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Small Gauge Trauma
10-07-2006, 11:26 PM
Review Date: October 7, 2006
Released by: Synapse Films
Release date: 7/25/2006
Region 1, NTSC
Various aspect ratios | 16x9: Yes
In early 2004, I set out to make a short film. I had a twenty page script, two reliable performers and a lot of big ideas. But a filmmaker's reality is often tragically depressing. My first disappointment came when I had to cut the script down to ten pages and lose 70% of the dialogue. Then, I discovered that my vintage Super 8 camera had suddenly developed a problem that prevented it from working when attached to a tripod. From that point on, things got even worse. Two rolls of already shot film disappeared before I could have them developed, resulting in some of my most potentially promising footage being lost. Then the facility I hired to do the telecine video transfer botched the job, sending me back a MiniDV tape full of blurry, washed out images. Then my attempts to do sound recording and dialogue synching ended disastrously. In the end, I finished the film, but it came out so badly that I've rarely shown it to anybody. It's a mess, but damn it, it's still my baby.
I bring up this ordeal because it is typical of the ordeal gone through by makers of short films. Making short movies is an insanely hard business, and getting the finished ones seen can be almost as bad. Even the festival circuit isn't an ideal venue. That is why it is wonderful to see a release like Small Gauge Trauma, which showcases thirteen shorts from Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival. It is a true testament to the difficulty of a filmmaker's life when even a short presented at wildly popular Fantasia can barely get distributed on home video, as is the case with many of these shorts. So let's take a look at some of these obscure but often wonderful works...
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot1l.jpg)This compliation begins with Abuelitos (Spain, 1998, d. Paco Plaza), a story set in a decaying geriatric ward where old men, many of them noticeably sick and dying, wither away their time. A young child is led into the kitchen, never to be seen again. Soon after, the old folks enjoy a meal of unexplained origin.
Abuelitos has a literal English translation of Grandfathers, and it's hard to miss the symbolism of what happens between the old and the young. Anyone who has followed the Social Security debate in the United States knows that America is rapidly approaching a major demographic crisis thanks to a graying generation of baby boomers and a generation of younger workers that is too small to support their needs as they age. The necessitty of caring for these elders threatens to someday swamp the healthcare system, drag down the economy and fundamentally alter modern society. But as big as America's problem may be, in Europe the issue threatens to be even worse because of a lower birthrate and higher reliance on social welfare systems. In Spain istelf, some estimates place the birth rate as being so low that the total population could be halved in a generation. Abuelitos shows this with a vivid metaphor. The old are literally feeding off the young, and most do it with little sense of guilt.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot2l.jpg)The film also touches other nerves. The sick feeling of being inside a place inhabited by the decaying and the almost dead is well captured by the short's brooding, gloomy atmosphere. The hospital is filthy, yet also cold and sterile thanks to the use of clear neon lights for many scenes. The camerawork itself can also be beautifully evocative. Although it remains a minor film, it is nevertheless a creepy and effective one.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot5l.jpg)The second film on this edition is called Amor Só de Mãe (Brazil, 2003, d. Dennison Ramalho), or in English, as Love From Mother Only. Set in a remote coastal village, it tells the story of Filho, an aging man who is having an affair with a local wench named Formosa. After having sex in the jungle, Formosa gives him an ultimatum - leave the village with her and abandon his aging mother, or she will leave him. Filho is torn over the decision, and that night breaks into Formosa's cottage and finds her with other men. He throws them out, but Formosa suddenly becomes possessed by an evil force with a demonic voice, and gives him an another ultimatum - he must kill his mother, if he is ever to experience the woman's affection again.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot6l.jpg)Amor Só de Mãe is another winner. It features a darkly appealing atmosphere with excellent cinematography and sound design. The sexual aspect is explicit and the violence is brutal, with the most disturbing moments coming when Filho assaults his mother. It is a film that is steeped in the symbolism of both Catholicism and black magic, exploring the conflict between the strict Christian observances of Filho's mother, and the witchcraft practiced by Formosa, leading to her posession by evil otherworldly forces. It is the best type of horror film, in that it does not seek to only disgust, but also to appeal to the place within each of us that can understand that conflict between good and evil. Highly recommended.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot10s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot10l.jpg)Next up we have Chambre Jaune (Belgium, 2002, d. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani), a highly experiemental piece about an S&M session which turns deadly.
