writer/director Peter Dukes
Since I couldn’t seem to be satisfied with just talking about a few of Peter’s shorts when I’ve actually seen them all I thought I’d share my thoughts on his entire catalog! *WARNING* many of these comments where purely stream of consciousness so there may be spoilers! Click on the titles to see them for yourselves before you read, just in case!
As always we welcome your comments, suggestions, etc.!
’til next we bleed,
All in all The Beast is an excellent composition balanced by well blended music and superb acting. The story seems old but definitely different, and that probably has a lot to do with the fact Dukes entire catalog is a study of fairy tales, fables, and myth with his own interesting twists. The twist is that the film is actually a study of human psychology in extreme situations and this can only be achieved through thinly veiled dialogue, fantastic imagery like period and scenery, and accomplished actors. In this case we have Bill Oberst Jr. The idea that this is a low budget production is only evident by the artful use of misdirection and off camera action (never actually see a transformation or slaughter). Unfortunately when we do get to see the werewolf it looks more like American Werewolf in London which adds a little bit of nostalgia to the scene, well except for the moment where, by moonlight, it looks like some other kind of furry you might just want to run up and hug. Is it possible that was the intention? For an more in depth review including the film itself!
“A goblin comes to life from the pages of a storybook, forever changing the life of a young girl (the owner of the book).”
This is a pretty neat little story about a fairy tale goblin that turns the tables on the Never Ending Story theme (that if we quit reading the stories they won’t exist). The goblin make up effects seemed cheesy to me at first but I think it was because a fairy tale goblin would stick out like a sore thumb in our world. As soon as we transitioned into fairy tale land it didn’t look so out of place. Also, fairy tale land was really only suggested by clever graphics when looking outside or changing the lighting. Hell of a mind trick when you think of it and well done. Also enjoyed the drawn pages in the book to reality transitions. A fun watch with a fun twist.
Now I’m naturally a pretty jaded person. It think it comes with being a participant of the piss off’d 90′s (don’t worry, that’s a discussion for another day). The Point is the images we see through the eyes of the fairy visiting our world makes our world look pretty amazing! I mean, I had an idea of what to expect from the story. You know, something like Splash, Little Mermaid, or the like where the fairy creature falls for the human world only to find out how bad it really it is. Instead what we have is beautiful images that really don’t make this world look that bad. Of course the jaded side of me says it only proves that both worlds are fairy tales, but then its a movie, what do you expect? There is no negativity to this film and the cinematography, use of music, and lack of dialogue make it delightful.
One can not help but place this film in zombie lore. The super soldier is rotting away and continually complains about being hungry. I of course love it and believe this would be an interesting full length. I really do want to know more! It’s also a very simple concept (captured man interrogated), with sparse scenery (tied to a chair, in a room, with a table), and the dialogue totally tells the story. The only question I have, is this a sequel to They Watch? Oh, and when can we expect a full length feature? BTW, when asked Peter confirmed sometimes I think to much!
I wondered if Lanrete was a sequel to this mainly because one of the actors/scientists that has obviously done despicable things is in both this and Lanrete. In this one he wants to make sure his colleague doesn’t record his last confession about some horrible deed they had done. There are no zombies but there is a ghostly shadow that ends up terrorizing the dying the scientist. The reason I want to think this is a prequel is because the actor from Lanrete survives to actually appear in Lanrete. Very good use of greyscale, shadows, and the acting is convincing.
Love the story telling aspect. Start out feeling pity for the Scarecrow, think its really cute when the little girl makes friends with him, when the skeleton kids steal her candy I wanted the scarecrow to animate so that when the he did so, after the girl sadly walked away, it was both creepy and happy! There has to be more to this story!
Meet Joe Blackish, as always excellent imagery of a man still living with the ghost of his departed wife. Audio is weak, could obviously be better. Nice explanation of death “as natural as the rising sun, cannot be personified.” Oh! He’s the ghost! Nice twist! Death’s name is Leonard, nice. He thinks his wife is getting sick and fading while he’s alive watching her suffer. But she suffers because he is dead and is haunting her. He needs to come to terms with his own death. Very sad account of what it may be like to leave those you love behind, the guilt, the loss, etc. The lesson is living life and leaving behind a story and memory to those you love. Sometimes shit (death) happens. With time pain fades. As does our memories of life. It’s about not wanting to lose touch with the life you know. Very much like that life is stories, inevitably the story must end, but even when ending the stories go on, paradox. Changing the story by moving on. “I don’t have all the answers, something tells me that you will” answer to whether see his wife again or the answers Leonard doesn’t have? Dead people who help other dead people come to terms with their deaths. One last goodbye?
As a man travels to the spot where he lost a loved one in a car accident he remembers his favorite moments of happiness. At the memorial spot his love dances on the edge of a cliff. Very heartfelt film to shown at any memorial concerning a loved one lost in a similar circumstance. One can’t help but feel a roadside memorial was the inspiration for this short. I only hope it wasn’t an actual loved one of Peter’s which would make it even sadder. I did find it both courageous and creepy that the film stars Peter and his wife given the story content. I can only imagine that even playing pretend on this one was very hard on the heart. Beautiful scenery and shots to this one as well, especially the bird in the distance in the final shot. The credit-less fade to black ending was a great touch.
