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Friday, 9 September 2011

Léonard Cohen "Plato" (2010)

I sometimes write a review, then scrap it, change the film, get it wrong, scrap it, write it again, scrap it, go back to the original via the Recycle Bin, and start again. Actually I don't. I've no time for that. So what I write I publish, given a little pruning. The fabulously named Léonard Cohen and his equally fabulously entitled creation, Plato. Here a figure struggles to get the shape just right. Time and again the object is discarded until, as an apple falling from a tree - or was that another Eureka moment and a different Brit or Greek - a solution is found. Funny, retro, clever and fluidly drawn. Léonard studied at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratif and received Best Graduation Film at Annecy 2011. How gratifying the judges rewarded such an simple, inventive film, given a plethora of mind boggling 3D with every colour in the palette movies, many of which I, of course, feature here.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Pola Gruszka "Three Brothers" (2011)

Here's a Who Dun It from London's Motherlode studios: Three Brothers. Be warned however as it has the worst ending in the world. Pola Gruszka is the Head of Animation there, a talented woman whose represented work on her website is strictly commercial. Therefore the gentle, tongue in cheek tale of the three brothers who attempt to unravel which of the three murdered the uninvited guest, is a diversion and a pleasure. Pola graduated from Kingston University in 2008 and here provides a little (but not quite) girl's voice for a rhymed poem and some stylish graphics. Premi Ksiazek contributes a twinkling, melodramatic score and the whole thing breezes along in cheery fashion, the suspects being presented in traditional Hercule Poirot format though the denouement is offered by a narrator from further east than Belgium.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Adam Sharp "The Little Thief" (2005)

Some weeks ago England experienced riots that were a combination of mass hysteria and plain and simple greed. So many thieves. Well, a large number of them will have time to reflect on their situation now they've had to cancel their holidays. Harsh though the judiciary was, here's a cautionary tale of what could be. The Little Thief is a professional piece from the prolific Adam Sharp with an excellent score from one of the top composers around, Dimitri Tchamouroff. Puppets that come alive and a haunted house. And be warned: the ending will keep you hanging by a thread.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Anthony F. Schepperd "The Music Scene" (2010)

An obligation of returning to my blog after a year's inattention! This is one I owe, though doubtless well known to readers. The Music Scene was created for New York hip hop artist, Blockhead, by Anthony F. Schepperd. Music video's can be a mixed bag. At their worst they are made on a meagre budget and in no time at all. The music company's exploit those eager to break into the market, willing to work for stale air. Undeniably at other times music commissions support the industry, inspiring the best work. Such is this. I have covered one of Anthony's films previously and was therefore prepared for the stream of consciousness that frames the work, bright hallucinogenic colour, unabashed 2D, and at its heart an immediate, fluent drawing ability to complement real wit. Familiar figures from cartoon fantasy land, humanoid ones that unravel and then reform, shapes that swirl, the enigmatic stag.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Natalie David Esphani "Still Water" (2011)

A fisherman toils away day after day, fruitlessly. Supported by his wife he trawls from dawn to dusk with discarded shoes his only harvest. Such is his despair that a storm is released. Still Water directed by Natalie David Esphani for her graduation film is a work of rare quality. I marvel that it is a student's work. The opening beautifully conveys the theme with dripping tap and sardines tin from which emerges the man himself. There is artistry throughout: the composition and transition of scenes, shimmering quality of light and director's assured skill with drawing, not to mention impeccable colouring and animation. Natalie has a rare eye for the visual aspects of film-making. One could include a whole anthology of stills from this movie. As so often with a quality work, Natalie is fortunate in having a gifted composer and musician, in her case Dan Karger who enhances an already stunning piece, drawing out the allegory of a man hammered beyond endurance by life's impossibilities. Natalie graduated from Jerusalem's Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Still Water is a moving and stylish achievement. A tour de force.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

"Skoda: Curriculum Vitae" (weareflink, 2011)


A couple of decades ago perhaps, Škoda used to be something of a joke here in the UK. Not now. Not with beautifully engineered vehicles, motoring awards galore and sophisticated ads like - Skoda: Curriculum Vitae from Leagas Delaney, Praha though the animation was made by Hamburg's weareflink. Commencing with a live action sequence showing one of the motor company's employees preparing his CV, the piece moves into a paper universe of CG newsprint. I have commented before on the ability of CG to emulate stop motion, including origami. Here the world of the automobile factory and indeed some of the sights of our wondrous planet come to life quite beautifully using, amongst other “PaperTools”, Autodesk Softimag. For more technical explanation of the process have a look at the Munich based work of the design team, via Christian Schnellhammer's blog (Martin Sächsinger, Nils Engler and Stefan Galleithner were the others)."Simply Clever" is the message from the globally ambitious Skoda. Ads like this move the company up-market indeed. So much so that I take delivery of a new Skoda Superb Combi next week. Upwardly mobile.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Ewan Green "High Water" (2009)

I've remembered why I love animation. Ewan Green was rather self-effacing in his e-mail to me way back in April, but High Water is a smashing little film in which he uses original line drawings worked over in After Effects and Photoshop to tell a story of old age, or at least one facet of it. A man and woman face each other across the dinner table in their fishing cottage, surrounded by life's paraphernalia, each bored with the other, both in their own way cantankerous. Life's glum. The woman is no longer the jolly, colourful figure of her youth - a fact charmingly realised in the use of the doll. When the fisherman dons his gear and storms off to escape it is all too much for his wife. Subtle throughout, never strictly literal, with some delightful watery colouring, the story is certainly about old age, but most of all love and not taking one another for granted. Such affection in their, eventual, embrace. (Ewan, I was not nearly so sensitive when I was your age!) Made in 2009 at Edinburgh College of Art, the film deserves the exposure. Such a thoughtful title too.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

"Mortys" (2011) Gaelle Lebegue, Mathieu Vidal, Aurelien Ronceray-Peslin and Nicolas Villeneuve

A feat of technological wizardry, for me anyway, when I downloaded the Vimeo application for my new Samsung internet TV, having added fast streaming hardware. First test: check out the Vimeo HD Channel, specifically Mortys (or, should you prefer, via the directors' website). Gaelle Lebegue, Mathieu Vidal, Aurelien Ronceray-Peslin and Nicolas Villeneuve do the honours in yet another impressive graduation film from ESMA. Death, complete with robes and scythe, is not an unusual figure in animation, though I have never considered the Grim Reaper to be a hard worked single parent with a techno child, bored, desperate to introduce a little much needed modernity to the ageless ritual of waiting for death to arrive, Death here being something of a scavenger, mankind's servant, at his beck and call. It is tedious work awaiting a distraught young man terminate his life. Surely there's a quicker, more modern way of doing things, sort of streamline the operation, computerise the whole damn thing, align the work/life balance. Well so thinks impetuous Youth much to mum's chagrin and mankind's too, come to think. Mass destruction and having to explain the facts of life all in one day. Gallic wit of the whimsical variety accorded the glossy treatment of one of animation's educational powerhouses. Film and the Lumsden LAN pass muster, I think.