Shorts Break: The Greatest Visionary You've Never Heard Of
This week, we've reached into the Sundance vaults to pull out two weird and wild tales that will challenge and delight.
From the sordid brain of Joe Sedelmaier comes Openminds, an attempt to recount the life and times of Raymond E. Bowles, one of our nation's great visionaries who you have probably never heard of, made famous for his artificial trees that seem just like the real things. In his quest to explore his legacy, Sedelmaier goes deep down the rabbit hole with this rollercoaster of style and form. The result is a hefty bit of wit and wisdom that never fails to entertain. You may be surprised to learn (or not) that this short was first imagined in 1970, only to be temporarily abandoned when Sedelmaier's commercial career took off. While his FedEx "Fast Talking Guy" spots or his Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" ads may still be burned into your brain, he never forgot about his narrative opus and came back to it in 2001, when he completed the short. The same great style he used in his commercials is on display here—sharp editing and dialogue, amazing faces of character actors, and a shrewd commentary on people and society that is always timely.
For our second serving this week, and since no Easter weekend can be complete without a bunny rabbit, Australian director Anthony Lucas's My Rabit Hoppy should fit the bill.....sort of. Shot in the vein of a found-footage horror comedy, this quick little morsel of a short follows young Henry's show-and-tell school project about his pet rabbit as it goes horribly wrong. Today’s version of “home movies” made in backyards (often capturing a surprise accident) has become a genre, and Lucas uses visual FX in creative and hilarious ways to achieve its purpose. He knows what he's after, and he knows how to get in quick, tell his story, and get out. Short shorts are very hard to get right, but My Rabit Hoppy just goes to show that a lot can be done with a little. Happy Easter.