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Reviews for September 29th, 2010

Nine Nation Animation

Directed by various directors.

This compilation of films offers nine animated short films from different directors and countries around the world. The first short is Deconstruction Workers, from Norwegian director Kajsa Naess ,about two construction workers (voice of Anders Mordal and Jan Gunnar RÝise) who engage in a philosophical discourse at the least likely place to have that kind of conversation: a construction worksite. Naess adds a sprinkle of comic relief every now and then, i.e. when one of the workersí pants gets caught on fire as he continues to talk to his coworker who extinguishes it. The dialogue is just as witty, clever and lively as the filmís imaginative, playful title. Next thereís the 3-minute Turkish film Average 40 Matches, directed by Burkay Dogan about matches that come together and succumb to their craving for cigarettes. That idea sounds clever, but it comes across as rather slight and pales in imagination compared to the preceding film. Bamiyan, directed by French director Patrick Pleutin, has more in terms of plot because it centers around a story of a Chinese monk who travelled in 632 A.D. to the valley of Bamiyan who crossed paths with two statues. Not only does Pleutin have a knack for telling an adventure tale compellingly, but he also dazzles you with impressive, vibrant color that provides the film with lots of energy and style. Next thereís the 10-minute Please Say Something from Ireland/Germany and directed by David OíReilly. The plot focuses on the dynamics of a relationship between a cat and a mouse---although that might sound simple and boring, itís actually quite complex, surprising and funny in an offbeat way. The Belgian film Flatlife, directed by Jonas Geirnaert, marks the highlight of Nine Nation Animation. It shows the unpredictable events that transpire to 4 neighbors in a flat while the screen is split into 4 sections, 1 for each flat. Flatlife is laugh-out-loud funny, smart, captivating, refreshingly original and the most charming short among the rest of the bunch.Next thereís She Who Measures from Croatia and directed bylVeljko Popovic, a 7-minute style-over-substance critique of consumerism that hammers its message sans subtlety to the point of tedium. British filmmaker Robert Bradbrook directs Home Road Movies about a loving albeit shy father (voice of Bill Paterson) who buys a car so that he could spend quality time with his wife and kids while driving them via the, a Peugeot station wagon, on vacation. Bradbrook combines dry wit, meticulous attention to detail and some surprisingly poignant moments that make for an ultimately rewarding experience. The penultimate film, South Africaís The Tale of How, directed by The Blackheart Gang, centers around the story of Dodo birds, but the narrative becomes one giant mess because of the terrible, hard-to-follow narration thatís overridden by the visuals. Finally, thereís Never Like the First Time!, by Swedish director Jonas Oddell. It features the audio from documentary interviews with four people, both men and women, young and old, who reminisce about their memories of losing their virginity. Each of those trips down memory lane feel quite poignant and dwell more about the feelings derived from the sexual pleasures rather than the sexual content itself. Moreover, the scenes are captured via terrific animation. At a running time of 82 minutes, Nine Nation Animation is a series of 9 short films that mostly impress with stylish animation, clever concepts, poignancy and, at times, a sense of humor. The best film among the bunch is Flatlife.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the IFC Center.
Released by The World According to Shorts.


Directed by Stuart Schulberg (original version) and by Sandra Schulberg & Josh Waletzky (restored version).

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the Film Forum.
Released by Schulberg Productions

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