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RE: The Empire Animation Countdown

 
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RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 6:07:56 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
94. Cat Came Back



1988
Director: Cordell Barker

I evince no surprise as seeing his birthplace is Winnipeg. This Oscar nominated short is based round the song of that name as Mr Jones becomes increasingly desperate in his attempts to rid himself of the demon kitty from hell. The human drawing, movement and backdrops like the woods are a little bit Far Side (also the railroad tracks littered with trussed up damsels in distress!), and the humour is as twisted. As Mr Jones becomes more determined and frankly more insane you begin to see a kinship with Wile E Coyote emerging as each plan fails just that little bit more inventively (and one particular fall seems to confirm this influence conclusively).

Highly imaginative and beautifully coloured, if somewhat simply drawn, I'd very much recommend looking out Cordell Barker's work.

Elab49

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Post #: 151
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 6:38:04 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
93. Le Paysagiste



1976
Director: Jacques Drouin

This amazing animated short from Canada was created by the rare artform of pinscreen animation. Pinscreen has much in common with the painting style of Pointillism. Pins are stuck into a screen and moved in and out. The manipulation of the pins causes a shadow to fall on the screen, creating vivid blacks, whites and various shades of grey. The technique is so time-consuming and painstaking that it's rarely used. Le Paysagiste shows this incredible technique used to all of its potential.

The film itself starts off with a painter working on a canvas on a landscape. The artwork that he has been creating blends in with the background and suddenly he finds himself able to step into the painting. This metaphorical act leads on a journey through the artist's mind. The landscape shifts and evolves through various states, with new objects triggering memories and associations and defining the landscape around the artist (The English language translation of the title is actually Mindscape). This stream-of-conscious tour through the mind of the artist is loaded with symbolism and we see that everything in this world, in life itself is transitory.

It's a beautiful and haunting piece of work. I can understand why many animators shy away from using pinscreen but it's a real shame. The effect is so beautiful that each screen looks like an exquisite charcoal sketch.

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Post #: 152
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 6:40:10 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
92. Shrek



2001
Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Ogre meets princess and smart-mouthed donkey and falls in love. With the princess. Although it'd be more interesting if it was the donkey.

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Post #: 153
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 6:41:20 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
91. Red Hot Riding Hood



1943
Director: Tex Avery

Tex Avery does his own unique and raunchy update of Little Red Riding Hood. From the opening scenes, with its sarcastic narration and the characters revolt against the story, it's made clear this isn't your typical fairy tale. The narrator soon shifts the story to the big city. The wolf is a ladies man, travelling to clubs in a stretch limo, Granny is an old flapper and Red is a sexy singer in a nightclub. Red's performance gets the wolf turned on. His eyes bug out, he howls and wolf-whistles and he goes in hot pursuit of Red, who rejects him outright. The wolf is one giant libido and he spends the short desperately chasing down his desire.

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Post #: 154
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 6:42:24 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
90. A Christmas Carol



1971
Director: Richard Williams

Ebeneezer Scrooge is a miserly businessman who is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his long dead partner, Jacob Marley. Marley informs him that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits, each of whom show Scrooge a different period of his life in an attempt to get him to change his ways. I'm sure everyone here has seen at least one film of the tale, whether it starred Alastair Sim, Bill Murray, The Muppets or Albert Finney. Ebeneezer Scrooge must rank alongside the likes of Dracula for the amount of screen portrayals. This animated masterpiece seems to be one of the most rarely seen of all the adaptations and that's a real shame.

The artwork in the film is nothing short of astonishing. Chuck Jones is listed as producer, but don't expect a Looney Toons style film. Jones, so impressed by Williams's hugely influential credit animations of the 60s, gave Williams free rein to make the film. In a moment of absolute genius, Williams decided to design the film to resemble the original illustrations produced for A Christmas Carol's first publication. This gives the film not only a unique look in comparison to most adaptations, but in comparison to most animated films of the period.

Williams also chose to place emphasis on the more disturbing elements of the story. He lost the sentimentality of other productions in order to play up the supernatural elements, this is possibly the only adaptation of the story that manages to be actually frightening. The Ghost Of Christmas Future is its usual, black-robed, overwhelming self. Marley and The Ghost Of Christmas Past are unique creations, the visual style undercutting all we think we know about the characters. The Ghost Of Christmas Present is possibly the most disturbing, the character's jolly nature in stark contrast to the two children, Ignorance and Want, that hide in its robes. The film also plays on human terrors. Bob Cratchet's despair at the loss of his son is heartbreaking, and many human characters are shown to be isolated and lonely figures.

