STIFF Short Film Reviews – The 100 Hour Project/Everybody Masturbate
The 100 Hour Project (2012, 45 min.)
It’s a tough thing, being an artist. Sure, you get to live in a world of creativity and imagination, but very few fortunate people have the opportunity to carve out a career. Many artists spend years struggling to make ends meet; some even have to take up side jobs to do so. And that’s where we enter director Brian Nunes’s short documentary, The 100 Hour Project. Following Seattle-based singer/songwriter Carson Henley, we get a glimpse into the struggle of a musician to both stir his musical aspirations and make a name for himself in the constantly growing musical industry.
Carson is a talented musician—very talented. His soul-based music comes passionately from the heart, but when we are introduced to him, we find that he is in the middle of a dilemma. He plays music for local bars and lounges, increasingly playing cover songs by request, and has to take up a job as a waiter to earn some extra cash. Feeling that his musical career is in danger of coming to a standstill, Carson places a self-imposed and ambitious project in his hands: writing and recording album-ready music all within a studio in one hundred hours. Requesting the assistance of other locals musicians (including his sister, Tess Henley), we see him try to hammer out music, lay out instrumentals, and write lyrics he finds fitting. It’s said that inventiveness is born out of limitations, and Carson definitely puts himself in a very limited position.
That’s the most interesting part of the doc, seeing Carson work his creative juices. Everybody operates in a different way—some can come up with an idea almost instantly, while others have to build their way to it. That contrast is seen clearly between Carson and Tess themselves. While Tess can drift off and get on a roll in her own head, Carson has to work toward the finish line, constantly writing and rewriting along the way. That isn’t to say one approach is better than the other, because the music we do hear is very good. But it is interesting to see how different people work towards a similar goal.
I’m not sure what the future holds for Carson, but Nunes’s film paints a character who is easy to root for. If there is one real criticism to be had here, it’s that we never get to see what became of the music Carson made. Did he finish everything the way he wanted? Did his project boost his career like he hoped? If he went past the one hundred hour deadline, would he have stopped, or would he have just pushed on anyway? Is he still playing cover songs in lounges, or has he moved on to bigger and better things? A quick Internet search can probably answer these questions, but it would have been nice to be given that information in the film as well. This is a story that has potential to evolve, and I wouldn’t mind getting an update on it a few years down the line.
Final Grade: B+
The 100 Hour Project screens on Tuesday, May 7th 2013 at 6pm at Wing-It Productions.
Everybody Masturbate (2012, 3 min)
Now THAT is what you call “A Title,” isn’t it? I’ve now seen Katie Preston’s short film/music video a handful of times, and even as I’m typing this, I’m still trying to process it all in my head. While I can appreciate the message being given here, the execution may have flown right over me. But that’s what art is about, right? To provoke, question, stimulate, and perhaps even confuse. I fell into each of those categories—numerous times—during the film’s three-minute run time.
Let’s go over what’s presented. We are given two females performing a cheer routine, in the least cheerleading-like way possible. Sporting dark eyeliner/lipstick, fishnet attire, and deadly serious facial expressions, the two performers dance while superimposed on psychedelic and seemingly random visuals. These include: babies falling out of a vagina machine called the “Babymatic 6000,” shooting stars with faces (and erections), the girls in business suits running around a track, and ending with one of them literally vomiting out a rainbow. The lyrics express acceptance of same sex relationships, and even fire specifically at Rush Limbaugh for his opposing views. One particular lyric stands as a statement for the entire video: “The law will tell you it’s a sin, but I don’t care whose arms you’re in.”
While I can’t say that the style of the approach is something that adheres to my sensibilities, the message of social equality is clear, and for that it’s to be commended. It’s definitely weird, that’s for sure—I think it’s safe to say that I haven’t seen anything like it. But I suppose that’s what Preston was aiming for: to give some element of surprise and uniqueness to this subject matter. Check it out and see what you think.
Final Grade: B-
Everybody Masturbate screens on Friday, May 10th 2013 at 10pm at Grand Illusion Cinema as a part of Indepenetration.