Back to the Land | Chicago Reader

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The natural world appears unnatural in many of these 16-millimeter shorts (some transferred to video). Tanner Almon's Methods of Self Defense Against Scorpions (2003) follows a beleaguered tenant in his conflict with unseen arachnids. The title of Luis Sanchez's Umbral comes from his shadowy negative exposures of southwestern panoramas; they're evocative in their neon colors but often too dense to read. David Ellsworth's Husks (2002) contemplates the serene beauty of rural Iowa, its reverie punctuated by odd slow-motion shots like one of a farmer mowing his backyard right up to the edge of a cornfield. By far the most accomplished is T.S.H.: Estrendristas by the prodigiously talented Jesse Lerner; suggested by Mexico's first radio broadcast, it merges the filmmaker's interests in history, archival footage, and popular manias. 85 min.

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