Animation Block – Review

Posted January 19, 2009 in
Animation Block

Trepan Hole
Directed by Andy Cahill

Trepanning is the dubious medical practice of boring a hole in your head to treat various ailments, in case you were wondering. Trepan Hole is a trippy little claymation adventure that feels much like the work of Adam Jones in TOOL’s music videos. The little humanoid characters experience their frantic hallucinatory environments and interact in wonder as we look on in wonder. Andy Cahill’s wild grating sound effects make every movement a slurping crunchy squeaky affair.

The Adventures of Ledo and Ix
Directed by Emily Carmichael
If this was the first time someone utilized 8-bit animation in a narrative rather than a video game, The Adventures of Ledo and Ix would have been a riot. The short has some enjoyable deadpan humor and the production quality is good (animating 8-bit worlds might be harder than you think). But as it stands, there’s already an 8-bit series on G4 called Code Monkeys, and without the originality card, Ledo and Ix felt a bit flat. There’s also no plot to speak of, making the film feel more like a scene than a story. The humor might’ve saved it, but Code Monkeys is funnier, too.

Directed by Graeme Hawkins
Every moment of nostalgic, pencil-and-lined-paper animation in 5 focuses on simultaneous visual and auditory immersion. The two inform one another, fading between images and visualizations of the images’ noises. The film is entirely too short, and enthusiasm for the material matches frustration when 5 comes to an abrupt finish.

An Unquiet Mind
Directed by Chihwen Lo
Chihwen Lo’s metaphorical expression of Bi-polar Disorder is a pastel kaleidoscope of hallucinations. Impressive in its richness and sensory stimulation, An Unquiet Mind is more a relaxing visualization than an overt meditation on Bi-polar Disorder. Lo’s intent was to make visual the mental challenge involved in swinging from manic to depressive - no easy task. The film employs no narration or guides for its audience, making it important to read a summary of Lo’s intended message if you wish to come away from the film with any understanding of its contents.

Kanizsa Hill
Directed by Evelyn Lee
Kanizsa Hill is the story of a man who is shot and must be amputated, head from body, if he is to survive. For my money, this is the most creative and consistently satisfying short film in this year’s animation category. The viewer is carried through in a dream-like narration that is often attempted by filmmakers and rarely succeeds. Kanizsa Hill is the exception to this trend; the (dis)connected narrative flows perfectly, causing just the right levels of clarity and wonder. Combine it with clever collage and animation techniques, Kanizsa Hill is Slamdance animation’s best in show.

Directed by Hayley Morris
Haley Morris’ meditation on her grandfather’s descent into Alzheimer's is an impressively animated short. Morris’ choice of tactile materials such as string and cloth over more traditional art supplies creates a tragically nostalgic character in a setting that feels both familiar and strange. The old man in his raft pulls items from the sea, and watches as each, in turn, is taken from him. The imagery is easily interpretable but not overbearing - a sad, soft, quiet film.

Directed by Woodpecker
Japanese filmmaker Woodpecker brings us the stop motion antics of a flannel-clad woodsman and his two bunny-dog-cats as they roam the forest and fall victim to the pranks of a green-smoke-blowing tree outside their cabin. Believe it or not, this film makes even less sense than the above summary. For its length I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining, but the film has very few narrative consistencies, making it hard to follow along, or want to.

E.L.A. in: Love at First Byte
Directed by Fernando Sarmiento
E.L.A. is highly enjoyable kitsch for the Voltron generation. Combining a live action heroine with a slew of jocund CG characters and locations, E.L.A. transports you to a place where princesses ride eagles, space invaders come in three dimensions, and even a giant red cube has a shot at finding love. Creator Fernando Sarmiento expressed his interest in building E.L.A. into a feature: I for one hope sincerely that he will.

Dear Fatty
Directed by Hsin-I Tseng
This is the stuff great childrens’ books are made of - photographed and shot in hugely colorful stop-motion and cutouts. Fatty is an unfortunately named hamster, and Fatty has left home. He’s a hamster in search of self-actualization. His little girl misses him very much but tempers her pleas with innocent curiosity: “Is it nice out there Fatty? Where are you going? Are you meeting new friends?? Dear Fatty is a colorful short with lots of heart.

Next Screening 11:00am Tues, Jan 20@ Treasure Mountain Inn - Gallery Theater -Jesse Hawlish