The Internet has provided a platform for lesser-known filmmakers to present their work to a mass audience. This is clearly beneficial, but it can be daunting and time-consuming for the average person to search for the right film. This is a shame, however, because some of the best content can be found in cyberspace by creative individuals who aren't yet controlled by the studio system. On the web, filmmakers from around the world are releasing short films to express themselves and to garner a wide audience. Each month, we're going to present 10 of the best short films that you can watch online immediately. Below are our picks for February 2014 (click the title of a film to watch on YouTube or Vimeo).
Who made it: Ole Christoffer Haga
What is it: A charming animation about a man and a dog.
How long is it?: 7 minutes and 20 seconds
2. The Lincoln Division
Who made it: Bowie Alexander
What is it: A fake documentary about a ghost machine.
How long is it?: 12 minutes and 13 seconds
3. I Fenicotteri (Flamingos)
Who made it: Francesca Coppola
What is it: A powerful short about the relationship between a father and daughter.
How long is it?: 15 minutes and 5 seconds
Who made it: Ayu Dwi Astiti
What is it: An adaptation of the song/short story "Oh I Never Know" by Sarasvati.
How long is it?: 10 minutes and 23 seconds
5. The Fatal Sneeze
Who made it: Lewin Fitzhamon
What is it: A silent film about a man with an uncontrollable sneeze.
How long is it?: 5 minutes and 45 seconds
6. Long Branch
Who made it: Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart
What is it: A short about a one-night stand with a poignant twist.
How long is it?: 13 minutes and 42 seconds
7. La Robe
Who made it: Romain Claris
What is it: The making of a dress.
How long is it?: 3 minutes and 58 seconds
8. Big Man
Who made it: Julius Onah
What is it: A story about two brothers growing up in Nigeria.
How long is it?: 14 minutes and 5 seconds
9. Raw Love
Who made it: Martin Deus and Juan Chappa
What is it: A romance between two high school friends.
How long is it?: 14 minutes and 32 seconds
Who made it: John Strong
What is it: A thriller about a man with a secret.
How long is it?: 9 minutes and 57 seconds
In the opening scenes of the new "comedy" Jack and Jill commercial director Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler) and his business partners take a break from the set of their Regis Philbin-starring Pepto Bismol commercial to discuss the prospect of landing Al Pacino for a new Dunkin' Donuts spot. Even with the pressure mounting the idea of landing the A-Lister is the least of Jack's worries—his real stress stemming from his heinous twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler) who is scheduled to visit for Thanksgiving. We don't know much about Jill at that point but even the prospect of spending a few days with his sibling prompts the cankerous Jack to chug an entire bottle of the commercial's pink antidiarrheal product.
Turns out the medical cocktail was quite appropriate. By the end of Jack and Jill kicking back an entire bottle of Pepto Bismol may be the first logical step to curing the gut-wrenching feeling induced by the movie's painfully lazy antics. To call the latest from Sandler's Happy Madison Productions (Paul Blart: Mall Cop Grown Ups Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star) a bad movie isn't strong enough. Nor is describing it as a complete void of comedy. And the movie doesn't even come close to a so-stupid-its-funny scenario. No Jack and Jill is honest to goodness mental destruction—a collision of half-baked comedy sketches violent potty humor shrouded racism shotgun celebrity cameos and unapologetic product placement. There is more coherency care and consideration poured in to a child's spin art painting than any moment Sandler or director Dennis Dugan whip up for this film.
From the movie's very first moments to its obvious ham-fisted conclusion the mere presence of Jill sends Jack into a temper meltdown—and it's not hard to see why. Sandler's lady from the Bronx is a loud abhorrent self-loathing woman an obtuse fish-out-of-water who sees no issue with stereotyping Jack's adopted Indian son or using phrases like "make chocolate squirties" after a night of chimichangas (may I recommend Pepto Bismol?). The script would like us to feel sympathetic for Jill as she's turned down by every man she meets adding to her existing physical appearance woes ("I'm too fat!" she declares before hopping up on a horse and crushing it under her own weight). Unfortunately it's obvious that no one behind-the-camera actually gives a damn about her or any of the other characters to help realize that struggle honestly or humorously.
Knowing the movie can't entirely rely on Jill's flatulence to baffle its audience Jack and Jill employs a number of shameless drive-by appearances from across the Hollywood spectrum to replace actual entertainment. Johnny Depp Jared the Subway Guy Shaq Bruce Jenner the Sham-Wow Guy and Drew Carey (who Jill meets while embarrassing herself on The Price Is Right) all stop by for a cheap laugh. Maybe that's a good thing—the cameos are nonsensical enough to distract from Jack and Jill's plot one that trudges along at a glacial pace as Jill finds ways to stay at Jack's house and ruin her brother's life.
Sandler recruited Katie Holmes and Al Pacino to fill the film's two non-twin roles and to the benefit of their careers he gives them little to do. Holmes isn't given a single scene in which she does anything more than rag on Jack for hating his sister or detach objects her son perpetually tapes to his body (a pepper shaker a hamster a bird a lobster). Pacino has a meatier role one that you may even expect to garner a few laughs spoofing his thunderous thespian self who melts at the sight of Jill. But the material director Dennis Dugan bestows on the legendary actor is scraped from the bottom of the barrel. Not even Pacino can make passing off gibberish as a foreign language funny. The saving grace for the movie is watching Pacino go method and pursue Jill as Don Quixote from The Man of La Mancha. At that point the reference is a reminder that out there somewhere beyond the movie theater/black hole playing Jack and Jill is a world full of culture and class.
