Friday, 24 April 2009

Sally Cruikshank "Face Like a Frog" (1987)

Viewing Sally Cruikshank's short Face Like a Frog is to be reminded of the sheer exuberance and delight in animating, that feeling of the god-like power to enable anything to happen. Sally lets it all happen all right. It is impossible to describe the plot, so ............ a frog enters a mighty strange house and encounters mighty strange creatures. It develops towards the middle with a great little song, Don’t Go In The Basement from Mystic Knights (aka Danny Elfman). I love the ink and pen colouring that fits the era in which it was made, maybe an earlier, even more psychedelic one. The one liners, often non sequiturs, are performed with relish in a variety of accents. and the dialogue is heavenly: Man (urgently) "What's wrong?" Woman (mystically) "There's a Hex on the house." Man (blasé) "Everyone has problems." Or, woman in sexy voice: "I have to change." Man (urgently) "Don't change!" The whole thing is breathless: man walks up stairs, that changes to the sea, he shakes himself dry, peers into keyhole, hand reaches out from it and pulls him through, to ..... Simply relentless, with characters galore. Judging by the many comments on YouTube people have favourites. Mine is the nut on legs that stands on a balcony under the moon bemoaning his fate until he has reason to. Favourite voice: (thick East European accent) "And I'm not wearing underwear." It's almost as much fun reading the YouTube comments. Sample, and I'll quote it verbatim: "Sal, is the song "Don't Go in the Basement" a satire on the anti-psychedelic culture of the 80's since this was created during the Reagan presidency and the "just say no" campaign? "The basement" is easily interpreted as a metaphor for the subconscious, and the decriers of drugs, particularly hallucinogenics; is that they are desperately afraid that those who take them will learn truths they would do anything to suppress because it would shatter their carefully constructed perceptions of reality." Sally's reply: "Wonderful interpretations of lyrics which may have their underbelly in all that, but came out of some other id place. In Chatham, we had a strange basement, and so did many of my friends." I guess the question was as tongue in cheek as the movie, or I earnestly hope so. The basement in the movie is quite a place, by the way. As for meaning, I reckon young Willie Shakespeare would explain away most of the metaphorical subtext by references to Stratford ale. Sally's blog is lively and informed, she sells artwork from the movie on the site (wish I could afford it but with the declining pound ...) is a native of New Jersey and, it will surprise no-one, worked on episodes of Sesame Street. She informs us that her work looks much better on DVD. I will take a look at other work by her shortly.

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