Short Film Review: Fried Barry (dir by Ryan Kruger)


I just watched a three-minute short film called Fried Barry.  Now, you may ask: “How much of a story can you tell in three minutes?”  Well, the answer is that you can tell a lot more than you might think.  For instance, Fried Barry might only last 180 seconds but it tells the story of a lifetime.

Fried Barry tells the story of Barry (Gary Green), a man who has obviously fallen on hard times.  When we first see him, he’s dirty, he’s scruffy, he’s twitching, and he’s wandering around in what appears to be a deserted warehouse.  His eyes appear to be full of madness as they dart from one side of the warehouse to the other.  A series of quick cuts, taking us from extreme close-ups of Barry to medium shots back into Barry’s face (and potentially his mind), keep us just as disorientated as he is.  The soundtrack is full of the sounds of the chaos that is erupting in Barry’s mind and we wonder if Barry is insane or maybe if we’ve just entered someone else’s dream.  It’s when we see the spoon and the hypodermic needle that we come to understand that Barry is a heroin addict.

When he shoots up, the short film just gets more chaotic.  Shots of Barry looking somewhat blissful are followed by shots of Barry looking even more pissed off.  Occasionally, a peaceful image appears but the sounds of chaos continue to erupt in the background.  By the time Barry is using his tongue to catch flies like a frog, we find ourselves wondering once again if we’re watching Barry from the outside or if we’ve entered his head.

Looking over the notes that I jotted down while watching Fried Barry, I see that I originally wrote that Barry was “a crazy dude in a warehouse.”  That’s probably not entirely fair to Barry.  When you see someone at a certain point in their life, you never fully understand how they reached that point.  That’s true of the desperate people that we see everyday and certainly, that’s true of someone like Barry.  Who knows who Barry was before he became “a crazy dude in a warehouse.”  The film is full of hints but it’s up to us, as the viewer, to put them together.

David Lynch once describes Eraserhead as being “a dream of dark and disturbing things,” and I think the same description applies to this 3-minute film.  It’s a film that will definitely stick with you.  iHorror released it this week so check it out.

The short film Fried Barry has been adapted into a feature film, which has just completed post-production and should be coming out at the end of 2019.

A Blast From The Past: The Marfa Lights


Marfa Lights

Did you know that we are regularly visited by UFOs down here in Texas?

Well, maybe.  To be honest, I tend to be a skeptic about most of these things, just because I can’t imagine any aliens wanting to visit this planet.  However, it is true that — for centuries — mysterious lights have been spotted hovering over the desert that surrounds Marfa, Texas.

Some people down here prefer not to talk about the Marfa Lights, because they kind of play into the whole “Everyone in Texas is crazy” stereotype that certain folks have.  If nothing else, we’re a state that loves to do business and sometimes aliens aren’t good for business.

The Gribbles in Marfa

But, honestly, most of us love the idea of aliens regularly visiting Marfa!  If nothing else, those aliens have earned themselves a right to one of those “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got down here as fast as I could” bumper stickers!

Of course, it’s totally possible that the Marfa Lights are not UFO-related.  There’s plenty of explanations that have been offered up but none of them are as much fun as aliens.  So, let’s go with aliens.

The video below tells you all about The Marfa Lights and it’s pretty interesting.  It has an interview with a Marfa old timer who claims her ancestors spotted the lights back in the 19th century.  I’m not sure when the video is shot but judging from the cars and the fashion, I’m going to guess it’s from either the late 70s or the 80s.  That said, Marfa pretty much still looks the same.

Except, of course, Marfa is now a leading artist’s colony and the home of a famous (and fake) Prada store.  In fact, a few years ago, 60 Minutes did a whole story on Marfa and didn’t even mention the Marfa Lights.  I guess the reporters were shocked to discover art in Texas.  People up north are always so shocked to discover that there’s a world below Manhattan.

Prada Marfa

Anyway, enjoy The Marfa Lights!

A Blast From The Past: Patriotism


Flag (Erin Nicole Bowman, 2010)

Today is Loyalty Day!

