Warner Bros. // 1999 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // December 21st, 1999
Do lots of short films a long film make?
Insanity seems to be the theme rather than title of this collection of short films. This is the sixth in a series of DVDs showing off some of the best of short film works by independent artists. Some of them are funny, some attempt to be profound, while others are just nuts.
I believe it was with a heightened sense of irony that my editor sent me a DVD with SHORT emblazoned on the cover as the title. Or maybe it was just my turn, I didn't ask. And I'll have to be honest here: I've never been a big fan of short film. Most of them I've seen come off as a high school film student wannabe's basement project. Usually when I see a good short film I think of how it could have been a better long film. And when I see a bad short film, I'd rather not have seen it at all. But I decided to give it a shot.
The first entry I watched was The Bad Plant about a mean plant named Bill who takes off in his mail-order rocket ship. Crudely done in 3D animation, it was entertaining enough. The quality of the films varied greatly from one to the next, but the best one by far was Billy's Balloon, which for some reason had me laughing like an idiot as homicidal balloons beat on, strangled, and dropped children from great heights. The crude animation kept it from becoming truly sick, though it was sick enough. Another noteworthy animated entry was Midnight Dance, with fast moving scenes of skeletal zombies interspersed with nature and butterflies, all set to the classic Danse Macabre. Some of the shorts were very well done from a technological standpoint, such as Blue City and Franky goes to Hollywood. Blue City is a 12 minute look at a man wanting to commit suicide and a boy circumventing his efforts, while two car thieves try to steal the man's car, all shot through blue filters in a desolate city landscape. Franky Goes To Hollywood is the look at the rise to stardom of a dog who gets a part in the movie Armageddon, and has cameos of most of the stars of the film along with the director. These two had real production crews and quality equipment, and had the values of a more traditional film. Many of these films have director commentaries and production notes as well.
The video and audio obviously had great variance from film to film as well. Some of it was very well done, albeit in full frame. Audio ranged from good Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks to decent and poor Dolby 2.0. Even the 5.1 tracks of music in the short presentation 60 Channels was pretty much centered though, with nothing for your surrounds or sub to do. The last good thing I have to say about this disc is that it is inexpensive, with a retail price of $14.96 and available online for even less.
I mentioned the variance of quality of the films in this collection. Some of them were just plain boring and tedious, to the point of forcing huge caffeine intake to avoid going to sleep during them. Sometimes even that wasn't enough. I'd have thought I could stay awake during anything for the 20 minutes or less that these films take, but I was wrong. I don't want to pick on any one film or artist, because some of them won awards and I'll just have to chalk it down to "I just didn't get it."
The menus and chapters were variable in quality too. When you'd get to a chapter and see the sub-chapters of short films, there was this horrendous screeching sound track that repeated while you made your selection. It made you choose fast, since I felt like breaking the disc in half after hearing it between every film. Some films merely showed a track on my DVD player, without any time elapsed, which I dearly wanted on a few of them in hopes of knowing it was almost over. Others had time elapse show, along with better video and audio.
There is an old saying about baseball where it's claimed that it has "20 minutes of action crammed into 2 and a half hours." This disc felt a lot like that. When the film was good, it held my interest well, and time went by quickly. When it was bad, the film seemed to last 3 days instead of 18 minutes. You of course won't be forced to watch every minute of the disc, as I do when I'm doing a review. If you're a fan of short films, this is probably worth your money at the price it is available for online. As for me, I'll break it out once in awhile to watch balloons go nuts on these cartoon kids, and giggle again, but probably nothing else.
The disc is acquitted, though if I were one of the better films of this collection I'd surely ask for a separate trial from the rest. Some of the films are guilty of wasting my time and valuable film stock, at least in my pedestrian opinion. QuickBand Networks is commended for giving these independent artists a forum to show off their work at a budget price.
Review content copyright © 1999 Norman Short; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Production notes