JWR Articles: Film/DVD - For Art's Sake (Directors: Lucy Walker, David Anderson, Daniel Greaves, Andrew McAllister, Christopher Jacob Jones, Goran Stankovic) - June 29, 2014

For Art's Sake

5 5

Reviewed for the 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest
Seeing is believing and savouring

These half-dozen films all have links to art beyond cinema. Curiously, marvellously, the two most successful offerings demonstrate unquestionably that less is indeed more (David Hockney IN THE NOW) and that showing rather than telling—when handled with great care and sensitivity—can pay off in spades (Enemy Within).

David Hockney

David Hockney IN THE NOW (in six minutes)
Lucy Walker
2014, 6 min.
Five stars

It is but to marvel

Walker’s mini-portrait of the deservedly famed artist is a brilliant mix of key life moments (shifting locales: U.K., NYC, California; personality traits: irascible sense of humour—naked or not—ability to truly savour/live the moment and compassionate soul) with spectacular canvases. There is just enough of both components to cause viewers to walk away with an improved understanding of the man and an instant craving for his work. JWR

Seamless movement

Enemy Within
David Anderson
2014, 19 min.
Five stars

Movement as characterization

By far and away the best short film seen thus far in 2014, Anderson’s portrait of three acquaintances (Tiler Peck, Matthew Rushing and Marquese Scott)—possibly with certain benefits—revels in the body beautiful, seamless movement, magical transitions (from blood-red rose to extra-personal letters written and received), a judgement scene that literally mirrors life, along with the trials and tribulations of getting along within and amongst ourselves.

Lurking in the choreographic/cinematic weeds is the possible/saviour of the principals (Samantha Figgins). Director of photography Chris Benson—along with stellar editing—deftly intensifies the narrative in ways that a live theatre performance never could—notably the “now you see me, now you don’t” effects that certainly fulfill the promise of hour after hour of takes and editing transitions. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the extraordinary creativity that floods the screen thanks to choreographer Preston Miller’s thorough understanding of his art and cast.

Not since Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (cross-reference below) have these pages celebrated dance on film with such rapture and joy. JWR

Mr. Plastimime
Daniel Greaves
2014, 10 min.

Looks promising…

With the technical glitches continuing (yesterday: subtitle madness; today: frozen pixels), a complete review/rating of Greaves’ work isn’t possible.

Suffice it to say that the animated star is a delightful combination of Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin. The scenario heats up a tad too much compared to its well-staged opening before the love interest—saved from a tango-fuelled inferno—finally manages to elicit the applause Mr. Plastimime has craved for countless, auditorium-evacuating performances. JWR

The Pioneertown Palace
Andrew McAllister
2014, 9 min.
Three stars

Information trumps art

More travelogue than in line with this package’s theme, McAllister’s study of one of California’s most intriguing bars/cafés is, nonetheless, easy going, informative and of interest to tourists everywhere. JWR

Trash, Manufactured
Christopher Jones
2013, 16 min.
Four stars

Oceans awash in vanity cleansers

Having composed my own Garbage Symphony (all instruments were “rescued” from the trash; the “drumsticks” had to be fallen branches already pruned by Nature) in the early 1980s, I can well empathize with Jones and artist/environmentalist Marcus Eriksen as this film drills down to take a look at the current state of a toxic-plastic mess ruining our precious oceans and, consequently, inhabiting our bodies.

Let’s hope the major manufactures (e.g., Johnson & Johnson) live up to their promise to eliminate exfoliant beads from their “healthier” body wash products by 2015. JWR

Way in Rye
Goran Stankovic
2014, 29 min.
Four-and-one-half stars

Artfully framing a life lost

No doubt Stankovic’s production will be viewed as too slow by today’s attention-span-challenged viewers.

For the rest of us—and with ghostly echoes of Enemy Within and Sunday in the Park with George, cross-reference below—this film will resonate deeply with anyone who has lost a child then immersed themselves in art as a partial method of coping. JWR

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Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Palm Springs International Film Festival Palm Springs International ShortFest
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work: