Video Digest: April 25, 2008

Six short films to fill your Friday: Rosecrans Baldwin's picks for perfect small things.

Ever since I saw The Five Obstructions a couple years ago, I’ve been a fan of Jørgen Leth’s short film The Perfect Human. Perhaps more than a fan. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, maybe a dozen. Not that there’s much story: A man wearing a tuxedo gets dressed and undressed, shaves and dances, eats a meal of salmon, and mourns the woman who left him. That’s it. But it’s perfect. Which is the point of Lars von Trier’s Five Obstructions—that Leth’s film is too good, too inhuman, and it needs bruising up. Von Trier challenges Leth in a sort of Scandinavian sadistic joust to remake it five times, each time according a new set of rules. Here’s the trailer in case you haven’t seen it:

I love small perfect things—eggs, lemons, shopping malls, handguns. Brenda Dickson and Beaver. The strip of road from the seafood restaurant in Manarola, Italy, to the hotel on top of the hill. And good short films. Here are six in case your casual Friday includes some leisure time for cinema.

The Perfect Human, directed by Jørgen Leth
See the man face the camera. See the woman brush her hair. See how delicious that boiled salmon looks.

Draftee Daffy, directed by Bob Clampett
Nazis and the draft as interpreted by Looney Tunes.

The Wrong Trousers, directed by Nick Park
All hail Wallace and Gromit (go here to watch the whole thing).

The Heart of the World, directed by Guy Maddin
A visually gorgeous story of two brothers, made in 2000.

Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett, directed by Andrew Filippone Jr.
Blown up around the web this week. I couldn’t stop laughing.

What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?, directed by Martin Scorcese
N.Y.U. student film from 1963 that looks nothing like Mean Streets, or much else.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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