This Sporting Life

This Sporting Life
Unless skateboarding is considered a sport, there isn’t a great deal of "sporting” going on in this series of shorts, aside from some homosexual Icelandic wrestling. Issues of personal image, peculiar empowerment, private land and portly tourists are explored with perspicacity in this pleasant and occasionally pretentious program of provocative pictures. More high moments are hit than low ones, even when a bodybuilder shows off his guns.

Everything opens with a young British couple taking a leisurely hike in Get Off My Land, an amusing and alarming look at how land became a commodity. It’s sure to keep viewers invigorated throughout the three following minutes of German experimental cinema involving cargo ships, or something, in CTG Keeps Cool.

Island is a well filmed but dull glance into the life of a caretaker who must defend an island from a trespasser. If only Ted Danson could have stepped in to reprise his role from Creepshow, this short may have stood out more.

Stepping things up a notch in quality and depth is Wrestling, an Icelandic short about forbidden love and emotional attachments to cattle. It’s a touching, well-acted and somewhat insightful little film sure to tug on the heartstrings of the pink triangle crowd. Some might be reminded of a Sigur Rós video with gay soccer players and wonder if perhaps Iceland has a burgeoning demographic of closeted homosexual athletes.

Leave it to the French to make a disturbing, intentionally misogynist satire about men finding empowerment in humiliating, insulting and occasionally abusing their girlfriends and wives. Home Team could be seen as amusing if it weren’t so deliberately shocking in its intentions to offend. Either way, it’s certainly a fascinating watch, at least more so than Deracine, a relatively whiny yarn about a pot smoking skateboarder who struggles with his well-intentioned but alcoholic father.

Next up is Waving, yet another three-minute German experimental short. Stoned audience members might find something meaningful in it, everyone else will likely consider taking a bathroom break. This might be a mistake, as next up is The Tourists, an amusing short that insults fat, lazy tourists. Why do people like beaches so much? It’s just a bunch of stinky, half-naked morons clumped together like cattle in a pen.

Psychologically damaged and desperately insecure people who spend their lives in the gym might enjoy beaches. It would allow them the opportunity to show off their bods and get insincere validation from strangers, which is essentially the problem that the titular character in Dennis faces. He’s an insecure body builder who just wants to love and be loved but gets treated as an object. It’s an excellent short that manages to direct empathy at an unlikely source.