Reviews written by registered user
|945 reviews in total|
Note: If you are looking for this collection on DVD it is known as "The
Animation Show, Volume 3"
Inevitably any collection of shorts, animated or otherwise will always be a bit of a mixed bag, and this set of 16 animated films, almost all under 10 minutes, is no exception. But series curators Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeld have made some great choices, and even the least of these films, if less than stellar, show imagination and creativity. None of them are familiar or by-the-numbers. And the best are freakin' brilliant.
Leading the pack is Hertzfeld's own "Everything Will Be OK", the longest film in the program. In 17 minutes of mostly simple stick-figure animation, Hertzfeld creates black comedy of death, and the sadness and lack of meaning of our day to day lives to make a film that will make you laugh, think, and even be moved. There are more ideas, laughs and emotion in his quarter of an hour film, than in the vast majority of full length features.
But there are plenty of highlights here, from the surreal fable 'Rabbit' that opens the program, eerily stealing imagery from 'Dick and Jane' readers to comment on greed, to the wonderfully goofy and funny abstractions of early computer games of "Game Over" that ends it. If you like creative and varied animation, this is well worth getting.
I'd say this is the strongest of the "Animation Show" collections, although the 2-DVD box set that combines Volumes 1 and 2 is certainly worthwhile as well, if you're interested in this kind of work.
Curated by animators Don Hertzfeld and Mike Judge, this is a wide
ranging collection of animation; computer, clay, hand-drawn, dramatic,
funny, abstract, documentary. You name it.
As with any collection of many shorts the quality is wide ranging too, and personal taste will play a big part in how a given person responds. But the best bits here are quite brilliant, and make this set worthwhile for fans of animation aimed at an adult audience. If Volume 2 isn't quite as filled with gems as volume 1, I was still very glad to have seen it. And given that Volume 1 and 2 currently seem to only be available as a pretty inexpensive 2-DVD box set, the total package - with a nice booklet with a biographical sketch on each of the artists represented, and a decent number of special features and extras - was an small investment I was very glad to have made
The best of Volume 2 for my taste were: Jonathan Nix's wistful and imaginative 'Hello'. and Don Hertzfeld's wondrously funny, dark and sometimes sad "The Meaning of Life" - an oddly but potently poetic cartoon. But even the less brilliant are all interesting, with only a very few real clunkers in the bunch.
Note: For me, the best of the available collections was the later Volume 3, which has a tremendously high ratio of hits to misses.
Curated by animators Don Hertzfeld and Mike Judge, this is a
tremendously wide ranging collection of animation; computer, clay,
hand-drawn, dramatic, funny, abstract, documentary. You name it.
As with any collection of many shorts the quality is wide ranging too, and personal taste will play a big part in how a given person responds. But the best bits here are quite brilliant, and make this set very worthwhile for fans of animation aimed at an adult audience.
Among the best for my taste: Alex Budovsky's gorgeous shadow-play Bath-time in Clerkenwell, Adam Elliot's wonderful 3 clay stop motion character portraits of his screwed up family members: 'Uncle', 'Cousin', and 'Brother' all 3 are both hilarious and but also truly heartbreaking, Don Hertzfeld's simple, blackly comic 'Billy's Balloon'; painfully, sickly, laugh out loud funny. But even the less brilliant are all interesting, with only a very few real clunkers in the bunch.
The collection is available as part of a very reasonably priced 2 DVD set, along with "The Animation Show, Volume 2". For me, this 2 DVD set is more slightly more uneven than the later Volume 3, which has a tremendously high ratio of hits to misses. The set also comes with a nice booklet with a biographical sketch on each of the artists represented, and a decent number of special features and extras.
If my review title sounds full of contradictions, welcome to the odd
world of The Mekons, who started in the late 1970s as art student punks
who knew almost nothing about music, only to slowly integrate folk
music, American country and western and other influences in with their
slowly but steadily growing musicianship, and their passionate
They've never gotten rich or famous, but they have put out a treasure trove of recordings full of their love of music and crazily mixed up musical ideas. These are people who are in it for the joy of playing, touring, and communicating with their passionate if limited audience, not money or adoration. And if they're well into middle age and still traveling around in a shabby van, that doesn't seem to stop them from enjoying the adventure and still loving the music. In fact, the film makes the argument that the lack of 'success' and its trappings may be what has kept them together and kept them going: Friends making music for friends.
They're also an intelligent, articulate, funny and likable lot, full of self-deprecating humor about themselves and their accomplishments in a way we rarely think of rock musicians.
I didn't really know the Mekons before seeing this film. Now I like them and want to really get to know their music. That's a pretty good endorsement of a rock-documentary.
Perhaps the most emotional of Angelopoulos' films so far. While it
occasionally flirts with melodrama, it's ultimately heartbreaking while
losing none of the film-maker's usual formal rigor and visual beauty.
A couple try to find a way to stay together in the face of wars, both civil and international, as well as fighting small town prejudice and rejection.
Not an easy film, and some of the history may be confusing unless you happen to be up on the history of Greece in the 20th century (I'll admit I'm not), but very worth the time and effort.
