Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Death to the Tinman; The Eagleman Stag


This week for my favourite form of blogging duress Nathaniel R (The Film Experience) ordered us to watch two short films and deliver our favourite shots of both in usual “Hit Me” form.

So, Death to the Tinman is the one I consider to be the lesser of the two (although both are lovely) at least on a purely aesthetic level. Although, the strength of the both is their ability to provoke thought despite their shortness. Ray Tintori’s Death of a Tinman is probably the ostensibly less weighty one – what with its weird mix of satire and horror within a romantic comedy. But the tale of a young man who begins losing body parts to a curse, which become replaced with tin, has much to consider.

Like this, probably not brilliant shot – which I still, had to stop and observe for a bit.
I’m partial to the use of mist/fog/smoke in literature and film and Tintori isn’t taking it to Blanche Dubois levels (since this isn’t the first time we see our protagonist) but it’s an interesting point having him emerge from the smoky depths of the burning house whilst on his fireman job is immediately pointing to something fateful for the character. It also could be a shot from the film's closing with Bill carrying a lifeless body, since Tintori does not seem averse to sly bits of foreshadowing in the 12 minute piece.

It’s why this was a strong contender for my favourite shot because – before the full body transformation – with two arms lost watching Bill observe his new limbs is such a fine encapsulation of the film’s playful jabs on finding oneself. That cross between disbelief and sadness on his face tells much about his predicament. Ultimately I went for a shot just a bit later, though.

Arms and legs now lost Bill dejectedly sits with his head bowed. And considering the maybe-happy-ending it might seem discordant with the idea of choosing a shot to represent the film but even with its cheery end Death to the Tinman unsettles. The sense of loss pervading through the frame is still the thing I feel most and this is one of the few shots where Bill allows himself to embody that sense of loss and defeat. The tin limbs could be comical except the joke is perverse and gaudy and becomes grotesquely sad instead of ironically funny, like the film itself.

The Eagleman Stag, too, is unsettling. And for similarly, occasionally, ineffable reason. The first shot which jumped out at me was this early one.

And it’s such a fine example of how I feel about the film. Tearing it apart finding the root “specialness” inherent eludes me but held up to the sun the light ricochets off it in a way that I know it’s special – just not how.The hands holding up the worm to the sum as in, Show me everything about why this works the way it works. Of course, knowing all that is impossible, in the same way we cannot really understand and know everything about the things around us. Or why we like the things we do.

But that’s possibly too broad  reading. With its story of a man frustrated with the way time is running from him (like it is running from all of us) this next shot is about as precise as can be made only more menacing by the tapping fingers which so nicely touches on another humanistic irony.

We keep tapping our fingers for time to just move on even though we’re simultaneously wishing to be bequeathed with more time. Which brings me to my favourite shot which is in itself something very plain.

The narration tells us in the moment our protagonist feels like an inanimate object and he moves from man to creature to box until he’s just a box in the middle of nowhere surrounded by other boxes and, again, so very very on-the-nose but still so very effective. Notice how with my three shots all hurtle off in various forms of explanations? This 9 minute film is thematically dense it is difficult to use a shot to explain. But still this one seems so effective: Time is running away from us all and in that way we’re all random boxes in life. But the concept of the box is weirdly comforting to – we have no idea what’s inside the box. It’s a mystery. It’s life. And that’s such an embarrassingly pat axiom but, forgive me, Please’s film is proof that ruminating on pat things is not an inherent crutch.
        
Go read more "Hit Me" entries over at Nathaniel HERE.

2 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

Despite how dense it is -- and how -- I nearly chose all three of those shots for Stag. "show me everything about why this works the way it works". Exactly.

Tim said...

So, not only was your runner-up in Death to the Tinman my pick for #1, your #1 was my runner-up, and the only reason I put them in that order was because my Eagleman Stag shot was so similar.

Great minds think alike.