Shorts That Are Not Pants 2020: Our Review of ‘Block 1: Laughs’

Posted in Festival Coverage, What's Streaming? by - November 11, 2020
Shorts That Are Not Pants 2020: Our Review of ‘Block 1: Laughs’

Shorts That Are Not Pants are back with its main festival of short films. And one of the first four blocks they’re releasing is one that promises laughs. Comedy is subjective, and people in our industry often react to comedy with ‘Hey that’s funny’ instead of actually laughing. Most of the shorts in this block gave me the former reaction, so I’ll begin writing about them.

First up is Savvas Stavrou’s A Jar of Nuts which has the strangest premise for a comedic short – a suicide attempt. The protagonist (Makis Papadimitriou) has plans to jump off his second story apartment in some city in Cyprus. But there’s a certain saying about plans. This is not for everyone but there are viewers out there who can appreciate this short’s dry humor.

Next is The Owl, where a bunch of teachers goad one of their colleagues to answer why he got his titular nickname. This short chose the wrong butt to joke about.

Then there’s Patrick Muhlberger’s Hot Dog, where Matt (Elisha Yaffe) and his coworkers stumble upon the titular dog inside a car. That’s bad enough but this is LA where cars get hotter than usual. It captures its moments through foreground and background but the characters are unwatchable and insufferable.

The next short is Mykyta Lyksov’s Deep Love, depicting a Ukrainian city but more colorful and… gross. This is one of the few instances where gross can be simultaneously funny.

The short film A La Mode is next, which imagines a kingdom that exiles its unfashionable people to a nearby mountain. The animation here is just like the comedy in that both are acquired tastes, and I like this film’s Rauschenberg-like style.

Some of these shorts take place in a single location. Asparagus 2 is one of them, taking place at a doctor’s office where a doctor refers his patient to a lung specialist. There are Easter eggs here that lead to a joke that doesn’t pay off.

The short film landscape is one where emerging artists try to do their own thing. Kim’s Convenience‘s Andrea Bang co-wrote Idols Never Die with director Jeremy Yoo. And they imagine a world where four girls (Catherin Shim, etc.) steal a dead K-Pop Idol’s ashes. This plays into a lot of themes like the ornate and ridiculous nature of resting places, which is as true here as it apparently is in Korea. Deep, emotionally poignant, and funny.

Cuckoo explores the possibility of a sentient being inside a titular cuckoo clock, and makes fun of how exhausting that being must be. This is comedic even without the subtitles, showing that funny is universal. Best of the block.

There’s a lot going on in Julie Caty’s Normal, where an animation version of a pop star starts a rabbit hole of reading philosophical book. Well, it’s more like Karl Marx funneling those books directly into the pop star’s head. The funniest premises are the most ridiculously visual ones.

The next short is Jerome Walter Gueguen’s Rain Machine, which looks like an SNL version of Aguirre, Wrath of God. Here, a man (co-writer Edward J. Bentley) and his friend bring a rain machine through a forest. Ridiculous costumes do not a comedy make.

Simon K Matthews’ Behind the Mask ends the block on a high note. This is basically one of those actors on actors satire but here, an actress (co-writer Emma Saurel). I don’t want to be blasphemous but by referencing the Marx Brothers, Matthews and Saurel get to that level.

If you want to see comedy reach peaks, go to https://shortsnotpants2020.eventive.org/schedule.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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