It’s been a while since I’ve delivered the Shorts Round Up of the Week as I was previously incapacitated with the flu for most of December. Now that we’re on a new year and a new chapter for the site, I thought it only fitting to unveil the first “Shorts Round Up of the Week” for 2021.
Danish film master Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Michael” is a very good LGBTQ drama that tackles a lot of the sexual politics of the period and the often unrequited loves between queer individuals. The entire taboo nature is explored very subtly with Dreyer’s fascinating narrative. Here, “Michael” dissects the relationship between a master artist and his apprentice and how their love for one another fueled their love for art as well as their misguided affections for a young woman.
The long running series from Impulse Pictures continues chugging ahead and fans of classic and vintage pornography will enjoy what kind of time capsule these DVD’s bring to the forefront of film appreciation. While the DVD’s can be touted as porno, you can also appreciate these DVD’s as a film lover, film buff, film historian, or historian of pornography. The art of pornography has surely changed since the invention of moving pictures, and this continues the dive in to a great decade.
Chaplin’s “The Circus” is the perfect encapsulation of what The Little Tramp is and why he’s so special. He’s an underdog hero that always seems to keep the good faith, despite the fact that he’s in constant pain, and almost never gets a happy ending. There’s something so insightful and poetic about the truth of “The Little Tramp” character. We root for him, and we cheer for him, and at the end of the day he doesn’t really get the women, or the fortune, or even much fulfillment. And that’s why the character is so mesmerizing and engaging.
It’s estimated by Deutsche Kinemathek that 80–90% films, and 75% of all silent films are now lost. Many made even before the 1900’s are gone, with over 3500 lost films having been recorded by archivists and historians. So it’s an invaluable service that Undercrank Productions is giving its movie loving audience by delivering previously unseen and rare short films by many movie stars audiences have never even heard of. While the shorts aren’t always pristine, the fact that they get a new life on DVD is a wonderful gift to film enthusiasts that want to learn more about the film stars of yesteryear and how they helped shape the genres.
Undercrank Productions deserves a ton of credit as they are releasing films and silent cinema that no one else has even approached yet. While boutique studios are dabbling in eighties and seventies obscure gems, Undercrank and Ben Model are back in the early 1900’s restoring the short films of Alice Howell, a silent cinema comedic actress who was once compared to her contemporaries Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, folks that want to bone up on the history of women in comedy cinema, this is a great place to continue your education on how much they’ve contributed, and the unsung voices of comedy.
With “Stan & Ollie” now in theaters, fans might find the newest release from Mill Creek of some interest, as it gathers a lot of interesting relics from Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. While it by no means features some of their best shorts and features, it definitely will spark some conversation by hardcore movie buffs, as it includes a list of movies that feature both comedic actors, and their shorts and films that they worked on as solo performers. It’s not the best collection but it’s a fascinating release that will help fans of the comedy team dissect a lot of the work that both men did outside of their team as well as what worked, and what just didn’t.
Most of the time we get such a backlog of short films and feature length indie films that we work hard to take them all on and review them before the year is up. In what we hope will become a new feature, “Shorts Round Up of the Week” is a column where we’ll be reviewing a round up of short films of varying quality.
If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.