With films like Batman and Robin, The Avengers and their ilk pouring out of Hollywood with deafening multi-million dollar publicity campaigns it's easy to forget that there are hundreds, if not thousands of independent film makers out there using the cinema as a venue for pure art. In recent years most Americans have shown little interest in art films and unless you have an independent theater in your area you may be out of luck if your tastes run counter to the mainstream. The basic concept behind the Short Cinema Journal series (recently renamed simply Short) is to provide home viewers with award winning short films that they might not have seen otherwise on the big screen.
Short positions itself as a new form of media distribution: the DVD magazine. You can buy Short titles one at a time or subscribe to Short and receive them by mail as they're released. Each Short disc addresses a theme and includes a variety of films wrapped in interactive menus and supplemented with a variety of extras including production notes, commentary tracks and alternate video.
Short 1:4 is a compilation of films that explore the many aspects of seduction, both sexual and otherwise. Much of the content is adult in nature but is handled very tastefully. These aren't films about sex, they're explorations of the human condition and fully appropriate for viewing in any psychologically balanced family setting.
Tunnel of Love: Boys and their toys, men and machines. Tunnel of Love is the story of a man's love for a vintage Norton motorcycle and the women who admire it. But is confusion between lust and lug nuts an exclusively masculine domain? This is a wonderfully funny film in gorgeous black and white featuring some of the most spectacular motorcycle mounted camera work I've ever seen.
Kom: The power of teen love can reverberate throughout a lifetime. Kom is a beautiful examination of the roots of a committed relationship. This title features an interesting commentary track with noted 'sexpert' Annie Sprinkle.
T.R.A.N.S.E.T: Cartoons aren't just for kids as this sumptuous art deco treat demonstrates. Discovering the plot is what this film is all about. Includes a commentary track by the producer and an alternate video track including the original pencil tests.
Lily and Jim: Ever been on a blind date? Lily and Jim are about to go on the worst one ever conceived. This cute minimalist animation has received over a dozen awards for its witty dialogue and resonant theme.
Hisao: A very experimental blend of still photography and animation that examines a Japanese singer's desire for fame in America.
The Last Supper: This live action piece illustrates one of the more popular urban legends floating around these days. Moral; be careful what you wish for.
Tale about the Cat and the Moon: A moody animated film from Portugal about the seduction of the night.
Anticipating Sarah: A sugar sweet confection taken from the pages of one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Very high production values and accompanied by a commentary track with the filmmakers.
Because this is a collection of many films the quality of images vary between titles. Overall the transfer is exemplary with good color, black level and clean film elements. Each title is presented in its original aspect ratio.
Again, the sound varies between titles. Some have full-blown Dolby 5.1 tracks and others simple Dolby 2.0. In all cases the sound is clear and free of distortion. Volume levels are consistent throughout so you won't need to fuss around with the remote. Just set it and forget it.
Extras are provided for almost every title on this disc as outlined above. Of particular interest are the animated menu elements that comprise, in about a half dozen parts, a film by Henry Jaglom (Venice/Venice) in which he goes on endlessly about his personal theory on love and lust on the movies. Make sure and check out the 'Credits' section for yet another short, this time featuring a very funny conversation written by the Drew Cary show's Ryan Stiles.
At an average retail price of $12.00, Short 1:4 is well worth owning (as are all of the discs in this series). If the seduction theme isn't to your linking don't despair: simply check out some of the other Short offerings. These discs are designed for the serious film fan but even the casual observer should find much to like here. They're great for casual entertainment or as warm-ups for an evening of DVD viewing.