Published Jun 02, 2010If there is one shorts program to see at this year's festival, it's easily the retrospective on Montreal's Prends Ca Court film series. Featuring challenging themes and beautifully photographed, this grouping of thoughtfully rendered shorts shows again that some of the most talented filmmakers that the world has to offer come from Quebec.
Having screened at last year's festival, Denis Villeneuve's impeccable, intelligent, gorgeous short film, Next Floor, returns for anyone that missed it. Framed and lit like a Greenaway movie, commenting on the state of the working class with a group of bourgeois diners gorging themselves with increasing grotesquery, this title shows the weight of excess crashing down and down, literally, through floors of a building.
Filmed with similar aesthetic care, Danse Macabre reveals the contorting deceased as they are prepared for a viewing, or as theatre for the living. It's nearly impossible not to be affected by the visuals alone, which leads well into One Month, which features stunning still photography of a woman moving on after a break-up.
Of course, not everything in this program is superlative, with Victor Gazon glibly handling the topic of suicide by framing it through the eyes of an obese child that loves candy, and OIO doing the artsy-fartsy with torrents of paint flying about. But even these comparable weak titles are still well above average in comparison to all else in the fest.
Red, a short film about a man taking a trip to IKEA with his mother, handles personal loathing in a strangely haunting and unpretentious manner, showing someone drinking himself to death, visibly destroying himself, juxtaposed with his mother's similar, but hidden, grief. And speaking of grief, The Drawer and the Crow tackles emotional transference through stop-motion animation, with a man entering into a new relationship without moving on from an old one. It's all done through drawers and whitewashing as a mode of masking, making for a moving, uneasy viewing experience.
Also difficult to watch is Dust Bowl Ha Ha, wherein a man begins to grapple with his life's purpose after his job - a fleeting mode of arbitrary meaning to most - is taken away. It rounds out the program, along with Passage, an unsentimental short that mixes grainy, black & white photography with moving music, showing a group of friends indulging in their desires, only to find that passion without consideration can lead to pain and friendship's end.