Day 24 Short Attention Span Theatre: Watch some shorts or anthology things
This 24th day of Scarecrow Video of Seattle’s Psychotronic October Scarecrow Challenge of 31 movies in 31 days is tailor made for the binge-watchable sci-fi films at DUST (make your own anthology film!). Their portal features science fiction shorts from emerging filmmakers obsessed with aliens, robots, space exploration, technology, and the human experience in space.
There are so many great films that rival the imagination and budgets of most bloated Hollywood productions to be enjoyed on DUST. But I chose to review two films that eschew dialog. Films that successfully use subtext over dialog is an art form not easily mastered. And these two films are magna cum laude.
Writer/directors Colin West, of Pink Plastic Flamingos, and Marko Slavanic, of Project Skyborn, understand the pitfalls of including more dialogue than is necessary to convey a story. They understand that films conveying a tale with images and not words make for a more lasting impact.
Think about the perpetual jaw-drop you experienced with 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Or being mesmerized by Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon (1956) and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire (1981) and The Bear (1988). Or the captivation experienced with Kim Ki-duk’s 3 Iron (2004) and Moebius (2013).
Such are these two films.
Pink Plastic Flamingos
That human-technological dependence on our phones and its related apps—that we use to complete the mundane tasks of ordering food, deciding what food we need to restock the fridge, or cleaning our floors (an iRobot Roomba makes an appearance in the film)—is addressed with Colin West’s sixth film. West, however, goes deeper with his technological statement: it’s also a satire on the drudgery of the domesticated housewife and the human-emotional disconnect.
Pink Plastic Flamingos is comedic tale about a man, his family . . . and his robot. George (Vince Major) hates daily chores. He hates mowing the lawn. Even making sure his daughter, Emma (Dylan Beam), is safe and secure in the car gets on his nerves. He hates any social obligation, even to his own wife, Marilyn (Sara Gorsky).
And how dare she leave a note for him to do the dishes. Then, with the foot bump of a Roomba (that speaks the film’s only “dialog”: a foretelling, “Caution”), George has an “aha” moment to rid him of these bothersome tasks.
So with a lawn mower, a computer, and car parts from his garage out steps a Futurama-by-way-of-Tony-Stark solution to all of his problems. Now he can relax in a lawn chair with a Styro-cooler and lounge at the pool.
And all is well until the robot takes over his life. And he loses is wife and daughter to the more attentive robot.
Technology: Be careful what you wish for.
The purpose of film is to suspend your disbelief and engage your mind. Such a film is the sci-fi actioner, Project Skyborn. As with Anton Doiron’s inventive, sci-fi-on-a-budget space pleasure cruise that is Space Trucker Bruce, Project Skyborn is a case of giving a filmmaker an easily eBay-acquired flight suit, a few feet of 25mm flexible electrical conduit, some hose-band clamps, and two Thermos flasks and you get a film that rivals any Matt Damon or Brad Pitt astroromp.
In this Oblivion meets Hunger Games mind bender, Astronaut 42 (William Buchanan, U.S TV’s NCIS “Devil’s Triad”) wakes up in a snowy, wooded landscape—possibly a moon of a distant planet. He’s been airdropped into a virtual reality game zone, equipped with a technologically-advanced rifle and a photograph. And the rifle’s on-display timer is counting down. And he’s just been acquired in a mysterious opponent’s crosshairs. Then an electronic voice advises how much “breathable oxygen” his suit has left. The first shot rings out. . . .
And speaking of anthologies: DUST edited an hour long “anthology” with a collection of recent sci-fi shorts from their library: Time is a Place, Telepathy, Atoms of Uncontrollable Silence, Falling Apart, Again, and The Two of Us.
Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement
Sara Gorsky of Pink Plastic Flamingos will soon star alongside Ronnie Cox (1972’s Deliverance, In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders) in Demon Star, the feature film that grew from the award-winning short, Cockpit: The Rule of Engagement. You can learn more about the films of writer/director Jesse Griffith at Griffith Pictures You Tube.
Banner Image by R.D Francis. Pink Plastic Flamingos image courtesy of Colin West. Center image courtesy Facebook DUST; manipulated by R.D Francis. Project Skyborn image is not an official poster; manipulation by R.D Francis based from still courtesy of Marko Slavanic; text courtesy of PicFont.