If Andrei Codrescu made films

by Yule Heibel on October 5, 2005

Through a P2C2E (“process too complicated to explain” **), I discovered Paintful Productions, the home of wonderfully weird and whacky filmmakers in deepest Sooke (nearly at Whiffen Spit, just around the Fisgard Lighthouse…). It appears that Paintful is a family affair — as all families are in one way or another painful and of course colourful. The movie-making branch consists principally of Surge and Klim Levene, with Masha Levene assisting (she developed the characters for A Single Wish).

Thus far, Paintful has released three shorts, each of which is a tiny gem. You can find I Wanna Rule the World on the Internet Archive — sorry, this seems to want to download on Windows only. It’s not Mac compatible, so borrow a PC somewhere and go here to get it. This short is based on a 10cc song, and it actually succeeds in making sense of Hitler and Mussolini: never before have these guys sounded so articulate and to-the-point. As the song title already suggests, there’s a pint-sized Führer in all of us…

A Single Wish (2004) is a powerful little story available through OurMedia. I found it better just to go straight to the link, here (and in titles, above). This is a zany (yet poignant) variation on the “three wishes” trope, and that’s all I’ll say because more would be a spoiler… Just click on it and see it for yourself. It was featured last month in C|Net‘s “animation” category.

Finally, My House is also available on OurMedia, again with the link working best for me if I go directly to the movie’s URL. I think My House is probably my favourite: it’s so rich, stuffed to the non-existent overstuffed furniture’s gills with references.

I’m really blown away by how good these movies are, particularly given that they’re so very short. The language is precise, the image juxtapositions flawlessly rivetting (including of course the “repurposing” of existing images), and, can I just say that the music is inspired? By “music” I include not just the melodies, but all the audio components: the loopy spoken and chanted Russian references, the children’s tunes and, sometimes, what sound like tsigane rhythms (themselves a clever repurposing) that suggest nomads while alluding to suspect notions of Eurocentric “orientalism” (shades of corruption, decadence, and all that), juxtaposed to the most modern cruelties and absurdities of the rationalist age (uh, that’s us, with our military beat, ka-thump, ka-thump), coupled with references to pop music, to bards dead and alive…. Maybe it’s just me reading (hearing) things into the sounds that were never intended, but music does seem to be integral to the films, and each film’s score adds to the flavour.

Since the world will keep delivering the necessary materièl for more Paintful Production films, I’m going to keep an eye out for the next production surge from Sooke…


Update: Thanks, Shelley, for pointing out that one can download a Mac-based player for Windows Media files!


Shelley October 7, 2005 at 11:16 am

Those are wonderful little movies, Yule!

I liked all three but the first was my favorite, though it was hard to pick. I’m impressed at the sophistication of the message in such as short space.

I do like the irony of the second movie.

Yule Heibel October 7, 2005 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the reference on your blog to the Mac-based player for Windows Media, Shelley. I should definitely install that…

The irony in the second one (“A single wish”) is good, isn’t it? The perils of having just one wish, vs the standard three…

maria October 7, 2005 at 9:46 pm

Nice find, Yule! I saw two out of three so far…

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