Showing posts with label animation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animation. Show all posts

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Outdoor Movie: Frozen

Saturday night Union Square was filled with young people & families waiting for a free outdoor showing of Disney's Frozen. A lot of people were camped out with blankets, food & drinks & had clearly arrived early to claim their spots. The column in the middle of square unfortunately makes for awkward sight lines. The crowd got bunched up around the periphery of the square.

The projection wasn't very bright, so most of the movie looked like it took place in a dark forest at night. I missed Frozen when it was in the theaters last year, & a few times I wasn't sure what was going on. The audience obviously knew the movie well, though, & they applauded the "Let It Go" song & as well as a moment when the heroine punched the evil prince in the face.

§ Frozen (2013)
Film Night in the Park
Saturday, July 12th, dusk
Union Square

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

I enjoyed the 1st How to Train Your Dragon, so I was happy to catch How to Train Your Dragon 2, in 3D, no less. The action-driven story combines elements of Star Wars, Harry Potter & Godzilla & pairs vikings with dragons that function as pets, personal aircraft & weapons of mass destruction. Dreamworks revamped its animation technology for this sequel, & the characters look far less puppet-like than they do in the 1st movie. The dragons exhibit traits of dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles & social insects, & they are better actors than most humans. Thankfully, the writers avoided winking, smart-alecky humor aimed at adults.

I got the feeling that the filmmakers were proud of the end result. The movie has the longest list of credits I've ever seen. It includes employees in the marketing, merchandising & franchising departments. There is also a big collection of Indian names under a Dreamworks technology partner in India.

§ How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Dir: Dean DeBlois, USA, 102 mins

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SF Silent Film Festival: Day 4

The morning of the last day of the SF Silent Film Festival, I saw the Max Linder comedies Max Wants a Divorce & Seven Years Bad Luck. I'd never seen a complete Linder film before. He's handsome, scampish & fun to watch. It was interesting to see how he develops each gag into its own complete episode. Though Linder was never popular in the US, he was an influence on Chaplin. Watching Linder, I easily imagined him playing the wealthy drunk in City Lights.

Pianist Donald Sosin & percussionist Frank Bockius performed a lively, jazzy accompaniment that fit the films' joyful mood. When the characters in Seven Years Bad Luck danced to a record of Hawaiian music, we heard an old recording of Hawaiian music coming from the screen. Serge Bromberg introduced the films & breezily reminded the audience of the decidedly unfunny real lives of Linder & his co-star Martha Mansfield.

In the afternoon I saw The Sign of the Four, a Sherlock Holmes movie from 1923. Film historian Russell Merritt introduced the program & told us about the film's star, Eille Norwood, who, though rarely seen by US audiences, has been in more Sherlock Holmes films than any other actor & was admired by Conan Doyle himself. The Sign of the Four was his last film, & Prof. Merritt accurately described his screen presence as "the great stone face."

It's standard adventure fare, & the plot is only loosely tied to the original story. A climactic boat race on the Thames is an opportunity to exhibit proud views of famous London landmarks. Donald Sosin on piano & Günter Buchwald on violin provided an improvised accompaniment. Mr. Sosin's playing was very chordal, & he was particularly effective in the movie's chase scenes. The duo warmed up with Beethoven sonatas before the movie started, & Mr. Buchwald played a few notes of Humorseque in the closing moments of the film.

Later that night, the final show of the festival had a packed house. There was a lengthy delay, & at 20 minutes past the scheduled start time the audience began rhythmic clapping, & there was a shout of "Let's get this show on the road!" Ron Lynch, the Voice of the Festival, uncharacteristically introduced the program from the podium. Buster Keaton's granddaughter was pointed out in the audience, the winner of the festival's raffle was selected, & Fred Buxton & Leonard Maltin gave a brief appreciation of Buster Keaton.

We first saw an animated short for children by the Soviet book illustrator Mikhail Tsekhanovskiy. The film uses a wide variety of animation techniques & is strikingly formalist at times, but running for almost 20 minutes it probably outstayed its welcome. Günter Buchwald provided a fittingly pointillistic & modernist-sounding accompaniment on the piano.

The main feature was Buster Keaton's The Navigator, with the Matti Bye Ensemble accompanying on piano, cello, banjo, electronics & percussion. They vamped on a handful of spooky, trance-like themes that dampened the urgency of Keaton's nimble & surprising comedy. The percussionist punctuated the action with sound effects, though these were inconsistently applied. The appreciative festival audience gave the musicians a standing ovation.

