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anglebender [Celluloid 11.11.07] movie review short cult

Year: 1997
Writer/Director: David Birnbaum
IMDB entry: IMDB
Trailer: Link
Review by: anglebender
Rating: 8 out of 10

Key Characters:
Darkly Machiever (David Barron)
The Boss (Terry Stevens)
The Cleaning Woman (Stacee Kerr)

Set in a dark future, this film follows the life of one of the many numbers in the machine of bureaucracy. The protagonist is Darkly Macheiver, an everyman who does what he can to get by in the dim indoor world he inhabits.

The Story:
This movie does not have a single syllable of dialog, but you can understand precisely what's going on. It tells the story of Darkly's struggles in a hostile office environment (a metaphor for everyday life), until one day he decides to question the nature of his pride. Now, these are pretty lofty philosophical quandaries for a 20-minute short, but Birnbaum pulls it off without arrogance, pretentiousness or even dialog.

While this isn't a post-apocalyptic movie per se, it projects similar feelings of oppression and pressure. It has just enough claustrophobia without being stifling and just enough dreariness without being depressing. In the end, Darkly gets more than he bargained for. That may sound cheesy and trite, but that's what happens, and it's so dang cool when it does.

The Rating:
This feels like a student film, and if it is, he showed his work. He's like Terry Gilliam without the tea and cricket. This film feels like the perfect hybrid of Eraserhead and Brazil, with just enough surrealist conventions to make you question reality without leaving you confused. I'm very much looking forward to seeing David Birnbaum's career unfold. 8/10

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