Arts Desk

DC Shorts, Showcase 4: When In Doubt, Always More Cats


This collection contains yet another short about the death of grandparent (there were two in Showcase 1), suggesting maybe the festival could have found enough for a themed showcase devoted to the subject. But that's one of the two standout pieces in this collection, and one that effectively uses humor for poignancy—as opposed to the silliness that typifies a number of these selections.

Building Magic: A mightily twee look at a skateboard-riding, suspenders- and top-hat wearing, artisanal, DIY New York kids' party magician. Basically, when the New York Times does its eventual piece on the burgeoning hipster-magician movement, this will be that piece's touchstone.

Cats in Space (pictured above): LOLCats meets Star Trek meets the Muppets' Pigs in Space. The concept is better than the execution here, though. Could have used more cats, less space. Take note, filmmakers: When in doubt, always more cats.

Couch: Holds fast to the notion that a comedy short should essentially be a single, carefully constructed joke, with the last shot of the film as the punchline. The professional loser at the center of this is particular joke is designed for maximum annoyance, but that's sort of the point.

Legs-Atavism: A Russian mockumentary on a government program designed to eliminate those useless legs that are just burdens to us. Absurd and patently silly, but beneath that, a fairly biting satire of the dangerous absurdity of the current Russian regime.

Old Lady Luck: This one's a dialogue-free one-woman show paying tribute to the endless generosity of grandmothers. Treasure those $20 bills stuck in your birthday cards, kids; you never know what might have gone into getting them to you.

Mijo: An overprotective mother finds out that her son, a teen actor, is looking to make his breakthrough in a movie about an affair between a teacher and a student. But it turns out that maybe she's not the one who has the most trouble with the racier scenes he'll have to shoot.

Zombi: The funniest argument for the benefits of elderly suicide you're likely to see. Zombi takes a blackly comic look at a grandfather who just wants to die before he is no longer lucid enough to live, and his grandson, who's afraid granddad will start eating brains if he does. Some people will probably find it distasteful, but it's actually very sweetly put together.

Sanzaru: A short about a group of angsty college kids trying to put together a Psych class project about diffusion of responsibility ends up playing out like a short film put together by a bunch of angty college kids trying to come up with an idealistic PSA about the dangers of the same and a half-assed educational piece about Kitty Genovese. Freshmen psych majors are just adorable, aren't they?

Not reviewed in this showcase: Plvs Vltra, for which an advance screener was not available

Showcase 4 showings (see a complete schedule)

Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial
Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at E Street Cinema
Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. at Angelika Film Center
Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

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