Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wholphin No. 4

Edited by Brent Hoff

There are so many various pleasures contained in an issue of Wholphin.  One could paraphrase Forrest Gump, and compare it to a box of chocolates, but it's going to be a box that doesn't have one of those weird, unrecognizably flavoured, oddly shaped confections that you mean to avoid, but always end up eating first, and the taste lingers, tainted subsequent chocolates.

This fourth issue had some films I saw before, when I watched the 'Best Of' disc, but still found much to enjoy.

It won't matter how many times I'll see Taika Waititi's 'Two Cars, One Night'; I will be happy to watch this short film over and over, as it's brilliant.  Three Maori kids are hanging out outside a bar in New Zealand.  It's great.

There are two short films on this disc that manage to pack in all the emotion and content of an entire feature-length movie in their short spans.  'High Falls', directed by Andrew Zuckerman and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard is a wonderful film about a couple that keeps secrets.  'La Chatte Andalouse', directed by Gérald Hustace-Mathieu, is about a young nun who fulfills the wishes of a dying artist by trying to finish her installation, which involves casting in plaster the penises of two men.  This film is incredible, and soars above the potential crassness of its plot.

'Schastlivy Vmeste (Happy Together)' is a Russian sitcom based on the American show Married... With Children.  The original show is kind of funny, more for the picture of life in Russia that we get.  The redubbed versions, done by comedians, were actually just annoying.

'Cheeta' is a cute short chronicling Jane Goodall's birthday message to the famous Hollywood chimp.  'site specific_Las Vegas 05' is a very cool series of aerial views of LV that make the town, the desert, and the Hoover Dam look like a model train set.  Very cool.

This issue of Wholphin addresses America's war on terror, and Western perceptions of the Middle East, in a number of different pieces.  'Tom's War on Terror' is a two minute short that shows how pervasive Islamophobia is in the US.  'Heavy Metal Drummer' is a very sweet, Napoleon Dynamite-esque short about a teenage boy in Morocco who wants to play drums like his metal heroes.

Then there are the documentaries.  'Strange Culture' is about an artist, Steve Kurtz, whose wife died suddenly one night of heart failure.  The authorities that responded to his call were alarmed by some lab equipment he had in his house for an art installation, and he was charged as a terrorist.  It seems that the largest piece of evidence against him was an invitation to a gallery opening that had Arabic script on it.

There is also a bonus disc that shows the third part of 'The Power of Nightmares', a BBC series that was serialized over the two previous Wholphins.  It's premise is that the American neoconservatives and Osama bin Laden basically socially constructed the War on Terror for their own purposes.  It doesn't go so far as to accuse them of collusion, merely that they both took advantage of events to create the problems that have crippled the world for the last ten years.  It's fascinating stuff, and I suppose only time will tell how much of it is baseless, and to what degree it is correct.

Good chocolates, all.

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