Who's Who In Mycology


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Who's Who In Mycology
"Who's Who In Mycology is one of those short films that's so richly imagined that it feels like a fragment of a much bigger work."

When a young woman collapses whilst the band is performing, lying supine on the floor like Rebekah Del Rio in Mulholland Drive, everybody makes excuses. The trombone player, clearly at the bottom of the social heap, is told that he will have to take her home. Of course there's a large spiral staircase to navigate, and he's exhausted by the effort of carrying her up. When he finally gets into her flat and lays her down on the couch, a bottle of wine on the table looks like the reward he clearly deserves. But in this decaying room, where colourful moulds decorated the upper reaches of the walls, getting it open is going to be quite an adventure.

Who's Who In Mycology - a title that appears on every single book on the precariously balanced rhomboid bookshelves - is one of those short films that's so richly imagined that it feels like a fragment of a much bigger work. The set design is brilliant, full of personality and integral to the plot in which our hero, who may have breathed in a few too many spores, gradually begins to perceive everyday objects in a different way. Observing the room from his point of view, yet not knowing the rules of this world, we can be less and less certain what is reality and what hallucination. There's a heavy dose of slapstick comedy as he wrestles with a corkscrew that seems integral to the structure of the building, tries to keep the bookcase from collapsing and subsequently loses both his balance and some of his clothes.

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As figures within the books begin to speak, demanding to know why there's a woman in their presence, the trombonist finds himself caught in awkward dialogue. There's a sense that he's also wrestling with his own feelings about being in somebody else's space, and his requisition of the wine - never mind his attraction to the woman herself. Exactly how aware she is of her surroundings isn't clear, and wonders if she too has been under the influence of the mould and, if so, for how long.

There is a great love for mycology at the heart of this film. At the height of our hero's strange adventure, great flowers of fungus bloom, soft and feathery, waving delicate tendrils, scattering spores that drift and float like daffodil pollen or fat flakes of snow. Encrustations forming on skin might be viewed with horror or seen as a miraculous transformation. Is this a form of killing or a promise of immortality? It's certainly a challenge to the commonplace assumption that this is a planet where humans are dominant.

Part of the Fantasia 2018 selection, this is a florid gem of a film, a true original.

Reviewed on: 02 Aug 2018
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A young trombone player spends an adventurous night trying to open an impossible bottle of wine after carrying an unconscious woman back to her flat, in which everything seems to be on the verge of falling over.

Director: Marie Dvorakova

Writer: Marie Dvorakova, Micah Schaffer

Starring: Joel Brady, Johanka Schmidtmajerová

Year: 2016

Runtime: 16 minutes

Country: US, Czech Republic


Fantasia 2018

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