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Chuck Jaffee: Short films: A great place to try funny

Note: This is the last of four pieces reviewing films in the 10th Nevada City Film Festival,which starts today and lasts through Sunday. For more information visit http://www.NevadaCityFilmFestival.com.

The challenge is on. Sometimes challenging yourself well away from the mainstream is in the artiness. Sometimes it’s an experiment in humor. The numbers in parentheses indicate the length in minutes in a festival that proudly showcases short form filmmaking.

“Winner, Best Short Film” (4): Winning “Best Short Film” at the Sundance Film Festival can be a ticket to a Hollyweird opportunity to direct a feature film with A-list talent. “Winner, Best Short Film” pushes the envelope of such a dream ambition. Sidle up to the genius of not just “any kind of moron” but a “moron with passion.” This is a hilarious send up.

“One Square Mile of Earth” (11): A menagerie fills a bar scene. A frog and a rabbit bicker. “Get some style,” chides the frog. The rabbit, an artist, feels safe and validated in his unstylish turtleneck. A bear and a mountain goat engage in pickup banter. Insightful, empty exchanges surround indecisiveness over what kind of vodka to order. There’s lots more. The look and the talk in this animated short is creative and clever – a faux hip riff.

“Death Row Diet” (4): This absurdly clever little piece seems random. Actually, it’s rather laser-like in a scene between a prisoner in his cell with his lawyer. It seems that the convicted murderer is more concerned with being overweight than he is with his impending execution. Tough case, but funny.

“El Ataque de los robots de nebulosa-5” (6): You probably don’t need to know Spanish to figure out that this international entry is a sci-fi nerd short. Probably not as trippy as it thinks it is, its primitive and scratchy cinematic tone is likely to seep chucklesomely into a subset of festival-going heads.

“Doc Ellis & the LSD No-No” (5): Maybe this film was made just because a “No-No” means something besides “something you should not do.” It’s also baseball jargon for pitching a no-hitter. During his solid career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ellis accomplished this feat. Reportedly, he did so while tripping on LSD. Never heard of Doc Ellis? Not into obscure baseball reminiscences? Regardless, this quickie film is creative, fun, and entertaining.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://www.startlets.com.