Re the DVD: As with most of Angelopoulos' films, the edition you want to find if you can is the Greek 'New Star' release (it has English subtitles). This line was supervised by Angelopoulos personally, and the image is definitely a step up from the US release. The sad things is, inexplicably, those editions were only released for a short while, and they've become very hard to find.
Powerful film about a deeply dysfunctional and violent family.
Helene Angel dives deep to explore the emotional toll male violence ultimately takes on two children where violence is a part of a way of life. Great performances.
The film is both disturbingly real, and yet slightly surreal, as much is perceived thorough the children's eyes - something that's hard to do, but pulled off well here.
The film deeply divided critics, some of whom saw it as purely sadistic, but without point. But I agree with those that saw it as both a metaphor and examination of the damage to all involved done by the masculine id.
The last part of Andersson's brilliant, loose 'trilogy about being a
human being' ("Songs from the Second Floor" was the 1st part. "You, The
Living" the 2nd) -- Although there's no need to have seen the earlier
films to appreciate this one, since there's no overlap of character or
even story, just style, mood and theme.
This film re-visits Andersson's unique, hysterically funny and sometimes tragic world view, and his utterly original style. Andersson's camera never moves, never cuts within a scene. He finds a great frame, and the image sits there while his sad-sack characters, usually wearing ultra-pale make up like psychotic clowns, or silent movie comics, go through whatever bizarre silliness Andersson has devised. The locations are never real, but are always elaborate, and frequently breathtaking, sets, adding to the comic-nightmare feel.
There are a few characters who reappear through the film, like the two desperate novelty salesmen peddling vampire fangs and a hideous 'Uncle One-Tooth' mask 'they have great faith in' -- giving off a distinctly 'Waiting for Godot' vibe. But there's nothing like an overall story. Just a series of blackly comic vignettes... that slowly add up in a generally thematic way.
Andersson has a magical ability to be 'Monty Python' level funny (or, perhaps given his slower pace 'Monty Python' on downers), until suddenly it isn't funny for a moment, or a scene and you realize how sad it is underneath, as Andersson shows us the cruelty that humans are capable of, especially those with money or power, and the desperation that most of the rest of us live with, before going back to his grandly comic surreal hi-jinks.
No one else makes films like these, nor should anyone try. This is a one-of-a-kind artist, and we should just feel lucky to have his cockeyed brilliance, holding up a fun-house mirror to ourselves and our society.
Anderson's visual style is consistent, including his now constant use
of symmetry along with 90 and 180 degree pans and always being flat on,
but his content makes all the difference.
"Darjeeling Limited' has the same great use of pop music, great tracking shots, low key, oddball humor and detailed performances that he brings to all his work. But here, in the story of three brothers trying to re-connect on a trip to India, there's once again a human, emotional core under the absurdity.
The film isn't perfect, but for me it's better than 98% of what's was made that year.
The feature is paired with an odd, slightly less successful short "The Hotel Chevalier" that played with the film, and is an interesting, if not completely successful experiment in setting up background material for a feature in a separate short piece.
The film got very mixed reviews, but for me, while not everything works, what does is so sublime it makes the few admitted miss-steps not worth worrying about.
Of course, Andersson is very much a personal taste. I can't argue with those who find his work too precious or self-referential. I just find it too delightful to let those things bother me. But of all the current major US film-makers, Wes Anderson is arguably the biggest case of 'YMMV' (your mileage may vary).
But you should certainly investigate his work and decide how you feel for yourself.
Wes Anderson's idiosyncratic films create very individual reactions.
I've had more than a few good-natured arguments about which are his
best films. So the opinions below should be taken with that grain of
For me, while this is not quite as brilliant and original as Anderson's classic 'Rushmore', it's a terrific movie, full of wonderful performances, great cinematic flourishes, Anderson's trademark terrific use of songs as score, and lots of very funny and occasionally deeply touching moments. He continues to create deeply dysfunctional, wildly screwed characters you still care for. What 'Rushmore' did for adolescence, this does for family, wealth, and the confusing weirdness of young adulthood.
It just didn't stay with me quite the same way 'Rushmore' did, and some of the Anderson techniques that were shockingly new and refreshing the first time, feel more familiar here.
But this his is one of the very brightest, most original voices on the US film scene of his generation -- a film-maker who creates oddball worlds and characters that somehow you can still always relate to. This is a film well worth seeing out, and seeing more than once.
While, for me, this isn't up to the level of many of Anderson's best
films to come, this rambling, likable and good-natured oddball shaggy
dog story, packs in some real emotion to go with laughs along the way.
It's full of terrific understated performances, and good use of images
I recently watched it a 2nd time and thought I wasn't all that into it... until near the end, when it suddenly got me on a deeper level emotionally than on first viewing. There's something in it about the loss of childhood dreams that resonates beyond the silly and playful surface. Always a good sign when a film deepens with time and re-visiting.
Of course Criterion do their usual great job with both the transfer and the extras, and seeing the original short film is very interesting and a lot of fun in it's own right.
Anderson has gone on to become one of our most important film-makers, and if this first film doesn't represent him as quite at full speed yet, it's still well worth seeing in terms of both entertainment and recent film history.
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