"Bodily Functions," a program of three foreign animated shorts presented on "Alive TV" tonight, demonstrates the haunting power of genuine surrealism--and the weakness of artsy posturing.
In "Food," a three-part rumination on hunger and waste, the acclaimed Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer seamlessly blends pixilation, live-action and stop-motion animation. These eerie vignettes depict humans devolving into vending machines and cannibals with a calm logic that renders the scenarios all the more unsettling. Simultaneously realistic and dreamlike, "Food" demonstrates Svankmajer's extraordinary skill at manipulating visuals to touch deep inner chords.
Beriou uses computer techniques to simulate the metamorphosis of body parts, photographs and butterflies in "Ex-Memoriam" (France). With its pretentious sci-fi narrative, "Memoriam" remains an arid exercise in technique that never really connects with the viewer. As Beriou has observed, " 'Ex-Memoriam' cannot really be called a film; even less can it be called a story." Nor can it be called entertaining.
"Deadsy" (Scotland), by David Anderson, has screened locally in several programs of short films. Ostensibly an examination of "man's fascination with weaponry and the sexual power of military aggression," "Deadsy" combines a pseudo-Joycean soundtrack with a disorganized collage of multimedia imagery that rarely rises above the sophomoric.
* "Bodily Functions" airs at 11:30 tonight on KCET-TV Channel 28. It is preceded at 11 p.m. by another "Alive TV" installment featuring the Oscar-nominated live-action short "Down on the Waterfront," with Ed Asner and Jason Alexander.