Sunday, 1 February 2009

Jonas Odell "Lies"

Jonas Odell is known for his music videos where his agile mind is always up to the challenge of interpreting music and lyrics, of which I was particularly impressed by his multi-layered work for The Hours, Ali in the jungle or his MTV award winner for Franz Ferdinand. Lies (extract) is an interlocking three part presentation of the lies told by separate people: a drug addict whose lies entrap her in a world of deceit, a schoolboy who, due to an initial fib, confesses to a crime he did not commit, and a con man who weaves his way into an office block for the weekend, steals cheques and then is caught out by police and security (the full section may be viewed via Motionographer). It was named as winner of the Special Jury Prize for Best International Short Film at last week's 2009 Sundance Film festival. Jonas is not afraid to experiment in his documentary, there being three distinct styles with rotoscoping, stop motion, traditional cel animation, graphic icons and CGI variously employed. The effect of colouring in the "negatives" in the first episode, where the woman seems curiously semi-detached from her children, works well, the anonymity of it all saying something about her situation. Cardboard box desks in the classroom, and big/bright/lurid characters again counterpoise the still bitter memory of the child, now adult. And finally, there is a busy complexity of screen happenings in the final section, where in shades of grey, so much duplicity is reflected as animation is overlaid on live action, building up the tension as the act of deception is unravelled. All very clever and technically dextrous; well worthy of the Sundance award. For the English viewer, the use of subtitles does not detract from the Swedish voice-overs. The press release is well written and informative:

"We all tell lies:
”White” lies that function as oil in the social machinery or dark lies that leave both the liar and the person being lied to scarred. We lie to make ourselves more interesting or to blend in. We lie to protect the ones we love or to gain ourselves advantages. We lie believing that we won’t be found out or at times fully aware that everyone sees through our lies. Out of laziness or cowardness we tell lies because it is easier than telling the truth.
When found out, lies often get unexpected results. Lies can be both the beginning and end of friendships.
We lie for the moment and sometimes through a whole life. We lie to each other and to ourselves…
Sometimes a lie becomes the truth…"

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