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[Fantastic Fest Review]…Confetti of the Mind: The Short Films of Nacho Vigalondo

CONFETTI OF THE MIND_THE SHORT FILMS OF NACHO VIGALONDO HeaderThey say that there’s no experience like the cinema. Further, a film is all the more enjoyable in the company of like-minded film fans who get to share in the adventure together. It’s interesting, however, to sit through a series of short films with no theme among them save for one commonality – they all are wonderful nuggets from the brilliant mind of Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo.

To put it simply, the man is crazy – crazy brilliant, crazy inventive, crazy mysterious, and crazy about his craft. Not sure who came up with it, but Nacho is the unofficial mascot of Fantastic Fest and his vision, ingenuity and inventiveness are unparalleled. From the Academy Award-nominated short film 7:35 in the Morning, to Timecrimes, to Extraterrestrial, to his latest film Open Windows (which opens this year and also screens at Fantastic Fest), Nacho is a true artist. Further, he’s someone who is unafraid to try any idea.

The Drafthouse Films team prides themselves on sharing the films they love with the widest audience possible. Well, they love Nacho Vigalondo (as do we!), so it’s fitting that the latest addition to their label is his definitive catalog of short films. Unlike Trailer War (#5 in their library), which is just a continuous stream of crazy and outlandish trailers, Confetti of the Mind is punctuated with introductions from Nacho himself. He gives us a brief look into his mind and some exposition setting up the following short. They are just as dynamic as he is, and each one is an amazing glimpse into creativity. Moreover, it’s inspiring to see how vastly different these ideas are.

7:35 in the Morning is a wonderfully swift funny and charming story of a man who has finally got the courage to speak to a girl he’s admired in the local coffee shop. Only there is an underlying bit of tension and an uneasy feeling that something is wrong with this whole setup. It morphs and manifests itself into a very comical song and dance number that really lays the groundwork for what we will come to expect from Nacho later on. From there, it moves on to another highly entertaining film Choque, which takes place in an underground bumper car ring. Nacho claims he had always wanted to have a car chase in the spirit of The French Connection and shoot something in the style of Sam Peckinpah. Well, he did, and again, it’s hilarious.

Perhaps the most entertaining, although it’s tough to choose a favorite, are Nacho’s 20 second sci-fi shorts. A series of three vignettes, in succession, show interesting special effects that tell a narrative without any dialogue…and they are brilliant!  A Lesson in Filmmaking is quite the educational experience. In one single take, Nacho shows the importance of building anticipation in a scene and how it is more important than the content or pay off in a scene. It may sound like boring Film School 101 stuff, but it is valuable and, like Nacho himself, quite hysterical.

Forgive the pun, but the film about split universes is very heady material (the pun will make more sense when you see the short). This is also the inspiration for his upcoming film, and based on what he did with Timecrimes and his sequence in V/H/S Viral, one can only imagine how awesome it will be. It’s a highly intellectual concept, on par with the science and intrigue of something like Inception, but retains the humor and wit in something like Extraterrestrial. Which is funny, because the star of the short, one of the few shorts that doesn’t star Nacho himself, is Carlos Areces, the comically jealous neighbor in Extraterrestrial.

The film closes with a music video (sort of an absurd nightmare) that features a guy who looks like a Spanish Rick James going to his own funeral, the afterlife and everything that follows. Weird that it doesn’t have any subtitles, but the visuals are enough to keep you entertained…and freak you out. There’s a few more shorts we didn’t mention but they’re worth experiencing on their own.

As stated in the header of this review, there’s not a lot that you can do at home that rival the experience of seeing something in the theater. Case in point. Most likely the wildly clever idea of Nacho Vigalondo himself, the audience is, literally, showered with confetti as we enjoy this wonderful glimpse into the mind of this amazing, and one of a kind artist.