Sunday, September 25, 2005

Keep your castles in the air; by building them down there, you'll never learn to fly

While enjoyable, the animation festival hasn't served up enough this year so fantastically impressive that I feel like doing item-by-item reviews. The one exception to that is The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (inadequate official site here), which I saw last night in one of the short competitions - and it more than makes up for the godawful abstract shorts (if it looks like it could be a 3D screensaver set to randomly render crystalline objects for six and a half minutes, I'm not interested) or the unsubtle skew of all political subjects (I swear, it's just too easy to pander to a Canadian audience) and then some. No, Jasper Morello is absolutely exquisite, a high-Victorian steampunk tale of gothic horror, animated in a haunting CG-assisted cutout style. The official site above, while sorely lacking in content, offers a brief taste of that style: lanky silhouettes on a background of elaborately-detailed, sepia-toned ironworks. That there's an actual story, and quite a compellingly human one, at that, is no less appreciated; the art of the narrative is often ignored in short animated subjects. Add that to a new and gorgeous way of rendering the increasingly-tired clockwork-computers-and-cast-iron-airships milieu, and the result is a joy to behold. My only complaint is that I wish it had been last in the program, instead of Don Hertzfeld's sometimes-amusing but ultimately overambitious and tedious The Meaning of Life. The former was twenty-six minutes long, but felt like ten; the latter ran only twelve minutes, but seemed to stretch on for an eternity. (There's a lesson there, I think.)

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