Sunday, April 2, 2017

Short Film Spotlight: DOODLEBUG

Welcome back to another installment of SHORT FILM SPOTLIGHT, where we highlight some of the best short films out there.  This week, we take a look at one of acclaimed director Christopher Nolan’s first projects…DOODLEBUG!

Doodlebug is a short film is a 1997 psychological thriller short written and directed by the now world famous Christopher Nolan. The short shows a man in a messy apartment chasing and trying to kill a bug scurrying around the room that is revealed to be a small version of himself. Overall I found this to be an interesting and effective short in terms of its concept but one that that fell far short in terms of execution.

Christopher Nolan has become well-known as the auteur behind a number of thoughtful blockbusters of late and this early short film he made shows a level of vision that would trickle into his first feature (Following) and many of his films to follow. This short film is, in fact, quite short but it definitely leaves you thinking (particularly because of the final moment of the short). The imagery in this film is anything but subtle, but it is consistently interesting which kept me drawn to the short and encouraged me to re-watch it. Nolan is almost as gifted a writer as a director and this short shows the genesis of that ability as the conceptual construction at work here was extremely effective.

I also must credit Nolan for being bold in terms of what he made. Unlike what most people would do this involved some camera techniques that would be complicated (especially with limited computer effects). Instead of relying purely on basic on screen drama this has a visual effect style that is impressive and worthy of praise for being bold at this very early stage in his career.

Doodlebug is not a terribly well executed short, however. The acting by Jeremy Theobald (who went on to star in Nolan’s first film Following) was very weak. He didn’t have a lot to work with, granted, but it was very hokey student acting and you can tell. I also thought the visual style, and quality of visual effect use to be seriously lacking. This is great for a first (or very early) project but that doesn’t mean it’s great in terms of short films on the whole. The shot construction is ok at best and the visual effect really stands out as not well done.

Overall, Doodlebug is worth exploring because it’s very short and is an interesting look into one of the most prevalent filmmakers of this generation. Christopher Nolan is a master filmmaker and this film is a fascinating road to travel to learn more about him.

Ryan’s Score: 4.5/10

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