Jack and Jill isn't really a movie but more of an extended Royal Caribbean Cruises commercial with a Dunkin Donuts dance number set to an extended fart exploding from a dragged-out Adam Sandler's buttocks. The bar for entertainment value has never been set lower than this film an experience so toxic to the mind that along with its PG-rating should carry a warning label from Surgeon General.
Better make it two Pepto-Bismols.
S7:E9: At the start of the ninth episode of Top Chef D.C. last night, it becomes clear that Amanda still clings to the dismal desert mirage that she does not completely suck. She reminds the camera that she is among the best of the best. This tragically delusional voice-over transitions into Amanda hamming to the audience squealing and gurgling to the camera-men as if she were an adorable ingénue in a Hugh Grant movie. Which she is not.
Kenny meanwhile ponders his own troubled disconnect between self-image and reality, between being a self-described “beast in the kitchen” and complete crap. He menaces around the kitchen and growls motivational “Stuart Smalley” affirmations in the reflective surfaces of his prized stainless cookware.
“I’m the beast. And that’s… okay.” “I’m in a shame spiral!”
The challenge this episode was… a tag-team cook-off! In which the chefs cook ten minutes each, picking up where the last left off until they have one complete dish! The chefs were broken into two teams, picked by eternal second-in-command types Ed and Kevin, who each stocked up on popular kids (Tiffany and Angelo and Kenny) before sulkily picking up Amanda and Alex. I wouldn’t bother noting the teams except as I suspected they kept them for RESTAURANT WARS later on.
(Red team: Ed, Tiffany, Alex, Angelo. Blue team: Kevin, Kenny, Amanda, Kelly)
The guest judge for this challenge was SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI.
I was both very surprised and completely expecting this. Nancy was classy and a little bored, I guess she doesn’t have time to sit around shooting reality shows all day – she was in the show for all of 3 minutes, being like “okay this is good and this is good so well done all around, vote for meee my chickies, peace suckers!” and drove off on a motorbike with a nude Tom Collicio in a sidecar. She liked Kevin’s team’s prawns with mustard sauce and al dente angel hair pasta a tad better than she liked Ed’s fish because prawns reminded her of San Francisco and she hates fish on principle, plus the salt. This made everyone really angry with Alex because he salted the shit out of that thing.
Redwood Restaurant was the site of the action and each team was admonished to be responsible for a three-course menu and coming up with a stupid name. Judge Frank Bruni of the New York Times was announced as the guest judge, causing a flurry of gossip in hushed tones about his generally intimidating nature and natural charisma.
Bravo’s attempt to make a narrative out of their footage took the form of an ideological clash: we see the Red team under Ed (but really Angelo) being discordant and disorganized, running around Restaurant DEPOT all confused, grabbing stuff and throwing it on, and training by punching meat and running in the snow.
Meanwhile Kevin’s (Kenny’s) Blue team is training with state-of-the-art Soviet fitness technology and motion-capture, computerized feedback stuff. They are organized, and have lists.
Most upsetting of all, the chefs weren’t made to pick out décor and decorate their restaurants according to whatever hokey theme they had picked out! The funniest part of these restaurant wars is when they are at like, Pier One Imports and picking out elephant statues and hiring belly dancers for their Chinese-influenced “Shanghai Experience” restaurants.
The WARS begin, and soon it's clear that the German-Nazi-Machine that is the Blue team with Kenny at the head looks down at the Red team (led by Angelo) as red-blooded, crapshootin’ American Cowboys! Minus the Russian, Alex, who everyone hates and who continues to mess up everything he touches, like Tiffany’s fish etc. Angelo and Ed decide to stick him at the front of the house so he can’t ruin anything, while Kelly is sent up front for the Blue team.
Eventually, the challenge is in full swing and the judges come up to the red team’s EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil pun…ha.ha.ha..not), noting Alex’s incompetence as hostess. The judges liked the first course from Angelo (a chilled soup) but not Tiffany’s fish crudo. After a short interlude between courses (Padma devolved into a cranky toddler “I want my SECOND COURSEEEEE”), the judges also enjoyed Ed’s striped bass and turbot from Tiffany. Finally, a third course of more meat (playing it safe, no dessert) arrived in the form of a lamb chop with pea purée (HAHA) and a rib-eye, both of which the judges appreciated.
The judges did not like either of the Blue team’s first courses, a thin corn soup from Kelly and a everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad from Kenny. Kumquats and nuts and chorizo? Trying too hard Kenny.
Amanda’s steak was shit, while Kevin’s halibut with beans and fennel went over great. The third course was mixed, as Kelly’s chocolate ganache tart was obviously delicious but Kenny served a huge chunk of fried goat cheese that freaked everyone out.
After all the snooty-two-shoesing of the Blue team at the disorganized tempo of Angelo’s leadership, the Red Team WON! High-fives all around. Ed won the big one for his fish, even though Tom really liked Alex’s lamb dish.
The Blue team tromped in to the judges table huffy and pouty. As soon as they got in there they started pointing fingers at Alex (he didn’t make his own lamb etc etc), trying to get someone, ANYONE else eliminated.
However, PLOT TWIST, the judges showed no mercy and eliminated KENNY. The BEAST. This changes everything, as far as narrative goes. Truthfully his food has not been up to par the past several episodes, and the judges were right to let him go (even though Amanda deserved it).
Legend has it, if you squint really hard and listen closely on moon-lit nights, you can still hear the lonely cries of The Beast as he trolls the hills above the site of the Top Chef Mansion: “Beeaaaassssst!”