Sunday, January 4, 2015

Best Short Films of 2014

Before I wrap my list of favorite films of the year, I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorite short films from 2014.  Academy Award nominations will frustrate completists in a couple of weeks and I feel safe in my prediction that, not only will none of these compete for a prize, their online availability proves that (sorry, Academy) the Internet is the most viable medium for the format.

10. Sean (d. Ryan Reichenfeld)

SEAN from Ryan Reichenfeld on Vimeo.

Ryan Reichenfeld of Justin Timberlake music video fame has created an oddly philosophical everyman piece about a teenage Jack In The Box employee from Lake Havasu, Arizona: a naive nihilist in the land of Spring Breakers.

9. Breathe (d. Laron Murray)

Eric Garner BREATHE from Laron Murray on Vimeo.

Turning a dying man's pleas into a spoken word call to justice and solidarity, the brevity of Laron Murray's Breathe is harrowingly self-referential.

8. Are You Okay (d. Bret Easton Ellis)

Following the ever-growing trend of blurring the line between short film and music video, Bret Easton Ellis's cut of Dum Dum Girls' "Are You Okay" certainly benefits from one of the finest dream-pop songs of the year and from Dee Dee Penny's long-established persona of grindhouse feminism.  (see also Sky Ferreira's "I Blame Myself" with similar bubblegum-goth, L.A. subversion in another of the best music videos of 2014).

7. Verbatim: What Is A Photocopier? (d. Brett Weiner)

Brett Weiner's New York Times Op-Doc is a word-for-word historical recreation highlighting the unintentional humor of legal deposition.

6. Kid Danny (d. Andrew Cohn)

ESPN's best "30 for 30" short film of the year catches up with Danny Almonte who-- amidst a teenage Miguel Tejada scandal--  threw a perfect game in the 2001 Little League World Series.  Typical of the best ESPN films, it is both sappy and redemptive in the best way.

I've fought with ESPN's video player for the whole year, so it is of no surprise that their embed feature doesn't work now.  The film can be viewed here.

5. Jack London's 'A Piece of Steak' (d. Travis Mills)

Jack London's A Piece of Steak - Clip - 52 Films in 52 Weeks from Running Wild Films on Vimeo.

The pinnacle of Travis Mills's "52 Films in 52 Weeks" project (though closely followed by Ring Lardner's 'Harmony'), the adaptation of Jack London's 'A Piece of Steak' (quotations added to avoid an awkward insult) is a one-man highlight reel put on by Jonathan Medina.

As the only film on the list not currently available online (I suspect Mills is curbing his proliferation in preparation for his upcoming "Lose Yourself"-moment in his next film, Durant's Never Closes), keep an eye out as this will be available again at some point in the year.

4. The Dream (d. Errol Morris)

The best of Errol Morris's trio of Op-Doc "Peace Films," the biographical documentary of Nobel winner Leymah Gbowee avoids schmaltz and approaches profundity.

3. Gan-Gan (d. Gemma Green-Hope)

Gan-Gan from Gemma Green-Hope on Vimeo.

The heir to Joseph Cornell.  A Scott Stark contemporary without a shred of pretension.

2. The Time-Eaters (d. Harry Dodge)

The Time Eaters—Harry Dodge from Futurepoem on Vimeo.

A Kierkegaardian Before Sunrise re: hydrophilic chemistry, the cremasteric reflex and pie crusts.

1. Too Many Cooks (d. Chris "Casper" Kelly)

I initially wrote this off as a clever (and musically brilliant) meta riff until it subverted my expectations so many times I could no longer keep track.  There's a serial killer (the only uncredited character) who stands in for us as we demand these characters live out this hell in a piece that finds commonality between "Roseanne" and Lars von Trier's The Kingdom.  It's a condensed, Internet-era marriage of Chris Elliott's "Action Family" and T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland which manages the impossible: it is sincere in its irony.

It also understands itself to its core: an Adult Swim "infomercial" that I only wish I discovered while awaking from a hangover, on the couch, at 4:30 A.M.  I want to meet the person who unknowingly walked into that nightmare.  I Am A Strange Loop, indeed.  (See also their follow up-- and cousin-- Unedited Footage of a Bear).

No comments:

Post a Comment