What, you may ask, is a wholphin? It is the offspring of a pairing between a bottlenose dolphin and a false killer whale. It is also the name of a new magazine from the publishers of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Presented on DVD, “Wholphin” features films designed to make you feel, as the publishers put it, they way they felt “when we learned that dolphins and whales sometimes, you know, do it.” The quarterly issues present everything from documentaries to animation, and both touching pieces and laugh-out-loud comedy.
For example, the first issue contains an untitled documentary on Al Gore made by Spike Jonez (“Being John Malkovich”) during the former vice president’s presidential campaign. Contrary to Gore’s often rather stiff and stuffy appearance in the media, the documentary shows him as a very human man with a sense of humor and a lot of connection with his family. One can’t help wondering whether, if the documentary had been shown during that campaign, if it would have made a difference in the very close election which followed.
Issue one also contains “Tatli Hayat” (“The Sweet Life”), a half-hour Turkish sitcom. The liner notes explain that it was sent to them without any subtitles or return address, and they couldn’t get anybody to translate it, so they sent it out to several entertainment people and had them make up their own subtitles. The result is an utterly hilarious, surreal comedy which can be watched over and over — the same scenes tell a different story with each set of subtitles.
The second issue includes such gems as the Japanese version of “I Dream of Genie” rescripted by several luminaries including Daniel Handler and an examination of whether the Holocaust Museum is a good location for a first date. The third issue, out now, includes “explosive performance art” by Dennis Hopper, a documentary about a 13-year-old girl in Yemen who refuses to wear the veil, and a short comedy by Bob Odenkirk.
“Wholphin” is available by subscription through their website, www.wholphindvd.com, where you can also order back issues. If you are tired of Hollywood and the same prime time dreck that seems to be on every night, this is a four-times-a-year shot of something entirely new.