Published Jun 16, 2009The conflict within this series of shorts is not only that of a traditional external nature but also an inner-conflict with self-loathing, cultural phenomena and the psychology of all things passed. The shorts that address these internalized feelings tend to be more effective here, channelling that our past and present circumstances affect the future to come.
Opener "Construct + Conflict" is one of the weaker entries, mixing testimonials of violence taken and given with eventual exaggeration. Yep, it's a bunch of people standing around talking about blood. No blood is shed, however, in "Dandurand Cinquieme," where a convenience store clerk makes the strange decision to antagonize a visibly off-centre man who's just used the store phone to turn himself in to the police for an unnamed crime. The question here is of criminal intent versus moral sanctimony in the eyes of rules and regulations.
"Like My Life" features an odd-looking 13-year-old boy that lives in a motel room when not going to school. It's all about identity and escape, with a little bit of nouveau feminism and prostitution tossed in for good measure. "Chicory 'n Coffee" demonstrates a bit of girl power as well, with a seemingly passive grandmother enacting a silent protest against her husband in this animated treat.
The next short, "Reaction," is a little bit longer and pretty uncomfortable to watch. A man witnesses a woman getting beaten in the car in front of him and decides to follow the vehicle and intervene. This one is far more entertaining than "The King of Laughter," where a man walks around maniacally laughing at people. It's intended to be heart-warming but his facial expressions are seriously creepy.
One of the stronger films in this collection is "Short Term 12," which is about a group of support workers who look after a housing facility for neglected and abused children. What works here is the blend of thoughtful characterizations with both humour and drama for a surprisingly human portrait of the impact our actions have on others.
"She Who Measures" is an anti-consumerist animated short about a sinister clown that entrances people with television and empty promises while making them fill up their shopping carts with his shit. It's smart and cynical but suggests that the way to change the status quo is to reveal it for what it is. The thing is, people tend to get mad and defensive when these things are pointed out to them.
"Side Effects" is a thoughtful short where a pharmacist demonstrates knowledge and compassion for one of her customers far beyond that of professional courtesy. It offers a nice glimpse of things to come after the film, much like "This is Her," where a woman giving birth recounts some events to transpire in the next 20 years. This fatalistic short film is both clever and amusing, turning the requisite Hallmark moment on its heels.