REVIEW: IFC Shorts, December 15, 2003

I watched several short films on IFC today, a habit I hope to develop, because IFC shows awesome films! I didn't catch the title of the first one, but it features actor Eric Idle as St. Peter (although you don't learn he's St. Peter until the story fully comes together in a very cool way), is directed by Andrew Tsao and distributed by First Folio Films.

Here are my thoughts on the other four I took in, distributed by Sea Lions Productions and Jovefilm, respectively.

Corey (Todd M. Sandler)
In the beginning of this silent film, the title character is portrayed by a young girl who, for her age, does a fine job with her simple role. The reason for her actions (skipping for many miles and planting apple seeds) is unclear, but we know it has something to do with her ill father's wishes. The ambiguity of the plot keeps the mind going (ambiguity rules!). 

The sequence when Corey travels to her seed-planting location is drawn out, possibly more than need be, but when accompanied by the piano it becomes entrancing.

The aging of the character is shown by moving the camera skyward while she is seated, and then back earthward, where we see her portrayed by a teen. The apple tree has grown and the apples are ripe. She gracefully begins to pick the apples. This grace seems overplayed, but it would not have had the same effect if it wasn't. The most beautiful scene of the film was after all the apples had been picked (or so we thought!) and Corey notices a big, juicy, tempting one that seems to beckon to her. She reaches for it and takes a bite.

The scene is cut with fades and skips between the recent past, present, and memories represented by home-video-style footage. Wonderful.

The Ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Charles Lyons)
When watching an amateur short, it is customary to disregard bad acting. In this film, however, the acting was above par. At first, the scripting resembled that of a teenie film, but it soon developed.
The setting was a college campus, and for a long time the only characters were a male and a female. The premise was that the girl was in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and called herself 'Bess', after one of Fitzgerald's characters. She tried to turn the male, her boyfriend, into Fitzgerald. He put up with it, but when she began buying him clothes and changing his hairstyle he made a stand. The scenes in which these events take place are very believable. The scary thing is that this actually happens. I have known many a girl who loves a particular artist so much that she wants to be in a relationship with them. Creepy.

Zhil-byl Kozyavin (Andrei Khrjanovsky)
AKA "There Lived Kozyavin" or "There Lived a Man Named...". This was the first in a series of Russian animations that IFC presented. It was about a blue collar employee who is told to find someone and deliver a message. His boss points him in the direction he is to travel and in that direction he goes, never straying from his path no matter what gets in his way. He asks everyone if they've seen the man he is to find, but to no avail. Eventually he circles the globe and returns to his office, where he simply continues his regular filing duties.

The animation reminded me very much of Terry Gilliams' animations for Monty Python. The film made me chuckle several times, and was very well done. The Russian dialogue was interesting to listen to, but of course when one doesn't understand a language, it usually sounds complex and interesting.

Cabaret Kadne (Marc Riba & Anna Solanas)
Wow, what a beautiful film. It was done with stop motion, but I couldn't tell whether the characters were real puppets or clay. The story followed a woman who wanted a husband - first-come-first-serve. The man (Don) who takes her is somewhat of a fool when it comes to impressing her, but after he defeats her enormously endowed mother in a creatively filmed bull fight, he matures (both mentally and physically). In the first half of the film, you can hear the puppet show's audience laughing and heckling, but Don becomes angered and breaks his strings to end the show. After that the film becomes even more artistic, and it was extremely enticing. I can't find the words to describe it. Perfect.