JWR Articles: Film/DVD - American Scar | Bump |Bestia | You’re Dead, Hélène (Directors: Daniel Lombroso, Maziyar Khatam, Hugo Covarrubias, Michiel Blanchart) - June 26, 2022

American Scar | Bump |Bestia | You’re Dead, Hélène

4.5 4.5

Four shorts from Palm Springs 2022

American Scar
13 minutes
Daniel Lombroso
Five stars

“Where’s all the danger?”

Even as the Jan 6 Select Committee is circling the legal wagons around Donald Trump, the U.S.’s Liar in Chief, Lombroso has come up with a concise, searing condemnation of the U.S./Mexico border that should also be worth even more jail time. The charge? Endangering the unwitting plant, animal and terrain of that same “border”.

As seen through the eyes and words of photographer John Kuric, the needless scars and wounds on the pristine landscape show once again how unresearched political rhetoric does more harm than good and nothing about quelling the immigration flow—but, in those early days—sure made for a good photo op and political chaff.

Imagine building 458 miles of “wall” by blowing up existing mountains that themselves are enough to deter any immigrants looking for an illegal entrance into the land of the free and the home of the brave!

With spectacular, saddening drone footage the folly of the U.S.’s 45th president is really laid bare. Thank goodness, he sent the entire bill (as promised) to Mexico…where it continues to languish in accounts payable… JWR

4 minutes
Maziyar Khatam
Four stars

Like a bump in the night

A chance physical meeting on Church Street, Toronto results in two “gangsters” literally bumping into each other due to a cellphone preoccupation.

The snappy dialogue escalates to a “bump off” (which initially goes badly), but then the promise of a rematch once some to-the-clock semi-lovemaking is completed.

And yes, the shoes need an upgrade! JWR

16 minutes
Hugo Covarrubias
Four and half stars

A cruel agent gone to the dogs

Stop motion animator extraordinaire Covarrubias, has painted a fanciful, at times gruesome portrait of one of Chile’s most notorious secret police during Augusto Pinochet’s reign of terror. The film is largely based on Nancy Guzmán’s book, Ingrid Oldrock: La Majer De Los Perros (Ingrid Oldrock: The Major of Dogs).

Without a word spoken, we see Ingrid as faithful dog trainer, secretive diary keeper, muffin chef, and systemic murderer—presumably after the torture—including penetration and vaginal licking by her favourite pooch.

Covarrubias and his legion of talented colleagues have created shining faces that are more often in a scowl than a smile (wonderful irony in the juxtaposition): such is undercover work. Particularly effective are the literal meltdown of a radio/cassette player (turned up loud, of course, to drown out the screams) and the “vacuuming” of every item in Ingrid’s house once her career decidedly takes a new path.

Adding a great deal to the frequently uncomfortable atmosphere (more than one head will roll) is the original, string-laden score from Ángela Acuña and Camilo Salinas.

The brief, actual video  snippets of Chile in the ‘70s adds another level of verisimilitude during the credits. JWR

You’re Dead, Hélène
24 minutes
Michiel Blanchart
Four stars

He didn’t stand a ghost of a chance

Here’s a threesome that manages to defy the old adage “till death do us part”.

Maxime (a nicely nuanced performance by Théophile Roux) is out on a horror-flick date with new girlfriend, Clara (Mailys Dumon, wisely lets her co-stars steal the show), when the shocking atmosphere in the theatre exceeds that on the gothic screen as Hélène (Lucile Vignolles, especially fine in her take on evil incarnate in the late innings) once more appears, but only to her former lover. The thing is, she died in an auto accident, but continues to “visit” her paramour.

Writer-director Blanchart has done a fine job developing and realizing scenes which frequently tickle the funny bone. Reminiscent of Harvey (cross-reference below), the premise that Maxime’s ghost can only be seen by him leads to all sorts of mayhem, culminating in another crash, that brings back the awful night when Hélène left the living but refused to go away.

While ostensibly a comedy, anyone who has a partner, friend, or family member leave the planet far before their time will come for the laughs but leave with renewed memories and thoughts of what could have been. JWR

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