Like the rest of the Internet, we here at Much Ado About Cinema are mourning the tragic loss of streaming service FilmStruck. Yesterday morning, Warner Bros. gave the beloved site a terminal diagnosis, with the plug officially being pulled on November 29. This means we only have about a month to cram as many Criterions into our cinephilic eyeballs as possible.
But the problem is, some of us simply don’t have the time to watch all 103 films that have piled up on our watchlists! We’re busy with work or school or running a Best Supporting Actor Oscar campaign for Hugh Grant in Paddington 2! Thankfully, this miracle of a service has a carefully curated short films section for those seeking bite size cinematic snacks — an aspect unique to FilmStruck that will be sorely missed. These shorts vary from the classics directed by acclaimed auteurs, like extravagant drama king Federico Fellini and slice-of-life naturalist Andrea Arnold, to the many lesser known — but nevertheless brilliant — works from both up-and-coming and long-dead filmmakers.
Here’s our recommended watchlist of shorts available to stream now on FilmStruck during its last month. (After that, Kanopy, a streaming service that offers free access to college students and library card-holders seems to be the best alternative.)
- Asparagus (1979) dir. Suzan Pitt. 18 min.
In her experimental mixed-media animation, Suzan Pitt examines the fluidity of sexuality and identity through the lens of a masked woman. Using kaleidoscopic colors and provocative imagery, Asparagus repurposes and reclaims the Freudian obsession with phalluses that runs rampant throughout gender and sexuality theory. Plus, there’s an unforgettable title sequence involving the eponymous asparagus and a toilet.
- L’opéra-mouffe (1958) dir. Agnès Varda. 16 min.
Queen of the French New Wave Agnès Varda ruminates on pregnancy, aging, mortality, life, death, birth, love, envy, desire, strangers, alcohol, politics, poverty, anxiety, bodies, motherhood, children, humanity, and probably much more all within the span of 16 minutes. While you’re at it, go ahead and watch the rest of her filmography on FilmStruck while you still can. (If that sounds like a threat, hey, maybe it is!)
- The Alphabet (1968) dir. David Lynch. 4 min.Yes, this is a student film. No, it does not include an opening scene of the subject’s hygiene routine. Lynch wouldn’t treat us like that. Instead, he hypostatizes his niece’s fear of learning into a macabre alphabet, traumatizing viewers for life!
- La Jetée (1963) dir. Chris Marker. 28 min.
Comprising of almost entirely black and white still images, this sci-fi pastiche marks a formally radical departure from other French New Wave films of the time. The dystopian tale’s unique plot about time travel and nuclear war also heavily inspired the 1995 film Twelve Monkeys, meaning that La Jetée is indirectly responsible for Brad Pitt’s Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe win in 1996. Everybody say, “Thank you, La Jetée!”
- Tord and Tord (2010) dir. Niki Lindroth von Bahr. 11 min.
“What if Wes Anderson directed a stop-motion animal puppet remake of Persona?” is a question nobody asked, but Niki Lindroth von Bahr thankfully answered anyway.
- Emotion (1966) dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi. 40 min.
Through rapid editing and intensely filtered camerawork, this experimental film loosely follows a girl who travels to the city and becomes entangled in a love triangle between a goth gal pal and a shapeshifting vampire. It’s a hallucinogenic nightmarescape. In other words, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the director of House (1977).
- Pussy (2016) dir. Renata Gasiorowska. 9 min.
A young woman’s evening solo pleasure sesh is continuously derailed in this strangely relatable Polish animation. The crudeness of the drawings syncs with the crude subject matter, building to an explosive climax and a very happy ending.