Creatures Great and Small

Creatures Great and Small
I don’t know why but I was hoping for films with a little more educational content about the many creatures great and small that inhabit our world. This collection did hit the mark at times, but at others, the connections seem quite tenuous, to the point where it felt like as long as there was an animal included, it was put in this grouping. Billy Plympton expands on his hound series with the Crayola-ish animation of Hot Dog, where a firehouse dog zestfully attempts to help stifle blazes but only ends up fuelling the fire. Silent Snow is a low budget look at the poisons affecting the climate, animals and people of Ummannaq in North Western Greenland. There’s not really much to be said for the filmmaking but the content is timely and terrifying. Journey To The Forest is an interesting German film shot with a variety of time-lapse and stock photography. The camera may be from the vantage point of an insect while it looks at trees and simulated forests in public space before zeroing in on a menacing sequence of logging. Peter Mullan stars as the angriest Scottish bastard since fellow Trainspotting alum Robert Carlyle in Dog Altogether, a grim little production about wickedness and salvation. The Object is just plain bizarre. Spoken in oddly accented English, subtitled in English and filmed at an old school projector-style frame rate, it starts with a guy in a field getting hit in the head by a weird, breathing black box. He brings it home to his family, who become enamoured by the box, which is then stolen by a boy with a frothy mouth who takes it to his mother. They do a wacky dance around the box to Battles’ "Atlas” before the original family comes to reclaim the box with a torch-bearing posse. It’s pretty ludicrous, but the next short, Praying Mantis Up Skirt, takes the cake. Old photographs of settlers in Saskatchewan are edited with cutouts of praying mantises, which swarm about the pictures, climaxing with a repeated nosedive down some old gent’s trousers. Can You Wave Bye-Bye? is a dreary look at postpartum depression where a woman finds more compassion for a random dog than her newborn baby. A kaleidoscope of narrowly focused orthinology in motion is about all there is to Canaries in Colour, but Stagman makes this selection of shorts really worthwhile. It’s a darkly lit French production about a man with the face of a stag that hires a hit man to end his own sad life but regrets his decision after beginning to live without care of judgment. He meets a girl with a doe-face and, unable to call off the hit, the two of them, and a peanut, find out the crazy ways the world has of working things out. It’s sad, sweet, funny and well produced, a characteristic that unfortunately not a lot of the Creatures selections share.