Appellate Judge James A. Stewart enjoyed the ride.
Our review of Animation Express (Blu-Ray), published June 21st, 2010, is also available.
"Take a journey beyond your wildest imagination…"
Animation Express is a big two-disc collection of cartoons. I wouldn't leave the kiddies alone in front of it, but it's not adult in the same way as Family Guy. Instead, it's a grown-up collection of animated images that mixes themes such as war, pregnancy, working life, beheadings, and the language of bureaucracy with often experimental visuals. It's completely tasteful, yet potentially mind-blowing. Stateside viewers will notice a slightly different perspective, since this animation sampler comes from the National Film Board of Canada.
The two discs house twenty-six shorts:
• Madame Tutli-Putli
• Forming Game/Jeu de Forme
• Rosa Rosa
• Spare Change
• The Spine
• L'Homme Qui Dort/The Man Who Slept
• How People Got Fire
• Robe de Guerre/Robes of War
• Drux Flux
• Le Noeud Cravate/The Necktie
• Come Again in Spring
• Here and There
• Engine 371
• Invasion of the Space Lobsters
• Sainte Barbe
• Vive La Rose
• Land of the Heads
There's dialogue, but many of these cartoons are carried by their visuals. The Chaplinesque humor is at its best in "The Necktie," but "Runaway," "Madame Tutli-Putli," and "Sleeping Betty" also make excellent examples of silent humor. Even with the narration in "Land of the Heads," I was most amused by its strange, humorous images. Elsewhere the wordless cartoons lead to a point, as in "Drux Flux" or "Engine 371," or just playful animation, as in "Retouches."
The more verbalized animation shows the same range. Of these, the ones I liked best were "How People Got Fire," where the mixed animation forms give full play to reality and legend, "Here and There," a sweet story about growing up that has the added attraction of showing off the locales where the narrator grew up, and "Come Again in Spring," which reflects on age, memory, and death.
The transfer looks good, although many of the animated shorts are purposely rough.
With twenty-six animated shorts, your favorites may vary, but anyone interested in animation or silent storytelling will find them all visually interesting. You can check many of these out for yourself online at National Film Board of Canada. While there's a chance you'll look at one or two and get your fill there, it's also quite possible you'll want to own Animation Express.
Not guilty, even though trains are only a major part of three of these—counter to the title's implication.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
• National Film Board of Canada
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