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With: Daniel Arnold, Ellie Sherman, Bill Noertker, Chris Kiefer, M.R. Dhar, Roger Wade, Maro Komodore
Written by: Joel Garber
Directed by: Joel Garber
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 17
Date: 01/01/2009

The Strange Rebirth of Andre Weil (2009)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

God on the Brain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Joel Garber's beautiful, funny and daring new short film has wonderful things to say about the indefinable capacity of humans and less so about the concrete qualities of religion. Andre (Daniel Arnold) is a nervous, skittish soul who works as a door-to-door salesman (gourmet salami and calculators). During the most audacious act of his life, he meets Sasha (Ellie Sherman), with whom he shares a penchant for typewriters and cassette tapes (no digital technology allowed). They hit it off until Sasha's former photographer professor Gil (Bill Noertker) shoots Andre in the head with a crossbow. Andre recovers, but begins having seizures. For the first time he notices stars and trees and embraces a new kind of religion, bringing Gil and many others into his fold. Garber's film has a very warm, deadpan-giggly, organic tone during the first scenes, and then a wild-eyed paranoia (with a sci-fi touch) during the latter scenes, and inasmuch -- in just 17 minutes -- it brushes up against one of the mysteries of life: Just what is spirituality and what makes it different from our other, more daily emotions, like love? The film seems to suggest that the concept of spirituality provides a kind of certainty that's otherwise just not there, but is it really an improvement? Garber shoots in gorgeous black-and-white with a sure and steady hand. His rhythms, music choices and set designs rarely falter. Garber narrates under the pseudonym "Roger Wade" (Sterling Hayden's writer character from Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye.)

Note: The Strange Rebirth of Andre Weil will screen 9:30 p.m., Friday, September 11 in San Francisco at the Red Vic Movie House, as part of the SF Shorts Film Festival.

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