Friday, August 1, 2008

The Animation Show 2008, part I

First off, my usual self-pity. I'm still searching for more work, trying to come up with new ideas, trying to read more books, and whatever else there is to feel sorry for. Otherwise, everything is moving along carefully. Now to keep myself writing.

The Animation Show returned this year, and usual, the show is still a real treat. I was concerned about how this year's program would turn out. This is mainly because of founder Don Hertzfeldt's departure from the show's curation and programming. For those who don't know, this show was founded nearly five years ago by Hertzfeldt and Mike Judge (creator of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill). Even with just three tours, Hertzfeldt's included films always struck me as the show's signature. According to animator Bill Plympton, who spoke at one of the screenings, the show's organizers wanted to do a more humorous screening. Hertzfeldt's recent films, while still humorous in their own right, have also become darker and more cerebral, and the filmmaker decided he no longer fit into the show. Either way, Mike Judge and company still managed to put together something very funny as well as some artistic variety.

The show opener, directed by Joel Trussell, is a great little piece itself. The style is clearly inspired by 1950's stylized animation, particularly UPA work. Even though I see a lot of this from Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken, the drawings in this style are usually wonderful and thrilling. In other words, its a look I don't mind seeing over and over again, as long as its inventively designed and colored, as it is here.


These three short pieces, directed in Australia by Dave Carter, help to maintain the show's variety. They are animated in a form of cut-out/stop motion, but in a very simple way that adds to absurdist humor of these subtly, psychotic shorts. Very enjoyable, and perfect icebreakers.


An English short by Matthew Walker. Something of a piece of minimalist humor, I don't think this is a bad piece. Its simply a man calling God on the phone to ask a casual question. I guess if anything, the visual is made to look boring, because there is nothing to be surprised about. I mean, if everybody could just talk to God like that, all of life's questions would be answered.


A wonderfully written and timed piece piece from Germany by Stefan Muller. I have to say this was my personal favorite of the whole show. The animation combines funny drawings with computer imagery, and a plot that is told in two different view-points. This form of storytelling is unique in that it entices the audience and makes them curious about what's going on. For example, we start off seeing a man calling the police to complain about loud music nearby, but later when the policeman arrives, the man is smiling and dancing like an idiot. I truly laughed the hardest at this one.


This title stuck out immediatally to everyone, for obvious reasons. This poorly drawn short with snappy dialog feels like something that might have been done on Family Guy. I still enjoyed it as an icebreaker between the more visually-interesting pieces.


A piece of black comedy that recalls the doughnut store shoot-out from Boogie Nights. Although some of the computer animation didn't impress me overall, I still found parts of this short to laugh at, and thought the character designs were very nice.


I'm not sure why this was in the show. There was more live-action in it than actual animation. The only animation was a group of bugs, and even they were not very interesting. Very confusing and very tedious.


A nice piece of hand-drawn work here. And some interesting surprises in what looks to be a familiar story. Three stereotypical adventurers try to infiltrate a temple, and the local tribe uses voodoo to stop them. But then the local tribe uses the voodoo for a form of horse-racing and thrill seeking entertainment. Nice touch there.

This is all I have for right now. I will continue the rest in my next post.

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