This version is in some ways a tribute to the classic 1951 live action version, with Alastair Sim and Michael Hordern reprising their roles as Scrooge and Marley. I believe that Sim should have won the Oscar for the 51 film, and his vocal performance here is very nearly the equal of his original. Regardless of which version of the film is your favourite, this should still become essential Christmas viewing

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Post #: 155
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:06:15 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
89. The Adventures Of Ichabod and Mr Toad



1949
Director: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney

Two Disney shorts for the price of one. First we get Basil Rathbone narrating The Wind in the Willows, then Bing Crosby narrating and singing his way though Sleepy Hollow. And it's still the best version of that story.

< Message edited by rawlinson -- 27/2/2013 8:08:34 PM >

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Post #: 156
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:08:16 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
88. The Hunchback of Notre Dame



1996
Director: Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale

Just what the world was screaming out for, a Disney animated musical based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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Post #: 157
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:09:48 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
87. Mouse Trouble



1944
Director: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera

Tom gets a book advising him on how to catch mice.

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Post #: 158
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:10:57 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
86. Fantastic Mr. Fox



2009
Director: Wes Anderson

While it's true that Anderson filters Dahl's vision through his own sensibilities, he captures his dark worldview perfectly. Anderson creates an animated masterpiece here, close to being not only the best film of his career, but possibly the greatest adaptation of Dahl. The Fox family are in trouble, the titular Mr. Fox has stolen from the neighbouring farmers once too often and they're planning to kill him at any cost. In Anderson's world, Fox is a charming bandit addicted to the thrill of the heist and looking for one last big score. Apart from a young Paul Newman, there's nobody better than Clooney to take on this role. The rest of the voice cast are excellent. Jason Schwartzman excels as the kind of angsty teen he built his career on, Bill Murray has a great supporting role as the badger, It's even difficult to hate Streep here. Anderson created something absolutely remarkable here, astonishing animation coupled with a storyline that can appeal to adults and children with ease. Fox's encounter with a kindred spirit is surely one of the finest and most surprisingly soulful moments in 2009 cinema.

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Post #: 159
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:13:47 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
85. The Skeleton Dance



1929
Director: Walt Disney

Inspired by Danse Macabre, four skeletons dance around a graveyard.

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Post #: 160
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:15:16 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
84. Vinni-Pukh



1969
Director: Fyodor Khitruk

That short used to scare me a little when I was a kid - although I'm not afraid of bees and wasps now, I used to be. Now though, this has everything I want from a film. Vinni Pukh wants to get some honey so he comes up with a brilliant plan - fly up with a balloon and pretend he's a cloud so that the bees won't become suspicious. However, things don’t go at all as planned, and the lovably introverted bear and his little friend are given an adaptation which, to me, captures the spirit of Milne’s book perfectly (although, unlike rawlinson, I’m not a hater of the Disney version by any means).

Miles Messervy 007

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Post #: 161
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:18:47 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
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From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
83. Ghost in the Shell



1995
Director: Mamoru Oshii

In the future human life is connected by a vast electronic network, against this backdrop, Section 9's security team hunt down a master hacker.

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Post #: 162
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:20:18 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
82. Quiet Please!



1945
Director: Joseph Barbera, William Hanna

My what big teeth you have Jerry!

Quiet Please! is arguably my absolute favourite Tom and Jerry cartoon and, quite inexplicably, the only appearance of Spike the dog on this list as well. From the start when a quite young looking Tom thumps Spike repeatedly with a pan, completely oblivious to him as he chases after Jerry, and where he got the gun heaven only knows, the part Spike plays in the threesome is clear – the poor sod in the middle who has to put up with all of their shenanigans. And this time, as so often, Spike has had enough. No more. Nada. He'll get his quiet nap or Tom will know all about it – pretty much the perfect set-up for Jerry to get his revenge.

So now, instead of chasing Jerry round for the sake of chasing Jerry round, Tom is desperately trying to stop him waking up the snoozing Spike. One nicely traditional custard pie gag, several knockout drops and a display of said very large teeth from Jerry later, the inevitable occurs.

