From the opening shot—a close-up of a stoic man whose eyes are locked onto the most exotic and decadent of feasts—Next Floor pulls you into its twisted allegory, where gluttony will literally be your downfall. A wait staff ceaselessly serves a privileged, scouring, gothic class an unparalleled smorgasbord of wild animals. However, in this surreal take on society, the bellies of the guests never bust. Their appetite can't ever be satiated. Everyone, even the servers and valets, must be dragged down because these fatties refuse to stop.
As the film progresses so does the “help.” The staff anticipates their masters fall from grace. What’s twisted is how well the film reveals itself. The film makes me feel like I’m at one of those parties or events where you just wander in and find yourself stunned at what’s happening before you—it’s too bizarre, beautiful, or scary to leave. You get locked into its vibe.
The gorgeous production design and intricate art direction, which imbue the film with believability, coupled with the cacophony of slurps, gurgles, gulps, and belches from the mouths of the diners, allow Denis to get away with almost anything. His tonal shifts in the film veer toward flamboyant, they bound into each other, where drama is tagged by a sly grin, and humor is gut busting. Rarely is there such a beautiful marriage of concept and execution, but those are the reasons why this film has won dozens of awards since 2008 from Best Short Film at Cannes to Canada’s Best Short. The people who produced it over at the Phi Centre say they’re “proud to offer you one of the greatest short films of all time.” Those are some pretty high praises that you should definitely verify yourself. Watch below.
French-Canadian filmmaker Denis is quickly moving from critical darling to Hollywood A-lister. He premiered two feature films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The smaller of the two is Enemy, an adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's 2002 novel The Double. The film marks his first foray into English language film and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Melanie Laurent. Despite being filmed much earlier, it is getting a release date after the larger film Prisoners, starring Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, and a fearless performance from Hugh Jackman. That film was released two weeks ago and has been building steam and gathering stellar reviews. Denis killed it on the festival circuit with his dark and powerful first four features Un 32 août sur terre, Maelström, Polytechnique, and Incendies—the last of which was nominated for Best Foreign Oscar in 2011. He made his short film Next Floor in between his second and third feature, and it definitely felt like a game changer. It solidified Denis's title as a master storyteller and pushed his visual style to the next level. It deservedly won every award around and was a precursor to his socially conscious films to follow, which are heavily steeped in style. Denis will be a name that you will hear about for years to come.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.