Mixing digital video with jarring still photography, Chambre Jaune (a.k.a. Yellow Room) borrows heavily from traditional giallo symbolism, particularly an obsession with eyes and sexual violence - and no self respecting horror fan will miss the significance of the black leather gloves and the razor blade that are used, nor will they not be reminded of past films by the candy-colored lighting schemes. The only real innovation is the use of still photographs to create the effect of multiple jump cuts. Other than that it is derivative of the older giallo films in almost every way. The two directors seem to be better artisans than artists - everything is well photographed and edited, but there's nothing particularly special about it.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot13s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot13l.jpg)Flat 'n' Fluffy (Canada, 2001, d. Benoit Boucher) is the whacked out story of two teenagers, the acid-dropping Skimpy and the Soviet expatriate Guido. Playing around with his new AK-47, Guido accidentally shoots a neighborhood dog named Fluffy, causing the dog's owner Old Lady Higgins to take bloody revenge.
Ten years ago, Flat 'n' Fluffy would have been considered shocking and offensive. But that was before South Park came on the scene and thoroughly desensitized audiences to the idea of offensive animation. As a result, as offensive as the short film manages to be, it is not very shocking any more, if it ever was. The simple animation style (reminsicent of American cartoons from the 60's and 70's) is appealing though, and its warped sense of humor is rarely misplaced. Boucher should be animating for Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot14s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot14l.jpg)Gorgonas (Argentina, 2004, d. Salvador Sanz) begins in an abandoned temple surrounded by people who have been turned to stone, as the only two living people left on the scene prepare to kill the menace that has afflicted millions of people around the world. It turns out that the problem all started with a pop trio named Elektra, whose worldwide success brought them fortune, acclaim and uncountable legions of fans. However, over time the three ladies making up the group started to change, altering the style of their music, making fewer public appearances and being overshadowed by rumors of a strange disease afflicting them. Elektra decided to break up, and gave one final farewell show that was broadcast live to every corner of the globe. During the concert the girls showed their faces, revealing that they had been transformed into gorgons, the hideous creatures of Greek legend which were capable of turning men into stone by simply looking them in the face!
Brought to life with an animation style similar to the Japanese anime, Gorgonas is silly but entertaining. The modern twist on the legend of the gorgons is amusing, but the awkward story structure and the short's seemingly inconclusive ending will cause frustration. The best aspect of the film is the animation itself, which features some interesting and striking images.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot18s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot18l.jpg)I'll See You In My Dreams (Portugal, 2003, d. Miguel Ángel Vivas) is set in a rural Portugese village that is suffering from a plague of the undead, with residents being killed left and right by zombies and the survivors locking themselves inside their houses during the long nights. The protagonist is a gruff local man named Lucio, who has taken the initiative in stopping the plague, killing over a hundred of the undead. However, he is haunted by his own personal zombie, that of his wife, whom he caught cheating on him, causing him to murder her lover and then throw her to the walking corpses outside. Now she is a zombie herself, kept locked up by him because of his inability to destroy her.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot20s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot20l.jpg)I can't say I fell in love with I'll See You In My Dreams. As a horror fan, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm tired of zombies. Every zombie film I watch it's the same damn thing over and over again - "Aim for the head! Aim for the head! Watch out behind you! Don't get bitten! Don't get bitten! Ahh shit, you got bitten!" The problem with this short film is that it is so typical of modern living dead cinema. You've seen this movie before. Only the last time you watched it, it was set in the ruins of a great metropolis instead of a Portugese village. Then the time you watched it before that, it was in an underground military/research facility. Then the time before that it was on a Caribbean island, and then the time before that it was in a shopping mall, and then the time before that it was in a farmhouse. Director Miguel Ángel Vivas and his screenwriters copy George Romero's rules of "zombielogy" almost in their entirety, which makes I'll See You In My Dreams not only feel derivative of Romero, but derivative of every other filmmaker who has used those rules as well. Hopefully the late Lucio Fulci, wherever he is now, is at least getting a kick out of the fact that the hero in the film is so clearly named after him.
Nevertheless, the continued interest in and production of zombie films proves that there is still a huge viewer base for this type of cinema, and those who have yet to tire of the living dead will find plenty to enjoy here. The atmosphere is heavy, the make-up effects are great and the widescreen cinematography is gorgeous. It's not a bad movie at all, it's just that there's nothing special about it, either.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot24s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot24l.jpg)The next stop on our tour is Infini (Canada, 2002, d. Guillaume Fortin), which features a man in a dark cellar who is splicing together Super 8mm footage of a young woman's childhood. His editing is interrupted by frantic scenes of that same woman in the hospital, struggling to stay alive after a drug overdose.
