onedotzero_select dvd4 Review
onedotzero, to quote their press release, focus on “presenting, commissioning, exhibiting and distributing new image work”. What this means in DVD terms is a collection of 20 short subjects ranging from music videos to animations, politically motivated works to the defiantly experimental. Indeed, the stylistic differences and tonal shifts spread over this disc are often quite alarming and this prompts two effects: firstly, it makes for a fascinating watch and one that can be enjoyed in a single sitting without becoming in the slightest bit repetitious (unlike, say, the BFI’s Phil Mulloy compilation or the various ‘Walt Disney Treasures’ releases, both of which are best enjoyed over much longer periods of time); and secondly, it means that onedotzero don’t really have a chance of pleasing all of the people all of the time.
So what of the films themselves? Well, bearing this last thought in mind, they’re not always successful. Personally speaking the cutesy 3D CG animation of Catwalk left me cold as did the music video for Afra’s Digital Breath. But then owing to the extra colour such pieces add to the collection overall, I can understand their presence. Moreover, and more importantly, there’s always something excellent to come just a little way around the corner.
Such as The Shouty Track, for example, Airside’s promo for sound merchants Lemon Jelly and one of the most purely amusing pieces of animation I’ve seen in a long time. (In a nutshell, it sees biro doodles come to life resulting in some terrific heavy metal madness.) Or there’s Obras, a stunning 11-minute single take through Spain’s urban redevelopment schemes complete with strong political message. Or there’s the reason why everyone should go out and buy this disc, Virgil Widrich’s Fast Film.
His follow-up to the photocopy animation of Copy Shop (currently available on both the second Resfest DVD compilation and the Cinema 16 Europe collection), Fast Film audaciously combines numerous pieces of classic filmmaking – from The Maltese Falcon to the original Godzilla - into an exercise in pure cinema. Through its various filmic associations and genuinely cutting edge (not to mention logistically baffling) animation, a railway chase plays on our collective memories of Hitchcock, Buster Keaton and Universal horror movies (plus many, many more) to create one of the most remarkable films of the decade so far, short or otherwise. Indeed, it’s difficult to divulge too much, not only because of its sheer depth of reference, but also because its qualities shouldn’t be spoiled in the slightest.
In complete contrast, another standout is the music video for Prodigy’s Girls. Matching the tracks old school electro, the offers an unhinged exercise in nostalgia, say Prince’s Sign o’ the Times promos with added visceral edge. What’s interesting about this particular piece is how it brings into play just how dated those once cutting edge eighties creations have become. And as such it also raises the question of whether the pieces assembled here will suffer the same fate. Certainly, it may prove unavoidable in some cases (such as Hitchcock’s post-9/11 sensibility), but then these aren’t mere exercises in empty visuals. Of course, there is an all-encompassing aesthetic slickness to the disc, yet there’s also a voice behind all 20 of the contributions. Whether that be the spy humour of Park Foot Ball or the visceral qualities of We Have Decided Not to Die (especially its first part), each piece deserves its inclusion. Indeed, everyone who makes a purchase should find at least a handful of works to truly cherish.
Given the amount of precision that goes into the visual properties of these shorts it is imperative that their DVD presentations look as good as is possible, and thankfully this proves to be case. Throughout, the picture quality is uniformly superb, coping just as well with the moody Chris Cunningham-esque The Eel (a must see for fans of his Come to Daddy promo and Rubber Johnny as it does the garish oddness of Ex-Fat Girl (which really has to be seen to be believed). Likewise, the soundtracks all sound superb in DD2.0 format, the majority coming with equally precise leftfield accompaniment (Kid 606 and the like).
As for extras, these amount solely to a nicely produced booklet which contained potted biographies for the various directors and production houses, plus short film notes. (All of which can also be viewed on the disc itself.) Of course, this may on the surface seem a little paltry, but then given the range, depth and – most importantly – quality of the films contained on this disc, such limitations are easy to overlook. Indeed, someone is going to experience Fast Film or The Shouty Track for the first time, and surely that is reward enough.
Electronic Performers (Laurent Bourdoiseau/Arnaud Ganzerli/Jérôme Blanquet)
We Have Decided Not To Die (Daniel Askill)
Park Foot Ball (Grant Orchard)
Jack Nicolson (Ishibashi Mitsyuki/Yosada Yuko)
Empire (Edouard Salier)
Digital Breath (Eric Cruz)
Fast Film (Virgil Widrich)
Loop Pool (Daiki Aizawa)
Hitchcock (Reuben Sutherland)
The Eel (Dominic Hailstone)
Watermelon Love (Joji Koyama)
Le Sens de la vie (Bernard Stulzaft)
Catwalk (Kitada Shin)
Obras (Hendrick Dusollier)
The Shouty Track (Airside)
Ex-Fat Girl (Nagi Noda/Uchu Country)
For further information on onedotzero, please visit their website.