June 10, 2010

Film Review: Sheditarod

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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.

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8 comments:

  1. I've seen this movie before! It's not that complex! Sheditarod is a complex. I see that much.

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  2. This is the best movie review ever. I can't wait kick back with some popcorn and watch this mini epic.

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  3. Joe, this is a landmark film. It will change the way you think about wiener dogs.

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  4. Rodger E. Burt6/10/10, 8:26 AM

    Best dog movie review since Dog Days of Summer.

    Three thumbs up!!!

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  5. First and foremost, I'd like to thank the Academy.
    Wait, I didn't win anything yet.
    Thank you, O Docker, for the lovely review. My dad doesn't think he deserves all of the attention. One thing however....I'm a she, not a he.

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  6. It's truly an honor having you visit O Dock, Hazel. And thanks for the clarification of gender. That explains so much.

    I'm glad to see you've recovered from your habit of drinking in the bathroom and have managed to get your life back on track.

    I hope you continue to make films, unlike so many in your profession who, after some initial success, just roll over.


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  7. Rodger, I've been thinking about that "Three thumbs up" thing all day.

    Is that one of those Zen things?

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