§ San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2014
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Castro Theatre

10:00 am
Seven Years Bad Luck
Max Linder, USA, 1921 • 62 minutes
Accompanied by Donald Sosin on piano and Frank Bockius on percussion
Introduced by Serge Bromberg

5:00 pm
The Sign of Four
Maurice Elvey, UK, 1923 • 83 minutes
Accompanied by Donald Sosin on piano with Günter Buchwald on violin
Introduced by Russell Merritt

9:00 pm
The Navigator
Buster Keaton, Donald Crisp, USA, 1924 • 60 minutes
Accompanied by Matti Bye Ensemble
Introduced by Frank Buxton & Leonard Maltin

Preceded by POCHTA
Mikhail Tsekhanovskiy, USSR, 1929 • 18 minutes
Accompanied by Günter Buchwald on piano

Monday, February 10, 2014

Disney Goes to the Opera

Saturday afternoon I attended a talk at the Walt Disney Family Museum about Disney cartoon shorts that feature operatic music. The event was held in the museum's theater, a comfy screening room that seats perhaps 200. Film music historian Ross Care showed film excerpts & talked about the animation. Between clips, tenor Casey Candebat, from the Merola Opera Program, sang a selection of songs & opera arias, accompanied by Jean Kellogg, Merola's Executive Director, playing an electric keyboard. The singing wasn't really integrated with Mr. Care's talk, but it was a great treat to hear Mr. Candebat's cushy, substantial & well-bolstered sound in an intimate space. At full volume, he probably changed the air pressure in the room. I enjoyed hearing him sing the American popular songs as much as the opera arias. Mr. Candebat was an entertaining talker as well, & he was delighted by the singing chicken in Mickey's Grand Opera, since he already refers to coloratura sopranos as "cluck-aturas." He also attempted the Habanera from Carmen, using a surprisingly weighty falsetto voice. I was glad we got to see all of The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, a completely surreal parody of opera & opera singers. Its version of Tristan & Isolde is devastatingly silly & accurate.

When I arrived at the museum, I was informed that the talk was sold out. Fortunately there were a few open seats just before it started, & I was able to get in. The audience clearly enjoyed the cartoons & the singing, except for 4 fidgety children in the 2nd row who were too young for the presentation.

§ Talk | Disney Goes to the Opera
Ross Care, Disney historian
Jean Kellogg, Merola Opera Program Executive Director
Casey Candebat, tenor

Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 3pm
Walt Disney Family Museum

§ Playlist
Cartoon Shorts
The Merry Dwarfs (1929)
The Goddess of Spring (1934)
Music Land (1935)
Mickey's Grand Opera (1936)
The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (1946)

"If I Could Tell You" by Idabelle Firestone
"Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from The Land of Smiles by Franz Lehár
"Una furtiva lagrima" from  L'Elisir d'Amore by Gaetano Donizetti
"Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo
"L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" from Carmen by Georges Bizet
"Be My Love"from The Toast Of New Orleans by Sammy Cahn & Nicholas Brodzsky

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winsor McCay: His Life and Art

I started my Saturday at the SF Silent Film Festival at this morning event in which animator & film historian John Canemaker gave a slide lecture about cartoonist Winsor McCay & presented 4 of his animated shorts. Mr. Canemaker spoke knowledgeably & affectionately, likening McCay's drawing skill to Leonardo da Vinci's & calling him the "Giotto of animation." McCay originally presented Gertie the Dinosaur as a vaudeville act, which Mr. Canemaker recreated by standing in front of the screen & encouraging the audience to interact with Gertie. Mr. Canemaker pointed out how McCay strove for a believability that was not matched until Disney, decades later. We also saw McCay's grim animated depiction of the sinking of the Luisitania. Noting the imagery of explosions & falling bodies, Mr. Canemaker called the sinking "the 9/11 of its day."

Advisory Board member Russell Merritt introduced the program & told us that Mr. Canemaker was the 1st Academy Award winner to appear onstage at the festival.  Stephen Horne accompanied the films, playing piano, flute, accordion & something that made a high-pitched, whining whistle. It was an especially good sound effect for McCay's shudder-inducing cartoon about a mosquito.

