Slamdance Film Festival Review: FINDING THE ASSHOLE (Chapter 1-3)

I have to admit that the title alone, FINDING THE ASSHOLE parts 1-3 was what drove me to watch this hilarious, ridiculous, and awesome series of short films. The artistic team of Melissa Stephens and Tom DeTrinis’ and the actors they work with on all three of these films seem to be the kind of people I need to be best friends with immediately.

If you have lived for any amount of time in a bustling metropolis such as Los Angeles and New York, you can attest that, of course living there is great and beats living in some alligator filled swamp or Midwestern cheese-stuffed tundra (in our humble opinions thank you very much), but along with city living comes it’s own set of concerns…particularly ASSHOLES. Of course, as we have discovered with the advent of the Internet, there are assholes literally everywhere, but in big cities there are a special breed of assholes that defy all logic and explanation. This series of films explore them.

In Chapter One, we explore the assholes of boutique clothing, which holy fucking hell, if this short film doesn’t hit the nail right on the head. First of all, if you haven’t been to the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan in New York in the past ten years, just…don’t do it. There are about a million boutique stores run by pseudo intellectual artists and fashionistas and scoured by boatloads of models, European tourists, and the horrifying dynamic duos of Midwestern transplants who can somehow afford to spend 3,700 a month on a shoe-box loudly screaming at each other after yoga. Or the truly wonderful customer who must talk on speakerphone (or even worse..Face Time) in public places.

The same can be said for many other neighborhoods in New York and I’m quite sure Los Angeles, though I haven’t been in about 12 years so I’m not as intimately familiar. Stephens and DeTrinis capture the specific dread of working in retail (or encountering snobby employees of a retail establishment) pretty perfectly.

Next, in Chapter Two, we find the assholes on the sidewalk. Again, another big pain in the ass about living in a city like New York is the fact that no one seems to understand how to conduct themselves on the sidewalk. There are always people staring directly at their cellphone while walking (this is especially annoying while walking up subway stairs extremely slowly while doing so), doing strange things to get people’s attention (usually for money) or…and this is my absolute number one pet peeve, walking in huge groups side by side.

I felt so seen by Chapter Two because I have said to myself (out loud, don’t judge me) and to many of my friends about huge groups of people walking flanked side by side “THIS ISN’T THE FUCKING WIZARD OF OZ” so naturally I DIED laughing when in Chapter Two, a group of European tourists are literally linked in arms, doing the same dance as Dorothy, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and of course Toto down the Yellow Brick Road.

Chapter Two mocks the bane of many people existence in American cities, the European tourist. Not saying that I have any hatred of any subsect of people, but some European tourists are just REALLY, REALLY special in a way that mostly people who work in hospitality or retail understand. I felt so seen when I watched Chapter Two and especially loved its slight devolution into complete absurdity.

Speaking of complete absurdity, we then have Chapter Three, which, just holy shit, what a doozy. The longest and most complex production-wise out of the three, it starts off as a commentary about assholes at parties, but turns into…something else entirely.

First off, it’s set in the 90’s as you can tell by the clothes, the music (Third Eye Blind, Spin Doctors), the Zimas and the fact that someone works at Blockbuster. It starts off silly enough until the interpretive dancers come in, and then an incredibly strange horror element is introduced. It’s truly incredible and if you enjoyed either Too Many Cooks or Unedited Footage Of A Bear (which oh my God, if you haven’t seen it, watch it as soon as you can, after you watch these films, of course).

All in all, the FINDING THE ASSHOLE series of shorts has me extremely excited about Melissa Stephens’ and Tom DeTrinis’ future artistic output. Their films are hilarious, weird, and sort of mean, in a fun way. Which are all things that I see myself as being so maybe I just like these out of some weird vanity, but you’ll have to see them yourself to figure that out.

Lorry Kikta
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