Past Forward (Screenshot)

How’d we miss this? Last week, the Italian luxury fashion brand Prada released Past Forward, a nightmarish black-and-white short film directed by David O. Russell that features (among other things) a mouthless Sacha Baron Cohen, a bleached blond Allison Williams, futuristic technologies, Bernard Herrmann’s scores for North By Northwest and Vertigo, and John Krasinski executing some weirdly unnerving dance moves.

Like many luxury brands, Prada occasionally forgoes conventional advertising in favor of lavishly expensive eye-catching shorts that give filmmakers carte blanche to do their thing as long as everybody wears the right clothes. Earlier examples include Prada’s own Wes Anderson film, Castello Cavalcanti, and David Lynch’s Inland Empire-esque Lady Blue Shanghai, starring Marion Cotillard, a superstar of this particular high-concept niche.


The dialogue-free Past Forward, which runs almost 13 minutes, gives Russell a chance to do what is his wont: swing the camera wildly, work with as many actors as possible, and direct dance sequences. (Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have found a way to work in any out-of-control family arguments into this one.) The cast includes Freida Pinto, Kuoth Wiel, Paula Patton, Connie Britton, the Sklar Brothers, Baskets’ Jason and Garry Clemmons, and Jack Huston.