Published May 31, 2010While some would surely be offended that this program of shorts portraying modern day masculinity features a child molester and a dollhouse-collecting diva, I find it kind of funny. And even though a couple of films are woefully dull, there are others that more than make up for it, evening things out and making for an overall pleasant viewing experience.
On the quickie animation front, we have Spin and The Black Pines. The latter short features rough, hand-drawn images with a lined-paper background, giving a youthful schoolyard appeal to a tale of childhood fears and angst, while Spin shows dancing toy soldiers killing each other, because that's what soldiers do.
These entries are preferable to Cowboys Are Not Afraid To Die, which takes footage from old cowboy movies and covers up faces with drawings to tell a tedious story of male bonding. Since they compare a gunshot wound to a mouth and a butt hole, and the short is French, it seems that there's some commentary on homoeroticism in the Western genre. Sure, we'll go with that. It's long and boring.
Similarly plodding is April Chill, about unlikely connections while military oppressors break up a peaceful protest. It's beautifully shot in black and white, but presumes identification with its hippie protesters. Thankfully, this prosaic stoicism is juxtaposed with The Collector, which features Beauregard Houston Montgomery — a gay dude that hung out with Andy Warhol — talking about his upbringing, when not calling Madonna a "beast" and making fun of an old photograph where he looks like Sally Jesse Raphael.
Another short doc, titled Pretty Little Bits, takes place in Toronto's junction, where the proprietor of a junk shop talks about his store, insanity, communism and the dreaded status quo. Honestly, I've lived around the corner from this place for almost a decade and never been in it. This short doesn't make me want to change this.
Last but not least, Sores and Sirin tells the touching story of a brother and sister recovering in Germany after being injured in Kurdistan during the Iraq war. What makes this work is the neutral humanist stance while dealing with the conflict between cultural adaptation and family loyalty.
This one is almost as good as the standout short of the program, Birthday, which features a mother sneaking off from her son's birthday party to shag a neighbour. Aside from the stereotype of women being punished for deriving pleasure from sex, this well-filmed, impeccably edited, stirring tale is quite intriguing and disturbing, making this program worth seeking out.