Published Jun 16, 2009A lot of what we have here is wilful delusion and distorted perception as forced narrative devices, which, when viewed in tandem, gives an overall feeling of unease and discomfort. This speaks to the strength of a lot of these shorts and the sharp instincts of the programmer, who decided to wrap things up with the latest entry in the Wallace and Gromit canon, which undoubtedly lightens the psychological weight of the proceedings.
Opening the program is a seemingly simplistic animated short about animal abuse called "The Black Dog's Progress," which may be little more than black & white drawings and stick figures but it packs a serious punch. In fact, it might be difficult to get rid of the image of the poor little puppy getting corn-holed during "Bipolar: An Interview with Richard," which is an esoteric performance piece about bipolar disorder that cites performed normalcy as a solution. Is "normal" watching home renovation programs and not wanting to slash your wrists?
The strength of next short "After Tomorrow" comes from not knowing exactly what's going on until the end reveal, which is both clever and heartbreaking. Needless to say, this film about a man being held captive by a peculiar woman and her daughter has more behind it than Kathy Bates and a sledgehammer.
On the weak end of this program is "Carpet Diem," which is thankfully only two minutes long and features a gay man saying something witty about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It's hard to imagine anyone caring, which is fine, as "The Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" is disturbing enough to wipe one's mind clean. This one is about a woman whose anxieties and fears manifest themselves in the form of potential violence towards her children.
"The Spine" is a sharp and incisive portrait of co-dependency, making literal use of the spine as a mode of finding strength in an abusive relationship. It's voiced by Alberta Watson and Gordon Pinsent, for the handful of people familiar with Canadian "celebrities." This same crowd will surely know the dippy Wallace and his beleaguered dog Gromit and find great amusement in their latest tale, which involves a black widow who tricks her way into their lives.