9/ dir. Shane Acker/ (short film) 2005/ (feature length film) 2009
There are some things in life that seem marvelous, brilliant, and perfect when in the abstract, or in theory, but when it comes to fleshing it out in real life, in the actual world, it falls flat and fails to live up to its perceived greatness and magnitude. Shane Acker’s 9, begrudgingly falls into this trap. The short film of the same name was an Academy Award nominated animated short in 2005. In only 11 minutes, Shane Acker’s 9 (2005) presented an eerie and frightening post apocalyptic world, complete with climatic action scenes, and tense moments all without dialogue. Its main character, a sentient burlap sack doll, and its main antagonist a mechanical cat beast, along with the dark colors, heavy use of shadows and a steam punk style all seemed very Tim- Burton-esque. So when it was announced that Tim Burton had decided to produce the feature length version of the short, while retaining Acker to help write and direct, it seemed like a natural progression, a perfect blend. But as written before, some things are better in the abstract than they are in the real, and while Shane Acker’s feature length film 9 wasn’t bad, it wasn’t nearly as effective as the short it originated from. Continue reading
Lavatory Lovestory/ dir. Konstantin Bronzit/ 2007/ Russia
Well its fake love day today, aka Valentines Day. I thought it would only be appropriate that I would visit this 2009 Academy Award nominated animated short film, Lavatory Lovestory, cute film about a restroom attendant and her attempt to find love. The simple and elegant animation set to white background with simple lines exemplifies the emotions that said woman go through. We experience her anticipation, we feel her pain, and in the happy ending, we feel like we have been through a whole lifetime of love with this woman, all in a span of 10 minutes, and all expressed without dialogue.
Now obviously we romanticize these types of meetings, but rarely do we ever experience them exactly like how they turn out in film. But you know what, its fun to be a romantic at heart, and even if you have no significant other this time of year, its still fun to dream…
Valentines Day, a supposed day to celebrate all things “love”, is actually a made-up holiday in order for corporate big wigs to make more money and for all of us single folk to feel insecure about our ineptitude of finding a significant other. So as a way to celebrate, Let me present to you Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Fall In Love With Me music video.
Fall In Love With Me/ Earth, Wind & Fire/ dir. ????/ 1983
In terms of animation, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Fall In Love With Me is nothing special, save for the fact that it was made during the very early pioneer days of music videos, and even then the animation in the background is so-so. And what on Earth were they wearing? I don’t know who told them that Egypt-wear was a good idea. So what’s makes this video so special? Besides the fact that there will probably never be a single shot, animated music video ever again (and based on this one, lets hope not), this is frickin’ Earth, Wind & Fire!!! And maybe, just maybe, its a message to someone out there…
“Baby, you know, I could pick you up
Turn your life around
If you fall in love with me
I would build you up, never let you down
If you fall in love with me”
Or not… But one thing is for sure, it’s Earth, Wind & Fire! What’s not to like? Just no more crappy animated music videos please…
Every Child/ dir. Eugene Fedorenko/ 1979/ Canada
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In the world of animation in 2010, there are many elements that go into making an animated piece. Besides the actual animating, there are riggers, modelers, lighting artists, environment artists, textures artists, background artists, etc. and this doesn’t even include the music and camera work. All these can come together to create a compelling story and a convincing message. But sometimes the best animated works are the simple ones. Take for example Eugene Fedorenko’s Academy Award winning short of 1979, Every Child. A short and subtle 6 minute film about a society too engrossed about themselves to even take care of an abandoned child. Every sound effect and voice done by the same two dudes, and the simple yet elegant animation compliments the tone and message of the film, which is to say that we’ll just pass this along until someone else deals with it… Continue reading
Avatar/ dir. James Cameron/ 2009
“Wait! YOU haven’t seen Avatar! … I can’t believe of all people, YOU, haven’t seen Avatar!”
And that’s the sentiment I hear every effing time I mention to folks that I haven’t seen Avatar. EVERY EFFING TIME! C’mon people, I have school, animation shots to work on, work, other animated films, shorts and series to see, more comics and books to read, artwork to do, things to write, people to see, people I’m trying to get with =P, video games being neglected, etc… so please excuse the fact that I have not seen the film… Until Now. I finally gave in to peer pressure…
I have to admit, I was a little leery to see this movie because of all the conflicting comments/ analysis from folks I know. I know some animators who worked on the film and I have heard rave reviews. At the other end of the spectrum, I have other folks screaming of “the great white hope/ white guilt” movie disguised as “pretty to look at” sci-fi flick. So where does Avatar fall? Was it a “white savior” movie in an elegant package, or was it something more deep, a movie that deserves its Oscar nomination of Best Picture?
Well… Even though Avatar is a familiar story, it was made more grandiose because of spectacular designs, effects, environments and animations. These grand effects and animations offer a glimpse of what an animated film can strive to be and what messages animation can convey to the masses that aren’t bringing in kids to see cute cuddly characters. And make no mistake, Avatar IS an animated movie! Too bad, its message is a re-hash of stale ideas combined with Hollywood giving itself a pat on the back. Continue reading
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs/ dir. Phil Lord & Chris Miller/ 2009
A cooky inventor creates a machine that turns water into food. The machine ends up in the sky somehow, and it rains down food…
Did you just roll your eyes? I know I did when I first heard the silly premise of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. And yes, it IS a silly premise. Loosely based on the 1978 book of the same name, the directors, writers, animators, etc. obviously had fun with this premise of food falling from the sky, as there was little bits of slapstick all over the place, sometimes too much, and many times, WAAY overdone. However, a silly premise does not necessarily mean bad movie. In fact, underneath all the comedic bits, overacting, food falling from the sky, and outrageous action scenes lies a pretty decent animated film. Actually Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is more than decent, with subtle sophisticated social commentaries, a fun supporting cast, a genuine telling of a strained relationship of a father and son, it’s a really deep and engaging movie. Continue reading
Yesterday marked the 40th Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm in the Philippines, which was a series of protests against a corrupt and unjust Marcos Regime. The significance of which was the catalyst that eventually started the People Power Movement and the ousting of Ferdinand Marcos.
Now how does this relate to animation, comics, and cartoons? Well, the First Quarter Storm also produced a creative spark that artists have been feeding off of for the past 40 years. I know its inspired me, and has also other more well renowned artists. And its something I WE keep in the back of my OUR mind(s) as something that drives me US as I WE progress (slowly) through my OUR (neverending) process of learning animation…
For now, I present to you a video of a poem by Carlos Bulosan called “If You Want To Know Who We Are.” Produced and voiced by Ron Antonio (yes the same dude from here)
I have talked with many folks who feel that its best if politics stay away from art/ animation/ cartoons/ etc. NOT ME, as far as I’m concerned, no matter what, politics is always involved, and that makes the art that much more powerful. But you know what, I’m always down for dialogue.
In this current world of iPhones, reality TV, instant streaming, and basically instant gratification, I think many of us forget that the things we want to accomplish in life take time and perseverance. I think fellow artist Josh Mirman nailed it on the head with this animated piece:
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I think its time to do some work! Check out his site and artwork here.
Thanks to the homie, Aimee, for pointing out this video to me.