I’ve said quite a lot over the years about the films of J.L. Carrozza—the artist formerly known as Kojiro Abe—but can too much be said about his work? Many would bellow a hearty YES, shooting down any further queries with extended tongues and a flagon’s fill of venomous saliva.
There are things that remain to be said, however, especially when it comes to the long-awaited DVD release of his two largest projects, Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House. For fear of going over the acceptable Internet Word Count—an alarmingly short peak beyond which attention spans plummet with deafening howls—I’ll be trying to stay as focused as possible, even in the face of such an intense digital release.
Rather than going into detail on every little thought I have about the latest version of Little Red Riding Hood, I first direct you to my original accounts on the film, which remain unchanged for the most part: marvel at the thoughtful analysis by Patrick Macias and myself.
As for the updated aspects, I have to say I completely disagree with Carrozza’s thoughts on the color correction of Red. I much prefer the original, as he puts it, “cartoony and over the top” look of the movie. The change doesn’t ruin it, but it actually ends up looking more like straight up DV to me than before. It is interesting, however, to see how drastic the changes are in the extra features. Whether you find them appropriate or not, the movie is without a doubt still his best.
The new version of Dream House raises the same Earth-shaking question in my head as the first: So when do you wanna go meet the townspeople? In fact, when I made the move from Louisville to Hoboken, I too asked myself this. When do I want to go meet the townspeople?
Though the answer to that question still eludes me, the fact that it was ever asked in the first place illustrates but one of Dream House‘s myriad issues. While this update tends to some, others stick around regardless of adjustments.
The story begins with a couple entering the home of their dreams for the first time, and ends with David Luce restraining a woman for the second. If the climax of both this and Red don’t say something about Carrozza, then I don’t know what does. It’s the only thing that speaks louder than the inspirations he literally wears on his chest (as seen in the behind the scenes portion of the DVD).
While this could have been entirely intentional, the film lacks any real sense of subtlety, which is something that could have contributed to a spookier atmosphere. Heck, even if it was intentional it also lacks the amount of camp needed to pull off that kind of thing. The real reason behind this is that Carrozza tends to over explain aspects of the story that aren’t really necessary. The realtor’s presence, for instance, is entirely superfluous. All we need to know is that this is the house of their dreams yet there’s something horrifying lurking under the surface.
Jessica’s new actress (Deirdre Yee), or in this case voice actress, is actually a strong enough improvement over the original to warrant the effort. That said, even better vocal talent can’t cover up the other flaws of Kate Noyes’s performance.
I don’t want to get too down on Dream House. I’ve said before that I just think it’s a notable step down from Little Red Riding Hood, but the mere fact that this version is shorter makes a big difference. It’s not just a little bit shorter either, the movie was cut by a whopping 12 minutes and, at the very least, doesn’t plod as a result.
Honestly, if you’ve ever had a “thing” for Kojiro/Jules—and simply being a reader of this blog makes that a 50/50 shot—Two Short Films by J.L. Carrozza is worth a gander. What can I say, I’m a sucker for this kind of wanna-do-it-so-I-did-it, put-up-or-shut-up homemade stuff, and I especially appreciate the Special Features that give us a glimpse at how it all goes down in his world. I think the future may still be bright for him so long as he steers clear of dead weight ne’erdowells like Ryan Murphy, and instead focuses on mending the bridge to the Promised Land of Luce.
While I can’t say I like everything he’s done up to this point, I still appreciate the quirks and the enthusiasm Carrozza puts into it. He shoots in woods and backyards. He stutters as the utterance of “a-a-action” comes with an animated, seemingly uncontrollable arm gesture. He has the wardrobe befitting any young aspiring director concerned with utility and comfort: the infamous black t-shirt/cargo shorts combo that even I have sported famously behind the camera many, many times.
May The Artist Formerly Known as Kojiro Abe continue to wear it well.
Two Short Films by J.L. Carrozza is available here.