WSFF review: Pretty Poison (Cumberland 4)

Toronto – It’s shorts time, rain or shine. So I walked 20 minutes in pouring (Literally. My friends’ dragon boat and soccer were both cancelled) rain to Cumberland in shorts and sandals to see Pretty Poison, a collection of fairly off-kilter films. Even though the official selection criterion is “films that reveal the dark side of the moon”, it still wasn’t a coherent set of films. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t the sushi or the tempura, but the bento box that came with it. A trend that I did notice is that it got progressively more interesting as the program moves on into the night. Starting with Painted Moon, which is basically a time lapse of the bottomside of a painter’s water jar. And then there was A fable about beauty, a hilarious take on the evolutionary advantage and intellectual disadvantage of hot people. And who can forget the Grey Power lady! Pretty Poison rounded off with Wade and Karen reminding us, like in $4 haircut, to pay attention to the small details behind the scene. Including ignoring that one guy in the front who wants to sample every food mentioned in the program.

New Educational Series – At Home With The Ants (Jill Kennedy)
I don’t know what’s with this film, but it tackled my inner critic to the ground and I really enjoyed it. The major ingredients are frosted glass panes, paper cut out EVERYTHING, a magical reproduction computer wheel (no, not a sex-bot or a cloning machine), and a generous sprinkle of Salvador Dali. From what I could tell, it was a maddening serial free-association for “educational” use, starting with an ant hill. It was so interesting just to figure out how Kennedy got from ants to mouse to levitating things (I have my hypothesis throughout the film). The dog atom is such a funny idea that I wondered why I never thought that dogs are quantized (which is totally true). Highly recommend it if you can find it. Just don’t expect to come away unscathed.

Lipsett’s Diaries (Les journaux de Lipsett; Theodore Ushev)
NFB strikes again. Arthur Lipsett was a experimental short film maker whose fan included the creator of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Ushev follows his footstep, in a sense, and made a visual translation of Lipsett’s hypothetical diary. The diary, we’re told, has never been found. Like Lipsett, Ushev used what looked like some archival footage and audio to weave his story. This film is a beauty of an animation. Ushev’s drawing style, following the footage sometimes, looks impressionist to my untrained eye, with bold and contrasty colours and lines. It roughly estimates the murky feeling one gets from reading a diary, I guess. In 3 chapters, from his mother’s abandonment, his success/acclaim with some films, to his “leaving” the world, the short film covers the most ground not in the excellent animation, but in voice. Under different circumtances,  I could totally see the prose recited at a jazz bar.

Break A Leg (Jesse Shamata)
Who likes to trade words with a guy that looks like a good fit for a Sicilian mob family? Break A Leg stars Shamata’s father in a permanent curmudgeon phase, constantly goading, hustling, intimidating people at a diner. And just like a good communicator uses analogies,  what people do after they take #2 becomes a judgment of their character – “Are you a folder, or a crumbler?” The atmosphere building, and the writing is quite effective. But I won’t spoil the ending, it’s a pleasant surprise.

And. Someone please fire that incompetent projectionist.

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Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, Worldwide Short Film

4 Responses to WSFF review: Pretty Poison (Cumberland 4)

  1. Wade

    I really enjoyed Break A Leg. I love the short film formula where the filmmaker holds back a piece of information and then there is a reveal at the end which justifies the entire piece. Simple and honest. Really great.

  2. Ricky

    break a leg was amazing.

  3. Allison

    That projectionist is unionized. Good luck firing them :)

  4. Pingback: Jill Kennedy » Blog Archive » WORLDWIDE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 2010

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