Today’s Shorts: Elegy (1965), Fight Club (1999), The Invisible Man (1933), Earth (1930), Suspense (1913), After Death (1915), Dream Of A Rarebit Fiend (1906), House (1977)
Elegy is an expressive cinematic poem that explores horses’ (as a species) relationship with humanity. In such, it asks the viewer to question our initial domestication of them thousands of years ago in respect to the manner in which we treat them in the modern age; one that hardly utilises the horse for transport, rarely for labour, in some countries, for food, though often just as attractions such as the circus and races.
This is such a poignant short thanks to its editing – which has you locked into the narrative with a precise control the ambiguous, sometimes horrifying, atmosphere and tone. Moreover, Elegy has intriguing effects put in place which embellish the poetic montage and add intricacy to the aesthetic approach.
So, all in all, Elegy is a mesmerising short with compelling subtext that I’d recommend to anyone who’s not too squeamish.
Having looked around at other peoples’ reviews for a while, it seems quite apparent that Fight Club is a widely misunderstood movie. Yes, it’s cool, yes, you’re not supposed to talk about it, yes, yes, yes, yes…
What is so often overlooked is the irony of Fight Club and the fact that this isn’t a commentary on society and consumerism – at least, not in the respect that many outline. Fight Club is best seen as a romance, the irony wherein a conscious critique of self-consciousness, rebellion and all the other elements that have 15+ year-olds jizz in their pants. In the simplest terms, Fight Club is about mummy and daddy issues being projected onto the world and the self-proclaimed disenfranchised wanting to strike out at it for that very reason. Fight Club is about not being able to stop pushing the destruct and self-destruct buttons. Moreover, it is about the infectious nature of this very predicament that The Narrator finds himself in.
The ultimate goal of Fight Club is then the reconciliation of self-hatred as well as mummy, daddy and women issues within our protagonist. In such, this is a movie about growing up and being an adult instead of destroying the world. This then calls into question the final image and all of the garble that is spewed throughout the narrative. To not talk about Fight Club is to get on with your problems without palming them off to everyone else. To break that rule is to form Fight Club, to allow the external fight to be needlessly, perpetually and immaturely propagated. Adhering to the rules has you focus on the person close to you and, in The Narrator case, she who holds your hand through your needless destruction of the world.
All in all, Fight Club is a romance, little more.
The Invisible Man is a comedic and satirical commentary on anxiety and positions of power, one that exposes the absurdity of both incompetence and corruption. In such, The Invisible Man makes fun of the average businessman, the police force, scientists and a plethora of other positions. Knowing this will add both substance and sense to the experience of this ludicrous narrative.
Beyond this, The Invisible Man holds some great direction, fluid and energised camera work and, of course, some ground breaking special effects that are, for the most part, pretty flawless – you do see strings, Claude Rains’ eyes below his bandages and the artifice of sequences from time to time though. Nonetheless, this is a highly enjoyable pre-code picture, one I recommend to all.
P.S. This movie is referenced in Fight Club – just look at Tyler’s glasses in the third act.
Profoundly brilliant, Dovzhenko’s Earth is a masterpiece of epic proportions. Strictly from a formal perspective, this is not only one of the greatest pieces of soviet montage I’ve seen, but one of the most powerful pieces of cinema I’ve ever witnessed. With astounding impressionistic camera work and an edit that time and time again simply flawed me, Earth has a tremendous sense of pace, rhythm and mise en scène. And supported by Ovchinnikov’s score, this narrative reached through the screen and shook me senseless – especially in the astonishing harvest sequence.
Without a means of properly articulating the brilliance of this film, all I can suggest is that you go find Earth and let it speak for itself.
An exercise in, as the title suggests, suspense, this film shows the parallel events of three characters, a wife, a husband and a tramp as the latter breaks into the former’s house with malicious intent. Whilst this narrative has no substance in terms of subtext or characterisation, it does well in conducting this technical exercise. In such, this contains a handful of striking shots and some pretty impressive split screen that keeps the pacing on point and full of energy.
Beyond this, the only other interesting detail of this film is the fact that it is one of the most notable shorts that was co-directed by Lois Weber, the first female American filmmaker. And such cites this film as an prominent picture of film history.
After Death is a highly melodramatic romance with a psychological and tragic twist to it. In such, it captures a melancholic and graceful tone along with a heavily sombre atmosphere – one that is greatly supported by the rich aesthetics–the colour tinting especially. This formulates a highly immersive narrative that is well paced and a delight to watch.
The only downfalls you could pick out of this film would be in regard to the manner in which the melodrama impacts characterisation. As could be assumed, this means to be a highly emotive film, and whilst it is somewhat poignant, the characters are left slightly flat with a rushed set-up that doesn’t allow a bond to really be formed between the two leads. However, this seems to be an intentionally placed element of the script, so, I wouldn’t critique this heavily, but nonetheless could understand why this narrative wouldn’t be particularly interesting to some.
But, all in all, I enjoyed After Death and was struck most by its control of tone and atmosphere, so wouldn’t shy away from suggesting you watch it too.
This is a fun early special effects spectacle that garners a few laughs through some ludicrous over-eating and hallucinogenic dreaming. With a premise and a lot of imagery that is reminiscent of a plethora of other films of the times, Dream Of A Rarebit Fiend isn’t especially remarkable. However, this holds within a stand-out sequence that uses superimposition to create a dizzying effect which was particularly redeeming and reason enough to give this short a watch.
Obayashi’s House is a self-reflective film without rules, one that is uniquely insane in pulling out all the stops.
However, I’ve just watched this for the first time and really can’t say more than that. I’ve been completely flawed and will certainly be watching this again – and hopefully then I’ll be able to say a little more.
Knock Off – Why Is This An Aruban Movie?
End Of The Week Shorts #7.2
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