Quite Please! Is imaginative and knockabout fun that is the perfect example of the sheer joy of Tom and Jerry cartoons.
Elab49

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Post #: 163
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:23:21 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
81. Aladdin



1992
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker

Rotoscoped version of the 1992 panto at the Bradford Alhambra, with Leslie Grantham as Jaffar, Bernard Manning as the Genie and Christopher Biggins in two roles as Aladdin and Jaffar's pet bird.

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Post #: 164
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:24:56 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
80. Bambi



1942
Director: David Hand

The coming of age of a deer. One of the few films to be bettered by its sequel, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

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Post #: 165
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:25:35 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
79. The Aristocats



1970
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Animated cats tell the filthiest joke in the world.

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Post #: 166
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:28:06 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
78. The Prince of Egypt



1998
Director: Simon Wells, Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner

Val Kilmer is alleged to be a bit in love with himself, so this film cast him as both Moses and the voice of God. Well done Dreamworks.

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Post #: 167
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:31:45 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
77. King-Size Canary



1947
Director: Tex Avery

A cat is hungry, he catches a scrawny bird, uses growth formula, bird gets too big for the cat to handle. And with that simple idea, Avery created one of the greatest and funniest cartoons of all time.

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Post #: 168
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 8:33:07 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
76. Futurama: Jurassic Bark



2002
Director: Swinton O. Scott III, Rich Moore


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Post #: 169
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:23:19 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
75. The Old Man and the Sea



1999
Director: Aleksandr Petrov

This Oscar winning animated short applies a gorgeous paint-on-glass technique to the adaptation of one of the great pieces of writing of the 20th century. The story focuses on an old fisherman in the middle of a long streak of bad luck, a streak so bad that the parents of his young apprentice, Manolin, have forbidden the boy from fishing with him. Santiago goes far out to the ocean in the hopes of finally catching fish, where he finds himself in battle with a huge Marlin. Hemingway and animation are an odd match, but Petrov makes them fit, with Petrov's own troubles making the film (the rare and difficult paint on glass technique was applied to 29,000 frames within the film) seeing the battle between artist and art reflected in the man vs beast struggle of the narrative. Now I want Petrov to take on A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.

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Post #: 170
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:23:45 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
74. Laputa: Castle in the Sky



1986
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Miyazaki's 1986 fantasy plays out the tale of Sheeta and Pazu, two young kids who find themselves fighting against rowdy pirates and shady government agents in order to protect Sheeta and the crystal trinket she possesses. In many ways, Laputa feels like a prototype for the Miyazaki films that would come after, be it in the character models (pirate captain Mama looks a lot like Spirited Away's Yubaba, some of the pirates look unerringly like the pirates in Porco Rosso, and one kid in Pazu's home town is the spitting image of Ponyo) or the film's narrative aspects (air-borne pirates much like those in Porco Rosso; an otherworldly ecosystem much like that which Ponyo brings on Sasuke's little port town). It even recycles some basic themes and elements from Nausicaa (the relationship between Sheeta and Pazu plays out as a version of Nausicaa's and Asbel's only without the initial distrust between the two; the environmental themes of that film come back with a vengeance once Laputa floats into view), and it suffers in this regard, as it invites comparison with these films more than any other Ghibli I've watched so far, and it doesn't manage those elements as well as the films that share them. That said, however, Laputa is a far more magical affair, driven by two immediately likable young protagonists and filled to the brim with action, adventure, humour and drama. Miyazaki's animation is predictably exquisite, with the titular castle in the sky being a breath-taking piece of animation in itself, and the characters are all excellently realised, particularly those of Mama's pirate crew and the mysterious government agent Muska (given a menacing calmness by Minori Terada; and of the bits of the English dub I watched, Mark Hamill's portrayal of Muska is equally great, and the only thing about that dub that looks appealing). The plot can sometimes feel like it's just throwing things into the pot when it needs them (the big reveal involving Muska being the most egregious), but it's still engaging enough and entertaining enough to overcome that flaw, and it definitely captures a certain spark that I felt was missing from the Porco Rosso and Nausicaa. Laputa may feel a bit cobbled together and slapdash, but it's immensely appealing nonetheless.

Pigeon Army

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Post #: 171
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:26:57 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
73. Burn-E



2008
Director: Angus MacLane

Burn-E is a robot who just happens to be on the same ship as Wall-E and Eve, and finds his life made hell by Wall-E's antics. Possibly Pixar's best short film.