§ Winsor McCay: His Life and Art
A Special Presentation by John Canemaker
Musical accompaniment Stephen Horne

Little Nemo (Vitagraph, 1911, 3 mins.)
How a Mosquito Operates (Vitagraph, 1912, 6 mins.)
Gertie the Dinosaur (Box Office Attractions, 1914, 18 mins.)
The Sinking of the Lusitania (Jewel Productions, 1918, 12 mins.)

San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Saturday, July 20, 2013, 10:00am
Castro Theatre

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Monsters University

Last week I finally saw Monsters University, Pixar's prequel to Monsters Inc. Sulley & Mike meet as antagonistic college freshmen in the Scare Program of MU. Their rivalry gets them kicked out of the program, & they attempt to redeem themselves by winning the college Scare Games. The movie is mild & aimed at very young children. The brightly colored monsters make MU look like a cross between an Ivy League campus & a candy store. For some reason I thought the funniest part was when a monster mom loads a washing machine in the background of one of the scenes.

Though I saw it in 2D, the movie is also in 3D, & there is an emphasis on the film's detailed environments. It was preceded by a wordless short, The Blue Umbrella, which uses convincingly photorealistic CGI to recreate the glistening light of a rainy street at nighttime.

§ Monsters University (2013)
Dir. Dan Scanlon, USA, 104 mins.

§ The Blue Umbrella (2013)
Dir. Saschka Unseld, USA, 7 mins.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2013

This week I saw the theatrical release of a compilation of the 2013 Oscar nominated animated shorts. All the nominated films are dialogue-free, & the program is suitable for children

Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"
David Silverman; USA, 2012, 5 minutes

Maggie battles the unibrow baby in the world's worst daycare center. I enjoyed the characteristically irreverent throw-away gags, like the TSA-style security checkpoint at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.
Adam and Dog
Minkyu Lee; USA, 201, 15 minutes

The story of the Garden of Eden, told from the point of view of a loyal dog. The film has the hand-drawn look of classic Disney cel animation. I liked the many shots in which the characters are only small figures in the landscape.
Fresh Guacamole
PES; USA, 2012, 2 minutes

Ingenious stop-motion animation in which incongruous non-food objects stand in for the ingredients of a guacamole.
Head over Heels
Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly; 2012, 15 minutes

Stop-motion animation depicting an aging couple who live in the same house but are separated by opposing gravitational forces. Despite the absurdity of the set-up, the tone is serious.
John Kahrs; USA, 2012, 7 minutes

Stylish Disney short in black & white, combining CG with fluid hand-drawn characters. A spontaneous romantic connection is made amidst the skyscrapers & elevated trains of New York City.

The program is filled out with additional "highly commended" films.

Richard Mans; New Zealand, 2011, 4 minutes

CG animation depicting a robotic creature's efficient colonization of an alien planet. It's an evil version of the NASA missions to Mars.
Leo Verrier; France, 2011, 9 minutes

A feverish cartoon homage to Jackson Pollock. An art thief not only steals but also ingests his acquisitions.
The Gruffalo's Child
Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschötter; UK, Germany, 2011, 27 minutes

CG animated version of a children's book about a little girl monster who goes into the forest alone to learn fear. I found the story charmless, but I also did not quite follow it. This was the only film with dialogue, & it was rhyming at that. The animators did not come up with good solution for depicting fur.

The compilation is hosted by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, who won in this category last year with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. They speak to the viewer between films, but their commentary has nothing to do with any of the shorts

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Art of ParaNorman

Paranorman, 01.17.2012 Set & puppet for Paranorman, at the Cartoon Art Museum.I took advantage of a free night at the Cartoon Art Museum to see this small show containing some of the actual puppets & sets used in the production of the stop-motion animation film ParaNorman. The animated figures are only about  8 or 9 inches tall, but they wear impressively detailed & realistic clothing. I like the worn, lived-in look of the sets for Norman's house & school. There are also examples of the film's concept art. The exhibit is split between opposite ends of the museum for some reason. I was the only one in the gallery during my visit.

§ The Art of ParaNorman
October 6, 2012 – February 17, 2013
Cartoon Art Museum

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Castro Theatre is ringing in the new year with the digital restoration of the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was probably a teenager the last time I saw it, & I was thoroughly entertained seeing it again. I hadn't realized the movie's songs are practically wall-to-wall. The movement of the characters is unusually captivating, & the witch is damn evil even by modern standards. Having just seen the Disney Museum's exhibit about the making of Snow White, I could recognize how Show White's small facial features & flirtatiousness were modeled after Betty Boop. The filmmakers were smart to reduce the prince's role to a cameo, after they realized they could not animate him convincingly.

