Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release. Today we look at two early appearances by Angelina Jolie in anticipation of her new directorial effort, “The Land of Blood and Honey,” which is now playing in limited release and expands this Friday.
Even though Angelina Jolie does not appear in front of the camera for her new film, her second as a director, I want to devote this week’s column to her very early work as an actress. Jolie began her film career quite young, appearing first in a minor role in the 1982 Hal Ashby comedy, “Lookin’ to Get Out,” which was co-written by and stars her father, Jon Voight. Over the next decade she studied the craft at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, modeled throughout her teen years and acted in five USC student films directed by her brother, James Haven (I wish these were publicly available). She also appeared in commercials, such as a David Fincher-directed spot for Young Miss magazine, and in music videos, including the Michael Bay-helmed piece for Meat Loaf’s “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,” which we previously featured in a Short Starts column.
Around the same time, she broke back into feature films, co-starring in the direct-to-video sequel “Cyborg 2” in 1993 (which she shot the previous fall). That same year she was cast by producer/cinematographer Mark J. Gordon for two slightly surreal shorts written and directed by then-unknown Steven Shainberg. In the first, a two-minute black and white film titled “Angela and Viril,” she is meditating while sitting in the Lotus position, synching her breathing to the rhythmic typing of the older title character. She was brought back for the next film, “Alice and Viril,” also only two minutes but shot in color. This time she punishes Viril by asking him to hold his breath while his head is submerged in a fish tank. Shainberg, who later broke out with “Secretary,” subsequently directed more shorts in this “Mr. Viril” series, which were aired on MTV in the late 1990s. Here are the two original installments starring the 18-year-old Jolie: