Once upon a time, way before there were the interwebs as we know them to be, there were a series of clipshows that’d play local arthouses. I remember sitting through 90 minutes of weird Japanese hottub-farting commercials, or clips of Scandavians learning English through the filthy lyrics of hardcore music on the radio. These were good, simpler times.

In this era where YouTube has made almost all media into a giant clip show, the key seems to be less introducing an audience to a smattering of shorts, music videos and commercials, but to present such moving images within a context, a set of packaged goods that are tied together somehow into a coherent whole.

Alas, while a number of the clips were definitely engaging, and the opportunity to see some of them on the large screen of the lightbox was a rare one, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed by the whole thing. Certain some of the clips are extraordinary – from the fabulous NIKE ad from World Cup 2010:

 

to this harrowing video by Raphael Saadiq (starring Chad “Cuddy on THE WIRE” Coleman)

 

 

There were short stop motion films by Spike Jonze (animation done with fabric!)

…a Lego ad with moving bricks, and other assorted visual playthings. There were a couple lugubrious music vids, including one from Bon Iver, and even an out-of-place promotion for local Toronto ad firm.

All told, there were four or five clips that were really special, the rest average at best. I think there’s a great opportunity to showcase short films in this setting, particularly given how close we are to awards season. Unfortunately, this assemblage really feels little more than a shuffle or “I’m feeling lucky” on a YouTube channel, the type of board surfing that’s usually done as procrastination rather than real theatrical experience. It’s a missed opportunity, one that will hopefully be rectified with better and stronger programming for 2012’s iteration.

Packaged Goods – Year’s Best plays TIFF Lightbox on December 14th at 7pm