Friday, December 07, 2007

Don't Look Now!

To help celebrate Short Film Week, over at Only the Cinema and Culture Snob, I found this great advertisement for Now Magazine.

I happened upon it quite by accident a year ago via the web. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you exactly WHAT subject matter appears in Now or even where you could buy it.

BUT, this minute and fourteen second ad is a neat little piece of filmaking.

Right off the bat, a somber mood is established with a shot of a fat, hairy guy staring out of his window onto a drab, overcast urban setting.

In the background we hear Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man.

Then we see our "hero" is making his way down a sidewalk. Looking as grubby as the neighborhood storefronts around him, he's almost a face in the crowd.

His very first act is to walk past a mother pushing a stroller and jarringly flip the sunvisor up.

Like the mother, we react viscerally to the sudden (almost violent) action committed in close proximately to a baby and ask ourselves "who is this jerk?"

His next "victims" are an old couple (more innocents) at a flower stand. From behind, he forcefully shoves them to the ground.

The act is so shockingly capricious and seemingly filled with unexplained maliciousness, that we almost don't notice a second later when a car crashes through that same flower stand.

The motivations of the hero starts to become more obvious in the next scene when he trips an unsuspecting young boy who's chasing after his errant soccer ball.

Again, the staging of the action gears us to hate this mysterious pedestrian.

But, as the young man's soccer ball is buffeted under the wheels of fast moving automobile, the real pattern starts to emerge more clearly.

In what is the hero's least violent, but conversely more personal encounter, he stops walking, turns, and thrusts his harm into the face of another man next to him on the sidewalk.

The man, his comfort zone completely and inexplicably violated, looks up scared, puzzled and confused.

What the hell is going on here?

From on high, a television set comes crashing to the pavement in the precise spot where the man would have been.

Ah, we get it now. Our hero isn't a jerk after all.

There's one more "rescue." Someone dressed only in his underwear runs out of what looks like an adult bookstore fleeing thugs with baseball bats and escapes into the safety of a cab the door to which our hero, again with perfect timing, has just opened.

From there, we go back to our first "victim," the mother with the stroller. She now looks skyward at the start of a sudden, heavy rain. This isn't a cleansing downpour. Her baby protected under the recently lifted sunvisor, she ineffectually tries to pull up her own collar against the cold wet onslaught.

The last shot is interesting in that it shows the product (Now magazine) being uncerimoniously tossed by our hero into a trash bin.

The world is a garbage can, it seems to say, and Now certainly can't fix that. But, it can help you cope.

I'm sold.


Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Holy cow. What an amazing piece of direction this is. It feels like it was made last week.

Who directed it, I wonder?

It feels like Scorsese.

Matt Maul said...

I honestly don't know where or when this was shot.

It may have been done in Canada because I found such a "Now Magazine" out of Toronto ( Font on site and in video looks similiar.

Also, the cars have left-side steering wheel, so that would rule out the UK.

One curiosity is that the cab sign reads "Taksi," which is either a local reference that escapes me or a deliberate joke by the filmakers.