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WATCH MORE SHORTS: “Bad Cars,” A Cute Tale of Shame and Vanity

on May 28 | in Film, Frontpage | by | with No Comments

Nobody walks in LA. Every one who’s been there knows that. Hell, anyone who’s played L.A. Noire knows that. If you’re planing on becoming a permanent resident of the City of Angels, and wanna venture out into the metropolis beyond reasonable hoofing distance, you damn well better supply your own form of motorized transit.

On a related note: Good luck with that, too.

But that of course is a secondary platitude to what Los Angeles has the unfortunate reputation for breeding: Vanity, and listless judgmental stares of superiority. Like most things in Tinseltown (and to be fair, pretty much everywhere else too), a car isn’t simply a [mostly] convenient mode of transportation: It’s a status symbol. One that we’re led to believe can telepathically communicate to gawkers and potential mates either: “I am important. I have money, and taste, and probably super buff muscles. I have a nice TV, and a maid. No one gets in my way. You want to make sex with me.”

Or conversely: “fart noise.”

Whether it actually matters to other people if you have spotless Maserati sexmachine or a sputtering Oldsmobile clunker doesn’t actually matter, because we think it does. And as Anthony Deptula’s adorable mini-rom-com Bad Cars illustrates, that means that dating in Los Angeles can get pretty complicated if you and your date both have shitty cars, and neither of you wants the other to know about it.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH THIS?

It’s certainly well-enough made from an aesthetic and technical perspective, exuding that neo-classic run-and-gun, DSLR-guerrilla look and feel. Deptula and DP Thomas Bojtor balance smooth, subtle tracking with well-considered, realistically-bouncy and shallow framing with a healthy amount of that ever-so-sought-after-bokeh effect. That’s all well and good, and certainly helps to facilitate my favorite quality of Bad CarsIts heart.

It’s easy enough for us outsiders (and maybe even jaded insiders) to generalize the greater attitude of So Cal as trite, vain and aloof, focused on artificial, idealized outward material presences and pretenses. I did it myself not but a few paragraphs ago. But while it’s absolutely true that not everyone in LA is a trust-funded-wannabe-actress-prissy-princess, it’s important to remember that appearances are important to everyone with a sense of pride and humility, and those feelings are only exasperated in a culture built on appearances.

This is where Bad Cars really shines, for me. It shows a side of that kind of understandable vanity that we rarely see in stories about LA, depicting a combination of a lack of pride and personal sense of worth with the artificial construction of each – all in order to impress someone who secretly shares the same problems that we all do.  It’s not so much about having a jalopy as it is the shame associated with having to have a jalopy, and what we’re willing to give up to not have that shame aired in public.

Frankly, it’s just nice to see a film capture a normal, human interaction taking place in Los Angeles, showing us that the sun-drenched land of the stars isn’t really all that different than any other place on the whole for most of its residents.

In that way, Bar Cars isn’t a story about the social implications of owning a shitty car in LA at all, really. I mean, it is on the surface, but underneath there’s another, more universal layer. It’s a tragically funny tale about acceptance, pride, and the overall weirdness of connecting with a new person who may or may not judge you simply for the things you have and don’t have.

It’s a well-acted, relatable, and pretty darn cute romantic comedy that doesn’t insult your intelligence. That alone should merit your viewership.

IS THIS SAFE FOR MY WORK?

I’d say you’re pretty safe. There’s a particular offensive gesture we’re all familiar with flashed within the first minute or so, but other than that, you’re golden.

HOW LONG IS IT?

Just a few seconds under 6 minutes.

How many short films do you typically watch a year? Our guess is that number’s probably really, really small proportional to the number of times you’ve seen Gangham Style or variations on the Harlem Shake. We aim to fix that. This is Watch More Shorts, where every weekday morning, we post a great short film that you can quickly watch before the hullabaloo of the work day starts!

Got a cool short you know of or made yourself that you’d like to see featured on the next Watch More Shorts? Send us a message via this contact page, or tell us in the comments below!

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