I haven’t watched any short films for a while now, as I haven’t seen much that I’ve been interested by. However, today that changed when I watched two films which are quite different to one another – Bag Man (2014), and The Heart of the World (2000). Both differ in terms of story construction, direction and aesthetics, but they are both compelling films in their own right. Luckily, they are both available to view online, so I’ve linked them below for your reference should you wish to watch them.
Bag Man (2014)
Jonathan & Josh Baker, 15 minutes
This is the kind of short film that makes you wish for a feature-length film. Bag Man follows a young man as he walks away from his apartment in Harlem and skips school, hanging on to a mysterious bag that he carries out to the countryside; once you find out what’s inside the bag, the story becomes increasingly unpredictable. Firstly, the film is shot impeccably, with beautiful and compelling direction by Jonathan and Josh Baker, and lush cinematography by Nicolas Karakatsanis. The way this short film handles environments is simply gorgeous, with rich colours and sounds of the environment used to create the perfect atmosphere. The increasing isolation of the young man’s surroundings feels so introspective, calm, and serene; until the more surprising moments occur, when there is a feeling of dangerous instability. My only minor critique is that there’s too much shaky-cam for my own tastes. But overall, this short film is wonderful and not to be missed.
Watch the short film here.
The Heart of the World (2000)
Guy Maddin, 6 minutes
A story of two brothers who love the same woman, and a woman who loves the two brothers, The Heart of the World is an extremely stylistic short film that recalls the imagery of classic early cinema such as Metropolis (1927) and chopped-up storytelling of Un Chien Andalou (1929). When the woman finds out that there’s only one day left on Earth before it is destroyed, she must choose between the brothers for this final day. It sounds like a fairly straightforward story, and it kind of is, but the way that this is illustrated on screen is almost unintelligible as a result of the choppy editing. However, it’s a beautiful kind of unintelligibility as the emulation of German expressionist cinema and art deco character design and aesthetic is difficult to look away from. I would say this short film is a good example of style over substance, but it is certainly an enjoyable watch.
Watch the short film here.
You know, I rarely watch modern shorts, and I’m not sure why. Anyway, both of these sound compelling. Thanks for including links, so we can come back and watch later. 🙂
I mostly prefer to watch classic and experimental shorts, but there are definitely some awesome modern shorts coming out nowadays! Hope you enjoy these! 🙂
Short films can be so good!
I always find it so impressive how so much can be said in so little time!
Okay. I just watched Bagman. The two halves are so different – the first, as you said, so insular. But once the contents of the bag are revealed – yowza.
It’s a surprise and a half! So good. I didn’t want it to end there!
The second one feels like a cross between Metropolis and a Smashing Pumpkins video!
I knew it felt familiar!! Smashing Pumpkins hits the nail on the head.
I saw The Heart of the World many years ago—before I knew who director Guy Maddin was or that I would go on to like his movies a lot. If I remember correctly from the introduction before the screening, the film was originally to be a feature-length film, but as Maddin got to editing, he kept trimming and tightening until it became a frenetic short. I think this helps explain why the film is the way it is; not so much what it’s like to watch. 🙂