Saturday, 22 September 2012

The ABCs of Death

Twenty-six movies in two hours. The last time I watched a jammed-packed anthology, it didn't go so well. It is a bit of an unfair comparison, that was amateur filmmaking at its worst, and this is all very professional.

The films run the gamut from arthouse to intensly political, and display a wide range of quality in terms of writing and execution. The collection lacks a framing story, it's just twenty-six films in alphabetical order. Each one ends with its title card "[insert letter] is for [insert title] by [insert director]".

The thing with a project like this is you never know what you're going to get when you have a number of different filmmakers all working on their own to produce their part of the movie. And so you wind up with a bit of an emotional and stylistic, rollercoaster. Both Apocalypse and Bigfoot were fun, but Cycle was an abrupt shift in tone. And then came Dogfight, a beautiful, slow-motion opus about an illegal fight. The whole movie was like this, up one moment, then down the next, and suddenly you're going sideways.

All styles of filmmaking are here represented. Unearthed and Gravity are first-person POV, Klutz is animated, Toilet is claymation, and Hydro-Electric Diffusion is a live action nazi-splotation film featuring anthropomorphized canids. Other films are more straightforward and mainstream, and two explore the filmmakers' problems with their assigned letter.

And then there's Libido, Zetsumetsu, Toilet, and XXL. Each of these films I think  perfectly sums up the craps shoot that is the mulit-directed anthology. Libido pushes the boundaries of taste while Toilet crosses right over the line, and Zetsumetsu is an absurdly surreal cultural moment, while XXL's powerful message is hard to watch.

The ABCs of Death is like a really good short film festival, and if you don't happen to like the letter you're watching, it'll be over soon.

NB: This review is a re-draft of a version posted earlier today. Changes relate to movie titles only.

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