Mime / Foxxy Madonna Vs. The Black Death (2007) – By Joshua Samford

 There’s one thing that draws me into the art of the short film, it is that filmmakers with such a short amount of time feel a little more free to experiment with just how far logic can be pushed before the ropes that hold the audience’s attention just snap. Out of the two films I’m reviewing today from Cinephreak Pictures, Mime is definitely the most experimental in terms of logic and whether or not a viewer really even needs it. From the press package that came with the DVD, the filmmaker explains that this is actually one of his earlier shorts and I will admit that it shows somewhat. Especially in the earlier foundation of the film, but as it moves along and the audience slowly loses their ties with the ground and any reality that might still be clinging to their boots as they float into this strange and bizarre reality that Mime establishes – the film truly begins to grow on the viewer. Although the filmmaker has definitely progressed, as shown in his following work (which I’ll get to later), Mime works on a level of zaniness that is hard to comprehend much less try and explain. Within the first ten minutes or so, you are simply trying to find your bearings in this weird universe that the filmmakers establish, and during the second half of the film you finally just accept the insanity brought to the table. I know that I certainly did. Although having some of the director’s more recent work helps point out how the film could have been stronger; but judging the short entirely on it’s own, I would say Mime is a funny and absurd slice of nonsense… but in a good way!

Mime starts off like many slasher films always do, in that part of town that teenagers always seem to inhabit where makeout sessions seem to be the single highest priority. Whether that be a park (as in this film), a cliff or a latenight burger stand – you know the scene very well. As the teenagers do their thing and make each other’s necks turn all shades of red and purple, little do they know a madman is on the prowl.. a madman, who doesn’t say a whole lot and often finds himself trapped in invisible boxes. That’s right, a mime. Everyone loves a mime, right? Well not today, as the mime produces an invisible knife and pretend-stabs a young man to death with it – and continues his assault by pretend-choking the same man (as he stares on confused) with an invisible rope and culminates his rampage by producing a pretend-gun and shooting an invisible bullet directly into the man’s head… and then shoving him down when he doesn’t die. Next thing you know, the mime is on trial for the murder of the young man – who is then brought in to testify in the matter of his own death. If you haven’t gotten the point that this film is a little bit silly, then perhaps my wit isn’t what it used to be. So, the mime stands trial and a genuine criminal justice circus ensues. Including the obvious mime, a clown and more invisible rope climbing than you can shake a stick at! Mixed in with all of the comedy is a beautiful score that adds to the depth of the film and really stands out, as I’m not used to such great musical accompaniment in an independent short; and overall it gives the film a feel of class and helps raise it many levels higher. The visual depth of the film also helps handle this, as the whole film is beautifully shot and produced. With glaring whites and subtle textures brought on by post production wizadry, as a viewer you can’t help but be impressed with visual snazziness.

 Mime is a very silly film, and although it starts off a little bumpy – with the mix of surreal, absurdity and some rather serious presentation; the court room scenes help the film find it’s own pace and rythm and that helps everything fall together. From that point on, Mime becomes something special and strangely hilarious. I say this as a great fan of silliness, and in their hearts, who isn’t? It’s at this point in the review that I could possibly try and come up with a funny little spin about Foxxy Madonna not having anything to do with the world of silliness; but nah, I’m not so great with segways. Foxxy Madonna is a film that was thought of before Quinton Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez brought the term "grindhouse" into mainstream lexicon recently, but it is a film that showcases many of the same beautiful attributes of 70’s film culture. The style, the attitude and the slightly over the top action. I have been a big fan of blaxploitation and all forms of cheesy action films for many years now and Foxxy Madonna just hit all the right notes for my viewing pleasure. The basic plot follows Foxxy Madonna, a spy who works for the church who also plays by her own set of rules. After an evil baddie (called The Black Death) murders one of Foxxy’s compatriots and sets out to unleash a plague the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the middle ages, it is up to Foxxy to save the world. Armed with her weaponry she sets out to take on The Black Death and his henchmen.

Foxxy Madonna is just a fun movie, no two ways about it. The cinematography, much like Mime, is exceptional. The video is downgraded to make it seem more like a film from the 70’s and along with the funky music, it is easy to be tossed back into the era of Foxy Brown, Truck Turner and Cleopatra Jones… except this time with priests! I just loved the film and I think a lot of others out there will too if they get a chance at seeing it. Foxxy Madonna is a well produced, well scripted and beautifully shot short film and I hope the filmmakers do well with it and more people can get a chance at seeing it. It’s a fun ride and a throwback to one of the greatest eras in cinematic history. Definitely check it out!

Both films reviewed from their mutual "director’s cut" versions.