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Jonathan Weichsel Written by Jonathan Weichsel
Aug. 21, 2011 | 12:08 PM

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In addition to the Fright Night horror screening, which I have already reviewed for film radar, I attended two other screenings at Hollyshorts, the Friday 7:30 screening, and the Saturday 5:00 screening. Both screenings presented a wide variety of short films.

My favorite short by far was Pepper, directed by Kim Noonan. Pepper is a comedy of manners about a hippy-type who runs over a dog. The hippy decides to go to the dog-owner’s apartment to tell her what happened, but when he gets there he finds a lonely woman distraught about her missing dog, and he can’t bring himself to give her the bad news. The hippy spends the night, and the two soon become romantic, under false pretenses, of course.

I admit that when Pepper first started, I didn’t think I was going to like it. Based on the comedic, mugging tone, I thought it was going to be too light for my tastes. But the light tone was deceptive, as the humor was very dark, the emotions ran deep, and the commentary on social conventions, and on the human need to make a connection, was both perceptive and hilarious.

The Pond, directed by Dan Hannon, is a fantasy about a woman who pours the ashes of her dead husband into a pond where they had had a romantic encounter. He is resurrected, and they return home where the two are shot by a strange man. The man resurrects the woman and tells her that the Garden of Eden is beneath the pond, and that the tree of life has the power to give people immortality. She is given a choice: either her husband lives but she has no knowledge of the garden and can never see him, or he remains dead but she knows about his brief resurrection. This is not a choice she can make consciously, but something that is decided by how she feels.

Not only is The Pond a great religious parable, but it is a deep and sensitive film that deals maturely with love, loss, and death. The film is both lush and beautiful, and treats it’s topic with the seriousness that it deserves. 

The Notice, Directed by Sonny Soto, is a dark sci-fi film about a dystopian future in which the world government picks people at random to die in order to keep the population in check. Like The Pond, the notice deals with the themes of loss and death, but where the pond takes a mystical approach to these themes, The Notice approaches loss and death with a cold, philosophical detachment, making it all the more chilling.

In The Notice, death is cold, uncaring, and strikes at random. The protagonists are two bureaucrats whose job it is to drive around and give people notice that they are going to die in thirty-six hours, so that they have the time to put their affairs in order. The big emotional punch from the film comes from showing how different people choose to spend their last hours of life. The Notice is a dark, philosophical, and deep sci-fi film, which effectively deals with the absurdity of death.

First Comment:

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