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SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL ($30) is a DVD release that I found myself enjoying enormously. The SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL is a new concept devised specifically for the DVD format. A DVD magazine comprised exclusively of short films, interviews and performance. There is nothing to read, except for the DVD’s menu, which will take the viewer immediately to the "article" or short film of choice. This is the kind of title that works equally well on the DVD player in your living room or on a computer DVD-ROM drive. The short films presented on Issue 1, titled INVENTION, of the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL are by and large entertaining and thought provoking. Every short film may not be to every individual taste, but there is so much diversity on this DVD that the disc has a universal appeal. Issue 1 of the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL gets the highest complement that I can give it. It left me wanting more. Personally, I am looking forward to future issues of the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL, which are currently in the works. The producers of the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL intend to offer future issues of their DVD magazine on a monthly basis.

The contents of the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL are broken down into various sections. Animation, narrative, interview, documentary, monologue, music, criticism, experimental and advertisements comprise the table of contents for issue 1. MR. RESISTOR is an amusing little stop motion animated piece utilizing a wiry lead character and his frenetic adventures amongst the discards of human society. THE BIG STORY is one of the highlights of this DVD. It is the first use of the DVD format’s multiple angle ability, presenting both the stop motion finished film, along with its animated pencil test. This Academy Award nominated animated short depicts the caricature of Kirk Douglas as an eager young reporter hoping to land his first big story. The vocal talents of Frank Gorshin make this film both hilarious and memorable. I’ve watched this short a number of times and it keeps getting funnier. SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE, BLACK RIDER and TROUBLE are featured in the narrative section. SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE is another highlight on this disc. This short film features Billy Bob Thornton and Molly Ringwald. This short was later expanded into the feature film SLING BLADE. SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE is a disturbing piece. The film looks at a man of deficient mental capabilities, who is about to be released from an institution twenty years after he commits two murders. Thornton’s performance is riveting. BLACK RIDER is an Academy Award winning short about an elderly bigot who is taught a lesson by the black rider sitting next to her on public transportation. TROUBLE manages to be both sad and funny. Tovah Felshuh stars as a deluded working class mother who has high hopes for the youngest of her daughters, who turns out to be as much "trouble" as the others. The interview section features director Michael Apted, as well as the producer of BARAKA. In the documentary section one finds THE UNFAMILIAR PLACE and GOREVILLE, U.S.A. THE UNFAMILIAR PLACE looks at a Polish Jew’s unwillingness to talk about his experiences during W.W.II. GOREVILLE, U.S.A. is an off-centered and humorous look at a town whose legislation passed a law requiring all heads of households to keep firearms and ammunition in their homes. Henry Rollins’ EASTER SUNDAY IN N.Y.C. is the featured monologue. Alternate audio tracks contain three song performances of Rollins. The music section is great, you get a short interview with blues master John Lee Hooker as well as a performance video. Criticism features QUISLING & TSAI, which asks the question, will invention be the ruin of the human species? The short film SHAPE WITHOUT FORM represents the experimental section of issue 1, while the commercial section features some innovative and entertaining advertisements.

Since the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL is comprised of numerous film sources, quality varies throughout. This is not to say anything is in poor shape, it’s just that different short films will have different looks. In general, everything appears well transferred. Both color and black and white films have good detail. Digital artifacts were noticeable in a couple of minor places. Most soundtracks were two-channel Dolby Digital, but there were a couple of 5.1 tracks with respectable mixes.

I found the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL to be a very rewarding DVD experience. This DVD is cool, quirky and hip. Don’t be afraid of the term cinema. The SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL does not feature the kind of films, which turn off average viewers, or will cause their heads to explode. However, this is not the kind of mindless entertainment released by the Hollywood studios every week. So, if you want something entertaining that will stimulate your mind, instead of causing it to vegetate, pick up the SHORT CINEMA JOURNAL. You will not be sorry.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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