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Post #: 172
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:27:27 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
72. Only Yesterday



1991
Director: Isao Takahata

Isao Takahata seems to be the neglected man in Studio Ghibli, his films display every bit as much brilliance as those of his partner, Hayao Miyazaki, but while Miyazaki has received international acclaim (and even an Oscar) Takahata's films still seem somewhat unknown. Grave of the Fireflies has picked up the reputation it deserves, but a surprising number of people who revere that film still don't seem to know Pom Poko, My Neighbours the Yamadas or Only Yesterday. Maybe it's because the films are on a smaller scale in comparison. Certainly a film like Spirited Away is an easier sell than Grave of the Fireflies, people aren't usually keen to have their heart ripped out. But you have to think that some of it still comes out of a prejudice against animation, or a desire to view it as something simply for children. As acclaimed as Grave of the Fireflies is, I've still seen plenty of people mark it down because it was animated and not as good as a 'real' film. And I think that if Only Yesterday had been a live action film then it would be regarded as a masterpiece and hailed as one of the most subtle and intelligent depictions of memory and regret ever made.

Our lead character is Taeko, we meet her in two distinct time periods, as an adult in her mid 20s in the early 1980s, and as a child of around ten in the 1960s. In the present day, Taeko is an office worker preparing to leave for her summer holiday to the Japanese countryside to help pick the safflower harvest. On her way to the countryside she slips in and out of memories of her childhood self, remembering the small events that helped her to grow into the person she becomes, the joys, the disappointments and the minor incidents that can seem earth-shattering to a child. Taeko is a character who struggles with self-expression, she's a curious child who knows exactly what she wants, but the few moments that she has are stifled, by her family, by friends, by expectations, even her chance of becoming an actor is taken away from her by her rigid father. This suffocation leads her to be unable to express her true desires as an adult. The two points in time intertwine and comment on each other so we can see the woman in the girl and the girl in the woman. The slips in time don't feel like nostalgia solely for the sake of nostalgia, the world wasn't always better then, she was often alone and unhappy as a child, but it also doesn't create artificial misery. The film slips so easily between these time periods that you don't always notice at first. The biggest tip-off is the differing animation styles, Taeko's adult world is drawn in bolder colours, while the younger world is a place of softer watercolours. It's an exquisite way of detailing the past and the often hazy business of memories. Only Yesterday gives you a more psychologically complex portrayal of a character than most live action films can manage.

It saddens me to think that this depiction of Japanese life, which I would honestly rank alongside the best of Ozu and Naruse for honest realism, is neglected. Life in the country isn't softened by the beauty of nature, when Taeko goes to work there it is hard work, work that lasts long hours for very little reward. There's no sense of Takahata spoon-feeding you anything, we're never told this is bad/this is good, we're allowed to see the character finding out for herself. As a child she sees her dreams crushed by the harshness of life around her, we see her realise how her own fear and desire to fit in costs her a potentially rewarding friendship, we even see the value of life's small moments, like the disappointing first taste of pineapple. The ghost of her young self haunts her until she is able to make the decisions about what she really wants and when she does, that final moment of redemption never feels forced or sentimental. This is a poignant and insightful film and a thing of rare beauty. While Only Yesterday is fine as a title, the Japanese title actually translates as Memories of Falling Teardrops, a far more reflective and poetic title for one of the most poetic and graceful of all films.

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Post #: 173
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:27:54 PM   
rawlinson

 

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From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
71. Kiki's Delivery Service



1989
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Kiki is a teenage witch in training, she takes part in the tradition of witches that dictates she leaves her family to live alone for a year, in order to practise her supernatural skills. She sets off with a few possessions, her broom, and her familiar, a black cat named Jiji. Kiki finds herself in a small city where she determines to prove herself as a capable witch. She finds work as a courier for the local bakery, delivering the goods by broom and learns to take responsibility for herself.

It's a sweet story, simple and pretty basic by Ghibli standards. Not that basic has to be bad and sometimes the simplest tales are the best. Miyazaki doesn't seem to be interested in external conflict here. Kiki is looked upon as an outsider, but only in the way that all strangers in a small town are. Even though Kiki is looked upon with a little wonder for her powers, she's not treated as a freak. The film doesn't follow the other possible route of giving her bullies to overcome, or having her long for acceptance among the locals. She just gets on with things, working through her inner conflicts in order to grow.

