Monday, September 5, 2011

Wholphin No. 7

Edited by Brent Hoff

I find I do not tire of watching Wholphins.  Each one is so diverse, with the only discernible criteria for entry being excellence.

This seventh volume of the series, which collects short films, documentaries, and pieces of animation, contains some pretty impressive stuff, including what has probably been my favourite Wholphin selection to date.

'Glory At Sea' is an incredible twenty-five minute film by director Benjamin Zeitlin.  It's a surrealistic exploration of grief and longing in a post-Katrina-like landscape.  It opens with a young girl narrating.  She, alongside many of her neighbours, is floating at the bottom of the sea, feeling pity for people still living.  She realizes that one of the people around her is still alive just as he is thrown back to land.  Once there, he sets about building a boat which he can use to find the love of his life.  Other people in the community come to help him, bringing with them items they feel are imbued with luck.  Eventually, their ramshackle craft is ready, and they set out to find reunion with the people they've lost.  I found this film to be immensely moving and very beautiful.

Also on this disc, I enjoyed 'The Discipline of DE', a short directed by Gus Van Sant while still in school.  It's an adaptation of a William S. Burroughs piece, wherein the narrator proclaims the virtues of his philosophy of DE - Do Easy.  I imagine that this philosophy, which has you repeat actions until they are done correctly, could really catch on with people on the autism spectrum.

'Cold and Dry' is a cool short from Norway which examines the social ramifications of improved cryogenics technology, as people opt to preserve themselves in the picture of health, because of any number of personal issues they would rather avoid.

'Choque' is a cool Spanish film about what happens when pride, machismo, or a desire to save face prevent people from backing down from situations that they can not reasonably extricate themselves from, as a man learns when he gets into it at a basement amusement park with some younger guys.

In terms of documentaries, this Wholphin provides a few excellent ones.  'Refugee All-Stars' features the band from Sierra Leone of the same name.  There is plenty of their music to help punctuate their stories, as they begin to travel to other refugee camps to spread their example of refugees who find ways to maintain relevance in society.

'Nutkin's Last Stand' is an odd documentary about the fight against the gray squirrel in Northern England.  The grays are squeezing out the red squirrels that make that region their home, and people are mobilizing to put an end to this.  There are a few odd moments featuring your typical eccentric Brits - one woman has a squirrel tearing around the inside of her home, while another man, whose job is to dispatch the trapped grays, describes them as being 'only good for shooting'.  Later, the scene where a couple sample squirrel pancakes was perhaps a bit much for me.

'Notes From Dimension X' is a tantalizing short cartoon about a man who has been trapped on a desert planet for many years, waiting for a crystal to light up and transport him.  This is a perfect example of when a short is too short, as there was enough interesting material here, discussing memory and how it can fade, to satisfy in a much longer piece.

There's other stuff on here too - a description of an artist's love affair with an alien, an animated film about an autistic young man's return to a Six Flags park after three years, and the usual DVD menu shorts, but they didn't particularly stand out to me.

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