The current movie season has been notable only for its lack of memorable films.
Until this week, that is.
Just released, and soon to be making the indie circuit is a little sleeper by New Jersey filmmaker Baydog.
The film is Sheditarod.
Its short 23-second run time belies the film's complexity and the subtlety of its themes.
Many viewers will see the running Wiener Dog as the film's protagonist, missing entirely Baydog's deft handling of characterization. Only after several screenings does the significance of the Woman in Sneakers become apparent. It is, after all, through her eyes that we experience the plot's twists and rollercoaster range of emotions. Her laughter is the only cue on the soundtrack, until the film's enigmatic conclusion, leaving us to wonder what she is experiencing and enhancing her mysterious aura until the dénouement.
Through most of the film, we are, of course, focused on the Wiener Dog and his determined uphill trajectory. The Sisyphean symbolism here is obvious, but creates a wonderful tension between our instinctive optimism - which cheers him on - and a natural fear that he will slip and roll backwards down the hill, as would be expected of a Wiener Dog.
What draws us to the film's center is the syncopated rhythm that drums between the Wiener Dog's busy hindquarters and his flopping ears. The two beats are, at first, hopelessly out of synch, but gradually come into phase as the upward spiral progresses, a triumph of Wiener Dog will over entropy.
Much has been made of the symbolism of the leash, which both restrains Wiener Dog and propels the Woman in Sneakers (and, by extension, the viewer, through the brilliant use of Point of View camera work).
Is the leash our faith, which connects the physical world with the spiritual? Or is it merely a slobbery length of nylon webbing? As I noted at the beginning of this review, the film is nothing if not complex.
Sheditarod should be on everyone's short list of must-see films this season. It is a raw, early work from a director who has a brilliant future in the food industry.