And that's what interests Miyazki here. In many ways this is a Ghibli film with more in common with Whisper Of The Heart than Spirited Away. The supernatural here is always a secondary concern. The focus is on Kiki and how she grows up and learns to accept responsibility for her life. The story is in the characters, their warmth, their depth, their soul. It also manages to avoid the trap of becoming overwhelming sweet, Miyazaki delights in the tranquil moments. For all of the sweetness in the tale, there's also a lot of thoughtfulness. There's a sadness and a bittersweet quality to the story that brings levels of shade to the film that are often missing in live-action films, let alone animated ones. For some reason, Kiki's Delivery Service often seems to be regarded as somehow lesser in comparison to Miyazaki's other work. I've never really understood why. It's a beautiful, serene and surprisingly mature work, one of the great director's finest accomplishments.

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Post #: 174
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:33:26 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
70. Rejected



2000
Director: Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt is one of the most talented animators working today. Despite his simplistic, stick-figure approach, his shorts are always layered, thoughtful and intelligent. Rejected is without a doubt his most famous work, nominated for an Oscar (and losing to the sickly Father and Daughter) this is the film that introduced me, and seemingly a lot of other people, to the twisted world of Hertzfeldt. It's easy to dismiss Rejected as a one joke idea, but that's missing the apocalyptic vision that's been created. We're told that we're watching a series of shorts that were commissioned for The Family Learning Channel. We are then treated to a series of 10 second sketches that seem to make little logical sense and are often as unsettling as they are funny. They all involve a series of stick men involved in bizarre situations. When we find out the sketches have been rejected as unsuitable, the animator starts to have a breakdown and the world he's created becomes unstable and falls apart. One of the greatest things about Hertzfeldt's work is that he's a director who is constantly improving. As amazing as Rejected is, his later films are even better and they all display the same skewed worldview as this brilliant work of animation.

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Post #: 175
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:35:12 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
69. Vincent



1982
Director: Tim Burton

Vincent tells the story of Vincent Malloy, a young boy who dreams of being like Vincent Price. He's obsessed with the tales of Poe and he has delusions of being a tortured artist. The humour comes from the juxtaposition of Vincent's depraved fantasies and the more mundane realities of his life. Burton's finest work to date, aided in no small part by Vincent Price's narration. It's a warped but hilarious few minutes, it's a shame that Burton has all too rarely approached this level of brilliance again.

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Post #: 176
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:35:40 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
68. Tokyo Godfathers



2003
Director: Shogo Furuya, Satoshi Kon

Whether or not Kon is aware of Peter Kyne's 1913 novel The Three Godfathers, it's pretty clear he's seen the most famous adaptation by John Ford. The title of this Xmas themed movie that riffs on the idea of the three wise men makes that clear.

My 2nd favourite of Kon's animations - Rooting through rubbish a mismatched trio of homeless bums come across an abandoned baby girl. Alcoholic Gin and runaway teenager Miyuki are exasperated by their drag queen companion, Hana's, desire to keep the child and compromise on looking after her overnight. But circumstances change and the quest to discover the story of the baby's parents acts as a catalyst for each to examine the reasons for their present circumstances.

Tokyo Godfathers is not a Disney animation. Sentiment is sometimes savagely undercut by the social reality of the homeless, the story they discover and the occasionally coarse language on show. But it also has warmth and charm, a little magic and luck, a humane and inspirational tone in keeping with the tale of the innocent child and the time of year. It's a comedy, action movie, mystery and Xmas story all rolled into one. Some of the animation on show is quite stunning making wonderful use of the Tokyo cityscape and some almost realist touches that make it difficult to believe we're looking at artwork (e.g. the train in the snow).

I know this might not be a film many have come across, but it's a wonderful example of a Xmas film – one that succeeds on its own merits, but also makes full use of the traditional meaning of the season without resorting to cloying sentiment. Enjoy.

Elab49

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Post #: 177
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:36:02 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
67. Perfect Blue



1998
Director: Satoshi Kon

The opening had me a bit sceptical but it surprised me later on. This is a film firmly rooted in its time. Amongst other things, it's about change in life, and the beginning of the Internet era not only suits its stalker plot perfectly but also gives the whole thing an interesting context.