Infini (a.k.a. Infinity) is one of the most interesting shorts on this release, but yet it is simultaneously the least memorable. Guillaume Fortin mixes 8mm, 16mm and digital video footage in a jarring way, resulting in sharp visual contrasts that disrupt the narrative but are nonetheless effective. The intercutting between the different footage types is full of narrative implications between what is really happening to the woman in the hospital and the metaphorical jumbling together of memories from her childhood.
But as interesting as it may be, it doesn't have ths sticking power than any of the other shorts on this release have. Good or bad, the other films on this release have one thing in common with each other that Infini doesn't have - they all stuck with me after I watched them. Infini is different. It was interesting to watch, but in the end it just didn't have an effect on me.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot26s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot26l.jpg)L'Ilya (Japan, 2000, d. Tomoya Sato) is the story of a young Japanese woman of the same name who makes a living by videotaping people as they commit suicide, and then editing the footage into montages that are shown in nightclubs.
Without a doubt, L'Ilya is the most significant find on this DVD, and of all the films on display here, it is the one that needs this compilation the most, since its forty-minute running time has limited its potential for even festival screenings. It is a hauntingly well made piece, and the realistically handled suicide scenes are outright disturbing. A constant feeling of death hangs over the film. It has the most staying power of any of the shorts, and despite its long running time the pacing is perfect.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot28s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot28l.jpg)The subject matter of suicide is identifiable enough in our culture, but that subject matter no doubt has even more relevance to Japanese society due to different attitudes about the morality and necessity of killing oneself (the World Health Organization reports that the suicide rate for Japanese men is 36.5 per 100,000 people, which is higher than any other country in the developed world; the female suicide rate is an abnormally high 14.1 per 100,000). L'Ilya's boyfriend describes suicide as the "in" thing to do, and then procedes to kill himself as well. The film pokes fun at the absurdity of some of the reasons why people take their own lives. I'Ilya's policy of non-interference while videotaping deaths (she talks to them while they die, but refuses to help them do it or stop them) comes across as less of a critique of the media and more as a commentary on a society that tolerates such activity so openly.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot30s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot30l.jpg)Then we have a minor distraction called Miss Greeny (Japan, 1997, d. Tenkwaku Naniwa), an amateurish shot-on-video affair with a googly-eyed green blob which starts to ooze when somebody holds it up the wrong way, while subtitles blare poorly punctuated nonsense like "Please dont wake me up!" Running not even thirty seconds, my roommates and I found ourselves watching it over and over again in an unsuccessful attempt to find some sort of deeper subtext to the whole thing.
This is followed up by Ruta Destroy! (Spain, 2002, d. Diego Abad), which follows a day in the life of three pill-popping, cocaine-snorting friends and one of their girlfriends. They buy drugs, do drugs, slack off and otherwise get in trouble. They also periodically break into song and dance!
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot32s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot32l.jpg)Ruta Destroy! has got to be the world's only druggie musical. When taken together with the other films on this compilation, it feels out of place, but yet it is so ridiculously silly and enjoyable that one can't help but want to watch it several times. The songs are horrible even before they are mangled by the English subtitles, but one can't help but be amused when one character starts singing about how he steals from his parents to buy cocaine.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot34s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot34l.jpg)The Separation (Britain, 2003, d. Robert Morgan) is the animated tale of two Siamese twins who are surgically separated during childhood. We flash forward many years and meet the twins as adults, where it is revealed that the two have never really adjusted to living apart from the other one's body, leading to a warped and messy attempt to rejoin.
Though grotesque and in many ways highly disturbing (at least one person has fainted during a screening, according to the director commentary), The Separation is without a doubt the best of the animated features on this compilation with its intricately detailed models and sets. It is not a particularly funny short, yet there is still something humorous about its darkly macabre content. Psychologically, it perfectly captures the feeling of separation anxiety that we all know, giving it a rarely disturbing feel to it. Running less than ten minutes, it is a short that is worth re-watching to capture every last detail that is contained within.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot40s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot40l.jpg)Sister Lulu (Britain, 2001, d. Philip John) begins with a convent novice lying on her back speaking to the camera. She describes her agony with the difficulties of living with nuns, and then reveals how one nun named Sister Lulu became erotically involved with her, and developed a plan for her to fake her own death. As it turns out, the novice is already in a coffin buried in the cemetery, and Sister Lulu has no intention of ever letting her out!
