We’re starting off the short film showcase this year with a trio of fantastic animated films.
The Hill Farm (1986, directed by Mark Baker) Mark Baker is the creator of Peppa Pig, but before that he made some fantastic animated shorts that played at festivals. This one tells of a few days in the life of a farmer and the visitors who come to their farm.
The Slugger’s Wife (1985) Written by Neil Simon Directed by Hal Ashby
I truly despise this movie. It makes it hard not to dislike Hal Ashby entirely because it is so against everything he made at his peak in the 1980s. The characters are vapid and unlikeable. The story is terrible. I am still trying to make sense of how we ended up here. It’s honestly even more flabbergasting than anything we’ve seen before from Ashby. It is at complete odds with the moral sense the director brought to his early films and is absolute dreck.
Antrum (2018) Written & Directed by David Amito & Michael Laicini
The subtitle of this found-footage horror movie is “The Deadliest Film Ever Made.” I don’t think it rises to that level, but it does deliver a compelling piece of meta-fiction. The structure of the film is bookended with faux-documentary segments giving the fictional back history of Antrum and giving a slight analysis of what we see. The majority is the infamous film itself, an attempt to recreate a grindhouse tone of horror, cheap and nasty, with hints of potentially real danger.
Jughead’s Time Police Reprints Jughead’s Time Police #1-5 Written by Sina Grace Art by Derek Charm
In the 2010s, Archie Comics underwent a major reboot that saw new variations on the iconic character and his friends spinning out. It began with Afterlife with Archie, a Walking Dead-esque mature horror take on the students of Riverdale. Since then, there have been several supernatural books as well as some updated humor books, trying to make Archie relevant for the 21st century. Jughead has been the star of his own rebooted title plus an alternate-reality horror book, Jughead: The Hunger. Time Police may sound like one of these new ideas, but it is a reboot of a mini-series from the 1990s.
X-Statix: The Complete Collection Volume 1 Reprints X-Force #116 – 129, Brotherhood #9, X-Statix #1-5 Written by Peter Milligan Art by Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke, and Paul Pope
This is the most of Peter Milligan’s work that I have ever read. Before this is was a handful of Justice League Dark issues and a mini-series he did for DC’s Flashpoint crossover. I can’t say I was ever a fan of what I read, it is all so strange & off. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, more that your brain sort of has to adjust to the wavelengths Milligan is broadcasting on. It’s evident he has his own style and is writing first for himself. I prefer writers who practice that approach, write a story you would want to read, and the audience will come to you. This is one of those forgotten runs in Marvel’s X-Men niche, running alongside Grant Morrison’s brilliant reboot of the main title. Milligan’s take on X-Force got a lot of attention when it kicked off, but I don’t remember it lasting too long, the series kept going but the buzz faded.
Lookin’ To Get Out (1982) Written by Jon Voight Directed by Hal Ashby
For some reason, in the 1980s, Hal Ashby made three crime films and a pilot for a failed crime series. I have no idea why he was given this material or why he would be attracted to it. Throughout his 1970s work Ashby reflected a deeply anti-authoritarian theme, particularly toward law enforcement. That’s not to say these movies a pro-police, they traffic in annoying criminal cliches and don’t necessarily give their roguish protagonists anything interesting or unique to do.
Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access) Season 1, Episode 1 – “Remembrance” Written by Akiva Goldsman & Michael Chabon & Alex Kurtzman and James Duff Directed by Hanelle Culpepper
Fifteen years prior, in 2387, a disaster occurred. A star in the Romulan Empire went supernova wiping out Romulus and leaving billions stranded as refugees. During the aftermath of this event, Captain Jean-Luc Picard abandoned his post on the Enterprise to aid in the crisis. Since then, he has become a hero to a large faction of displaced Romulans but has cut ties with Starfleet. He growls at one point that Starfleet, as it exists now, is not the organization he once committed himself to. You could see this path unfold on The Next Generation as Picard would frequently move to follow his principles over the commands of his superiors.