Winter Shorts Series: Final Flurries
Well, the time has come for me to bring the One Movie | Each Day Winter Shorts series to an end. It’s been an interesting experience diving so heavily into the world of short films. I’ve been entertained, I’ve been disappointed, but more then anything I’ve been impressed by the depth of creative content out there.
Through this series I’ve barely dipped my toe into the world of short films. I plan to continue to keep some shorts in my mix of films going forward. While they certainly won’t be seen at the pace that I’ve covered them here in the past two months, I may well include one, or occasionally two shorts a week. Only time will tell.
Before I draw the final curtain on this series, however, I want to fit in one more batch of short films that, I hope, represent a little bit of what’s out there. So, while the short film storm is drawing to an end, the immediate forecast calls for flurries.
While most of the shorts I’ve reviewed in this series have been produced in the last couple of decades, short film is anything but a new phenomenon. Of course, the first short film I reviewed before the series, was from the late 1920′s. This time I’m venturing back a little further into cinematic history, (though not as far back as the first film in the series,) all the way to 1910, and the first film incarnation of a story that would go on to be remade as one of the most important films in cinematic history.
This silent short film compresses, more or less, the entire story of The Wizard of Oz into about fifteen minutes (including dance numbers). I can only imagine the time and effort that must have gone into designing some of the effects that appear in this film. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really hold up very well. Frankly it’s boring, and while I’m sure it’s important, it’s not worth seeing.
[The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) - Directed by Otis Turner - Not Rated]
In this 2011 short film, after a young man’s big plans for prom night end in disappointment, he has a meaningful conversation with a woman a little further along life’s road.
This is a movie about how growing up means learning that things aren’t always going to turn out the way you expected them to. Its insightful and funny and director Rylee Jean Ebsen effectively blends humor with melancholy to create a memorable film, and creates two distinctive and memorable characters, all in just a hair over six minutes.
[Resolution of Two (2011) - Directed by Rylee Jean Ebsen - Not Rated]
A fantastically fun animated short film from Spain, El Vendedor de Humo (The Smoke Seller), is about a traveling salesman who, rolls into a sleepy village to showcase his product. This vendor isn’t your ordinary snake-oil salesman though. He’s selling a magical purple smoke that can turn any object into a far better version of itself. Of course there’s a catch, the question is; can the seller hustle the villagers and skip town before they figure out what it is.
This is really a fun little film. The there’s no dialogue, just a fun jazzy score, the animation is almost Pixar quality, but the best part was that it delivered an ending that I (for one) was not expecting at all.
[The Smoke Seller (El Vendedor de Humo) (2010) - Directed by Jamie Maestro - Not Rated]
Another dialogue-free Spanish short, but ONA is an entirely different type of movie. It’s essentially what I think of when imagining a modern artistic short film. Shot in grainy black and while, a man and a woman lie on a rocky black-sand beach and… well other than that little happens, there’s some swimming, some laying on a dock, and some romantic interplay… maybe. It’s hard to tell what is actually happening, and what is merely in the characters imaginations, or possibly in their memories. The camera work is slow and deliberate, with the two human forms almost treated like scenery. The whole time the only things we hear are the natural sounds of the environment.
The movie is striking, and I’d certainly consider it a piece of art. It actually has a lot in common with yesterday‘s film. It’s mildly erotic, yet tasteful, it’s beautifully shot, and plays with the timeline. However, unlike Recursivo, I found ONA to be ponderous and boring. I’m sure there are many out there who will greatly enjoy this film. I won’t tell them they’re wrong, judging by the award’s this film has won they’re certainly not alone, but for me, it’s not worth seeing.
[ONA (2009) - Directed by Pau Camarasa - Not Rated]
Yet another short from Spain, (I swear I didn’t realize this would be a theme until just now as I write this,) Voice Over is one of those films where I don’t dare say much about the plot for fear of spoiling it. The film’s action depicts a fundamental human experience, in an unexpected setting. It unfolds as it is described by a deep-voiced narrator, speaking in the second person. In less than ten minutes this film, delivers two or three totally unexpected twists. At first it appears to be an immersive sci-fi adventure, but it’s actually something so much more, and yet simpler at the same time. I really loved this one.
[Voice Over (2012) - Directed by Martin Rosete - Not Rated]
When I first conceived the Winter Short series, one of the thoughts in the back of my mind was that the Academy Award nominees would be announced during the series, and I’d hoped to review as many of those films as possible during these two months. Unfortunately, I failed to consider that these films would be at the absolute peak of their theatrical viability, and as such they’re not really available through any means I had to see them. That changed this week when Disney Animation released their nominated short, Paperman to their official YouTube channel.
I actually originally saw Paperman in the theater as it was attached to Wreck-it Ralph. That was just before I started the Winter Shorts series so I didn’t review it at the time. However, it was in December, so I decided it was fair game to include here. Besides, this is such an excellent film that it deserves a little creative interpretation of my rules. The film follows an ordinary man through a day when a chance encounter, and some persistent paper leads him to a transformative experience. Once again there’s no dialogue, once again it’s in black and white, (mostly), but it tells a fantastic story, it’s a must see film, and it’s the prefect way to end the Winter Shorts series.