Episode One: Ambush
Director: John Frankenheimer
Much like the first episode of Twilight Zone: The Movie, this installment sucks. I’m a big Frankenheimer fan, and I’m just a little too aware that John, like many directors from the old school, is much more concerned with the actual mechanics of directing than any of the complete filmmaking protocols. The fatal flaw of all short films is that you only have a few short moments of exposition before you must fast-forward into a full-blown climax and resolution. Ambush’s concept is simple: dudes in ski masks try and hijack the BMW, and in the process, snaking 2 million dollars of diamonds from the passenger. Of course, it’s not that simple. “Ambush” starts right in the middle, with no real beginning, and disappoints with a sloppy climax and a completely dull ending. The car chase work in this segment is lackluster, mainly due to static camera blocking and lack of rocket launchers (see Frankenheimer’s “Ronin”). Additionally, I am a big, big believer in scoring/sound mixing, and this piece’s lack of proper music and timing just blows it for me. I’ll give a few bonus points for Thomas Seigel’s pretty night photography, too, but ultimately, the segment fails because Frankenheimer forgets that this is a short film… rather, he’s just making a five-minute motion picture, and it doesn’t come through.
Episode Two: Chosen
Director: Ang Lee
Ang Lee is a master of vision, and often, execution. Directing for any medium to be recorded and edited, in and of itself, requires a mastery of dozens of different skills, including management, motivation, technical expertise, etc. etc. In the process, sometimes a director can lose track of the hats that he is wearing. Lee forgets here that there is more to a short than the vision, and as a result, the flow of this piece is somewhat damaged. Chosen depicts our faithful driver transporting a young boy to safety, but as with any piece of storytelling, there is a hurdle to overcome. Here, faceless bad guys chase down the boy for no apparent reason. Instead of going action-sequencey with it, though, Lee borrows a page from countryman John Woo (Editor’s Note: Ang is Taiwanese, while Woo is Chinese, so technically they aren’t countrymen per se, dearest Savant.), and shows a car-chase-ballet set to a classical score. Most amusing. In the end, there’s a nice weird twist, but the goddamn thing just isn’t believable. Once more, we are watching a short film, not a five-minute motion picture.
Episode Three: The Follow
Director: Wong Kar-Wai (aka WKW)
I haven’t seen any of Wong Kar-Wai’s shit, but based on the air that surrounds his name, I’m going to assure he’s pretty good. His segment, The Follow, boasts some of the nicest cinematography, atmosphere, and general setting and tone of this series. What’s it aboutr I’m not really sure. Our driver gets to follow some georgeous chick in a BMW, watching her every move. The cast is nice in this one, too, boasting Forrest Whitaker and Mickey Rourke, but the story is artsy and convoluted. The images and mood set by WKW are the real star of this piece, with no small thanks to DP Harris Savides (Fincher’s The Game). Some of the shots linger a bit too long, and again, where’s the storyr It’s there, but only if you look, and the whole point of good cinema is that you shouldn’t have to look, unless there’s more beneath the surface. That statement, dear friends, requires a surface to begin with.
Episode Four: Star
Director: Guy Ritchie
Okay, Guy Ritchie is married to Madonna, who takes the spotlight in this piece. It’s good to see that both of them have a great sense of humor. Ritchie is an obviously talented director, and noting that I haven’t been the biggest fan of his work in the past, I will be grading him harder because he comes from a background in commercial and music-video-style directing. He knows this ground, he knows how to make a short film. (Aren’t commercials exactly thatr) With that tougher grading curve in mind, Ritchie’s Star still passes with flying colors, and is easily the best (and most fun) of the four shorts reviewed here. Madonna plays the unnamed Star, who is compared in the opening sequences to a famous part of the female anatomy. Unbeknownst (is that a wordr) to her, she’s about to go on the ride of her life, as our driver appears to have inhaled a little too much nitrous for this segment. The effects work is amazing (although obvious if you know how it’s done) and the choice of camera angles and soundtrack is utterly perfect… do note that I’ve been pissed at (this) Guy before because he has a tendency to overdo it, but he’s actually somewhat… restrained… if such things are possible. This segment is fast, funny, and most importantly, complete. It’s a true short film and it’s fucking hilarious.
Once again, I would like to issue my challenge to that pussy David Fincher to let me put my talents up against these washed up pansy fucks. I can do this shit much better at a tenth the cost. You up to my challenge, Daveyr I doubt it, because you know I would OWN YOUR BASEBALL CAP AND DOWN JACKET WEARING PUNK ASS!!! Fuck you!Rating: B