Tuesday, 13 October 2009

"Manicure" (2005), "Such Great Heights" (2009) & "Second Wind (2008) CalArts

Three enjoyable films today from the California Institute of the Arts, one being particularly praiseworthy. Manicure was made in 2005 by Young-Sun Kim. When a little girl’s teddy bear is injured her mummy rectifies the situation with needle and thread. The incident impresses the girl and, in an attempt to emulate mum, she applies red nail varnish to be transported to a fantasy world where she gets to dress as a grown up and meet her toys on equal terms. Pleasing hand drawing with delicate colouring are the features here, though more could have been made of a child's journey into adulthood. A fantasy world also awaits Camilla in Such Great Heights as she braves the play area's climbing frame that towers above her like something sprouted from a magic bean, except this time vertigo is more of an issue than descending giant. The promising Ryan Shaw thus provides more bite in his movie, using the music of Jerry Goldsmith and mix by Brad Craig to generate tension and explore his character's fears. Different director, different style, both pieces reveal just how central is character drawing in CalArts animation.
But for a film to truly extend the fantasy experience the pick of this arbitrary crop is undoubtedly Second Wind directed by Ian Worrel with an evocative, Celtic soundtrack from James Mark that cements this alternative world. A buddy movie to an extent, a giant cat watches over a bearded little man with much affection and a touch of jealousy as a football-playing firefly/ flying figure appears to be stealing his attention. Whereas I felt the two previous directors could have taken their creations further, Ian's imaginatively located piece, in which the guy sprouts wings that from some angles look remarkably Crucifix-like, possesses satisfying depth and structure, the wooden wings appearing to offer something eternal. The characters too are well realised. I wish to know more about the windmill, giant cat and miniscule man, whilst the creation of a milieu where life might be extended by wooden wings is a novel concept.

1 comment:

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