Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Animation Show 2008, part II

It took long enough, but here's the rest of my review of the films of this year's Animation Show. Actually, these four films are more or less the show's centerpieces, but I swear I am not being prejudicial with the last post. I didn't realize it until earlier this week. But if anyone thinks I have been biased with these films, I swear to you I am anything but.


Georges Schwizgebel from Switzerland is a marvel of an animator. His paint-on-glass technique is daunting and staggering, but is at the same time beautiful. It is also hypnotizing as the images move, and blend into each other seamlessly. I have nothing but the utmost praise for Mr. Schwizgebel, which is why I can't say more. Its easier to show you his work, than to pick it to death with words.


Hot Dog is the third film to feature Bill Plympton's well-meaning, dwarfish bulldog (referred to as "Bill Plympton's Mickey Mouse"). The last few months, I have felt like one of the few who actually like this film. Several friends of mine and colleagues of Plympton have criticized it for a lack of originality and over-worked humor. Hot Dog (as well as Guide and Guard) stands out to me as being among Plympton's better work in recent years. The last three years, he has gone through a bit of a Woody Allen phase, in which he has his good days and bad days. That might be a little harsh in judging only a few years of Plympton's 25- year animation career, but its easier to judge him this way, because he puts out more work a year than any other indie animator I know of.


PES is another marvel of independent animation. This film, animated with Javan Ivey, is another treat in PES's stop-motion technique pleasing the audience. A quip, it doesn't seem as complex or mesmerizing as PES's previous films. What was nice? I liked the bubble-wrap boiling water; the velvet tomato sauce, and the post-it note butter. PES still has a gift of balancing simplicity (use of found objects and short time spans) with complexity (excellent timing for stop-motion).


Smith and Foulkes, from the United Kingdom. I don't know these guys too well, but for a CG short, they nailed down a pretty good film. A black comedy that keeps its leaning towards the humorous side. A rather charming story of two brothers trying to deliver the body of their deceased mother to the local grave site, and are met with a series of bizarre mishaps. What's also nice is throughout these obstacles, the two brothers' different personalities add an emotional center to the piece. Each gains his own sympathy in every bizarre incident that happens to them.

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