DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Andrew Robertson's film review of Shorts

The extras that come with this disc – or at least that came with the review copy – do not in any way match those advertised on the press release. There is no audio commentary from director/co-writer Roberto Rodríguez, no Shorts Show and Tell featurette – and one of the two so-called Ten-Minute School featurettes actually included turns out to be just a little short of nine minutes.

So why the relatively high rating? Well, apart from the impressive range of audio and subtitling options on offer here, the extras themselves are, for all their brevity, as fun, beguiling and strange as the main feature, as well as being genuinely informative. The clincher is that they actually address themselves to younger viewers as much as to any supervising parents.

Copy picture

Ten-Minute Cooking School: Chocolate Chip Volcano Cookies is quite literally a not-quite-master chef class in biscuit mixing and baking, as demonstrated by a laid back Rodríguez and his very young, very sweet daughter Rhiannon in their large and increasingly messy kitchen. "This is an important thing we need: wet towels. We're going to need a lot of these," observes the director as Rhiannon gets eggs, flour and chocolate all over herself – but nonetheless, amidst all the chaos and fun there is a recipe laid out here clearly enough for even a toddler to follow, and the results look delicious.

"I'm gonna show you how I make movies with my kids" With these words, Rodríguez introduces us to Ten-Minute Film School: Short Shorts, an illustrated tutorial in how to turn home (and holiday) videos into more professional-seeming entertainments through the introduction of simple sound FX, or more ambitious digital visual inserts. Rodríguez reveals that he often prefers to use off-the-shelf 3D software even for his studio films, because "it's so much easier to use, so much more intuitive, than the higher-price stuff."

He then shows segments of a trailer version of Shorts that he and his kids made at home as part of the pitch to get the feature made – and it is not so very inferior to the finished product. All this is presented with economy, wit and charm – and any budding low-budget filmmaker would do well to heed the advice of the man whose feature debut El Mariachi (1992) was made for a mere $7000 – without the benefit of the kind of cheap digital equipment that is so readily available now.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2009
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Shorts packshot
A collection of stories about the adventures that ensue after a young boy discovers a magical wishing rock.
Amazon link

Product Code: DY2523

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Two

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