Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Lot: 5 more short films, generally serious in tone

Tonight, The Lot had the strongest set of five films yet. Wes Craven, who directs a lot of horror but who also directed "Music of the Heart" was guest director.

Marty Martin was eliminated, and claimed he had been insulted by Carrie last time (as she seemed to think he was more interested in shock effects and auteurish style than story), and Carrie told him that he needed to walk a thin red line between arrogance and confidence. The fact that there is that much to say about a couple of these films is a testament that these filmmakers have a lot to say, as well as stories to spin. That's important to me, at least, since the judges (especially Carrie) are always emphasizing that the good film is first of all good storytelling (beginning, middle and end).

Glass Eye, dir. Will Bigham. A young man loses his glass eye, and we get to watch some of the ensuing search from the viewpoint of the eye. Much of the film is in black and white, and Garry Marshall thought that the color-off should have been witched. The dog poops on it, and this is one of the most charismatic dogs I have ever seen in the movies. I wondered how a cat would have fit. (When I lived in Dallas, I had a stray cat who hid my car keys – imagine that as short! It really happened!) The music background played "La donne e mobile" ("women are fickle") from Verdi's Rigoletto. Carrie suggested that Bigham try using some dialogue next time, even if film is "visual." Bigham’s wife produced the film.

Blood Born, dir. Jason Epperson. A young man, who has been a superdonor (of plasma, often needed by cancer patients) goes to a clinic and learns that many terminally ill people have recovered since receiving his blood. (Just before the AIDS epidemic broke open around 1983, there were calls for superdonors, and gay men were giving blood ien masse to make a hepatitis B vaccine; after the epidemic started, active gay men were banned from blood donation and they still are.) Yet, there are suggestions of his drug use, and an attempted drive-by at the end. Is he a hidden Christ? Epperson wore red (including a cap turned backwards) at the show, and expressed the strong view that movies do not need sex and violence to tell a story; he claims to be religious and apparently wants to make Christian films. His last short (“Getta Rhoom”), however, had some disturbing irony, to say the least.

Sunshine Girl, dir. Zach Lipovksy. This young Canadian says he doesn’t want to be known just as a special effects guy, and what follows is a real Spielberg-like tale. Ever wondered how people would react if something happened to the Sun? (Like in the disastrous TV movie “Ice”?) Well, a little girl is hunting for toys under her bed, then gets out a kindergarten drawing that looks like one of mine (I still have them in the closet), a picture of a garden on a hazy, milk sky day. Outside, she pulls a glowing globe out of the sky, and it really looks like a Discovery Channel model of the Sun as an average yellow star. Suddenly the world grows dark, and CNN breaking news tell us that the Sun has disappeared. She puts it back, and draws the sun into her picture. The sun comes back. The film title made me think of “Little Miss Sunshine” as well as a middle school operetta “The Sunbonnet Girl” that I was in during seventh grade. But he could also have called his movie “Solar Eclipse.” (One of the 2003 Smallville episodes was about a solar flare, broadcast on a day that a flare really happened.) Ancients used to quiver in fear from eclipses, and in 1963 we had the sky go black on Good Friday. The lean and handsome Zipovsky dresses curiously, in black shirt and tie with shirt tail completely out, as if ready for the disco floor. Maybe the next movie happens at a disco, with some dirty dancing? I can imagine some storyboards.

Lost, dir. Mateen Kemet. A man and woman meet for tea, and the woman tells the man she has gotten married, and that he has lost her, having spent too much time making his documentary film. The entire short is shot in excessive close-up, soap opera style. There is some dialogue from the woman about “real life” that seems contradictory. This is a sensitive personal subject, and I have been in this situation (like in 1978, especially), but the dynamics are more complicated than fit in a three minute film. Think about survival here.

The Orchard, dir. Jessica Brillhart. A man goes through a peach orchard, sawing down limbs, and the tree suffers from the amputations. I know that some of us speculate that plants have feelings, but this didn’t quite work for me. More needed to happen.

Carrie was booed by the audience after negative comments about a couple of the films. All three judges liked Lipovsky’s film the best. I liked Zipovksy’s and Bigham’s and voted for these two.

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