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Volume 72, Issue 101, Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Life & Arts

More odd films in latest ‘Wholphin'

The Daily Cougar

Five-and-a-half months ago, I wrote about a new DVD magazine of rare and unseen short films called Wholphin. Since then, the third issue has hit shelves and mailboxes ? Wholphin is available through a prepaid subscription service ? and the Web site has been steadily expanding its video and blog content.

The cover of Issue 3 mimics the layout of the second issue and incorporates the same book-themed design. Also similar to the second issue is the inclusion of an extra disc of Part 2 from the BBC series The Power of Nightmares, a documentary about the neo-conservative movements in the United States and Afghanistan that's otherwise unavailable inside the United States.

Fans of Wholphin No. 2 will appreciate another episode from Bob Odenkirk's Derek and Simon in which the pair scores dates with two young women with hotel room keys. Things begin to go awry when Simon steps on a lit cigarette and a bee at the same time, however.

This issue also has another hilarious short by Carson Mell, whose animated piece "The Writer" was in Wholphin No. 2. In this ridiculous animated monologue, the viewer uses the DVD remote to interact with Bobby Bird's tattoos for more stories of adventure and womanizing.

One thing that sets Wholphin's third installment apart from the others is the amount of foreign content. Khadija Al-Salami's half-hour documentary from Yemen, A Stranger in Her Own City, tells a rebellious story about a teenage girl named Najmia. She's an outcast from her peers and constantly insulted as she walks down the street simply because she refuses to wear the black veil Yemeni society deems necessary for women. The documentary is fascinating and has inspired a group of Americaans to start a college fund for her on the Wholphin Web site.

There are also two European shorts from France and Sweden. The former is a brief observation of a woman trying to decide how to kill a lobster her husband asked her to make for dinner, and the latter is a collection of four interviews called Never Like the First Time, animated to real audio of people talking about their first sexual encounters. The most bizarre film on the disc is a segment from an upcoming Japanese full-length, Funky Forest: The First Contact.

Fans of Alexander Payne's Election, About Schmidt, or Sideways will appreciate the inclusion (and first public distribution) of Payne's thesis project from film school, The Passion of Martin. Payne explains in Wholphin's included 38-page booklet that his 50-minute film was a result of his awareness that "it would be probably the only time in my life I would be completely free as a filmmaker and have no imposed guidelines of any sort."

No Wholphin would be complete without the influence of executive producer Brent Hoff's biology background, so the inclusion of a $60,000 research project on the speed of trap-jaw ants' pinchers shouldn't that be much of surprise.

The strangely serene footage of ants snapping their pinchers shut and launching themselves almost eight inches off the ground from the force of the bite was captured at 100,000 frames per second and scientifically proves that odontomachus bauri have the world's fastest predatory strike.

A taped performance piece filmed in 1983 of Dennis Hopper surrounding himself with, and then igniting, 17 sticks of dynamite is also included. In Walleyball, Wholphin staff members travel to the U.S.-Mexico border to play volleyball with Mexican citizens over an incomplete steel wall. Lastly, Tactical Advantage provides a hilarious hypothesis on the source of lightning and God's stance on firearms.

Wholphin is available at for $15.95.

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