Thursday, 16 July 2009

Grigoris Leontiades "Dancing Jack" (2009)

Sometimes the screenshots say it all. I have written twice previously about Grigoris Leontiades of Trunk Animation, one of the UK’s brightest studios. Dancing Jack is a novel start to a proposed new series. Well, novel is not the best word. More a throwback to an earlier age of animation, a tribute to the Fleischer Brothers perhaps, complete with black and white, flickering images and a certain wackiness. Produced by Richard Barnett this is the start of a series. So why pay homage to an earlier age? I promise you that the short is not about some fake sense of history or nostalgia that just about everyone is too young to remember. It is intelligent and funny. Dancing Jack has fish on the mind and leaps into the sea wearing his hat on his diver's globe, which is just as well because the fish are wearing theirs. An octopus has a bright idea. Why not distract Jack by playing his piano. So he jumps off his stool and winds the mechanism for the music to commence, that dislodges the piano's covers to reveal a monkey jamming beneath, wearing a diver's helmet naturally. Fish, fish bone and Jack proceed to dance, Jack having a nice break dance routine. Grigoris has gone beyond pastiche to genuine innovation, all the charm of the original and a freshness of invention. Naturally enough, Grigoris is one of the most talented of guys and everything is crafted beautifully. Great sounds too by Aaron Lampert, a graduate of Kingston University and recipient of a Bafta for Dillon's Story in 2008. He makes the whole thing bounce along nicely. And the Fleischer Brothers? Try the rather rude In My Merry Oldsmobile (1932) - "You can go as far as you like with me in my merry oldsmobile." Great grandma was a great mover.

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