HELICOPTER

5 Stars
Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 22 minutes
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Ari Gold made a stellar one-minute short called Culture that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago. The short stars only the filmmaker himself shot against a pure white wall. Gold walks into frame and acts out every action movie cliché in 60 seconds. At breakneck speed he pantomimes every motion and does every gunshot and explosion sound effect and he just goes nuts – it’s hysterical. Gold ends his performance by crashing back against the white wall splattering about a gallon of blood. Every showing I’ve seen of it elicits an eruption of applause at the climax. It’s personal and inspired.
For his latest short, “Helicopter,” Gold gets even more personal by exposing his own family tragedy on screen. This powerful short reveals that on October 25th, 1991, when Gold was only 20 years-old, his mother died in a tragic helicopter accident along with famous music promoter Bill Graham. The accident quite literally sent shock waves through the music community and the city as the lights dimmed all over San Francisco when the helicopter crashed into an electric tower. Graham is a legendary music promoter who changed the way music was seen live. His fame overshadowed their mother’s death. (She was dating Graham at the time.) The film documents how Gold, his twin brother and young sister’s reacted to the sudden loss of their mother by this violent accident.
The story is cleverly told with a mix of standard live action scenes with actors along with real photos and home movies from Gold’s family, and then for some of the bigger scenes, a set of animated toys representing crowd scenes and the accident itself. In a way, it’s how a child might come to terms with the death of his mother – by acting out the scene of the accident with playthings. Sure, if Gold had a huge budget he may have had crowd scenes and a real helicopter to use, but the toys somehow make the film more eerily effective in a way that would not have worked with a larger budget. This very personal short is a moving tribute to Gold’s mother.
A short displaying serious drama can often come off as laughable. A lot of shorts these days focus on comedy, satire or parody — an easy road to take for a first short film. Often those short films that intend to express any kind of real emotion come off as schmaltzy or humorous based on the inexperience of the filmmaker. “Helicopter” is a short that will tear audiences to shreds emotionally when they realize the true seriousness of the subject matter. It’s the kind of film that one needs to recover from. I was personally disturbed and shaken up upon seeing it for the first time and each time, it doesn’t get any easier.
Read the interview with director Ari Gold>>>



Posted on October 20, 2001 in Reviews by
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