Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day Sixty-Three: The Animation Show 2005 (2005) - Rank 3.5/5


The first Animation Show thankfully arose in 2003 (the brainchild of Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt), replacing the defunct Spike and Mike Animation Festivals in the way of animated short fare for the big screen. 2003's animation show was very hit and miss - segments either seemed outdated and crude or they were exceptionally well done. The 2005 collection is far more even paced with a greater diversity of contributors and a higher level of professionalism and creativity exhibited in the work. Bill Plymton's "Guard Dog" was a short that stood out for it's dark wit over the others and the Australian "Ward 13" is one of the most predominant in my mind after watching it for the sheer complexity of the stop-motion animation with clay figures (some of the best work I've seen done with "true clay" since the likes of Will Vinton or Art Clokey.

The standout work (as was the case in the 2003 collection) is Don Hertzfeldt's "Meaning of Life." I highly respect Hertzfeldt for his animation style, because he continues to grow and tell different stories. It would certainly be easy for him to cash in on the popularity of the absurdist humor of his Academy-award nominated short, "Rejected." In fact, he does so in the 2003 Animation Show by having two of the minor characters from "Rejected" acts as hosts (the second segment - "Intermission in the Third Dimension" is one of the funniest bits of animation I've ever seen, primarily because of the silly concept. A two-dimensional being "tripping out" from wearing 3-D glasses). The 2005 Animation Show lacked these hosts, and I think it suffered a bit, because in the first compilation, their commentary helped tie the entries together as a "presentation" rather than just a "collection." However, it's pleasing to me to see evidence of filmmaking styles, from claymation to cel animation, still alive and well in this day and age when the general population expects computer generated animation and nothing more (bloody sots).

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