Animal Charm: Golden Digest

Animal Charm: Golden Digest ★★★

Though listed here and on Fandor as a film, Golden Digest, by video artists Animal Charm, is actually just an anthology of short pieces of video art played in chronological order, packaged together for a commercial DVD release by Other Cinema. As such, there's not a lot of rhyme or reason to the thematic overlap of each short, nor do they flow particularly well in the form of a feature.

That said, despite it being a mixed bunch of shorts, the ones that land are very bizarre and amusing, a proto-Everything is Terrible! and, in fact, proto-a whole lot of weird internet humour. One of the shorts, their more well known "Hot Mirror", turns what appears to be an advertisement for zen living into a corporate-product filled house tour, making it one of the best visual examples of Vaporwave I've yet come across. Another highlight is "Marbles", which sees camp classic Meatballs re-cut and reduced to a string of mundane events and cliches (and also no Bill Murray whatsoever).

What is surprising, and something I also noted in my piece about soda_jerk's Hollywood Burn, is how important and effective the sound mix is.

Full list of shorts (in screening order, individual ratings as well):

Lightfoot Fever (1996) - 3

The story of a baby deer named Lightfoot is meshed with a rhythmically strange re-edit of Jim Bailey performing "Fever".

Working Together (1996) - 3.5

The pre-GIF GIF, paparazzi and attention explored through inane repetition.

Slow Gin Soul Stallion (1996) - 2.5

Russian nesting doll of faux-enchanted space horse cinema.

Stuffing (1996) - 3

One of Animal Charm's most well known shorts sees two monkeys stare each other off whilst another dances happily across the plains, only to be interrupted when entranced by a vision of a cartoon woman being tossed around by dolphins.

Ashley (1997) - 3.5

Similar vibes to Adult Swim's recent Unedited Footage of a Bear, the first quite long video morphs from the visions of a growth on a man's stomach to a look inside the life of a woman (not Ashley, though) stuck in an infomercial and relying on other informercials and commercials to become someone new.

Mark Roth (1998) - 2.5

Corporate training video (?) with its sound swapped out for an unsettling thriller score, transforming it into a very strange version of the first act in a '70s assassination film.

Family Court (1998) - 3

Hyper-enthusiastic commercial about family fitness hijacked by the scream of a lumbering uncle.

Marbles (1998) - 3.5

Salt-reduced Meatballs. Very clever, very funny.

Hot Mirror (1998) - 3.5

Vaporwave on film, an ever-expanding collection of attributes attached to this strange holiday house meshed with a classic Americana country score, then morphing into sanitised corporate music.

Computer Smarts (2002) - 3.5

Repetitive computer painting and titlecards are a clever and simplistic set-up to an even simpler joke, and perhaps the funniest in the whole film, as children's educational videos are edited into nonsense.

Body Prep (2002) - 3

Fairly simple montage of exercize that finds a glorious end in a clip of a man at a computer holding a hologram of his own head.

Camera Dance (2002) - 3

Through ghostly echoes turns footage of a crane operator testing the functions of his wares into a very unique waltz.

Brite Tip (2002) - 2

Police training and preparation to investigate widespread breastfeeding. Idea is there, execution isn't.

Il Mouile (2002) - 2

Mostly nonsensical compendium of cultural cliches (the French are the targets) that then about turns to be a statement on consumption in tourism, briefly paying tribute to their earlier Working Together

The Floridian (2002) - 2.5

A powerful lifestyle corrupts. A powerful lifestyle complete with a montage corrupts absolutely. Would have been much better if it went for much longer - an issue shared with the two shorts that follow it.

Time Shared (2002) - 3

An oddly potent look at life flashing before one's eyes, told through a series of snapshots cribbed from lifestyle magazines and commercials.

Pet Programming (2002) - 3

Tapping into the dreams of a bulldog. Delightful, if only we saw more of the dog's idyllic visions of ballet.

Terrorized (2002) - 2.5

Genuinely stumped by this one. Ostensibly about the media polluting positive news with disaster, I think?

Solar Fox (2002) - 3

Tries its best to de-sexualise a clearly sexually charged advertisement for an arcade game. Does a pretty amusing job.

Moving Day (2002) - 2.5

Animal Charm try their hand at original compositions, with a lyrically literatist track about having to move houses cut to a montage of, well, people moving houses. Gets terrifying somewhere in the middle, as animation slowly takes over, but definitely bogged down by the song.

Kill The Wind (2002) - 1.5

Stop. The. Singing.

Street Shapes (2002)- 3

Essentially just Mark Roth: Redux - same general idea, marrying generic footage to an ominous score, but here there's a touch more semblence of a plot in editing and also it ends on a guy moving through a car park on an office chair with a sinister soundtrack, which is hilarious.

Bonus:

Sunshine Kitty (1997) - 3.5

Cut up to look like either the opening credits for a veterenarian's hospital show or a looping cycle of tense flashbacks, this short quickly shifts gears and undercuts the actual procedure of a vet by having a man seemingly insert a cotton swab into a cat's ear and then his nose. An improvement on the similar Pet Programming.

Choice - 3

Basically this.

Hollywood - 3

Pretty strange yet likely successful overt and liminal advertising for Hollywood and California as paradise. The fact that it only really uses 6 images to achieve this is to its credit.

Police Credits? - 3.5

I don't even think this is one of their works, but just something bizarre they found on VHS, but it is nonetheless very amusing in this re-purposed context.

Workplace Injury Montage - 3.5

Different benign workplace injuries, same three actors. The universe conspiring against them no matter what they do. Amazing.

Credits?

There's a few shots of animals being controlled by a remote, which then cuts to a scalpel scratching the surface of glass, before moving to behind the scenes photos of Animal Charm's work stations. I have no idea whether this is a short or just a compendium of lost ideas.