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Quickband presents
Short 4: Seduction (1999)

"For me, the film is about seducing the audience into feeling, into empathy..."
- Henry Jaglom

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: December 10, 2000

Stars: Ed Tudor Pole, Tamara Beckwith, Jared Paul, Rob May, Karin Anger, Hisao Shinigawa
Other Stars: Carla Jo Bailey
Director: Robert Milton Wallace, Marianne Olsen Ulrichsen, Seth Edelstein, Don Hertzfeldt, Masahiro Sugano, Pedro Serrazina, Jeremy Boxer, Piet Kroon, Doug Nichol

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief nudity, sexual situations)
Run Time: 01h:22m:55s
Release Date: June 15, 1999
UPC: 085393677626
Genre: compilation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-B C

DVD Review

This entry in the Short series is focused on the theme of Seduction; linking the various menus is an amusing series of shorts by Henry Jaglom featuring a woman listening (or not listening) to him talk on the telephone about film as seduction. This makes a great jumping-off point to view these nine different views of seduction in its various forms.

Tunnel of Love. 12m:03s. This stark black and white film from Robert Milton Wallace features the seduction of speed and power on the London motorway, with serial vehicular romances. Ed Tudor Pole stars as a Nelson Commando motorcyclist who catches the eyes of a blonde in a convertible. Dazzling photography and sharp cutting help keep the interest in this languidly paced film until we come to the surprising and amusing conclusion.

Kom. 04m:11s. A product of the Norwegian Film Institute, this sweet and charming film tells of the love of an elderly couple and how they relive their first seduction to keep their affections alive. Shot in a rather soft style, it is quite appropriate to the subject matter and sensitively erotic.

Anticipating Sarah. 08m:26s. This short has incredibly high production values, wonderfully capturing the feeling of the 1940's. It features a WWII soldier returning home to finally meet Sarah, the woman with whom he has fallen in love through her letters, even though he's never seen her. War scenes are intercut with the tense moments waiting in the lobby of L.A. Union Station. The costuming is first-rate, as is the jazzy score by Victoria Dolceamore. One of the best films on the disc.

Lily and Jim. 13m:10s. This midnight movie and animation festival staple features a crudely animated man and woman as they reflect upon the disasters of a blind date, full of inane small talk and empty silences as they try to figure out ways to seduce the other and their ineptitude. This is interspersed with scenes from the date, full of nasty comedy and commentary on male-female relations.

Hisao. 08m:42s. This black & white photo-animation tells the story of several days in the life of Hisao Shinigawa, a Japanese emigre, as the victim of the seduction of the American dream of making it in the music business. Although we see Hisao on stage several times, we don't hear any of his music until the closing credits. The crudity of the animation, based on 3500 still photographs, nicely conveys the disjointed feeling of his life as he struggles to survive with his job in a florists, removing thorns from roses. This latter fact has a poignant and poetic air to it which makes Hisao's broken dreams all the sadder.

Tale About the Cat and the Moon. 05m:23s. A Portuguese film with English overdubbing, this animated black and white short tells of the romantic obsession of a male cat for the fickle moon; he despairs at her faithlessness but is eventually rewarded for his loyalty. While short on content, the film is an attractive little vignette.

The Last Supper. 08m:06s. Three couples, each in varying stages of their relationship, gather for dinner and discuss winning the lottery, among other things. The wife of one man who has been playing the lottery longest, decides to play a prank on him, with unforeseen results. The naturalness of the acting and the shock value of the outcome make this one of the strongest shorts on the DVD.

T.R.A.N.S.I.T. (11m:53s) is an engaging and involving animated tale of a deadly romantic triangle, told from the vantage point of a suitcase thrown off a ship. Using an intriguing narrative style, the story moves backwards in time, from one travel sticker on the suitcase to another, until we realize just what it was we were seeing early on in the short. Its clever construction and the use of widely differing animation styles (indeed, different animators) helps give the air of being in such very different locales as St. Moritz, Cairo and Venice. The score by Julian Nott is lush and wonderful, highly evocative of the late 20s period in which the tale is set. My favorite of the disc.

