piece of film. The only thing that was cool to me was the fact that it was all shot on Sophie’s iphone. Other than that, I think she was actually sending a message to Michael that he didn’t want to see.
Other than that, the films were all at least interesting, even if they weren’t my style. I can’t wait until the other three are put online. Apparently, at least one of Franco’s is hilarious.
How was the music? Awesome. They’re expanding on what they did with Accelerate and they aren’t quite as angry. (Michael was asked why they weren’t so angry and he said, “Barack Obama.”) One of the songs sounds like they took the opening riffs of Leave from the criminally under-rated New Adventures In Hi-Fi and built a song around it.
If you want to check out the films, head over to REMHQ. They’re putting them up bit by bit.