Short Film Sunday – Just Me in the House By Myself

Title: Just Me in the House By Myself

Director: Jack Dishel

Released: 2015

Length: 5 min 11 sec

Just Me in the House By Myself is the first in a series of short films under the umbrella DRYVRS. Each episode will feature actor/director Jack Dishel being picked up by a different UBER style driver. In this episode Dishel finds himself in a car with a monstrous caricature of Macauley Culkin playing a grown up version of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone.

The fast cuts and Culkin’s leering, unnerving smile and scattershot speech make for an extremely odd experience. There is a hint of jet black humour under the veneer of child abuse and loneliness which does just enough to keep things engaging.

Culkin is clearly a troubled and strange soul, his most recent venture before this was a band called The Pizza Underground,who do Velvet Underground covers but about pizza, so it is actually quite nice to see him poking fun at his most famous role rather than hiding from it.

Coming on the 25th anniversary of Home Alone there can be no more bizarre way to honour that classic film than watching Just Me in the House By Myself.

Short Film Sunday – Uncanny Valley

Title: Uncanny Valley

Director: Federico Heller

Released: 2015

Length: 8 min 52 sec

The phrase ‘uncanny valley’ is the feeling of repulsion one feels when technology looks and feels almost, but not exactly, like humans.

This short film by Argentinian director Federico Heller paints a startling picture of where gaming and in particular virtual reality may be taking us. Charlie Brooker must be kicking himself for not thinking of this idea first for his Black Mirror series.

Without wanting to give too much away Uncanny Valley is the film equivalent of a punch to the stomach and the parallels between gamers and junkies are just one startling aspect of this memorable film.

Aside from the grim message, the acting is on point and the animation is truly brilliant to the point where I would be excited to see any kind of feature length version of Uncanny Valley or indeed any more of Federico Heller’s work.

Uncanny Valley is the kind of film you immediately want all your friends to watch. There can be no higher praise.

 

Short Film Sunday – The Big Swallow

Title: The Big Swallow

Director: James Williamson

Released: 1901

Length: 1 min 07 sec

I was introduced to The Big Swallow after it featured briefly in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent hospital period drama The Knick. In the episode two characters watch the film through a looking glass and express amazement at the man in the film as he seemingly eats the camera.

The Big Swallow is a seminal piece of work as ‘one of the first to deliberately exploit the contrast between the eye of the camera and of the audience watching the final filmaccording to BFI online.

Looking back now, the lines between fun and horror were incredibly blurred in Victorian times as these photo’s testify. The Big Swallow was supposed to be a comedy short upon it’s release in 1901 but it’s unnerving jerky camera and unusual subject matter make it feel more surreal in the present day, Lynchian even.

To give some context as to how different the world was back in 1901, The Big Swallow‘s main actor Sam Dalton also appeared in a short film entitled Sambo where he employed ‘black face’.

 

 

Kung Fury – 7/10

Taking on the unenviable task of making 80s cop movies seem more ridiculous than they already are…

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Kung Fury is a homage/parody not just to buddy cop movies but to 80’s movies in general. Think Running Man, Lethal Weapon, Escape from LA, stuff like that.

The problem with parodying such a ludicrous era is that so much of it already feels like a parody of itself. Kung Fury really ramps things up though to the point that a lot of the visual jokes are so out there it is actually shockingly funny. Cult classic and blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite overcame a similar problem the same way.

A feature length film based around this concept would have been too much but thirty minutes is perfect for director/actor David Sandberg to see his project realized in spectacular fashion via a budget raised almost entirely from crowd fund project Kickstarter.

Sandberg is hilarious as well as being really really good looking and I would be interested to see him take on something else actually, such is the quality and imagination behind Kung Fury.

Any film with Adolf Hitler portrayed as a Nazi ninja called Kung F├╝hrer is worth looking into as far as I am concerned.

Rejected – 8/10

Madness… in every direction.

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Rejected was nominated for best animated short film at the Oscars back in 2000 and it really is a minor work of genius. Equal parts surreal, harrowing and hilarious, Rejected is a series of short cartoons by Don Hertzfeldt that were rejected by various organizations (for obvious reasons). The first five minutes give you a taster of Hertzfeldt’s style but it is the closing five minutes that are really imaginative and set this apart from all the other surreal animated shorts out there. Well worth ten minutes of your time.