I was glad to see several children at the evening show I attended, but it was the adults that were restless. A woman in my row left & came back twice during the movie. I heard people sniffling when Show White died. The organist played a medley of Disney tunes before the movie, though the inclusion of "It's a Small World" was a misuse of the mighty Wurlitzer.

§ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
75th Anniversary Restoration!
1937, 83 min, DCP
Castro Theatre
Tuesday January 1-Sunday January 6

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic

Walt Disney Family Museum, 12.27.2012 Snow White drawing on door at Walt Disney Family Museum.This special exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum commemorates the 75th anniversary of Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs. It's in a separate building, a short walk behind the museum's main building. The show includes posters, concept art, background paintings, animation ruffs, & cels. There are a few interactive kiosks & brief movie clips. All the artwork is beautifully executed, & much of it is exquisite.

I was surprised that so much archival material still exists, though it was not clear to me which pieces, if any, were actually photographed & appear in the final film. A museum staff member explained that while some of the cels in the exhibit are reproductions, cels mounted on a slanted, as opposed to vertical, surface are originals. Interestingly, Courvoisier Galleries in San Francisco began marketing cels from Snow White almost immediately after the film was released. Another staff member drew our attention to a poster featuring characters from the movie advertising a Swedish laundry detergent. He pointed out Happy, who delightedly handles one of Snow White's undergarments & winks at us.

§ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic
The Walt Disney Family Museum
November 15, 2012–April 14, 2013

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph 3D

This week I saw Wreck-It Ralph, Disney's latest CGI feature. Ralph is the likeable bad guy in a low-res video arcade game. He's so hamfisted that his knuckles are the size of his head. He lives in a cyberworld inhabited by the arcade's video game characters, & the fun of the movie is in the interplay of the different game worlds. The low-res characters in Ralph's game comically jerk from pose to pose & are astonished by the high-res characters from a 1st person shooter. The candy-themed environment of Sugar Rush is so over the top that it made my teeth hurt. If you played video games in the 1980s, the movie will make you laugh. The film's dive bar is called Tapper.

Interestingly, the characters are well aware that they are virtual beings. There's even a scene where a character hacks his own game's code, which is depicted as a floating network of interconnected nodes. The movie has several plot strands, & the story line seems over-worked. When Ralph discovers an underground lake of Diet Coke & stalactites made of Mentos hanging over it, you know what's going to happen in the finale. John C. Reilly sounds naturally cartoony as Ralph, but the character & voice of the little heroine Vanellope irritated me.

Wreck-It Ralph was preceded by Paperman, an animated short combining elegant line drawings with CG animation. The black-and-white film stylishly evokes a New York City of the 1940s, & the 3D has an airy feeling.

§ Wreck-It Ralph 3D (2012)
director: Rich Moore
101 min., USA

§ Paperman (2012)
director: John Kahrs

Monday, November 05, 2012


I'm glad I got around to seeing the stop-motion Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's sweet hommage to classic monster movies. A little boy named Victor, apparently living in 1960s suburbia, surreptitiously re-animates his beloved pet dog after it is killed by a car. His classmates discover his secret & set about comically resurrecting their own beasts. Mayhem ensues. The film is really about its artful visual design & happily macabre atmosphere. It's even in glorious black & white. Victor's classmates are droll caricatures of horror film freaks, & there's a spectacular finale at a burning windmill. I kept wondering who the audience for this movie is supposed to be. It seems too guiless for adults. If it's for children, it must be for rather odd ones.

§ Frankenweenie (2012)
Tim Burton, director

Thursday, August 30, 2012


This week I saw ParaNorman, the 2nd stop-motion animation feature from Oregon-based Laika. The title character of this comedy-zombie-horror movie is an 11-year-old boy with spiky hair & an asymmetric face. He gets bullied at school for his freakish ability to talk to the ghosts that linger in his dilapidated town like juvenile delinquents. In the end, he must use this ability to save the town from a destructive witch's curse. There's plenty of cartoon mayhem & gross humor. The film's funniest gag parodies Friday the 13th. I found the story's psychologically-based denouement tricky to follow. Certainly the adults in the story are meritless creatures, even more bullying than the kids.

The film's character designs seem inspired by Mad Magazine. The humans are just as grotesquely proportioned as the zombies, & the zombies are more goofy than scary. The filmmakers used a 3D printer to make the models, which have a somewhat brittle feel. A featurette after the credits shows the fabrication of the Norman model.

