Friday, September 24, 2004

You know I'm right, it's there in black and white

I managed to take in Competition Screening #2 at the animation festival last night. Thoughts: Bathtime in Clerkenwell: Brilliant and catchy. The faux-cutout animation combined with Terry Gilliam-inspired pastiche (and an amazingly catchy soundtrack) got my vote for the Public Prize. Oregon Lottery 'Island of Unexpected Gifts': Insubstantial, but cute; it apes the old Rankin-Bass style well. The Phantom Inventory (L'inventaire fantome): Amazingly atmospheric. I've never seen CG so well integrated with model animation, and the intricate detail of both must have taken quite a while to produce. The genuinely creepy Art Nouveau spookiness pays off in a way that owes more to Dickens than Lovecraft, which I didn't expect. Wisconsin Lottery 'Casino': Meh. The Shag-inspired retro look is rarely done well by anyone else, and for a lottery ticket ad, it seemed far too earnest. A Room Nearby: Touching and melancholy - I was getting misty-eyed at the segment with Milos Forman and his dog - but would have worked just as well being shot in a montage documentary style. That's a minus in my book; the art should be essential, not an afterthought. It apparently ran on PBS, which explains a lot. Rix Pix Nix Hix: An absolute mess. The kind of thing I'd hide from public view, just to keep from giving the average person the idea that animation is either pure kidvids, or this kind of "edgy" crap. Moo(n): Cute and somewhat bizarre. It made me think of Edward Gorey's less gruesome works. I also loved the cutouts animated over rendered backgrounds; there's a very surreal feel there. Catch Me If You Can (Title Sequence): I hadn't seen Catch Me If You Can . In retrospect, the homage to this sequence in The Simpsons, last season, seems far more interesting. I like anything after the style of Friz Freleng. Saddam and Osama: This originally aired as a TV Funhouse segment for Saturday Night Live. Still gold, but the audience (as I expected) laughed more at the concept of Bush-as-chimp than the far more clever and less obvious jokes - and, I'm guessing, missed the irony that they could probably agree entirely with the most laughable propaganda of the Arabic world, as long as it displayed hatred of George Bush. Will You Let Enemy In? (Kas Lased Vaenlase Sisse?): Okay, but gave me an uncomfortable NFB vibe, despite being an Estonian production. Prudence ‘À tort ou à raison’: The wine-stains and doodles on a cafe tablecloth come alive. Clever and intriguing. Ward 13: I don't believe I've ever before seen something that deserves to be called both Kafkaesque and Lovecraftian at the same time. This does. It's also action-horror-comedy-suspense in the Evil Dead mould, and does an excellent job of it. Highly disturbing, and highly recommended. Also aired, but apparently meant to be part of Competition Screening #5, was Glass Crow, which was dull; for being mostly blurry texture-mapping of a crow silhouette, it didn't exactly need the elaborate setup of the Defenestration of Prague. Like Rix Pix Nix Hix, but more disappointing for being technically much better; not half as clever as it thinks it is. Tonight I have a bad choice for the 7:00 screening - either Competition #4 (devoted entirely to kid-oriented works) or the mediocre-looking and clichéd-sounding Pinocchio 3000. Then at 9:00, a choice between two great options - either one of the real competition screenings, or a retrospective of Popeye shorts from the mid-30s. There's no justice.


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