For over a decade now, Slamdance has included a special shorts collection called “$99 Specials” for which filmmakers are, you guessed it, given a hundred bucks to make a short. The super-duper cool Rian Johnson of Brick, Brothers Bloom and, more recently, Looper directorial fame just posted his contribution to said short collection all the way back from 2001, four years before Brick hit the scene*.
The short is called Ben Boyer and the Phenomenology of Automobile Branding and it is naturally a rough, camcorder type short. And yet, coming from Johnson, it is not without a specific visual style and lots of sharp editing/animation. It’s also super funny and fun to watch, as it involves a guy learning all about the hidden subtext of automobile insignias while pooping. You may recognize a tone similar to that which has become a staple of internet conspiracy sites, which I always have fun with. Be it FEMA death camps or the Illuminati-symbology of Lady Gaga videos, there are folks out there always willing to dig deeper to reveal that hidden puppet-master running around and hiding clues everywhere!
*This sentence probably reads like the director went back to 2001 and tweeted about the short from the past, but I’m gonna leave it because if anyone could do such a thing, it would be Johnson.