SXSW Day 4: I Got Corpse Paint On My Organic Tampon
I took it easy yesterday, due to the fact that I have not slept for the past three days and my organs started shutting down. That, or I felt like shit because I have eaten way too much 7/11 pizza over the course of SXSW. So, I had a light load today: only four short films. While waiting in line, though, Nick Hanover and I had a conversation with a guy who, before finding out why we were at SXSW, loudly told us that all critics are stupid and circlejerky. After an awkward "well, we're critics" (I'm no Pauline Kael, but my therapist told me to be positive), we had a wonderful conversation about comics and local beers. He was cool, despite his staunch ant-critic stance.
But as much as you would love to hear about my dances with the Dunning-Kruger effect, I know the films I saw are probably more interesting. Again, I caught four short films: Kelly, the short portrait of a struggling female entrepreneur, Necronomica, about a struggling black metal band, Indoors, the story of a young boy who struggles to get a neighbor girl to fly a kite with him and The Slaughter, a father and son struggle set to a nasty, and to my knowledge, real pig butchering.
D: Melissa Ferrick
This was the shortest of the short films I saw, clocking in at about four minutes. Kelly follows a fortysomething woman as she goes door to door selling organic tampons, interwoven with inspirational mantras and declarations of admiration and love to Mary Kay. She also rides bikes in circles and play with sticks, as most women her age do. Kelly narrates the whole time, and I was concentrating on her voice the entire time, because there is clearly something off about it, but it's difficult to pin down. I couldn't tell if she had down syndrome, or was deaf or didn't use her tongue when she spoke. But it never addresses the elephant in the room of her way of speaking. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it doesn't really have to because it's so short. Kelly swoops in and swoops out, and just sort of happens to you.
D: Kyle Bogart, Cliff Bogart
Off all of the films I've seen so far, Necronomica might be most fun. For 17 black and white minutes, we see the members of black metal band Necronomica — Borknarg and Absu, two long-haired guys that look like they'd be in a metal band — spend their day walking down a railroad, making sandwiches, applying corpse paint, all while constantly engaging in conversation. There's not a lot of silence in this film, with the exception of the discovery of the contents of the white cooler. But seriously, about 20 minutes of this 17-minute short film is blisteringly funny dialogue about metal, local metal bands, hot wings, record labels, current drummers, past drummers, Europe, friendship, tubing, how to be the most evil band in the world and, of course, goat heads. The stars, who also directed the film, are real life brothers, and you can really tell, because they bounce off of each other back and forth in a way that only siblings can. Necronomica may not be the most evil band, but they are certainly the most fun.
D: Simon Atkinson, Adam Townley
I have a low threshold for cutesiness and twee in art, whether it be a ukulele or a yellow umbrella or the entire existence of Zooey Deschanel. So when Indoors started, and the muted grey and yellow palette, and the little boy playing in abandoned cars, and the sullen ginger girl giving her best Andie MacDowell "Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed" face, my eyes began to roll back into my head. I can handle twee children (see: Moonrise Kingdom), but the relationship between the boy, who just wants someone to fly his kite with, and the girl, who can't go outside because she's narcoleptic when she goes outside (really), feels like adults playing dolls with the kids. There's no energy or love; it tries so hard to be beautiful that you can tell it had a million hands all over it. Which makes sense, because, for a 12-minute short, the credits were as long as normal film credits.
D: Jason B. Kohl
The Slaughter is a simple story about a father, son, and pig slaughter. A rugged, no-nonsense farmer wakes his slacker son, who is Justin Timberlake if he missed his Mickey Mouse Club audition, for one last pig slaughter job. After picking a pig from the collection (that's a group of pigs, right? Flock? I don't know), the father guides his son through the process of butchering a live pig, from killing it, to draining its blood, to plucking out the hair, to sawing it in half, all in agonizing and gruesome detail! While I see the direction of the film, it comes across as a bloodier "be a dad" ads that I see on PBS all of the time. Just like Indoors, the message feels so heavy handed. It's difficult with short films to create these feelings in such a short time, but they don't need to feel like After School Specials.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on Twitter @garseed.