If you haven’t ever heard of Loyalty Day before … well, then you’re probably a subversive or something.  Loyalty Day has been a real holiday since 1955.  That was when President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1st to be Loyalty Day.  (I’m going to guess that this was done largely to provide an alternative to International Workers Day or Communist New Year or whatever May Day was known as back then.)  The official statutory definition reads as follows:

(a) Designation.— May 1 is Loyalty Day.(b) Purpose.— Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.(c) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation—

(1) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Loyalty Day; and
(2) inviting the people of the United States to observe Loyalty Day with appropriate ceremonies in schools and other suitable places.

So, in honor of Loyalty Day, here’s a short film from 1972.  It’s called Patriotism and it was apparently made to teach school children what it meant to be a patriot.  Apparently, it means working as a crossing guard and wearing a vaguely fascist-looking vest while doing so.  It also means keeping an eye out for weeds and trash in your neighborhood.  My favorite part of this film is when the kid spots the turned over garbage can and gets a look of disgust on his face.  You can just tell he’s thinking, “Those goddamn hippies.”

(For the record, that’s what I always think whenever I can’t find a pen at work.)

Personally, I agree that making a good neighborhood is the first step in making a good country so I definitely applaud the kids for taking the time to clean their neighborhood up.  Still, I have to wonder: where are the adults?  How many grown ups walked past the overturned trash can and just ignored it?  Perhaps all the adults in the neighborhood were so disillusioned by George McGovern dumping Tom Eagleton as his running mate that they just gave up on life.  Who knows?  1972 was apparently a pretty traumatic year for some people.  Myself, I just find it amusing that there was a politician named McGovern.  That’s like a seminarian named McClergy.

Speaking of adults, this short film was hosted by actor Bob Crane, who would be murdered six years later and whose life would serve as the basis for a rather depressing movie called Auto Focus.

Anyway, in the immortal words of Team America: World Police, “America!  Fuck yeah!”  Let’s make this the best Loyalty Day ever!

 

 

A Blast From The Past: I Just Don’t Dig Him (produced by The Department Of Mental Health, State of Connecticut)


The haunting opening scene of I Just Don’t Dig Him…

Ah, parents and their children!

It doesn’t matter what year it is or where they live or who they are.  Parents never understand their children and children never understand their parents and, ultimately, there’s always that one friend who ends up nearly chopping his finger off.

At least, that’s the message that I got from watching the 1970 educational film, I Just Don’t Dig Him.

This film was produced by the state of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and apparently, it was designed to show that adults and teenagers actually had more in common than they realized.  For instance, in this film, both groups share an intense loathing for each other.

The film is about a father and his son.  The father spends all of his time complaining about his son.  The son spends all of his time complaining about his father.  For some reason, we’re treated to a really gross close-up of the son’s bare feet.  Meanwhile, the father applies aftershave as if the fate of the world depended upon it.  The son’s best friend assures him that his father isn’t so bad.  The father’s best friend assures him that his son isn’t so bad.  And then the son’s friend accidentally chops off his finger while fooling around with a car engine.  The father helps to stop the bleeding while his son stares at him resentfully.  The message appears to be that adults and children need to communicate better but, ultimately, you want an adult around if anyone starts bleeding.

I like films like this, largely because I’m an unapologetic history nerd and I Just Don’t Dig Him is such a product of its time that it might as well be wearing bell bottoms and dropping brown acid.  Watching the film today, it’s hard not to be amused by how intense both the father and the son are about … well, everything.  When the father shaves, you’re first thought is, “That man should not be allowed to handle anything sharp.”  When the son talks on the phone, you feel bad for whoever’s having to listen to him whine.  Generations are at war, this film seems to say, and there’s no hope until the younger generation realizes that they have no business working on cars.

With this being 4/20 and the world currently being caught up in its own increasingly tedious generational war, today seems like the perfect time to share I Just Don’t Dig Him!

