- Directed by Josh Steinbauer -
The market is riddled with pirate films. Good pirates, bad pirates, pirates with questionable moral allegiances. But what about pirates working for a pancake delivery service? That’s not a concept which you stumble upon everyday. Well, Cap’n Flapjack is that pirate, and this is his film. But rather than being an action-oriented project, it’s a surreal comedy, one that deals with his inner self, characterized by loneliness and quiet despair.
The captain is a captain only in name- and perhaps as a result of his eyepatch- he is not the executive authority on the ship, as he reports to a commission of not exactly friendly bosses, who don’t miss any opportunity to mock him. In fact, the very location of the action is an ambiguous one, but it does give the impression that it takes place on a ship. Timelessness is another of the film’s characteristics, as a specific period cannot be accurately pointed out- the ship’s environment suggests an early industrial setting, only for a piece of technology or the view outside to contradict that idea.
The film’s symbolism is extremely well thought and superbly implemented. Even the title is very rich in meanings and accurately describes the main motifs of the film. The curse represents the captain’s melancholia and solitude, which is kept in place by the heavy anchor. This resonates with the long, downward elevator rides which he has to take in order to deliver the pancakes, thus fulfilling his job: sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. The surreal encounter with his son also suggests this, and marks a contrast between his downfall and the meanings behind the boy’s costume. The stickiness is perpetual: the syrup makes his hand dirty, while it also represents his awakening from dream to reality. Likewise, the cage and the bird symbolize his trapped soul: the fortune cookie acts as a reminder to his situation, and the thought of freeing the bird fills the captain with hope.
The storytelling is not the only aspect which shines, however. The cinematography is on-point, creating a dark, confined environment, and emphasizing the dimness by long corridors and closed spaces, such as the elevator. All these elements are all very reminiscent of a Lynchian style, and particularly the similar kind of eerie atmosphere recreated in his film ‘Eraserhead’. The minimalistic, yet extremely effective and haunting sound design also resembles David Lynch’s works: from the silent, monotonous humming of the elevator to the overheard industrial creaking noises in the background, everything is beautifully recorded and utilized. The equally minimalistic and spooky music is used in exactly the right spots, conveying an uncanny atmosphere and continuously intensifying it. Even the encounter in the elevator seems to have something Lynchian about it- the strange woman’s prophecies reminding of the Log Lady from ‘Twin Peaks’.
All in all, ‘Cap’n Flapjack: The Curse of the Sticky Anchor’ is a wonderful, thought-evoking film, which balances the quality of its content with a creative professionalism of the style. The result is a true masterpiece- this is certainly one of the best entries in our festival’s recent history.