As Hank Hill once told me, "Somethin' about that Judge Paul Pritchard just ain't right."
The World's Greatest Animation Festival Returns To DVD!
Beginning in 2003, The Animation Show, a collaboration between animators Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt, set out with the intention of bringing animated shorts back into cinemas. 2008 sees the fourth iteration of the show released theatrically, while the 2007 edition gets a DVD release, in The Animation Show: Volume 3.
Facts of the Case
The Animation Show: Volume 3 contains the following animated shorts, which were also featured during the theatrical run:
"Rabbit"—When a boy and girl find an idol in the stomach of a rabbit, great riches follow, but for how long?
"City Paradise"—Tomoko arrives to London from Japan and accidentally discovers a mysterious, secret city underground, inhabited by friendly little aliens and a beautiful blossom. After she's found it, everything changes.
"Everything Will Be Ok"—A series of dark and troubling events forces Bill to reckon with the meaning of his life—or lack thereof.
"Collision"—Islamic patterns and American quilts mix with the colors and geometry of flags. Collision is an abstract field of reflection.
"Versus"—On two islands lost in the ocean, two samurai clans fight for a little island.
"Dreams and Desires"—On acquiring a new Digi Videocam, Beryl becomes obsessed with the filmmaking process using it to articulate her desires and dreams as video diary. As "cineaste par excellence" she agrees to video the wedding of her friend Mandy, seizing the opportunity to imitate her filmmaking idols with disastrous & hilarious results.
"Game Over"—Homage is paid to five classic arcade games. Enjoy Centipede, Frogger, Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man games. All are aimed at evoking nostalgia for the intense arcade experience that spawned the billion dollar industry in the late '70s and early '80s.
"Guide Dog"—Guide Dog" is a sequel to the Oscar nominated short "Guard Dog". This time our hero dog helps blind people with typical disastrous results.
"No Room for Gerald"—Gerold the crocodile arrives home late to a household meeting in the apartment. It turns out his flat mates have turned against him.
In addition to the above, the DVD release contains seven films not shown during the festival:
"Abigail"—As the gap between a burning airplane and ground gets smaller, one passenger has other things on his mind.
"Astronauts"—After a brief problem with a lost set of keys, two astronauts continue their journey through the depths of space. While alone in the cockpit, Astronaut One discovers a big red button marked 'Do Not Press' hidden under a crossword puzzle. Curiosity gets the better of him and he cannot resist pressing the button. Unfortunately, he has unwittingly released one of their only two oxygen tanks. He decides not tell Astronaut Two.
"Carlitopolis"—Carlito, a small laboratory mouse, suffers all kinds of experiments.
"Learn Self Defense"—After being brutally attacked in an alley, George decides he must learn to protect himself. A cocksure narrator walks him through five practical lessons of self-defense, perfect for the citizen on the go…or a nation-state on the rampage!
"One D"—Bob and Diane go to a movie in a one-dimensional world. It is probably not their first date, but it may be their last.
"Shuteye Hotel"—"Shuteye Hotel" is a film noir murder mystery that takes place in a sleazy hotel. As cops investigate the gruesome murders they become victims of this evil force. What "Jaws" did to swimming, "Shuteye Hotel" will do for sleeping.
"Tyger"—A giant tiger mysteriously appears in a big city, revealing the hidden reality in an otherwise ordinary night. Inspired by William Blake's "The Tyger."
Proof, if ever it were needed that length isn't everything, comes in the form of The Animation Show: Volume 3, a collection of animated shorts that frequently prove to be as entertaining, if not more so, than the majority of full-length features released.
Incorporating numerous styles of animation yet, crucially, remembering to have a point to the goings-on, the artists contributing to this set frequently push the boundaries on what we expect from animation, both in terms of visuals and content.
Without a doubt, Don Hertzfeldt's "Everything Will Be Ok" is the highlight of the set. Certainly not from any lack of competition, indeed, the DVD holds several outstanding works, no; Hertzfeldt's piece is simply one of the finest shorts produced over the past few years, be it animated or not, full stop. Belying its overly simplistic visual style, with limited animation of its characters, "Everything Will Be Ok" tells the story of Bill, and his struggles with the monotony of everyday life, leading to a surprisingly affecting breakdown. A strangely hopeful narration, by Hertzfeldt himself, supported by a soundtrack, which incorporates the likes of Georges Bizet and Bedrich Smetana to startling effect, only adds to the existential nightmare unfolding before our eyes. One of the most touching, hilarious, disturbing and downright brilliant films I've seen in years; "Everything Will Be Ok" is essential viewing.
Another of the discs highlights is director Guilherme Marcondes's "Tyger." Inspired by the William Blake poem of the same name, the film sees a giant tiger prowl the streets of Sao Paulo, causing a transformation of the urban jungle as he moves ever forward. The clash of visual styles evident in "Tyger" proves to be captivating. The tiger itself, a puppet manipulated by onscreen puppeteers dressed in black, makes for an imposing figure as it descends upon the city. Set against the backdrop of the Sao Paulo, which, along with its populace, is made up of a mix of both traditional and computer-generated animation, the beast looks magnificent. As the creature continues its venture through the city, the beats of Zeroum's soundtrack swell, adding new layers to the magical atmosphere, which goes up another notch thanks to some excellent lighting work.
While the rest of the shorts perhaps fail to reach the levels of genius on display in "Everything Will Be Ok" and "Tyger," they are certainly far from being considered filler material, often challenging the viewer's perception of what is possible in animation. Whether it be the surreal goings on in "Rabbit" or the visually stunning "City Paradise," the disc has something for all animation lovers.
The extras on the disc contain a number of interviews with the artists themselves. Offering an insight into the thought process, as well as the technical demands that went into producing each piece; these interviews are well worth your time. Please note, however, that while several of these interviews are presented on the DVD as video interviews, the remaining interviews are accessible on a PC only, in a text only format.
With such stunning imagery on display, it's pleasing to report the discs transfer doesn't let any of the titles down. The images come alive with vibrant colours while the musical score to each piece is well represented by the stereo soundtrack.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The Animation Show: Volume 3 doesn't contain the entire schedule from the third year of The Animation Show. Though this is the intent of the festival organizers, it would have been nice to have the remaining shorts ("Overtime," "9," and "Eaux Forte") included.
Enjoy animation but yearn to see it push new boundaries? The Animation Show: Volume 3 is just the title you've been looking for.
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