Very young children will probably be too scared by the zombies & Norman's supernatural visions. I noticed a mother & her pre-schooler leave halfway through. I'm assuming that a throw-away joke at the end of the movie concerning the jock teenager Mitch earned ParaNorman its PG rating. Offended parents have been complaining about it on-line.

§ ParaNorman (2012)
Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
92 min

Friday, July 20, 2012


This week I saw Brave, Pixar's latest 3D feature. The fairy tale story is set in a pre-Christian, preliterate Scotland. Our heroine is a strong-willed princess being prepared for marriage, but she is really too young to be married, & the story instead turns into an adventure whose goal is the reconciliation of mother & daughter. A witch creates havoc by turning people into bears, &, in true Disney fashion, the characters are far more expressive & sympathetic as animals than as humans. The action scenes are violent, though bloodless. I was confused by an early scene in which rapid edits make it look like mother & daughter are arguing, even though they are actually in separate locations. The CGI rendering of the forest landscapes is amazingly realistic. During a gorgeous salmon fishing sequence, I thought for a moment they had simply inserted shots of a real river.

The movie was preceded by the whimsical Pixar short La Luna, featuring heart-warming Italian stereotypes.

§ Brave (2012)
USA, 100 minutes
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

§ La Luna (2011)
USA, 7 minutes
Directed by Enrico Casarosa

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Aardman's animated The Pirates! Band of Misfits is extremely silly. A happy pirate sets out with his rag-tag crew to win Pirate of the Year at all costs. Though full of anachronisms, the action takes place in the Victorian era, with Charles Darwin & Queen Victoria as the villains of the piece. I was aghast at the film's version of Queen Victoria, who is truly nasty, brutish & short. I liked the detailed sets, no doubt crammed with jokes I totally missed, though I was at least quick enough to notice the sign for a Chinese dentist named "D.K. Ying." The stop-motion animated figures have the familiar ping-pong ball eyes, wide mouths & large hands of other Aardman characters but lack the hand-molded feel of Wallace & Gromit. The movie is aimed at kids, though the books on which it is based are apparently not. I saw it in 3D, which enhances the film's environments but is not essential. I was the only person at the lunchtime matinee. Definitely spooky & absolute validation of my slacker status.

§ The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)
Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
88 min

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films 2012

Opera Plaza & the Lumiere are showing programs of Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films, plus 4 "highly commended" films to fill out the bill. Most of the films emphasize mood & visual appeal over story.


Dimanche/Sunday (Patrick Doyon; Canada, 2011, 9 Minutes)

A quiet village Sunday, told from the point of view of a bored little boy. The graphic style is simple & flat, & there are touches of surrealism.
A Morning Stroll (Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe; UK, 2011, 7 minutes)

I saw this in the Annecy show just last month. The same anecdote told in 3 different styles, each more outlandish & grotesque than the last.
Wild Life (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby; Canada, 2011, 14 minutes)

Minimally animated painted images tell the story of an idle young Englishman's seemingly pointless move to remote Canada.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg; USA, 2011, 15 minutes)

A cyclone transports a Buster Keaton-like character to a fanciful world of living books. It's a sentimental & nostalgic tribute to children's books, with a musical score based on "Pop Goes the Weasel." Seems like the likely Oscar winner.
La Luna (Enrico Casarosa; USA, 2011, 7 minutes)

A Pixar short, glowingly lit, about a trio of Italian stereotypes who have a whimsical job to perform on the moon.
Highly Commended

Skylight (David Baas; Canada, 2009, 5 minutes)

In the Bambi-Meets-Godzilla category, an irreverent parody of old nature films. Googly-eyed penguins meet an ignoble fate, unless we all do something about it. Wonderfully silly & got the most laughs from the audience.
Hybrid Union (Serguei Kouchnerov; USA, Ukraine, 2010, 4 minutes)

Rattletrap CGI robots & a mattress-shaped raincloud race across what looks like the Black Rock Desert. I didn't understand this one at all.
Nullarbor (Alister Lockhart; Australia, 2011, 10 minutes)

A bad case of road rage develops between 2 nasty-looking drivers along a featureless stretch of southern Australia. This one amused me the most, & I enjoyed its shaggy dog story without getting distracted by the CGI.
Amazonia (Sam Chen; USA, 2010, 5 minutes)