In many ways, Sister Lulu feels like a complete throwback to the good ol' days of European nunsploitation, with some very vivid eroticism. The decision to shoot in black and white was determined by the director's desire to give the piece a "timeless" feel, which he succeeds at. The piece contains some apparently intentional historical anachronisms (for example, though ostensibly set a century or two earlier, the novice has a very modern looking cigarrette lighter). It's actually one of the more humorous films on this release.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot44s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot44l.jpg)This compilation is finished by Tea Break (Britain, 2004, d. Sam Walker), in which a grizzled old worker smokes cigarettes and cuts the heads off people with a paper cutter after they are delivered to him by an industrial conveyor belt. Watching the clock continuously, he is finally able to take his 11 AM tea break, where he indulges in a beverage, sandwich and newspaper, simultaneously giving his last victim on the belt a short reprieve.
Tea Break is mainly a satire on the workplace (as well as a jab at how much the English love their tea). The worker is completely desensitized to the gruesome business that he is engaged in, and even revolting aspects such as splattered blood are nothing more than a big nuisance. The rigid structure of the workday and its monotony leads to a person to be detached from what they are actually doing, focused instead on that limited period of time when they can be away from it all.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot3l.jpg)Abuelitos is presented letterboxed at 1.78:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 displays. Aside from some big specks at the very beginning, the film elements it was taken from look to have been in great shape, and there is an above average level of sharpness and clarity. The production's cool, undersaturated color scheme is very well reproduced. However, shadow detail does suffer during some of the dark moments and there are some occasional digital artifacts.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot8s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot8l.jpg)Amor Só de Mãe is in anamorphic 1.78:1, and for the most part also looks very good, with excellent colors and clarity that is only spoiled by murky shadow detail during some interior scenes. There are also a small but noticeable number of specks and scratches on the film elements.
With Chambre Jaune we get another sharp anamorphic presentation, this time at 1.85:1. Despite being shot on digital video, the filmmakers were able to give a surprisingly film-like look to the entire piece, though the color balance is all over the place, resulting in oversaturated hues and washed out detail in many shots. Video noise is also apparent in some shots.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot11s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot11l.jpg)Flat 'n' Fluffy is presented full-frame 1.33:1, and suffers from oversaturated reds and a somewhat soft-looking image, something which seems to be more the result of the transfer than the animation style. Since it was animated on 16mm film there is some light grain, and despite being just five years old, the film elements already seem a little beat up, with many noticeable specks and scratches. The retro animation style makes it look enough like an old cartoon as it it, but the battered print just adds to the effect.
On the other hand, Gorgonas looks almost flawless. It was animated digitally, so the full-frame presentation is crystal clear with excellent colors, though again some digital artifacts and aliasing can be seen if one looks closely enough.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot22s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot22l.jpg)I'll See You In My Dreams is the only short on this compilation that is given a full 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. It looks a little soft, but is otherwise an above average presentation with well saturated colors and decent clarity, even in dark night scenes which make up most of the film.
Infini is given a 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 transfer, and as one would expect, the video quality is all over the place. The Super 8 footage seems to look intentionally dupey, while the 16mm footage is grainy but undamaged. The digital video footage is clear but washed out. In other words, the video quality is unclassifiable, and as such it will receive no formal letter grade.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot27s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot27l.jpg)Then we have I'Ilya, which has a problematic 1.33:1 transfer. It was shot on 16mm, and looks rather washed out most of the time, with somewhat faded colors, poor shadow detail and black levels that appear on the grayish end. On the positive end, though, the film elements are without any significant damage.
Miss Greeny was shot on what looks to have been a consumer-grade 90's-era video camera, and it looks just plain ugly. But then again, with a running time of less than thirty seconds, who really cares?
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot33s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot33l.jpg)Ruta Destroy! comes in as the only film here that is letterboxed but not given 16x9 enhancement. It is very difficult to evaluate because of stylistic choices that alter the color balance in various scenes (in his commentary track, Diego Abad makes it sound as if the director of photography was a rogue who caused problems with the way the images came out). Nonetheless, the image is clear and crisp, with a decent level of detail.
