Film Movement is an interesting experiment in film distribution. This
company buys the rights to independent and foreign films, and then releases
them theatrically and on DVD at the same time. The DVDs are available through
the Film Movement web site, either individually or through subscriptions.
Most of the movies that they select have won awards at film festivals around
the world but lack the appeal of a mainstream film. Since these are
small art house films that not everyone is able to see, it distributes
them to a wider audience. In addition to the feature, each DVD contains
a short and often other extras.
This month Film Movement's DVD doesn't
have a main feature, instead the disc is devoted to six shorts. Though
there are one or two films that I didn't care for, this is still a splendid
collection of short movies, one of the better collections to have been
The movies included on this disc are:
Inja: In South Africa, a white landowner
becomes jealous of a young black boy who had gained the love of a puppy.
In order to make the dog loyal to only himself, the landowner has the boy
put the puppy in a bag. The man then beats the dog, and has the boy
then let him out. The dog assumes that the boy was the one who hurt
him and now fears the lad. This event comes back to haunt all three
people years later when the boy and dog have both grown up.
A nice film with an interesting twist.
Sangam: Two Indian men meet on a
subway in New York. One has only been in America fora couple of weeks
and doesn't have a job, while the other one is a computer technician who
has lived in New York for years. These two men share a lot in common,
but have very different views on many things.
This was a very good film. The film maker was aptly able to illustrate
the factors that tie these men together, as well as the things that separate
them. The story is mainly set in a subway car, though the director
weaves images of India itself as well as clips from Indian movies together
with the film of the two men to create real three dimensional characters.
An outstanding effort.
Mt. Head: An experimental animated
short from Japan. A stingy man picks some cherries off the ground
and decided to eat the pits, since throwing them away would be a waste.
He soon discovers that a cherry tree has started to sprout from his head.
It grows to a few inches in height, and in the spring when the blossoms
are in bloom people crowd on his head to picnic under the beautiful tree.
An odd little film, it wasn't really funny, and it wasn't dramatic. It
was worth watching, but I doubt I'll every watch it again.
Das Rad: Two rocks, Hew and Kew,
are perched on a hill top and watch civilization bloom in the valley below
them. An amusing stop-action animated short.
The First Three Lives of Stuart Hornsley:
Clocking in at almost half an hour, this is the longest film on the disc,
but also the best. Stuart Hornsley is a brilliant physicist who is
so caught up in his research into the nature of time that he lets his life
slip past him. He traces the problem back to one day, several years
ago, when he was in grad school and a simple mistake caused his life to
turn out differently than he had planned. With the help of a local
middle school student, he builds a time machine in his New York City apartment
so that he can go back and set his life back on track. Even though
the machine works, putting things right is harder than it sounds.
This was a very enjoyable film. The concept of a small event in
the past having a dramatic effect in the future isn't new or novel, but
the film makers were able to take this trite concept and make it into a
fun film. Director Leigh Dana Jackson did an excellent job with a
small budget. The opening sequence that runs while the credits are
rolling is a wonderful little segment that really caught my attention.
The close up look at a young child's diorama had some great visuals.
Jackson has an impressive eye when it comes to making the mundane look
exciting. Not only that but she (I assume) was able to take an overused
film device I actively dislike, the linking of the first shots in a film
with the last, and work it into her film in a way that actually made the
film better than if it had been left out.
Star Tunde Abebimpe, who is also lead singer for the band TV on the
Radio, does an impressive job as the befuddled genius who is convinced
that he's living in the wrong world. He was able to project Stuart's
awkwardness in life while also making the viewer empathize with him, and
that's what really makes the film succeed. A really good film.
Deathdealer: A Documentary: Henry
Rollins plays a traveling salesman in this mockumentary. The difference
is rather than taking orders for office supplies or furniture, this person
is an angel of death, and he receives lists of names of people to kill.
A darkly comic short, Rollins does a great job in his role. He looks
the part of a salesman in his cheap suit and five o'clock shadow.
Complaining about his job and the stress he's under, just like any other
person who's working for the man, he really instills the film with humor
and wit. A cross between Spinal Tap and the Maysles' film
Salesman, this was a fine way to end the disc.
Many of the selections are in foreign languages and these all have burnt
in English subtitles, which was unfortunate. I would have preferred
it if the subtitles had been optional. Aside from that the two channel
audio tracks sounded appropriate for the films. While the audio wasn't
brilliant or outstanding, there weren't any major defects either.
Though some of these films are presented in widescreen format, this
disc isn't anamorphically enhanced, which is a shame. Other than
that, these are recent movies, and all of them look fine. Many of
these are low budget productions but none of these films are grainy or
have abundant digital defects, the latter problem often plagues independent
movies short on digitally. A solid looking disc.
There are no extras.
This was easily the best Film Movement disc that I've seen. There
were several stand out films included in this collection, and only a couple
that were just mediocre. I especially liked Sangam and The
First Three Lives of Stuart Hornsley, movies these movies alone are
worth the price of the disc. While I was sorry to see that this disc
did not offer optional subtitles and wasn't anamorphically enhanced, the
is still one of the better compilations of short films that I've seen.