Pulp: This is Hardcore. 06m:27s. The music video on this disc is from the band Pulp, and deals in central part with the seductive nature of Hollywood cinematography and imagery from 1950s films. While the music is unrewarding, the images are without a doubt both gorgeous and involving. Director Don Nichol did a splendid job of recreating period costumes and photographic styles.

Rounding out the disc is the Junk Drawer section, which features DigiPet, a loop of petting a little dog while lapping sounds are heard throughout its 59s duration, and a :35s clip of an eye looking through a peephole. The disc credits are shown against an amusing 03m:00s film of two slacker guys wandering through a grocery store using the products and grazing off the foodstuffs, while trying to make a move on an attractive young female shopper. This makes this installment of the Junk Drawer much more worthwhile than usual.

While some of the shorts are weaker than others, none of them this time out are poor quality. Four or five of them are quite good indeed, and the others all have their merits. Interestingly, we get a look at several distinct time periods, each of which is captured quite convincingly. The running time is, however, several minutes shorter than indicated on the package.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The films are presented in a variety of aspect ratios from 1.33:1 full frame to 1.85 Panavision. None of them are anamorphic but the picture quality is as a rule quite good. Several of the films, such as Tunnel of Love and Hisao are shot on 16mm stock and thus are predictably somewhat soft and grainy. However, this is not an unpleasant viewing experience in the least. The color shorts are vibrant throughout; T.R.A.N.S.I.T. in particular features truly eye-popping color.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: All of the shorts are presented in Dolby Surround. The sound is at least adequate on all of them. Anticipating Sarah and T.R.A.N.S.I.T. feature lush period scores that come through quite nicely. The rock scores on Tunnel of Love and the Pulp video receive decent treatment and make good use of the surrounds. The Last Supper is the only short featuring significant dialogue, and it is all easily followed. The audio on some of the commentaries recorded over the telephone is quite poor, however. Otherwise, there is no significant hiss or other noise.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Zero Effect and Palmetto
Production Notes
Storyboard
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1) Kom by porn star Annie Sprinkle 2) AnticipatingSarah by writer/director Seth Edelstein 3) on T.R.A.N.S.I.T. by director Piet Kroon and4) by producer Iain Harvey
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: This is one of the most lacking entries in the Short series when it comes to extras. Each short includes brief production notes (during the notes, the entire film runs by in high speed motion), though the disc producers had so little to say about the Tale About the Cat and the Moon that they resort to cat trivia. Storyboards and pencil tests are also included as an extra angle on T.R.A.N.S.I.T.; these are fascinating to watch in tandem with the film.

Three of the shorts include commentaries, but only the one for Anticipating Sarah runs for the full length of the film. It's also the most interesting by far, as Edelstein discusses how they were able to so beautifully recreate the 1940's for just about no money. Annie Sprinkle's commentary for Kom is practically worthless; she just talks about how nice it is to have eroticism in the context of a monogamous relationship. The two commentaries for T.R.A.N.S.I.T. are mostly related to the plot and the coordination of the animation, and are not screen-specific. Harvey and Sprinkle's commentaries are recorded over the phone and thus sound awful in comparison to the rest of the audio.

Detracting from the extras grade are a series of forced, unskippable commercials for Timex, BMW and express.com, each of which both precedes and follows the shorts to which they are attached. This makes for highly monotonous viewing. Warner also puts in plugs for two minor films, Zero Effect with Ben Stiller and Palmetto featuring the knockout Elisabeth Shue. No subtitles are included, and even the lengthy shorts get only a single chapter.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

An interesting grouping of short films based on various aspects of seduction. Half of them are excellent, making this disc definitely worth a look even though it's one of the shorter on extras in the series.

 


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