Colossal arrives in theaters this Friday, April 7, 2017, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, and, my favorite among these, Tim Blake Nelson. While not an all-out parody of kaiju movies Colossal is a comedy with a kaiju and its own unique and beautiful vision. It’s a little bit like the trailer for Iron Man (2008) that was so good The Onion parodied it, cautioning the world that Hollywood might ruin a perfectly good trailer by adapting it into a feature length movie. So let’s hope Colossal is as good as Iron Man or at least as good as its own trailer. So, I have this sucker on a shelf over my closet with a bunch of movie and horror memorabilia, and on it is a “Mask Pop”, a big zombie-face sucker with eyeholes. I bought it and others for my nieces and nephews years ago. It’s shrinking from its plastic mold inside the box. And now it’s years later, and I’m in the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar in Austin, Texas, the one with the rug, background, and giant adult-sized big wheel from The Shining (1980). They have a vending machine of DVDs and Blu-rays that were produced—I would say championed—one way or another by Drafthouse Films, which is Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s distribution arm. Neon, founded by Tom Quinn and Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League, is the new distribution arm, and Colossal will be the first film acquired by Neon. Back to my story—on the bottom and in the corner of that traditional vending machine filled with DVDs is an actual bag of Doritos Nachos with a card on it. Taped to the bag is a card providing access to Confetti of the Mind, the collected short works of Nacho Vigalondo. That bag with the card on it will be on my shelf till it’s a bag of dust, if Doritos even turn into a bag of dust. Whew! That was a long intro, but these shorts are worth it. I thought I would save the Academy Award-nominated “7:35 de la Mañana” (“7:35 in the Morning”) for last to end with a big shebang since I’ve seen it and knew it well, but after viewing the others it wasn’t necessary. I remember stumbling on this short film years ago when looking up the director of a great foreign film I had recently seen directed by Vigalondo titled Los Cronocrímenes (Time Crimes; 2007). I fell in love with the short right away. A woman walks into the coffee house she walks into every morning for a coffee and pastry, but the people she knows are all acting weird, quiet, avoiding her, and there are two musicians standing by. As she sits down, the mystery is revealed when a man, Timo, starts singing, and not very good singing either, and the musicians start playing. Not only that, but Timo starts dancing, and one by one everybody—every hostage—read their lines from scraps of paper or they dance with Timo. And, créme de la créme of all this, Timo is played by the director, Nacho Vigalondo, and damn kids today, say what you want about black and white, but I just dig the hell out of it when it’s done right, and maybe the motivation here narratively is that it’s a kind of timeless love story, but it works well. Plus, watch carefully and you’ll learn why this collection of his works gets its title. Each film here is introduced by Vigalondo, but I won’t spend my article repeating the great tidbits he shares. I will say though that the next short, “Choque,” is an homage to an older film, and the way he uses it here might be dictionary genius. I’ve never been a fan of forewords in books that give away too much information. You might want to skip his introductions and watch them after you see each flick. In this one, a man takes a woman to an arcade that has bumper cars. They buy tokens and enter separate bumper cars, but at the last second, a group of young boys come out of nowhere and head for the other bumper cars. What happens next and throughout the rest of the short film is a study in masculine jealousy as one young man makes a sexual gesture about the woman angering the main character, and it’s downhill for him in the rest of the film. Throughout his work, Vigalondo is a master of comedic timing in dark comedies, and this one is full of some zingers. Vigalondo actually stars in this one too, and the actor should probably talk with the director about the abuse he suffered during filming. “Marisa” stars “almost one hundred people” playing the same woman of the title. What comes out of this is an homage to the French New Wave and maybe a little Maya Deren, especially as it pertains to narration and editing. The film is narrated by a male character who is trying to find the real Marisa who changes depending on what spot she stands in, and the problem gets worse. It’s a sort of a psychological fantasy or fable, as the narrator is driven to understand Marisa’s very unique problem but also search for her. Her malady and whereabouts, however, are beyond Twilight Zone-ish, and the thought-provoking psychological romp in this stylized short is a clear and distinctive departure from all the works in this collection. Don’t miss the introduction on this one and how he filmed the actors playing Marisa—great stuff. In “Cambiar el mundo” (“Changing the World”) a man wakes, makes a decision, and creates a parallel universe, but he can talk to his self in the other universe. There’s more to it, but I’ll stop there. As we saw with “7:35 de la mañana” and “Choque” Vigalondo is a master of the one-location short film. Even Time Crimes was shot basically at a house and its surrounding area. This short, too, is one location, but it’s also one actor and not the best quality camera, but to no avail Vigalondo succeeds perfectly while the rest of us aspiring filmmakers around the world should just give up and let him do it all, or maybe we shouldn’t let him have all the fun. Okay, “Domingo” (“Sunday”) may not be the same genius as the rest, unless its simplicity is the genius, but it’s still a good little flick. A man has been filming something on video for hours hoping to capture something, but he’s using all his tapes, even the ones with stuff on it, and the woman is not happy with this at all. A camera, mostly on one image, an arguing couple, and it ends on a kind of punchline. Nice little piece. “Tres relatos de ciencia ficcion” (“Three Sci-Fi Stories”) are three one-minute films all made without moving away from his desktop. In Vigalondo’s hands, however, the films read more like Chris Marker’s La Jetée, the 1962 French science fiction film, remade into the movie 12 Monkeys (1995). The original La Jetée was made using still images, and, I’m not sure if this is true, but it seems to me the narrator is very close to the microphone as in these Vigalondo shorts, and the effect is the film production equal of conspiratorial tones, like in Candyman (1992) when Candyman is on the other side of the building and you hear his voice but it sounds like he’s right next to you. He crams hard-core science fiction plots for three features into each one-minute film. The plots are modern too: parallel universes and a person whose existence was erased. These are pretty clever pieces, and he used this style in Open Windows (2014) starring the hard-working Elijah Woods. “Carlota” helps define Vigalondo’s early style and formula. He’s a genius at simplifying his filmmaking, but also writing a good story within those parameters, like using only one location and one camera set-up. “7:35 de la mañana”, “Cambiar el mundo” and “Choque” all take place in one location. And the just-mentioned “Tres relatos de ciencia ficcion” were made from where he was sitting at his desk. “Carlota” was shot for a beer company, and Vigalondo’s recurring theme of love is explored marvelously here. A man is speaking to a woman. They’re having a defining-the-relationship issue. He’s not in love with her yet, but he created a machine that will go off by the push of a button when he falls in love with her, so that she will know as soon as he does when he falls in love with her. Of course, disastrous results occur. Next up is a little “Lesson in Filmmaking.” It’s great stuff. I’ll save that one all for you, but it too is shot with a one-camera set-up, and he also could only shoot it in one take. While it is a filmmaking lesson, it’s still a good little short. “Sci-fi Nano Tales are three shorts even shorter than the other trio, each of these with a different CGI trick. He saved the best one for last, though. Good stuff. “Salón de belezza” is a music video that is all over the place as videos are, but under Vigalondo it gets kind of absurd-lite, not so much Luis Buñuel as perhaps The Lobster (2016), weird fun stuff. Vigalondo has proved himself several times over as a sharp writer and a director with his eye on the budget. If you don’t know his work from Los Cronocrímenes (Time Crimes), Extraterrestre (Extraterrestrial; 2011), or Open Windows (2014), you might know his “A for Apocalypse” one of the better shorts in the first ABC’s of Death (2012) or “Parallel Monsters” from VHS: Viral (2014). So next up, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo: Colossal, and follow this link for Confetti of the Mind. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... 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