Roy Andersson (#110 of 4)

Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Toronto International Film Festival 2014: Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Swedish filmmaker/comic dioramist Roy Andersson first film since 2007's You, the Living, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence wraps up an informal, existentialist trilogy with that film and 2000's Songs from the Second Floor. Like those films, Pigeon is defined by a rigidly formal style with a color palette of light goldenrod and egg white and multiplanar compositions that pack visual gags behind foregrounded action. Even the title speaks to the director's paradoxical blend of the ornate and dryly blunt, and the film plays its hand when a character alludes to the title about halfway into the film but replaces “existence” with “money,” suggesting a thematic equation of the two.

European Overload: The Latest from Cinema 16

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European Overload: The Latest from Cinema 16
European Overload: The Latest from Cinema 16

European Short Films (Special US Edition), the latest DVD release from Cinema 16, offers a diverse and illuminating collection of cinematic work that, despite the regional specificity indicated by the title of the set, stands as a microcosmic look into many of the art form's otherwise unexplored niches and corners. Even assuming the vast diversity of taste and viewing experience of potential viewers, the wealth of material here makes it unlikely that one won't find something of value, whether in one or more of the individual films themselves, or in the bulk of material overall with its many fascinating comparisons and contrasts.

For cinephiles like myself who are generally unaccustomed to and unfamiliar with short films, the experience afforded by a collection of this sort demands something of a reexamination of one's relationship to the medium. For the Woody Allen-esque types who prefer to watch everything from beginning to end without interruption (The Sorrow and the Pity included), it is a small revelation to find a wealth of material lending itself to more practical viewing habits. It goes without saying that this two-disc set is by no means definitive, and nor does it aspire to be. It instead lends itself to iPod-like cinematic playlisting, though consider this means of sampling a potentially added bonus for younger buffs yet unfamiliar with the joys existing outside of feature films. Given their similarities and differences, I have attempted to talk about the shorts in as logical a fashion as possible; as a rule of thumb, however, consider those discussed earliest to be those most preferred.