Silent opening, music starts with the scene. Ariel, long shots, black and white. Music has a almost a psycho feel and not sure if it fits content. Like the black and white contrast, makes it look like a shadow world. Woman traveling the mountain range taking pictures comes across a desolate accident scene. Desolation and absolute loneliness is very well portrayed by the use of stark scenery, black and white photography, etc. Losing of the glasses, classic! Creepy guy may be chasing her? Escape won’t be easy if she can’t see well, some good near misses. Like the switches between how she see’s and how we see. Awesome scene where she stabs the guy and end up sitting across from each other, kind of old west style gunfight pan around camera as the guy bleeds to death. The blood in black in white was awesomely black! So many comparisons I wanted to make to Wrong Turn or The Oregonian (it especially bugged me that I kept thinking of the latter, so glad it wasn’t that heavy handed). So many questions that I’m not sure I need answered! Like was the guy really trying to kill her and now what?
“With the last night of summer vacation at hand what else are Martin and Beau to do but indulge in their favorite past time? Watching their favorite Charlie Chaplin video. If they could just manage to reach it off of the impossibly high counter, they could manage to get over their Sunday blues.”
Delightful little old-timey cartoon that captures the oldies awesomely! A woman after her time! Or maybe a time traveler! Hmmmm
“Unreachable is an atmospheric visually-driven thriller that explores the issues of our mortality as two hikers lost in the wild come to terms with their grim situation.”
Nice opening before the title, its already well established why our guys are out in the mountains (to find their friend) and that they may be lost themselves. One is still hopeful the other is jaded. Again with the black and white, wonder if this was a style choice or a budget choice? Real life discussions, wedding invitations, dragging him out there, blisters, and even though concerned about others freaking out about them missing they can still stop to enjoy the scenery. How’d they get here and lose their friend? This one is as much about letting ago of the world you know as it is about friendship. Joe is jaded because they have been the before over and over again following his friend even though the pull of another world is strong. The other guy keeps getting called back to the real world by their lost friend. He is a lost soul in the truest sense. Very good story and the cinematography is brilliant. The black and white clearly is a style choice and the small camera tricks are clever. The original twist was pretty obvious when Joe went from jaded to matter of fact. But the extra plot line that lets us know this is a circular event sets off the title in a major way.
ALL HALLOW’S EVE
“Every evening he rises from the depths below, emerging from the darkness to find those whose time has come. He is Death, and what better hands to leave your child in for some trick or treating than the grim reaper? This Halloween will be a night unlike any other as Death unexpectedly finds himself “babysitting” a precocious little girl.”
This one tagged still production but it looks to be in the same animation style as Sunday Blues. Which confuses as to their creation dates since it looks like everything on top of the list is newer so I assumed everything going down gets older. Which makes a lot of sense since if you watch the films in order of bottom to top you can see real story telling and creative growth. I guess my point is I can’t wait to actually see this one and the lack of it makes Aubrey a bit of a tease! Anyway the stills look awesome and the storyline and concept sound fantastic! I think Aubrey has some serious talent in animation and should create her own line of cartoons. But who can begrudge her an effects job like she has on Marvel films!
“In celebration of the simple joys in life so easily overlooked in the daily grind, Northern Point spends the last day of college with three friends who decide to “graduate” on their own terms.”
Northern Point’s title is a clever way of making reference to strict military (West Point) or Ivy League schools. As a film it is the third of what I consider to be Peter’s film schooling trilogy. This one is about the big step between being a college kid and entering the world as a young educated man. These four friends are continually hounded by a jaded professor that gives them lectures on “entering the real world” and giving up their child like ways. What happens to these college friends is they realize you don’t have to give up the simple joys of life. In fact when comparing themselves to the professor or even their own parents they pledge to never give up those things. Granted, the older we get we tend to lose sight of these promises. Thus, the film reminds of those days when we were faced with the same realizations and questions like “how prepared am I for the real world” but also insists we not forget to indulge in those simple pleasures. The black and white fittingly gives it a classic photo album feel while, strangely enough, also makes it timeless. I think an interesting touch would have been as the gates open at the end the world went to color to show the brilliance of life beyond the confines of the narrow world in which they are leaving. There is a wide wondrous colorful world out there!
“In the inevitably complex journey from childhood to adulthood, a young girl struggles to understand the person she is becoming, and say goodbye to the one she once was.”
The second of those I call Peters “student” films. I call them that because it is obvious he is still coming into his own as a writer, director, and creative force. This film is three major things; 1. a love letter from a brother to his younger sister, 2. a biography of his sister/and sort of an autobiography, and 3. the first of many explorations into the idea of passing from childhood into pre, and ultimately, early adulthood. Very clever usage of music, old family footage/photos, inter-cut with a growing, timid, and somewhat troubled adolescent girl. This another I think could have benefited from going color as she drove of into the sunset but you could only use that trick once without it looking like copying oneself. Very deep and heartfelt, although I believe this film will hold a strong sense of nostalgia for both the filmmaker and the subject which goes against the narrators insistence that nostalgia only hurts and should be left behind. Very paradoxical when you consider film itself is the creation of nostalgia.
“When a young woman is run down by a car on the side of a road, she encounters two faceless strangers who escort her into a nightmarishly surreal afterlife.”
I’m not going to spend a lot of time fully critiquing this one since this was I’ve determined to be “student film” number one and it’s pretty obvious. What I will say is that it represents a good beginning for the quality pieces he created later. Here is an introduction to an auteur in the making from his choice story content to its inevitable conclusion. There is also evidence of a cinematic eye despite the silly edit and camera tricks that become much more subtle and stylistic later. Those are the reasons I don’t think the film should be judged to harshly. I have seen much worse from freshman filmmakers!