The Separation is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and though it was shot on film, it appears to have been edited digitally, and it has a very video-like sheen to it. Nonetheless, the clarity and color reproduction is excellent, bringing out the full details of the model work.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot42s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot42l.jpg)Sister Lulu was shot on black and white 35mm film, and the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks good, despite some graininess that comes with the type of film stock used. There are a few specks and scratches here and there, but the blacks are deep and true, and the level of contrast and clarity is excellent.
Tea Break was shot on 35mm, and the 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks great, with excellent color, clarity and detail, and almost nothing in the way of print damage.
Each film is presented in its original native language. In the case of films from outside the English-speaking world, subtitles are provided. Most of these subtitles are the removable kind, but on certain shorts they are burned into the frame. The optional subtitles are well translated and literate. In comparison, the subtitles that are burned into the image are usually poorly translated and full of grammatical inconsistencies.
Abuelitos is given a Spanish 2.0 Stereo track, and the presentation of it here brings out the unsettling sound design of dripping water and echoes through empty corridors. Dialogue is clear, and there is little distortion or hiss audible.
Amor Só de Mãe is given a Portugese 2.0 Stereo track. The track captures the dialogue without any major problems, and does a very good job of bringing out the unsettling, eerie sounds of the jungle.
Chambre Jaune is presented in 2.0 Stereo. This is a film that has no dialogue, and sound design is an extremely important part of this short's essence. The track here doesn't disappoint. Every little sound, whether it be a razor scrapoing bare flesh or the minute creak of a door hinge, is perfectly and clearly reproduced.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot16s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_shot16l.jpg)Flat 'n' Fluffy is in English 2.0 Stereo. The audio has a rather flat sound to it, but is otherwise tolerable.
With Gorgonas, we get a Spanish language track in 2.0 Stereo. It's rather unbalanced - when I turned the volume up high enough to hear the dialogue at the beginning, I got a nasty surprise when the music kicked in and it became so loud that I wouldn't be surprised if my landlord in the apartment above me could hear it! The subtitles for the film are also burned into the frame, and are hilariously bad.
Not content to be the only short on this disc in true widescreen, I'll See You In My Dreams is also the only one here to given a 5.1 Surround presentation in its original Portugese language. It's quite a well designed soundtrack, and it blows the audio design on most of the other shorts out of the water.
Then we have Infini, which is given a French 2.0 Stereo track. It sounds decent, but is nothing special.
L'Ilya is given a 2.0 Stereo track in its original Japanese language, and sounds above average for the most part, though there are some problems with some noticeable popping and hissing here and there.
Miss Greeny is also presented in Japanese 2.0 Stereo, and the limited few lines of dialogue sound distorted, choppy and muffled as all hell. But again, with a thirty-second piece like this, who really cares?
Ruta Destroy is in Spanish 2.0 Stereo, and thankfully the soundtrack comes through clearly, reproducing the blaring techno music with great fidelity. However, the English subtitles are burned into the image, and while not as bad as those on Gorgonas, there are still some guffaws to be had while reading them.
The Separation has a 2.0 Stereo track that is extremely important, since there is no dialogue to carry the piece with, and it does not disappoint.
Sister Lulu is presented in English 2.0 Stereo, and the dialogue comes across as a little difficult to understand, though there seems to be accurate reproduction when it comes to the sound effects.
Tea Break is another excellent soundtrack, with yet another 2.0 Stereo presentation. The chop...chop...CHOP of heads coming off is just as grotesque as it sounds, and every little bit comes across on the audio.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_menul.jpg)Filmmaker commentaries are provided for eight out of the thirteen short features. It goes without saying that the tracks are of a highly variable quality. The commentary for Amor Só de Mãe features director Dennison Ramalho and make-up artist Andre Kepel. It is Ramalho who does most of the talking here, and his enthusiasm for the film is infectious. He provides a good, in-depth look at the making of the short, and his English is excellent, making the track easy to listen to.
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are on hand for the commentary to Chambre Jaune, and despite their thick French accents, they are mostly understandable and very informative, though I'm not buying their attempts to explain the film as a homage to the giallo genre, rather than a rip-off.
Benoit Boucher delivers a useless commentary for Flat 'n' Fluffy. Speaking in a droning mechanical voice, Boucher pretends to be a robot that rambles on and on about its contempt for the movie and its passion for "naked android sluts". Obviously it's not a very informative track, and unlike the short itself, Boucher's attempts at humor fall completely flat here. An annoying waste of time.