Candy-colored CGI frogs & insects cavort to the scherzando of Beethoven's 8th Symphony, looking like a lost segment of Fantasia 2000.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

British Arrows Awards 2011

Walkers Shortbread, 01.26.2012 Walkers Shortbread samples for audience at British Arrows Awards screening at YBCA.This week I saw this compilation of 50 award-winning Web and TV adverts from Britain. It's so dense with strong, well-executed ideas that it's like watching an action movie where there's an explosion every minute. In one breathlessly exuberant commercial, referencing Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia, a soccer fan runs across the globe. in another, a man takes an exhilarating roller coaster ride to work. Only a couple of the ads use sex to sell, but humor features in a majority of the selections. It was fun to see one of the Sony Ericsson Web videos of the hilariously condescending focus groups at the Product Testing Institute. The audience also laughed a lot for a Doritos Web video delivering inept advice on how to create great ads.

I was often impressed by how much information could be conveyed in a short time. In an ad that does not even mention a product, the panoply of a woman's life, from infancy to old age, passes before us in less than 90 seconds. It made me anxious. I was totally disturbed by a surreal promo populated with cartoon parodies of advertising imagery. It even had a fish on a bicycle.

Three McDonald's ads made it into the show, & it was weird to see a customer step up to the counter & order tea. Aardman created a marvel with their stop-motion animation of a figure less than 1 cm high, shot with a Nokia cellphone and a microscope. Like last year, the Best TV Commercial award went to T-Mobile, for an Impov Everywhere-type stunt in which singers and beatboxers greet passengers arriving at Heathrow. It's happy but not very original. As an added bonus, those of us at the afternoon screening received free samples of Walkers shortbread.

§ British Arrows Awards 2011
(Formerly British Television Advertising Awards)
Thu-Sun, Jan 26-29, 2012  •  2, 4, 6 & 8 pm

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Best of Annecy 2011

This compilation of animated shorts from the Annecy International Animation Film Festival got sold out last year, but fortunately the SF Film Society brought it back this weekend, & I was finally able to see it on Friday. The selection showcases a variety of techniques, though there is a lack of memorable stories. The program repeats on Sunday at New People Cinema.

The Eagleman Stag (Mikey Please, England, 9 min)
Intricate stopmotion animation of a fragile world painstakingly constructed of white paper. The visuals illustrate the bitter, existential musings of a world-weary entomologist.

Plato (Léonard Cohen, France, 8 min)
A wordless film combining stopmotion & drawing. A 2-dimensional figure pops in and out of the 3-dimensional world.

How to Feed the World? (Denis Van Waerebeke, Poland, 10 min)
An animated infographic explaining world hunger & food dependency in the schematic style of an airplane safety card. Problems arise because humans can't photosynethesize and there is a market for food. 

The Lost Town of Switez (Kamil Polak, Poland, 21 min)
A hallucinatory mashup of computer animation, painting & the imagery of Eastern Orthodox icons. The mix of visual styles is spooky & disconcerting.

Sidewalk Scribble (Peter Lowey, Australia, 3 min)
Wittily animated street sketches, set dancing to a Hungarian Rhapsody by Lizst. I enjoyed its improvisational feel & the observational quality of the drawings. It's the one film I immediately wanted to watch again. 

Paths of Hate (Damian Nenow, Poland, 10 min)
A computer-animated battle between to nihilistic 2 fighter pilots, in the style of old war comics. The film takes its violence very seriously & is both slick & very gory.

A Morning Stroll (Grant Orchard, England, 7 min)
In the sick humor category, this film tells the same anecdote about a chicken 3 times. Each retelling is in a different style & becomes grosser & grosser. It's satirical silliness made everyone in the audience laugh.

Chroniques de la poisse / Sticky Ends (Osman Cerfon, France, 7 min)
More sick humor, expressed with flat, crude drawings & a cruel but deadpan sense of humor. Grotesque, violent deaths come to innocent people who cross paths with a dejected fish.

Luminaris (Juan Pablo Zaramella, Argentina, 6 min)
Zany story set to a tango that uses pixilation to animate live actors in a fanciful lightbulb factory. Most impressive are the outdoor shots in which actors glide down the streets along with the sun's pixilated shadow.

§ The Best of Annecy 2011
Friday, January 13 & Sunday, January 15
SF Film Society Cinema

§ Picture credit: Sticky Ends, Osman Cerfon