Saturday, May 30, 2020

L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online #2 (24 May 2020)

I wasn't necessarily expecting L.A. 3-D SPACE to replace what had been on their calendar for Sunday with another online show just three weeks after their last when most months on the schedule just show one thing, but they did schedule an on-line show, although they wound up having some technical difficulties, both in terms of starting late and not getting the side-by-side and anaglyph streams running at once..

Still, for as much as I was kind of disappointed with the their last stream, I really liked this one. It was taken from the award-winners from their 2018 festival, and they were a really strong group, including a great doc or two, some really nifty animation, and a genuinely oddball entry or two. Even if you're not a 3-D nut like myself, they're worth checking out.

(And, even if you're not, I suspect that if you're reading this particular entry, you've probably got a pair of red-blue glasses kicking around.)

Anyway, there are links to individual shorts where I can find them throughout; as of right now the whole program is still online, with the side-by-side version first and then the red/blue anaglyph. Have fun with it, and maybe kick some cash their way, as they've still got rent and everything else to worry about.

"The Stereoscopic Society"

* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

Kate Sullivan's "The Stereoscopic Society" is only a minute long, so it can only provide the briefest overview of London's Stereoscopic Society, which meets regularly for slideshows and to compare equipment.

Very short documentary, but by all appearances, a cool, charming place to visit and see cool 3D stuff.

"Domino, Secret of the Lost World"

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

This isn't quite the longest film of the presentation but it's the one that perhaps make the biggest impression, as filmmakers Richard Bouda & Marek Audy start from a somewhat strained metaphor (the dominoes of the title) and a fanciful introduction (that the tepuis being explored are where Arthur Conan Doyle set The Lost World, and then digging in to what you find when you actually reach the surface, and then you've got a documentary about an amazingly isolated ecosystem that features rugged-looking plants, sandstone caves, carnivorous plants, and unusual frogs. It's an amazing thing to build a documentary about.

Getting a 3D rig up to the top of one of those tepuis is maybe not as hard as it might have been, although they have traditionally been finicky enough that the rough handling Bouda & Audy must inevitably subject them to makes it very impressive that they got as much usable footage as they did. It may not be quite so pretty as what Werner Herzog and his crew got in Cave of Forgotten Dreams, but the caves serve as a fantastic stage, extending back into the screen and showing layers of features. The camerawork is great whether examining a tiny frog or a dizzying drop.

"Domino" is the sort of short documentary I really love, made by people passionate about the subject matter going the extra mile to be sure that they can bring it to an audience in compelling fashion. It's the sort of thing that's fun no matter what, but seems to be made for 3D

"Espace, Espaces!" ("Space… Spaces!")

* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

This one, by Marilou Deshayes and Esther Jacopin, took a bit of time to grow on me, because it's the sort of short film that doesn't seem to settle into the right groove between straight narrative and off-kilter messing around for a while. The filmmakers have access to a nifty building that looks great in 3D, but a very small cast, and large chunks of it don't seem that well thought-out, including the thread meant to tie everything together, with receptionist/cleaner Baptiste (Benjamin Romieux) seeming to have the most pure love for the Ministry of Space where he works.

And yet, by the end, it's evolved into something really nifty. There's a running gag about three exo-linguists industriously inventing new languages that won't be beholden to human standards and capabilities that feels kind of stretched until a scene where the Minister (Majida Ghomari) talks about how the entire department is often treated as a running gag, at least until the people in power need some science, and it becomes a very sincere, and sincerely frustrated, discussion of how sometimes important things run are fueled by things which the practical folks just can't grasp. That the three groups within the Ministry who keep finding themselves at loggerheads - the engineers, the diplomats, and the linguists - are played by the same three actors works as both Deshayes & Jacopin stretching their cast well (the gag didn't leap out at me until the credits) and a twist on how we're all weird specialists to someone else.

"Un Histoire D'amour" ("A Love Story")

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

This one apparently won the top International prize in '18, although I think the previous two are more interesting. This one's amusing enough, especially early on when it looks like filmmaker Julien Charpier might be riffing on Makoto Shinkai's "Voices of a Different Star", or more directly doing so. It's at its best when it's working along those lines, but it loses that and connection to that and goes in a more generally avant-garde direction which is interesting and sometimes striking, but seldom as interesting

It's interesting, but tries a bit hard, and doesn't find the same sort of groove between its story and deliberate oddity that "Espace, Espaces!" does.

"Go Away I Like You Too Much"

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

Apparently "Go Away I Like You Too Much" (2D & 3D) is going to be part of a 40-minute production that includes all ten tracks on "Smitten" by The Simple Carnival, which was apparently filmmaker Jeff Boller on various instruments. The whole project looks to be about halfway complete.

This particular leg of it is a lot of fun - it's a good pop song with animation that keeps up, tells a story, and has gets a viewer in the head of its super-abstract characters in a couple of minutes. It is very much the work of someone who is playing with 3D animation and wants to see what he can do on top of making a good music video, but that's entirely cool in this particular situation. I'll certainly be going through the rest of the videos and hoping there's a way to purchase a good SBS version when he's done.

"Cryogen Children"

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (L.A. 3-D Movie Fest Online, SBS 3D YouTube via Roku)

Director Sadie Schiffman-Eller does something especially nifty with the animation in "Cryogen Children", as using 3D makes the separate elements in this mixed-media production feel a bit more disconnected from each other in ways that might not be as apparent when flattened. It's an apt metaphor for someone searching for her roots and knowing that, because her mother used a donor, she herself is metaphorically assembled in that way.

It's a nice bit of work, since Schiffman-Eller captures how strange the whole process seems from both ends, whether anonymously donating sperm or trying to find out where you came from. She leans into the collage aspects of the work, working double helices and other symbols into the film, and while this allows things to keep getting bizarre, Schiffman-Eller never lets it completely get away from her. It's an impressive pieces of work that uses all the bits and pieces it's made of well.

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