A Blast From The Past: Case Study: LSD


Though it’s been a while since we last did so, we occasionally like to share old educational and promotional films here at the Shattered Lens.  For some reason, we always seem to end up sharing quite a lot of them in October.  Something about the over-the-top educational format just tends to bring out the ghoulish melodrama in some aspiring filmmakers.

Take Case Study: LSD, for instance!  This 3 and a half minute film is from 1969.  It was made to dissuade viewers from experimenting with LSD but I get the feeling that I probably just mostly inspired people to try to recreate the infamous hot dog scene.

It’s a good film for October, though.  Plus, I like looking at all the hippies in their hippie clothes.  GET A HAIRCUT, YOU HIPPIES!

Believe it or not, Case Study: LSD has a page over at the IMDb but no director is listed.  Judging from the film’s use of still frames, I’m going to guess that it was directed by Chris Marker.

Enjoy!

Short Film Review: Girl and a Scar (dir by David Cave)


I always enjoy watching and reviewing short films.

The short film format challenges both the filmmaker and the viewer.  For the filmmaker, the challenge is to take the audience on a full cinematic journey in a limited amount of time.  It’s one thing when you have two hours to tell a story, it’s something entirely different when you’ve only got 15 minutes.  As a result, the visuals and the acting become even more important.  You can’t have one wasted shot or one performance that feels out-of-place.  For the viewer (and the reviewer, for that matter), the challenge is to relearn how to watch a movie.  Short films force you to pay attention to every single detail because, often times, it’s only through catching those details that you’ll be able to understand what you’ve just seen.  In short films, there’s no time for the director or screenwriter to come back, take you by the hand, and say, “This is what it all means.”  Instead, it’s up to you to figure it out.  I love a challenge and that’s why I always appreciate and enjoy the chance to watch and review a short film.

For instance, I recently had a chance to watch Girl and a Scar, a 15-minute film from moviemaker David Cave.  It’s a challenging film, one that is full of surreal imagery and haunting atmosphere.  While the ever-present wind howls on the soundtrack, we find ourselves looking at an isolated house, one that would not be out-of-place in a Jean Rollin vampire film.  Inside the house, the Girl (Ileana Cardy) cuts herself with a razor blade.  Throughout the movie, the wound grows, almost as if it has a mind of its own.  We see the Girl outside, standing in front of what appears to be an industrial park and watching as a young man walks away from her and then as a man in a … well, I’m not going to spoil the details.  Let’s just say that she’s approached by a man in a very memorable costume.  In between the scenes of the Girl walking along the beach and stumbling through her isolated home, there are snippets of animation.  We see the girl in the forest, a cartoon that is occasionally eating and occasionally throwing up.  Connecting it all is the sound of that howling wind and that ever-growing wound on the Girl’s stomach.

The imagery is frequently shocking and disturbing and yet, because Cave does such a good job framing his images and maintaining the film’s atmosphere, the film is always watchable.  It helps that Ileana Cardy, though having no dialogue, gives a good and empathetic performance as the Girl.  You may not always understand what is happening to here but you want to understand and that’s the important thing.  From the minute it opens, Girl and a Scar invites you to investigate and try to solve its mysteries.  With the mix of body horror and animation, Girl and a Scar at times feels like a fairy tale told by David Cronenberg.

Short films are not necessarily easy to track down but I do recommend making the effort.  Hopefully, this one will soon start making the festival circuit.

 

A Merry Christmas and Enjoy the Greatest Christmas Film Ever Made!


Treevenge

We celebrate the 7th year anniversary of the site and we continue a yearly holiday ritual over here at Through the Shattered Lens. I present to all of you readers, visitors and passer-byes the greatest holiday film ever created since forever, ever. I know it’s one that resident anime contributor pantsukudasai56 looks forward to each and every Christmas.

It is a film full of joy and happiness. Of giving and sharing with loved ones that which matters most. This is a film that best describes what Through the Shattered Lens stands for and works towards.

It even has a scene straight out of a Disney classic.

So, from all of us at Through the Shattered Lens….

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!