Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"Your graphics are rubbish", says Atari. The target of his scorn is his pet robot, a charmingly inept bit of kit. However, as we (and Atari) discover, even the worst of machines still has a job to do.

By rights this is a short film, albeit one with a character wholly created by CGI. That's no small feat, considering how recently one Mr. Binks blazed that particular trail. Foregrounding its use of a technique by adding it to a particular strand seems odd, but no matter - it's a technical accomplishment, but more importantly both entertaining and touching.

Copy picture

As Atari, Elijah Mohammed is convincing, resentful of his television-faced companion. Not much use at drawing, with no games, he's a danger around the house. It does seem reasonable to protest on occasions: "You terminated the fish!" However, there are clues that not all is well, subtly indicated. An apple a day is one thing, but a leaflet entitled Why You Are Special starts to give us some indications. That is, of course, assuming that you don't immediately identify Atari's friend - Andrew Peel's concept (art), Mark Halpernin's character modelling, and Conor Ryan's robot animation all work together to make Atari's burden a recognisable one, without beating us around the head with it.

If there is a weakness to the film it's purely that it feels a little like it's intended to reassure rather than entertain, and though this isn't really a fault it is a shame that there don't seem to be other films in a series with it - there'd certainly be scope.

In producing this creature of imagination and graphical wizardry, all three have helped serve writer/director John Williams' crisp little film. With a name like that, it's perhaps unsurprising that he also contributed to the music, though aided by Anthony Telfer Brown. Paraphernalia is a product of a significant team effort, and it shows in its quality. With solid technical execution the reality of Atari's situation is allowed to gradually filter through, and that process is lovely.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2010
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Atari struggles with his useless robot, but his real struggle is more complex.

Director: John Williams

Writer: John Williams

Starring: Elijah Muhammad, Nieema Muhammad, Alisha Muhammad, Kaylan Jeffrey

Year: 2009

Runtime: 12 minutes


EIFF 2009
EIFF 2010

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