First Place

First Place


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

In a landscape that might be an unfinished cake, a wilderness whose snows are made of flour. There is a man, and he is smiling. He is a racing driver kind of man, and he has clambered from the dessert with his hands raised in celebration. Broken cars lie buried, discarded Scalextric, and we know not what has gone before.

We see enough to know the smiling man is celebrating something, even if it is nothing more than his personal triumph. Achievement under the gaze of an uncaring universe. We know the universe is uncaring from its slack-jawed gum-chewing. It is ruminant, not ruminating.

Copy picture

Our smiling man survives in the cake-like desolation, wandering lonely as a sponge. The landscape changes. He meets a dog. On and on he goes, like the serried lockstep of Battenberg.

His dusty steps are directed by Joji Koyama. The music is by Tujiko Noriko. It is earnest, fun, but not quite right; a Tokyo cream tea. It has the winsome tone that music videos by American indie bands, college radio stalwarts aim for; that hipster slouch, that pose that tries to balance post-modern irony and things that are just rubbish.

Despite the ruins around the smiling man, it is more the former than the latter. The music is pleasant, indeed, it does the film a lot of credit, and for a largely inanimate little plastic man our protagonist is quite a character. It might be the smile, or his indominatable will, but he does his best in the face of an uncaring cosmos, even when it drops its gum.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2009
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A champion relentlessly insisting on 'being a champion' whilst the universe couldn't care less.

Director: Joji Koyama

Year: 2008

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2009

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