J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, June 10, 2016

BFF ’16: Borrowed Time (short)

Life expectancy was never that great in the Old West, so it is rather perverse how long this guilt-ridden sheriff has lived to torture himself. That’s fate for you. The lone lawman will finally face his past, even if it kills him, in Andrew Coats & Lou Hamou-Lhadj’s animated short Borrowed Time (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Brooklyn Film Festival.

The American identity was largely forged on the frontier, so it is frustrating to see the western genre fall out of favor for so long. It is like China decided to stop making wuxia movies or Japan quit making Jidaigeki and Chanbara films. As a result, it is always a happy occurrence when we get a new western, even if it is slightly revisionist and entirely animated. Indeed, those are good things in the case of Borrowed Time.

Coats & Hamou-Lhadj tell a relatively simple story, but the emotions are complex. Borrowed unfolds like a memory play as the wiry old sheriff revisits the scene of his predecessor father’s death years ago. The co-directors have day-jobs at Pixar, where they have clearly stayed up to speed on the latest developments in their film. Their CGI figures are quite expressive and perfectly evoke the archetypes of the Old West. The animation looks terrific, in genre-appropriate kind of way.

Featuring the music of two-time Oscar winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla (whose credits include Hell on Wheels and Brokeback Mountain), Borrowed Time is a quality production all the way around. Highly recommended for animation and western fans, it screens again this Sunday (6/12) at Windmill Studios, as part of the Experiment Edition of the Brooklyn Film Festival.

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