Judge Daryl Loomis is creating a series of films based on themes from Mary Worth.
An unholy collaboration.
In 2007, Montreal director Matthew Saliba brought together five other young local filmmakers to create an anthology of short films using themes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The resulting compilation, Frankenstein Unlimited, is definitely a mixed bag, but each of the six films is an interesting, if sometimes obscure, take on the classic novel.
Dark Lotus (d. Matthew Saliba)
Victor (d. Matthew Forbes)
Flesh for Kung-Fu (d. King-Wei Chu)
Reflection (d. Maude
Occam's Razor (d. Peter James)
Mr. Fluffenstein (d. Martin Gauthier):
Saliba's only instruction to his collaborators was that the films had to connect in some way with the original novel. Otherwise, they had complete freedom. The result is six very different films whose variance makes for an enjoyable and unpredictable 90 minutes.
Stylistically, Dark Lotus is by far the most interesting. Shot without dialogue using stop motion photography, it's jarring at first, if only because I've never seen a film made quite like this. But the method makes a lot of sense. The beautiful black and white stills have a silent film appeal and the shifting speed of the frame make for an effective illusion of movement. Erotically charged and gorgeously shot, this is the kind of experimental short I can really get behind.
What Dark Lotus lacks in story structure, Occam's Razor makes up for in spades. This is my favorite of the six, with Saliba's short coming in a close second. Pulling from films like The Usual Suspects, Peter James has created one of the most compelling narratives I've ever seen. Stylistically restrained, the only flourishes come from the shifting of black and white into selective coloring. They are subtle shifts which add atmosphere, but are barely noticeable. The dialogue is very good and the performances an excellent fit. The resolution is convincing and surprisingly detailed, leaving very little to complain about.
The remaining four shorts are middling, each having their merits, but far removed from the other two. Flesh for Kung-Fu stars Gordon Liu (Iron Monkey) and, while it's surprising they were able to secure a performer of such stature to star in a four-minute film, this is little more than a single fight scene and a few title cards. The fight is pretty good, but there's little going on here. Reflection fares a little better, though it has only the vaguest connection to the original work. Stylishly shot with a cool burlesque milieu and a cast of oddball characters, it's certainly worth watching, but lacks a true coherent tone. Victor is a melancholy piece which suffers because it consists mostly of an old man walking around town getting dirty looks from people…and doesn't go anywhere from there. The compilation's finale, Mr. Fluffenstein is most different from its brethren. Like Frankenhooker, this is pure silliness, a fun and mindless way to end the collection.
For a self-published product, Frankenstein Unlimited is a surprisingly strong release. The films are all very low budget and shot on different cameras, so the image quality (while clean throughout) varies quite a bit. The indiviudal visual representations have more to do with stylistic choices, and don't reflect the work put into the disc. Sound is similar—clear, but unspectacular. As for extras, each film features a commentary from its respective director. All of them are solid, though in his discussion of Victor, Matthew Forbes sounds like he may be on something.
Frankenstein Unlimited is a quality compilation whose variations in tone and style keep the anthology moving along. Though two of the shorts surpass the rest, the film as a whole works very well. It's nice to see young filmmakers put out innovative, creative work, and this disc is a great showcase for them.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Sinema Saliba
Review content copyright © 2009 Daryl Loomis; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.