Review: PF2 Short Films by Hal Hartley DVD

STUDIO: Microcinema | DIRECTOR: Hal Hartley | CAST: Nikolai Kinski, Bettina Zimmerman, Christina Flick, Ireen Kirsch
RELEASE DATE: 4/27/2010 | PRICE: DVD $24.95
BONUSES: none
SPECS: NR | 75 min. | Comedy-drama | widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The cult indie filmmaker returns to DVD with a quintet of his latest short films, PF2: Possible Films Volume 2. Hal Hartley (pictured) has moved to Berlin, and thus the films have a European tone, leavened by his customarily quirky dialog and skillful skewering of artistic pretension.

The films range from pure fiction — “The Apologies,” in which a drama student (Bettina Zimmerman) rehearses a monologue in a playwright’s (Nikolai Kinski) busy apartment — to home movies — “Adventure,” which finds Hartley and his wife Miho Nikaido reflecting on their geographically distant relationship.

Realistic elements (location, natural sound) mix with the artificial (stylized behavior and dialog) in Hartley’s work. Thus the short “Implied Harmonies” is an unusual blend of actual documentary footage of rehearsals for an opera he directed in Amsterdam and a fictional frame device in which his secretary reads letters from him detailing difficulties with the production.

PF2 is not as good an entry point into Hartley’s unique world as the preceding Possible Films collection or, for that matter, his best features (Henry Fool, The Unbelievable Truth, Amateur). The short films are nonetheless engaging and will suffice for his fans until another feature by him appears. Microcinema also released the Hartley movie Surviving Desire, originally produced in 1991 for PBS, with two shorts on April 27, 2010.

 

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About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”