FFF 2016 Day Two Pickle and Newman


How interesting can a fish be that lives standing up in a sponge because he can’t swim? Turns out, very interesting!

Mrs. LanceAround and NumberTwoSon had a busy day at the Florida Dream Homes office. That, along with unusually heavy traffic meant we arrived late to the Enzian Theatre. At first, I didn’t mind because I knew there was a short film called Pickle. Based on the description in the program and the photo of a chalk outline of a dead cat I was not at all interested.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Even though we arrived halfway through the short it became obvious that Pickle was not only an excellent film–it ranks as one of the best movies we have ever seen at the Florida Film Festival.

This utterly charming movie by Amy Nicholson tells the story of a lovely, elderly couple who continually rescue (in every sense of the word) animals; many of whom cannot possibly care for themselves. This includes animals such as a fish that cannot swim and a opossum whose rear legs are pulled from his socket and is covered with bugs, among dozens and dozens of other animals. Each one is lovingly cared for.

The elderly man shapes a sponge for Pickle, the fish, so he can swim around. He also designs and builds a dolly for Pogo, the opossum, which allows him to use his front paws to scoot around the home, at least until he encounters the carpet which tends to cause him to fall off his scooter. No worries, the man then creates a seat belt to help hold him in place. He feeds Pogo watermelon and eggs cooked in butter–although he says he probably shouldn’t eat eggs, but Pogo seems to love them so he keeps getting them.

Interspersed with the interview of the protagonists and film of some of their pets are creative animations by The Brothers McLeod. This is one short you don’t want to miss.

Q&A with Amy Nicholson and the two Protagonists from Pickle

The Animal Savers

The Animal Lovers

“My wife rescues these animals. Then it becomes my duty to accommodate them in some way,” the man from Pickle bemoans in a gentle and loving way.

Q: Was it a choice not to show Pickle? I kept waiting to see Pickle in a sponge.

Amy: Well, Pickle had passed on by the time we made the film.

Q (From LanceAround): I’m not sure if this is a rude question to ask, but being in Orlando, I have to ask, do you have an opinion about Sea World?

Man: We used to raise fish; as a business…That’s how we came to acquire Pickle. He was one of the ones we hatched out. Sea World. Certainly entertaining. But I don’t feel that their treatment of the animals is probably correct. It’s not my kind of thing. We raised fish to sell. Obviously they went to a lot of people’s dinner table.  But I think that Sea World is more of an exploitation. (Scattered applause.)

Q: What are you planning on working on next?

Amy: More of the same. Because Muskrat Lovely (a previous film) was the same kind of humor. Then I did a very serious film. Not VERY serious. There was a lot of joking in it and I made fun of everyone. It was about rezoning of Coney Island in New York. It took me many, many years and it was really complicated. It was really hard to complete. I loved doing it. No one got the story the way I did. But I had so much more fun doing this (Pickle). Seven thousand times more fun. So I’m just gonna find things like this that I like. They don’t get funded. But I’ll find the money…I’ll find the money. No one’s gonna fund a film about animals. But that’s fine by me.



Could This Machine be Our Future?

Could This Machine be Our Future?

Thought provoking, even handed documentary about a man who created a machine that appeared to produce more energy than it uses; otherwise known as a perpetual motion machine.

Problem is, according to our current understanding of physics, such a machine is impossible.

At least, that is what the patent office appeared to believe when they deny Joseph Newman his patent. Despite his appearance on Johnny Carson, his interview with Dan Rather and the support of 11 different congressmen, this eccentric inventor from the backwoods town of Lucedale, Mississippi, could not convince the patent office to patent his machine. Without a patent, it’s almost impossible to attract the kind of funding necessary to develop such a machine on a wide scale.

Spoiler alert–this film does not present enough evidence as to how this machine works to give you any idea whether or not the machine is actually feasible or a just a hoax. The most that is revealed is that Newman claims to have tapped into electromagnetic energy. At one point, he states that for thousands of years mankind lived next to rivers. But it’s only been recently our society has learned to harness that energy through mills and electric generators. He claims that he is doing the same thing with electromagnetism.

While the earlier footage of the film shows Newman as a rationale, intelligent inventor, by the end of the film after 20 years of frustration, Newman’s uncontrollable rage spills out onto the documentarian in an emotionally powerful scene. Unfortunately, the documentarian is unable to separate the genius of Newman’s ability to invent from his obvious mental illness which appeared to became more pronounced later in his life. As a result, it would be easy for some people to interpret Newman’s actions as the raving of a madman rather than that of a creative genius. It’s easy to forget that early in his life, Newman, who was a boxer, invented the plastic dumbbells which were so prevalent in the 70’s and 80’s.

Despite this flaw in the film, the movie is very intriguing and worth a look. It’s well paced, informative and will give you and your friends a lot to discuss. It certainly provides a different perspective than the Wikipedia page about Newman’s machine which seems to only present the argument that the machine was a complete failure.

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