Wednesday, April 27, 2005

animation show 2005

last night (before watching "justice sunday" on my tivo) drbmd & i went to see the animation show 2005. this is the second year of the animation show festival; they set the bar really high the first year, but i think they met it again, even with the distinct disadvantage of only having one don hertzfeldt cartoon this year (last year's theatrical version had five!)

i'm pretty busy today but want to make a few comments before i forget it all. format = cartoonist/director - toon title - my comments

jen drummond - the FEDS - this was an interesting short about people whose job is giving out free samples at supermarkets. jen drummond also worked on richard linklater's waking life (which is highly recommended). fun in a clerks sort of way, but i enjoyed waking life a lot more (i know it's not fair to compare a short to a feature-length film, but i couldn't help but compare while i was watching, because i don't think i've ever seen that animation style anywhere else).

david russo - pan with us - OH MY GOD... this has some of the most jaw-dropping awe-inspiring animated sequences i have ever seen. it starts off with etched glass that comes to life and moves through various absurdly-complicated (yet breathtaking) shots, like a scroll that unfurls down the road (seemingly for miles). you can see the stop-motion animation as it happens: focus is drawn to the "animated" parts, which are flawless and smooth, but in the periphery you can see the animators' hands or whole bodies skitter about as they manipulate what's happening. this is really something else: i can't effectively describe how this looks because i've never seen anything quite like it before. astonishing.

jonathan nix - hello - a very cute short about a boy with a boombox head, who can only communicate by playing tapes (in his boombox head, of course). he's in love with a girl who has a radio for a head... but whenever he's around her, he gets so nervous that he can't cue up his tapes in time. poor guy.

peter cornwell - ward 13 - a man wakes up in a hospital. his face is wrapped in bandages. he begins to explore... and quickly discovers that the hospital staff is not looking out for his best interest. thus begins the most exciting, action-packed 15 minutes of claymation i've ever seen. thoroughly cool.

tomek baginski - fallen art - tomek baginski directed the cathedral, a dark and beautiful piece of 3d animation that was featured in last year's show. fallen art is a complete 180: while still somewhat dark, this is very playful and funny, where the cathedral was brooding. i don't want to spoil the big surprise, so i'll just copy the tagline from "In an old forgotten military base far from civilization, a group of deranged military officers nurture their insanity."

georges schwizgebel - l'homme sans ombre ("the man with no shadow") - georges schwizgebel also directed la course à l'abîme from last year's show. stylistically they're very similar: they both look like an impressionist painting come to life. pretty cool. i like this one better than la course à l'abîme because it has more of a narrative structure and linear progression (la course à l'abîme was more like a music video for hector berlioz). it's about a man who is swindled out of his shadow, and desperately tries to get it back or adapt to his new shadowless life.

don hertzfeldt - the meaning of life - this was a significant change of direction after the 4-5 hertzfeldt shorts that were included in last year's show. those were hilarious; this has moments of humor but is overall much more serious. it's an epic look at the world as creatures crawl out of the primordial ooze, gradually evolve into humans, form "civilization", and then go extinct, evolving into hordes of fantastic creatures. very good.

i could keep going and keep reviewing the other shorts, but i have run out of time! needless to say, every selection is at least pretty good, if not fantastic. the ones mentioned above were among my favorites, but everything was worth seeing.