Sunday, August 10, 2008

(Short) Film Notes: Broken Tulips

One big difference between short stories and short films is that there seems to be more pressure for short filmmakers to "develop" their shorts into features. It's hard to imagine anyone pestering Kafka with, "Okay, now let's see if you can expand this 'Hunger Artist' thing into a full length novel". A good short story stands alone and can achieve the perfection that is so elusive in novels.

On Friday night, Claire and I went to see the Toronto debut of a short film at the club El Mocambo; there were also three musical groups playing. Brandon Cronenberg's short film "Broken Tulips" works perfectly as a short and should be left as is. The eight-minute film is sort of like a Gahan Wilson version of a New Yorker cartoon; it makes a point about celebrity worship in a way that is both satirical and a bit grotesque. In other words, it works as a joke- albeit a gross one- and would be killed by being over explained in a feature. Leave it alone.

Cronenberg is the son of David Cronenberg, a fact I would imagine he doesn't want to overshadow his own work. But it's hard not to point out that his short deals with disease and body horror in a way that is distinctively "Cronenbergian". There's also a cold intelligence and a strange sense of humor in the film that reminds one of his father's work. And the last shot actually evokes The Fly. Moreover, it's imaginative in that Cronenberg family way. Denise Cronenberg works in Canadian cinema as a costume designer and Caitlin Cronenberg is a very talented photographer. David's nephew is Aaron Woodley, who has directed a number of films, including Rhinoceros Eyes. Clearly, the family is hugely talented and a credit to Canada's artistic community.

I would like to see what projects Brandon Cronenberg undertakes in the future. The look of this short is clean and polished. Claire's uncle, who works in cinema, and I agreed that too many movies are shot to look "edgy" now, with shaky camera work and the colors washed out or tinted in one primary color, often blue. Cronenberg's visual style is much less imposing and doesn't get in the way of his writing. Hopefully, he'll make more films and develop his style further.

In fact, you can actually watch the short film here and see what you think!

(Note: 'Broken tulips' were highly prized by 17th century collectors, at the height of the tulip mania, for their unique 'broken' color patterns, and still are sought after. Growers had a hard time figuring out how to develop the vivid mosaic or flame color effects, until someone realized that the mixed color patterns develop because the tulips are infected by the mosaic virus, transmitted usually by aphids. They are beautiful flowers, but if you grow broken tulips, it's best to keep them at a distance from your other plants.)


Anonymous said...

The 12th Annual LA Shorts Fest returns to Hollywood August 15-21, 2008 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 theatres. LA Shorts Fest will be honoring Shane Black, writer/director/producer, with the prestigious Maverick Filmmaker Award” on opening night, August 15, at 7:30pm. Shane Black’s credits include Lethal Weapon, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, as well as the films The Last Boy Scout, starring Bruce Willis, The Long Kiss Goodnight, starring Geena Davis, and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

The festival also includes celeb directorial debuts: Josh Brolin’s X, Kirsten Dunst’s Welcome starring Winona Ryder, Rita Wilson’s film The Trap starring Janine Tripplehorn. Other short films star Adrien Grenier, Jenna Elfman, Bodhi Elfman, Kelly Preston, Ed Begley Jr., Robert Redford, David Koechler, Laura Kightlinger, Mickey Rooney, Adam Corolla, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Whoopi Goldberg.

The festival will also feature a handful of music videos, including the U2 music video for Window in the Skies. We received over 42 original creative commercials submitted by top ad agencies, including CAA, Arnold Worldwide, Fallon and Leo Burnett.

Our esteemed list of jurists includes Sandra Oh (Actress, Grey’s Anatomy), Andrew Reimer (HBO), David Bossert (Disney Animations), Seth Cohen (Comedy Central), Alex Meenehan (Smoke House), J. Sikura (Robert Evans Company), Susan King (LA Times) and Ernest Hardy (LA Weekly)

Rufus said...

So, do you have to be well-connected to show your short there? It seems pretty insular from the description.