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Angels & Demons

MRQE Top Critic

Les Choristes

The French confection Les Choristes is now available on a skimpy, movie-only DVD —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

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The gang over at Team Toofy Productions (the same folks that bring us the Toofy Film Fest) have complied a “best of” DVD of 12 international short films shown at their festival over the last three years. Toofy cofounder Mark Siebert says “Many of these films are hard to find, and most short films don’t have an outlet beyond the festivals themselves. Independent filmmakers have a hard enough time getting their films in front of audiences. Toofy Shorts Vol 1 brings them together at an affordable price, and everybody is happy.”

I have to agree with Mark, this is a nice little collection.

Think of this DVD as an assortments of visual chocolates. We here at the Movie Habit Labs have carefully poked each one to find out what’s in their centers. All are quite tasty though the real surprise is in the wide range of flavors. The one with the chewy nougat is right there next to the sushi taffy. It seems to be more than the standard assortment. Here’s what I found.

Better than your standard assortment
Better than your standard assortment

Title: At a Glance
Director: Eugene & Birg
Category: Animated Music Video
Country: Belgium
Style of chocolate: Standard, somewhat bland, chocolate-covered nut center. Straight-up animation set to music. But the animation and the images don’t seem to have that much to do with each other with (to my eye at least), the animation being more interesting and well crafted than the song, which seems to drone along by itself.

Title: Spin
Director: David May
Category: Live action w/sfx
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: Dark chocolate outside, coffee flavored taffy inside so chewy it will keeps you occupied for a while. It’s tasty, but you are ready to move on by the end. A step up from the first selection, this one has an intriguing storyline that bends time with predictably unpredictable results. This one makes you want to try the next one.

Title: Fetch
Director: David May
Category: Live action
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: Somebody slipped a Mars Bar in here. Clean and respectable but maybe not what you’d expect in a box of Best of Shows. If the Toofy Fest was built on the premise “Best Films Made In Colorado,” this one would make more sense. The core idea is based on a Darwin Award winner. Not bad, not great, and there’s no reason why it can’t be your favorite.

Title: Learn Self Defense
Director: Chris Harding
Category: Animation
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: Milk chocolate around a layer of 1950s caramel with a surprise political jalpe├▒o center. This one starts slow and sneaks up on you. By the time you figure out the gag at the center, you’re in a completely different cartoon. Not what I expected when I started but well worth the trip.

Title: Revenge of the Roadkill Rabbit
Director: Eric Stough and Graham Hoof
Category: Live action w/puppets
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: A plain old chocolate malted milk ball that delivers the goods. I could eat a whole bag of these babies. It’s a sentimental favorite with Boulder roots. Again if “Toofy” = “Made In Colorado,” you’d have to have included this one. And it doesn’t hurt that South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are in the credits.

Title: Marvelous, Keen Looney Bin
Director: Lizzi Akana
Category: Animation
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: White chocolate with flakes of... well, who knows what, covering something that’s sort of jelly looking, only crunchy, that tastes like maybe mangos or maybe toothpaste. Whatever it is, it’s original and unexpected... and that’s a treat. But there’s a strange non-sweet after-taste that will leave you asking ‘what was that?” ... monkeys with balloon heads? I happen to like the surreal odd-ball stuff, so I liked this one.

Title: Eat Your Peas
Director: Paul Hargrave
Category: Animation
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: A foil-wrapped hunk of milk chocolate in the shape of a hollow rabbit. The foil is shiny, but inedible, and it makes you think that there is more here than there really is. The chocolate is fine but there’s that disappointment when you get to the middle and there’s nothing there. Though wasn’t it pretty foil?

Title: Maree
Director: James Pellerito
Category: Live action
Country: Italy/USA
Style of chocolate: Really fine, dark, European-style chocolate with four-star truffle center. What is this doing in the box with the other stuff? It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes and that’s the whole point. If the whole program was this rich, you could only watch one of them per day.

Title: La Revolution Des Crabes
Director: Arthur de Pins
Category: Animation
Country: France
Style of chocolate: Another surprise European specialty chocolate, this time with an amusing peppermint flavor. But it’s garnished with a light dusting of salt that makes the whole that much sweeter. Damn those French chefs, how do they know just what to use? ‘La Revolution’ has an original animation style that adds to the film without being the point of the film.

Title: Moving Along
Director: Patrick Smith
Category: Animated Music Video
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: Plain old American milk chocolate around a center of bubble-gum-flavored cream and beer nuts... startling, yet you’d eat another if there was one available. In stark contrast to At a Glance, the animation and music (rap in this case) work together in a disturbing way that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts... and really, isn’t that what a confection is all about?

Title: City Paradise
Director: Gaelle Denis
Category: Animation w/live action
Country: United Kingdom
Style of chocolate: Another surprising winner... leave it to the English and their love of strange-tasting candy to come up with sushi flavored taffy. Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but you’ll remember it tomorrow. It might be a bit overly stylized, yet I was afraid to look away for fear of missing something. You’ll want to watch this one a second time.

Title: Stealing Innocence
Director: Nancy Stein
Category: Live Action
Country: USA
Style of chocolate: Solid bitter-sweet dark chocolate. Somber and serious, no jokes, no trick centers. You should only eat one of these a day and it’s a fine way to end the selection on an adult note. There is a curious (and probably serendipitous) counterpoint to West Bank Story, the 2006 Oscar winner for Short Film (Live Action). This one and Maree seem to sit outside the range of all the others in the selection.

DVD Extras

None

Picture and Sound

There are variable levels of production value, but all are acceptably presented on this DVD.

How to Use this DVD

Watch them in the order that they are presented.