Friday, 29 February 2008
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Free Range Studios claim that over 15 million people have viewed The Meatrix. Personally I can't count past ...say ... a lot before getting bored so am unable to vouch for the figures. All I can say is that it has been a very popular movie in school since 2003, and an absolutely inspired idea. In a clever parody of The Matrix, our trio of Moophius, Leo and Chickity reveal what lies behind the dark glasses. The source of meat is often divorced from the reality and therefore makes perfect sense for The Matrix treatment of worlds within worlds. The screenshots from The Meatrix 11: Revolting say it all. "Leo, look through the illusion of The Meatrix" orders Moophius handing Leo the shades: instead of beaming milk maid we have robot-like machine. In effect the series is a very carefully crafted advocacy for the anti-factory farm lobby, pro-organic food and the like, guaranteed to appeal to young peple in particular. Get involved, is the cry along with countless other nationalities on their international page as well as the mechanisms to enable that involvement. It has been an internet phenomenon. Now my purpose is not to take sides here, though my sympathies tend towards humane treatment of animals and keeping food natural. It is a one sided advocacy however (although what else could it be?) with, in the final episode The Meatrix II ½, meat processed in factories being showered in manure from poorly butchered carcasses and a worker's finger chopped off due to the dreadful work practices. Take away the very clever plots, animations and cute voices and listen to the words and Moophius is a spokesperson pure and simple. Supporting the website is a whole battery of blogs, links, organisations, lesson plans and the like aiming to transform a flash based cartoon series into a massive campaign. And how it succeeds. The voices are excellent - cow/ chicken/ pig/ rascals - fight scenes expertly staged and animated, guaranteed to sustain interest - will Moophius be carted off to the rotating butcher's blade? There are even touches of humour with the mystical beast walking into a rake carelessly abandoned in the factory farm, not to mention a love interest. And there's that underlying blistering brilliance of the choice of name: Moophius. Now that deserves to change 15 million lifestyles.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
I should also point browsers in the direction of Short of the Week where their esteemed critic Richard Propes has featured James Kim’s Pin Point this week. It is very accomplished, comic in a way and, having just viewed it on Richard's recommendation, can recommend it myself. Richard has also thereby drawn attention to Independent Lens and their on-line shorts festival.
Monday, 25 February 2008
Congratulations to Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman for their success in obtaining an Academy Award for Short Film (Animated) at last night's Oscar ceremony. I reviewed the movie on January 20th. Featured comments from last night:
- "This is for everyone. This for our fantastic crew and this for everybody who worked so passionately on our film to make our dream come true." (Suzie)
- "Yeah, no this really is a fairy tale ending for us, but hopefully it's only the beginning for Peter and this amazing award, and it will help keep Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" in the hearts and minds of children all over the world. So, the Academy, thank you so much. it's been amazing." (Hugh)
I failed to give information about Hugh who was the film's producer. He is Producer and Joint Managing Director of BreakThru Films with ‘Free Jimmy’ the most recent animation success I have seen. I will feature some of his work later this week.Meanwhile, as a postcript (added 27th February) do read Anna's comment below about the key role played by the Polish animators and financial support by the Polish Film Institute. I was sadly uninformed and Anna has put me right! More precisely, I needed to commend the work of Storm Studio in Oslo and Se-Ma-For Studio in Poland. As recompense I'll do some research into their work and post a blog shortly.
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Monday, 18 February 2008
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
The screenshots probably say it all. A crystal clear coral reef with multi-coloured fish is damaged by a leaking drum of oil. What makes Ar(r)etes a little special is the grip the oil takes on the ecosystem. To a pounding soundtrack, mutations take over and we see the world in microcosm. Some of the graphics are stunning. The orange fish seems to be our guide to proceedings and swims through a strange landscape of stubbed out cigarette butts on the ocean floor, a black television set on the sea bed, pale, washed out fish on screen, strands of oily waterweed, and cascades of the detritus of our failing civilisation. As black underwater pumps work in the murk a giant black hand reaches out. Sylvain Blond, Cail Julien and Quentin Ricci produced the five minute movie in 2005 whilst at the Supinfocom Valenciennes, an establishment on which I have many times lavished praise. The film was well received on the festival circuit in 2005 and 2006. Tomorrow with no apologies I'm featuring another movie from the same university. What an outstanding group of students are produced in Valenciennes. I have made a start on the lists of websites and blogs mentioned Wednesday. I'll have to think up a way to make a list more interesting, either to do or read!
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
The 2008 BAFTA Short Animation winner, The Pearce Sisters, though supremely stylish is not a movie for the squeamish. Two sisters, Lol and Edna, eke out a cruel living for themselves catching Atlantic herring and preserving them in the smoke kiln. This part of the film is notable for the gritty realism of fish being netted, killed, beheaded, gutted, all with consummate skill. Other moments reveal a bygone Britain, one from the sepia photographs purchased at coastal resorts depicting fishing communities of perhaps 50 years ago - kerosene poured to start the fire, the museum piece of a box of Brygrey matches, one of which is struck to light the fire of driftwood, the hauling in of bulging nets by hand, fish innards thrown to the screaming gulls, the kettle on the hob. But it is difficult to avoid the sisters themselves, two gargoyles of women, one small the other huge, with muscles to match. When they pull in a drowning man, pound oxygen into his lungs, it seems somewhat lacking in gratitude that he charges off into the cold Scottish waters rather than face them. Luis Cook is from Aardman Animation, a much loved British institution but one associated forever in our minds with stop motion, a dog, a sheep and ingenious inventions. Luis' film breaks with traditions, demonstrating the versatility of the studio. Atom Films, to which the link is made, grade the movie as suiting a mature audience and they are correct. The gruesome fate of seafaring men is enacted in gory detail. The movie is based on one of the stories in the Mick Jackson anthology, Ten Sorry Tales. Luis' style of working and techniques used deserve some explanation. Commencing with first with clay, 3d CGI models were generated, printed out, 2D images created and worked on for detail and then scanned back into 3D models, Photoshop providing the textures. "Confused? So were we, but blundered our way in ..." (Luis) The gore tends to take over in the imagination and without giving anything away, it has to be said the horror element is well to the fore. That said, there's something remarkably human, even sad, about the two ugly sisters. The tea party at the close of the movie has excited interest for, as you will see, obvious reasons, but there is an attempt by the women to establish some kind of a society in a bleak world. This bleakness is well established by the rather depressed yellows, turquoises and greens, not to mention the incessant driving rain of the Scottish island. These women are ugly, alone and in order to survive have to be brutal to survive a harsh environment. When one of the sisters releases a trapped fly into the air or allows the crab to eat the slimy viscera, there is some humanity at work. And if the ladies wish to invite guests to their dinner table it's difficult to see how this could otherwise have been achieved. Full length BAFTA movies and would-be Oscars celebrities tend to attract the headlines but I doubt you will see a better movie this year. Lol and Edna are most decidely not Keira Knightley but there is sufficient depth in their depiction here not to paint them as entirely monstrous. For all that I should decline the girls' invitation to dine.