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Michael Vass – The Old Ways at Marginal Utility


The death penalty execution of a child by the state is unthinkable, ludicrous, absurd.  Michael Vass‘s film “The Old Ways” asks you to consider the unthinkable and watch as a bumbling bureaucrat attempts to execute a child by hanging and then, when that fails, by firing squad (see trailer).

Michael Vass, The Old Ways, 2010, 13 minutes, at Marginal Utility

The short (13 minute) film by the Toronto-based filmmaker is macabre and comical.  With its spare, black and white aesthetic and deadpan, serio-comic acting, the movie bears some resemblance to a Buster Keaton caper movie — or to the great Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (which is also about the unthinkable — the end of the world brought on by bumbling bureaucrats).

Michael Vass, the executie, very sweet faced child

They couldn’t have found a more cherubic child to play the part of the victim.  And if you take the child as the stand-in for the man, this anti-capital punishment film is a great parody that gets its point across with spare and striking visuals.

“The Old Ways” is up through Nov. 18, so go see it this weekend before it leaves.  Marginal Utility Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday noon-5pm and by appointment.