This is a brief appreciation of the McSweeney’s spin off DVD magazine Wholphin.
In theory this is a quarterly, but the publication schedule can be a bit off, not that it matters really since the magazine they put out is choice. Wholphin is a collection of short films, fiction, non-fiction, animated and live action on DVD. They come bound in a book that has interviews with the filmmakers that shed a little bit of information on what you are seeing. It’s a fantastic way to have a mini film festival every couple of months.
When you put in the DVD the first thing you notice is that the menu is different and changing each time you go back to it. The reason is that they put the menu over part of several of the shorts. If you don’t do anything after about a minute the menu disappears and a short plays. If you let it go it will play all of the menu shorts and then play the rest of the films as they are on the menu. It’s a cool way to go since at least at the start you’re not sure what you’re going to get or more precisely where you’re going to end up.
Last night I was watching issue 6 (they’ve put out ten issues so far) and then menus consisted of insects up close, sharks and a short film about a man trapped in the trunk of a runaway car.
There is always something good on the DVDs. In the first four issues they had foreign TV shows subtitled by different people for differing, The marvelous animated film The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello , and a short film by Spike Jonze that might have gotten Al Gore elected. Bound with the first three issues was The Power of Nightmares an excellent 3 part documentary on the rise of the Neo-Conservatives and the Fundamentalist Islamic movement at exactly the same time. Over the last couple of weeks I watched the fifth and sixth issues. In issue 5 I was treated to seeing an great documentary on Rubik’s Cube solvers called Piece by Piece and the animated Madame Tutli Putli. Issue 6 had Vote for Me about the introduction of democracy into a Chinese Grammar school , Force 1 TD about the search for shoes for a seeing eye pony and a chilling piece On the Assassination of the President. I can’t wait to see the remaining 4 issues because I’m not sure what I’ll find.
If you like short films you really need to be seeing this. McSweeney’s has a couple of subscription deals that can be had at their website, or you can pick up the issues at amazon Deep Discount or DVD Empire. (Though you can get them greatly reduced from Amazon E-sellers, which is how I filled in my collection. ) The magazine is definitely worth your time and money since it’s an evening's worth of entertainment and then some.