The nudity and blood are probably quite radical in themselves (or maybe I've been watching the wrong animes), but the film fucks with the viewers' minds far beyond that. I admit its endless "it was a dream! Or was it?!” sequences in the second half may seem repetitive and annoying, but I think it just serves as a confusion tool and is perfectly apt (now the final twist I'm less happy about).

Comparisons with Lynch are deserved, this is well on par with (interestingly, released much later) Mulholland Drive. Though I admit it lacks that film's daze-like complexity, it's about twice shorter so I can hardly blame it for that. The cloying nature of the pop idol stuff only adds to the subversion.

The ending, once I got used to the ridiculous twist, was genuinely thrilling. I didn't expect to find myself caring for the main character, but I did. The killer, too, despite being a caricature, was pretty scary.

In short, I probably liked this more than I should, but it's dynamic, exciting, and actually quite intelligent, not bad at all for a debut feature. RIP, needless to say.

Miles Messervy 007

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Post #: 178
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:37:39 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
66. Chicken Run



2000
Director: Nick Park, Peter Lord

Aardman regularly homaged British film genres with Wallace and Gromit – Ealing, Hammer, Victorian Sci-Fi – but the one that needed a larger scale than the homely residence at 62 West Wallaby St could handle was the biggest earner of the 50s – the British war movie. Chicken Run supplies that married to the prisoner-of-war genre generally using the ingenious setting of a chicken farm. And while they do include the cliché token yank they also add a lovely gender twist with the 'camp' full of hens.

The film references multiple prisoner of war films (running through a variety of their escape attempts, reworked for hens at the beginning of the film), particularly the antics from The Great Escape, the daddy of them all, even including the bike over the fence. Lead hen Ginger (Julia Sawalha) spends her time planning an escape for them all to a place where they can be free (particularly as hens who fall behind in their laying of eggs get taken to the shed that contains an axe and never come back) but their attempts have not gone unnoticed, although Mrs Tweedy ridicules her husband's claims that the chickens are organised. The arrival of an escaped circus rooster gives them hope of a mass escape – and as Mrs Tweedy looks to change the output of the farm, the need to escape becomes very urgent indeed.

As with most Aardman, Chicken Run is chock full of visual humour. As with Creature Comforts and their TV ads, you need to rewatch several times to catch everything going on in the background and most of the normal Aardman humour is intact (I particularly like the old joke 'the chickens are revolting' ). The physicality of the massed hens and the huts is also pretty impressively combined with some excellent lighting.

Voicework – the main kudos go to Sawalha's lead, Whitrow as an old military cock and Tony Haygarth as the paranoid Mr Tweedy, determined to catch the hens in the act. Phil Daniels and Timothy Spall play two 'wide-boy' rats who sell scavenged items and generally hang around being sarcastic (there's a Stadtler and Waldorf edge to their sarcastic observations of the hens training routines) and the film finishes very funnily on their attempt to work out what they need to start their own chicken farm – a chick or an egg.

Not the best of Aardman, but very enjoyable. It was also partly responsible for the creation of the new Animated Feature Oscar at the next ceremony – had there been one in the year of release it would have walked it.

Elab

(in reply to rawlinson)
Post #: 179
RE: The Empire Animation Countdown - 27/2/2013 10:39:08 PM   
rawlinson

 

Posts: 45002
Joined: 13/6/2008
From: Timbuktu. Chinese or Fictional.
65. Bad Luck Blackie



1949
Director: Tex Avery

A cute little all white kitten is being bullied by a sadistic bulldog. The bulldog does everything it can think of make to make life miserable for the kitten. The kitten meets Blackie, a black cat who offers his services in helping deal with the bulldog. He gives the kitten a whistle and tells him that anytime he needs him he can just blow the whistle. Every time the dog turns nasty, the kitten blows the whistle and Blackie crosses the dog's path. Causing a larger and larger series of objects to fall on the dog's head, starting with a flowerpot and ending with a battleship. The entire short is just variations of this procedure, following a rule that you can see in other Avery shorts like King-Size Canary, repeat the action but increase the scale each time and it just gets funnier and funnier. Despite how often the word anarchy is used when discussing Avery, it's an incredibly logical cartoon. It may not make any realistic sense, but it makes sense by the logic of the cartoon. Although it has some stiff competition, it's my favourite Avery and seven of the funniest minutes of animation ever created.

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