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Short Cinema Journal 1:3 - Authority (1999)

Cast: Michael McKean
Director: Alain Resnais, Alain Resnais
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Studio: Polygram Video
Genre: Comedies, Drama, Foreign, Independent, Russia, Short Films, Latin America, Brazil
Running Time: 135 min.
Languages: English
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This title is currently out of print.

The third volume in this ongoing series of videos collecting outstanding short films includes notable featurettes both old and new. Titles in this volume include: Alain Resnais's classic Night and Fog, a subtle yet harrowing look at the holocaust. Flying Over Mother follows a Russian cosmonaut as he thinks about his childhood while returning to Earth. Os Camarada is a Brazilian film based on a story by Franz Kafka about a man trapped in the mire of bureaucracy. And Joe is a perceptive portrait of a mental patient who has found shoes to be the key to his happiness. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

This disc is currently out of print so we only have a limited number of copies for rent. Thanks for your patience.

GreenCine Member Reviews

For Pink Shoes, Try Pepto by AKrizman June 15, 2003 - 11:26 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
NOTE: GreenCine's description here is wrong. This disc does not contain a featurette on the filming of MONTANA.

Volume 3 - Authority
The most cohesive volume in the series yet; these shorts fit impressively well with each other. This volume eliminated most of the superfluous non-film filler with the exception of an amusing one-minute Denis Learyesque anti-authority rant by Michael McKean. The highlights of this volume are FLYING OVER MOTHER, DADA, Jane Campion's A GIRL'S OWN STORY, and of course the powerful holocaust documentary NIGHT AND FOG.

This disc contains the following Shorts:

Flying Over Mother (1996) 9 min.
A cosmonaut facing a life threatening emergency upon reentry from his mission, reflects back to the moment in his childhood that brought him to that moment. True to this volume's authority theme, this short questions whether it's best for an authority figure to lie if it's for your own good. The film avoids placing judgement when the defiance of this authority proves to be both liberating and potentially fatal.

Dada (1994) 10 min.
The first half of this animated dutch short is deceptively whimsical. The director, Piet Kroon, creates a setting where a person's knowledge is indicated by books literally stacked on their heads. The second half turns surprisingly cynical when the protagonist has a son and becomes preoccupied with his son's mental development. Using this allegory, Kroon makes an eloquent criticism of traditional education and the quantification of intelligence.

Joe (1997) 10 min.
Judging by her commentary, the director, Sasha Wolf, intended this film to be a portrayal of mental illness and the human ability to adapt. And judging by the name-dropping in the credits (Stanley Tucci and Martha Plimpton are thanked for their help in fund raising), this film presumably required lots of influence to get made. Given the resources that went into making this film, it's all the more disappointing that it's so lightweight. Sure, it's a well-done parable that teaches an important lesson: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But it's not nearly the insightful study of mental disorders that Wolf was promising.

Os Camaradas (1997) 15 min.
A young man attempts to deliver a package to a house, the paranoid occupant of the house won't let him leave. He asks the boy accusing questions without giving him any clue as to what he suspects the boy of doing. I honestly don't understand this film. It's set during the military dictatorship of Brazil, so maybe it's an analogy to living in a dictatorship where the authorities can hold someone without proof of guilt just because they have the power to.

Girl's Own Story (1984) 27 min.
Three teenage women on the verge of sexual awakening have their loyalty to each other tested as they each naively become victims of predatory men. This early short from Jane Campion showcases her adeptness at story writing; in a very short time, and with no flashbacks, we become deeply intimate with these complex women. The film does suffer from poor sound quality, however.

The Whites (1996) 11 min.
The best parts of this absurdist experimental short is it's technical aspects. The changing frame speed makes the action frenetic, and the exaggerated sound including nonsense dialogue that sounds like recorded voices played backwards creates a humorous effect. Unfortunately, the story is less interesting than it should be; the film's suburbia-as-hell theme is as over-exposed as the high contrast black and white film it's shot on.

Night and Fog (1955) 29 min.
This documentary on the Holocaust is not a dry historical record that lists the timeline of the relevant events with clinical detachment. It was never intended to be. Rather, its purpose is to induce nightmares and to sicken the viewer with the horrors of the holocaust, lest these gruesome events become sterilized with time. At this, it succeeds admirably.

Prev: Volume 2
Next: Volume 4

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