VIMEO Awards 2012: Pothound

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Later than usual (or would this be earlier?) we’re on our eighth review and tonight’s film is Pothound, by Christopher Guinness.

Dog sniffing the gutter. Running in the streets. Snooping at a lady’s bag. Grabs something. The woman notices him and the dog runs away. Dog runs by the sidewalks. Smells the surroundings. Get into a pipeline. By the other end of it, finds a chinese restaurant. Knocks their trash can down at the alley and messes it all up. Seizes a bone. The restaurant’s employee spots him while leaving.

— Camera work is so fresh and the editing is superb. This film wouldn’t be half as good without those things. Nevertheless, all we know about our main character is that it is a frolic, somewhat tricksy, dog. We had these set pieces and nothing else. It’s great to build up a huge introduction of your character, Indiana Jones‘ rolling boulder, but you can’t spend 1/5 of your film into that. Actually, the sequence before the chinese restaurant was good enough, there we needed some plot, conflict, but got nothing.

Dog wanders by the Trinidad & Tobago streets, passes by a guy, sit in the sidewalk alongside his crutches. The dog leaves his bone for the man. Nice effort. Dog pursuits a dove. A crab. Explores the city. A teen is trying to mug a japanese boy’s backpack. The dog arrives. Barks at the burglar. And then they turn into anime stylish characters (?!) and start to fight. I won’t even describe this, sorry. The teen throws a bottle at the dog, whom dodges it and runs away. Back to the real world, the dog stills all cheerful while the teen is all beaten up, exhausted.

— These two scenes are still hitting on the same key as before, we’re almost at half film here. Now our dog is not only a naughty one, it has some dignity, ethos, gives food to the broken guy, helps kid being mugged. It’s a samaritan. But we still don’t have an adventure, something to cheer for him. It is just meandering around.

Dog walks around the traffic, sniffs a bit and gets into the back of the truck. As it gets in, someone closes it, locking the dog in. The vehicle drives away. A skateboard drops out, followed by the dog. AND THEN the dog skates down the road. A girl walks down the road with a galloon of water. The dog stops by and she plays with him. It follows her around until an older woman shows up and dismissed the animal. He runs away and finds the beach. Messes around the sand and finds some crows eating all turtle eggs, so he scares the hell out of the birds. A photographer captures the action and tries to get closer to our dog, but he runs away, into the sea, swimming all the way until the city. I’m surprised he’s not beating a shark in the way.

Dog is back in town and decides to return to the chinese restaurant, but this time the employee notices it earlier and chases him. The dog escapes but it is soon trapped on a stairway. The cook comes with a butcher knife, so things don’t look any good to our hero. The dog barks.

The cook is now frying some chinese food and serves some of it in a bowl. Title of the film comes up. Food was made out of it? Really? Of course not, afterwards a typical living room is shown, a chinese kid watches TV. A hand places the bowl in the floor and our hero shows up to eat his deserved meal.

— This is the story of a dog’s roundabout trails and its extraordinary actions. Part of the problem is that we don’t have much of a story, it’s all a collection of set pieces on the dog’s awesomeness. So it it kinda hard to review it under the narratie label as it barely has any. There’s no development, no complication, no stakes, no urgency, no lifechanging event, no story.

— Notwithstanding, we have a character, the problem is that after that anime sequence and the road-skating i may only conclude this pet is a superhero. And after that point there’s not much to add and the couple of sequences in the beach/sea sound redundant.

— The ending was not pleasant as well; if i put a chinese man cornering a dog with a butcher knife, the viewer will instantly cheer for the dog, you don’t even need development for it. Worst is that it is kinda clichéd. I’ve researched on countries that eat dog meat in order to find a reasoning in the ending. And according to Wikipedia, there’s no caribbean country in the list, yet i found an article from a trinidadian newspaper which enlightens the subject partially. Not that the chinee (people from chinese offspring born in Trinidad & Tobogo) eat dogs there, but the natives certainly mock them with “decades-old jokes about hiding your dogs when Chinese around”. So regionally this film certainly makes more sense than internationally. In addition, this is important since this film was made for the Trinidad and Tobogo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Turns out this film is a much better campaign film than a purely narrative film simply because it actually is the first one.

— Regardless of the tobagonian culture, the conclusion is also not satisfying because the dog is a god damn superhero, he would simply beat the hell out of any chinese willing to make a stew out of it. Instead it barks. Yeah.

Now i better start our next review already so i don’t lose the track.

RATING: 5/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

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