Directed by Maurice Huvelin | Reviewed by Rich Monetti
TUTOPIQUE or The Art of creating Utopian Tutorials May not Alleviate our Struggles but is Definitely Fun to Watch
With an endless and arduous 24 hour news cycle, social media excess that doesn’t quit, and an onslaught of superhero movies that never really save the day, there is no way to escape from all the things that annoy us. So Maurice Huvelin has taken it upon himself to address the pain and has just begun to provide a comprehensive cinematic elixir. The first in a series of films called TUTOPIQUE is ready to unburden us, and The Art of Creating Utopian Tutorials is on the agenda. Drinking it in and the textbooks open, the two minute short satisfies Huvelin’s desire to create absurd pseudo tutorials that denounce the paradoxes of all the inconsistencies we face on a daily basis.
Born in Paris, Huvelin graduated from Orléans Art School, where he is now a professor. He has been making movies like this since 1985 and doesn’t waste any time getting started here.
A hard drum beat races us into the opening credits, and an animated sphere sets the initial tone. Its random electrons in a state of excitation, the object morphs and then regains proper form. Employing some very slick graphics, the suggestion is clear : a transformation is at hand. Slow down, the upbeat music stops and is replaced with an ominous track of music that implies the journey won’t be an easy one. In tandem, Huvelin appears abruptly, and he definitely means business. Against a stark white background and wearing a black suit, Huvelin’s living silhouette forces us to take pause, and armed with a deadly serious look and an unwavering posture, the purview says – “It is on”.
Add in a good dose of French arrogance, and Huvelin’s interpretation of the stereotype implores that we keep our distance. Then he speaks. “Loneliness is fake news,” the character lays down the gauntlet. “Loneliness does not exist.”
No reason to doubt the caricature’s resolve, fake news and/or loneliness better beware. Thus, Huvelin’s determined glare means both (or neither) are going down in this inaugural episode. On the other hand, the black rimmed glasses, the polka-dot shirt with the black and white striped tie plays a contrast; keeping us eagerly in anticipation of the light side of the filmmaker’s vision.
In turn, cutaway clips to dystopian images that only marginally attempt to frighten us, reinforces the inside joke that Huvelin has long played. Thus, the irony and self mockery of the filmmaker’s process is on full display.
So, with the set up in place, the lunacy kicks into gear without fanfare. Huvelin confidently produces a French Fry; and attaching it to a thin wooden stick, he eclectically conducts the short film around the bend.
Minimalist to his admitted liking, the prop is really a sleight of hand for Huvelin’s self described approach. The director adheres to a silly, shifted, grating slapstick that aims to sting with a cheeky, grotesque and incongruous form of satire. In this case, the drumbeat returns, the screen splits his image into smaller and smaller frames, and despite the complete disarray of Huvelin’s methodical movements, the expression on the actor/director’s face never changes. A momentum builds and rivets the viewer in expectation of a dramatic crescendo. Huvelin really has us now, and the possibilities are not dimmed in the least by the actor’s reserved demeanor.
Finally unraveling, Huvelin’s self deprecating allusion to omnipotence primes us for the key point of his initiative. In other words, are we any closer to sifting through the reams of fake news or developing real human connection among our vast web of superficial acquaintances?
Probably not; and the same goes for us being transformed, but the whole absurdity just screams at us to feel the joy. So please keep ‘em coming Mr. Huvelin, we need you now more than ever.
Rich Monetti was born in the Bronx and grew up in Somers, New York. He went onto study Computer Science and Math at Plattsburgh State. But after about a decade in the field, he discovered that writing was his real passion. He’s been a freelancer since 2003 and is always looking for the next story. Rich also dabbles with screenwriting and stays active by playing softball and volleyball.