A sweet manchild obsesses over a robot invasion that never comes; a woman pries herself away from her surreally abusive therapist; faceless transients forlornly examine their storage lockers. Welcome to the world of "Sundance Shorts 2009," where the happy endings tend to look more like reprieves from misery.
The 10-film series kicks off with Denis Villeneuve's "Next Floor," a Terry Gilliam–esque black comedy about a savage dinner party in a decaying building, and wraps with Destin Cretton's "Short Term 12," an emotionally draining portrait of a kids' mental ward. In between is my favorite, Don Hertzfeldt's latest and most sublime animated short yet, "I Am So Proud of You."
Here, the creator of "Rejected" sends stick figures through his trademark absurdist minefields of killer comic timing. But it's also a poignant meditation on death, cocooned in a collage of sepia-tone video footage, disturbing Foley work, and cosmic starfields. Overall, the line-up offers nary a misstep, and plenty to love.