Spout Mavens Disc #14, Part 1 of 13: Shorts! Volume 3 - Hyper (2002)

Director: Michael Canzoniero & Marco Ricci
5 minutes, something-something seconds, b/w & color
Cinema 4 Rating: 5

Even speaking as somehow who can multi-task and also walks about in a far quicker fashion than about ninety percent of humanity, I don’t want to hear about some other loser’s ideas or tips on speedier personal locomotion and time-saving. I figure everyone goes the pace that is best suited to them. No one wants to hear me whine about how slow the rest of you are; I don’t want someone telling me I need to slow down… doctor, girlfriend, boss… My personal velocity is my business, and to paraphrase Robyn Hitchcock, I am merely moving at the speed of things.

And who wants to hear from a messenger on a motorized scooter anyway? In Hyper, the first of sixteen short films on the appropriately named short film collection Shorts! (which has a “Volume 3” appended to its title, but I have never seen or heard of the first two, or any succeeding, volumes thereof), we meet just such a messenger -- by name, one Ace Bivone. And then, detail by detail, with time signatures applied to each of those details featuring pluses or minuses which serve to properly illuminate us on the smarmy messenger’s (losing cause against the agents of time, we get the picture. Ridiculously blind to the ultimate fault of his system, we hear of Ace’s philosophy regarding the speed of things about him, his anger at the tourists and bumbling pedestrians that impede his progress, and how his constant battle with villainous time keeps him juggling multiple items of business, including the quaffing of enormous quantities of liquid speed, i.e. coffee.

As one who routinely denigrates and tramples upon the usage of coffee in any situation or society, I cannot identify with such a viewpoint. For caffeine, yes. But not for coffee. My doctor is named Pepper, and even there, I have limited my use of the substance far below that which I used to intake. (Tea is the backup, and actually now, the more constant member of my speed binge stash.)

But I don’t have to identify with Ace to take in his advice. If only he had some decent tips. He’s so sure of himself, but his every move, especially his griping about how dating keeps him behind (personally, I am surprised he allots even fifteen minutes, as the film states, to “quality time” with his now ex-beloved), leaves him (though he would never admit it) lonely and in the service of two French porn models on the pages of a magazine.

That the filmmakers intend to show that Ace is, in Hyper’s would-be frenzied finish, pretty much a self-obsessed loser is undoubted. I swiftly realized that even attempting to identify with this chump of chumps was never in the offing. Especially with the dopey motorized scooter (which he believes is quicker and better than biking about on his deliveries) and the coffee obsession. So, as a self-confessed swiftness demon, what was there here for me, since Ace bespoke nada in the way of actual usable advice towards maintaining one’s propulsion through a crowded street, unimpeded by the uncaring and klutzy masses?

Not really all that much, because while the filmmakers have a clever idea here (and let me state that I am not totally unimpressed with some of its contents), the resulting product actually plays against itself. The film (at only five minutes and forty-some seconds) is too long by half, and the narration not quite frenetic enough to make me believe he is as obsessed with time as he says. The film is simply not fast enough to sell its premise, and somehow manages to drag even with its limited running length. This is borne out by the first of two commentaries by the directors on the disc, which is done with their voices sped up so they could almost pass for Alvin and the Chipmunks. It might seem funny to them but, man, taking this approach slows their work down even more, making what really should have been a whirling dervish of a film seem as much like one of the mind-numbed pedestrians that Ace Bivone rails against.

And I simply had far too much to do that night to wait around for Hyper to end again. So I combined my third commentary-laden showing with a quick trip to the facilities and then a stop by the refrigerator for another soda. (I even fed the dogs following that…) Multi-tasking, in the end, and as always, proved to be my savior in getting through it. The trick is in combining something you need to do for yourself (i.e. relieve one’s bladder and/or quench one’s thirst) with that which others expect you to do (i.e. formulate an opinion on something for which you have already lost interest). Obscure the blandly evil task with those tasks which are more apt to bring one pleasure. In the end, all of the tasks, the boring and the sublime, were completed. In the end, the proper balance was attained.

Look at me. Even mired in my own self-absorption, I’m so frickin’ Zen.

Something Ace Bivone can only dream he was…

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