For Infini, we get director Guillaume Fortin, producer Pierre Mathieu-Fortin and sound designer Martin Marier. It's one of the best tracks on this release, with the three speaking in a very clear, easy going and informative mannner about the project.
The commentary for Ruta Destroy! is a little bit of a chore to get through, since Diego Abad doesn't speak English very clearly.
The commentary for The Separation features Robert Morgan and producer Sylvie Bringas. They deliver a reasonably complete overview of the way that the film was conceived and produced, and provide some welcome insight into some of the more confusing aspects of the story. The director also provides audio commentary for a deleted scene that is also thrown in as an extra.
Philip John delivers a tolerable and moderately informative track for the very short Sister Lulu where he delves into the stylistic choices that he made during the production.
For Tea Break, we get one of the most bizarre commentaries I have ever heard. Director Sam Walker and another crew member sing a yodel about the experience of making the film! Strangely enough, it's an informative yodel as well.
In addition to the commentaries, there are several other special features related to specific films. Gorgonas includes a brief "making-of" featurette that runs under two minutes and features Salvador Sanz and another member of the production team talking about their inspirations for making the film.
I'll See You In My Dreams comes attached with an appropriately dark heavy metal video from a band called Moonspell, which features a nightclub full of zombies.
Moving onto purely Fantasia related special features, we are given several introductions. First up is José Mojica Marins ("Coffin Joe"), who speaks briefly. Then there's Mitch Davis, one of the programming directors at Fantasia, who provides an rambling but accurate account of the torment that goes into the making of a short film, and the lack of closure that can come at the end when the short's distribution goes poorly.http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot2l.jpg)
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot4s.JPG (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot4l.jpg)Next up are three TV spots promoting the festival, the best of which is labelled "Duckzilla" and features a giant waterfowl with death ray eyes. This is followed up by a theatrical trailer promoting the festival itself.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/sguage/sgauge_eshot3l.jpg)The next supplement is titled What is Fantasia?, and it is a brief compilation of TV news coverage of the Fantasia Film Festival (much of it is in French with subtitles, and is presumably from the local media in Montreal). For those viewers who have no familiarity with the festival, watch this first! It provides an excellent introduction to the kind of content Fantasia showcases, including interviews with filmmakers, festival officials and common fans.
This release is finished off by talent bios for all the filmmakers involved, and liner notes written by Mitch Davis.
The compilation of shorts on this release provides an excellent representation of what the festival experience is all about, and provides some needed daylight to some films that have already slipped into obscurity. The video and audio quality varies here as much as the content of the shorts themselves, and some of the extras are hit or miss. But anybody who's curious about short films, or even better, is trying to make their own, would do well to give Small Gauge Trauma a viewing.
Movie – B+
Image Quality – B+
Sound - B+
Amor Só de Mãe
Movie – A
Image Quality – B+
Sound - B+
Movie – C+
Image Quality – B
Sound - A
Flat 'n' Fluffy
Movie – B+
Image Quality – B-
Sound - B-
Movie – B-
Image Quality – A-
Sound - B-
I'll See You In My Dreams
Movie – B-
Image Quality – B+
Sound - A-
Movie – B-
Image Quality – N/A
Sound - B
Movie – A
Image Quality – C
Sound - B
Movie – F
Image Quality – D-
Sound - D-
Movie – A-
Image Quality – B
Sound - B+
Movie – A-
Image Quality – A-
Sound - A-
Movie – B+
Image Quality – A-
Sound - B
Movie – B+
Image Quality – A-
Sound - B+
Supplements – B+
Running Time - 3 hours
Color and B&W
English 2.0 Stereo
Spanish 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
French 2.0 Stereo
Portugese 2.0 Stereo
Portugese 5.1 Surround
Optional English subtitles
Burned-in English subtitles
Making-of featurette for Gorgonas
Music video for I'll See You In My Dreams
Deleted scene for The Separation
Introduction by José Mojica Marins
Introduction by Mitch Davis
Festival TV spots
What is Fantasia? compilation
10-10-2006, 04:39 AM
I'm looking forward to getting this; but dissapointed that none of my local outlets are carrying it. I will be making an online purchase for this along with Calvaire, which seems to be MIA in the stores as well. I've read several reviews for Small Gauge Trauma, all of which have been excellent.
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