Written and Directed by:
Kody Batchelor, Ken Chen, Chris Hill, Meagan Hill, Summer Hill, Jasper Holland, Todd Holland, Tim Schwartz
|Grade: A to A-
|Grade: B+ to B
|Grade: B- to C+
|Grade: C to C-
|| "Sal's Animal Variety Hour" Review
Winner of the Best Experimental Film at the Brooklyn Zero Film Festival, Tim Schwartz's Sal's Animal Variety Hour exists in a world where animals and humans unite, Sal's joint, to kick back...at least until an unlikely and unvited visitor arrives.
What's going to happen?
You simply have to see it.
Proof that creativity and talent can trump a budget limit virtually any time, this ultra-low budget short is inventively photographed by D.P. Jennifer Ann Henry with images that could possibly be described as H.R. Puf n' Stuff meets The Wizard of Oz meets Harmony Korine on an acid trip.
In other words, I liked it. A lot.
While there's something to be said for a film that gives you a nice and concrete beginning, middle and end, there's also something relentlessly wonderful about a filmmaker who has the balls to create a film that makes you think, feel and end the screening scratching your head wondering "What the heck did I just see?"
Sal's Animal Variety Hour is a "What the heck did I just see film?"
To call Sal's Animal Variety Hour is a bit of a "Duh!," with delightfully costumed characters that would have been right at home on the set of Spike Jonze's adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. Yet, just as the Jonze experiment symbolized a film with tremendous substance, one can't help but reach the end of this too short film and wish these characters would hang out just a wee bit longer.
According to IMDB, Sal's Animal Variety Hour was produced on an estimated $500 production budget...Yep, that's right $500. I think James Cameron spent more than that on toilet paper for one of his CGI avatars. While there are certainly signs of the low budget, mostly in image quality, the brilliance of Schwartz's direction and Henry's camera work is how they flaunt the shortcoming rather than fall victim to it. Could more money have helped Schwartz's cause? Perhaps. It's hard not to think, though, that this is one short film that is actually better because a small group of creative, inspired and talented folks got together and said "Let's make a really crazy film" So, they did. They made a damn fine one.
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