I have to imagine you all are getting a bit tired of these overly long short films I keep highlighting. Let’s see…1, 2, 3…by my count this is the 7th(!) of my last 10 recommendations to top the 10 minute mark, a formerly impermeable barrier. Worse yet, this film does sometimes even feel like its 18 min runtime. However if you persevere through, this short documentary film achieves what fewer and fewer documentaries do now days—it instills in you a funny and warm empathy for its characters.
Dinosaur Curtains, is a sweet little human interest documentary directed by the Ross Bros., Bill and Turner, an exciting filmmaking team who are creating a signature style for themselves via their humanistic and entertaining explorations of what most would (wrongly) dismiss as mundane American life. 45365, a documentary feature which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW in 2009, is the most famous of their works; just now it is winding down a modest theatrical run, helped along by the heaping of praise that such luminaries as Roger Ebert have thrown its way. However, unlike 45365 this short film, similar in many ways, is available gratis on Vimeo. The short follows a small town couple, young child in tow, as they organize a night of TV viewing. The wife is having her brief moment in the limelight—she’s the featured contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Like the infinitely slicker Slumdog Millionaire, the big TV game show is the dramatic crescendo of the piece, but for Dinosaur Curtains, it is hardly the source of appeal. For us the outcome is in question, but for the family and friends present the outcome is already well known. Instead we are left with the goofy and adorable antics of the kid and that big kid, the Dad, as the night progresses. Along the way, the sad financial state of the young family is a cause for both concern and comedy, while several telling moments reveal a certain truth about life outside the big city.
Dinosaur Curtains while compassionate, is without agenda, and as such highlights the heartland in a way that simultaneously supports both the arguments of those who praise and belittle small town America. Despite its 18 min runtime and occasional meandering slowness, I find the film fascinating. That said, 18 min! This will be the last long one for a while I swear.
Thanks Hammer to Nail