Mixed Shorts Reviews #1

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​Vesuvius (Erik Matti)

What amplify the creepiness in this Matti-Yamamoto short collabo are the layers of sound, the muffled church song, the sound of boiling water as if there’s this witch concocting an execrable-looking and -tasting potion, with eyeballs and intestines ground and juiced to create that green, tangy soup. Also the dubstep and all sorts of crittery sounds looped, the buzz of the fly that moves from the left to the right and back to the left ear channel, and the tinkling echoes of what could be rubies, jades and quartz and onyx stricken or jangled, blasphemously complementing the most evil yet hip among the versions of lady apparitions. The lady’s face is appropriately ghostly, a little japanese-inspired, that spirit disguised by painting the white kabuki make-up on the face of a mestiza-looking actress. The movie is some kind of a tract, a warning for our being superstitious and credulous; however, evil being too clearly defined here decreased the film’s potential of providing a richer, more interesting and lasting, frightful experience.

Two Men and a Wardrobe (Roman Polanski)

Two men from the sea attempt to fit in in town, but obviously their being inseparable from their furniture ostracizes them from their newfound place. If this could be these aliens’ short visit, unluckily for them the trip has turned traumatic. And as we watch them struggle and haggle to be accepted, images of cruelty of men towards their own kind, even to an animal, are shown. So is it a beautiful world we are creating, like what one child does at the beach, building a city of cup sandcastles, when he doesn’t even notice or he’s simply mindless of the two men carrying the drawer pass him by, the duo obviously retreating, unquestionably disappointed with beings considered to have the most advanced minds on earth but whose actions invalidate such perception? The stink and poison creeping from an immoral, self-centered city are a lot more sickeningly fearful than the onslaught of raging waters.


The Big Shave (Martin Scorsese)

This short has a Hitchcockian look and feel to it at the onset, with an initial feature of a worm’s eye view shot of a toilet bowl, and with the subsequent parade of details like shower dials, faucet, and lavatory. A jazzy, big band sound arrives nearly at the same time as the appearance of a Caucasian male. Then the man lavishes his face and neck with shaving cream, takes the razor from inside the built-in cabinet beside the mirror, then strikes to clean his face. There’s a ritualistic, even a masturbatory undertone to the act, which feels interminable for a while. The touch of the blade on the skin could be equated to strokes or caresses, and especially with a horn or sax playing on the background. The movie ends with an image projecting and extending a result of what could be guilt for carnal thoughts and acts, the guilt brought about by a puritanical or Christian upbringing. The mind could be sadly unnecessarily unforgiving and violent.


J’ai faim, J’ai froid (Chantal Akerman)

The two girl characters in Ms. Akerman’s short film want to grow old and taste life urgently, as exemplified by the racy, hasty, one liner exchanges between them, and the fast cuts or edits of shots. The older girl looks like a butch, and the younger one looks like a diabolical walking doll. They do things as they want: smoke, eat, kiss, and then get their ‘job’ done one time with their charmingly bizarre singing at a restaurant like carolers, which earns them the night’s free meal and hooks them with a man. One will experience that which is supposed to be special and that which ‘normal’ lovers do. But with the quick, cold, final resolve to leave after the implied act, it’s unmistakable to conclude that what they learn out of that brief encounter with the guy isn’t worth all the rush. Probably even disgusts them.


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