Monday, August 19, 2013

Penny Thoughts ’13—Clapping for the Wrong Reasons (2013) ***½

NR, 25 min.
Director: Hiro Murai
Writer: Donald Glover
Starring: Donald Glover, Chance the Rapper, Danielle Fishel, Flying Lotus, Trinidad James

“Sometimes you just can’t explain things.” — Childish Gambino

That’s what I think sometimes when I’m watching a David Lynch movie. Now, comes Donald Glover’s new short film “Clapping for the Wrong Reasons” and his own character and pseudonym, Childish Gambino, makes the claim in his own movie that makes me think the same thing. I think I’m getting dizzy here.

Donald Glover is probably most recognized for his role on the out-there NBC comedy “Community”. He is also a musician and rapper and a rather prolific writer of shorts, who had a stint as an executive story editor on the final season of “30 Rock”. He’s no stranger to the comedically bizarre. His most recent short film, however, is more bizarre than funny, right down to the strange moniker he takes as writer and star, crediting himself under his hip hop alter ego Childish Gambino.

From what I can tell by watching the movie, Gambino is putting together a new album at a tropical estate. Many friends and collaborators are gathered for the fairly laid back time they have doing such a project. There’s a girl that keeps rousing Gambino from what ever he’s doing—sleeping, mixing tracks, etc.—to check on mundane things, like a gathering in his brother’s room with people engaged in a pointless conversation. Nobody seems to know who the girl is. Gambino is also being hounded on the phone by some sort of debt collection, or perhaps it’s the studio calling to check on the album’s progress.

The people gather in relaxation and conversation about nothing in particular. One girl explains a strange dream she had. Another dares him to do something scary at the poolside. Another conversation is about shocking things that happened in childhood. A couple of conversations are actually about the music being produced. At one point, Gambino gets a nosebleed and discovers a tooth at the end of a long string in his nose. This part seems to nod a bit to Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí’s collaboration, “Un Chien Andalou”.

I don’t know what any of this means. I’m not sure it’s meant to mean anything. It is an interesting meditation on themes and lifestyle, however. I can’t help but think there are more interesting films like this one to be found in Glover’s head. I see no reason why his career as a filmmaker will not hold more fine things to come.

Watch the entire movie below.

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