One of my favorite short films of the last few years was Jonathan Nix’s Hello. Nix is currently in the midst of post-production on a new short (approx. 25 min.) called The Missing Key. From the looks of the trailer (below) the new film seems to further ideas from Hello, this time heavily influenced by Hayao Miyazaki. To learn more about Nix check his website.
Yabba-Dabba-Do! James E. Daniels has done the world a favor by posting the end title art from The Man Called Flintstone on his blog. As far I’m concerned these unique, primitive Flintstone designs are the coolest things in the picture! Check out all eleven end cards at The Adventures of J.E. Daniels.
Last night Asifa Hollywood held a membership screening of Battle For Terra which opens theatrically today in the United States. I saw the film last year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, where it won the prize for Best Feature. A lot of us (myself included) were bummed that Sita Sings The Blues didn’t win the prize, but we still admired Terra (as it was called then) for it’s storytelling and it’s visual scope.
Now in 3-D, and away from festival competition, I watched the film again last night — and I have to admit I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. I even think the 3-D enhanced the experience. I did a Q & A with director/co-writer Aristomenis Tsirbas after the screening and was amazed to learn that the entire film was produced in L.A. with a crew of 20 people, in a building on the corner of Wilshire and LaBrea, over a period of two years. Tsirbas, a Hollywood effects animator, spent years working on the concept, originally conceived as a live action film – and spent many hours of down time creating a short which he used to sell the concept to investors. Despite its all-star voice cast, Battle For Terra is an independent film in the truest sense of the term. It had an extremely low budget and was made way outside the traditional studio system. And it’s turned out to be quite an entertaining little sci-fi family film.
If you’ve seen it, please comment below.
Remember they used to run “What-A-Cartoon”? Now it’s “Where’s-the-Cartoons?”
A channel called Cartoon Network continues to produce and acquire live action programming. I’m not sure why this still surprises me – or why I even still report on it here.
In case you haven’t heard: The original BBC version of The Office starts running on Adult Swim this summer. The Mighty Boosh, another BBC live action pick up, is already running on the Cartoon Network’s nighttime block.
I’m not sure if today’s Candorville is a comment on the Wall Street bailout – or a critique on the excesses of animation industry executives.
Last night’s Milt Kahl tribute at the Motion Picture Academy was a huge (though a bit long) success – if you got into the theater.
Those inside were treated to a wonderful art exhibit of Kahl drawings, model sheets and cels from scenes he’d animated. Everyone got a commemorative poster and program brochure. The screening included Kahl’s finest animation on the big screen, everything from his first Mickey’s Circus (1936) to his last, Medusa in The Rescuers (1977). Andreas Deja and Charles Solomon did the hosting chores, and special guests Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Floyd Norman, John Pomereoy, Kathryn Beaumont, Alice Davis and Sybil Barnes (Kahl’s daughter) told great stories about the man and his influences. Clips of Kahl from amateur video interviews were a highlight, as was the excerpt from the Disneyland TV show “The Story of Dogs” with Kahl himself – and Andreas, once again doing an amazing job of analyzing Kahl’s drawings, using an overhead projector to display rare examples of his work.
However, all was not well outside the Academy building. Brian Johnson, posting on my Facebook page reported:
“I have been looking forward to that once in a life time event and was pissed that (along with 150 angry people) were not allowed in even though we bought our tickets months ago!! They simply oversold hundreds of tickets and ruined a lot of people nights!”
Darrell Van Citters wrote me as well:
“It seems that the Academy deliberately oversold the event, leaving a large number of ticket holders with no recourse. They did issue refunds but you had to stand in line all over again to get your money back. When they told the crowd they wouldn’t be allowed in, they brought out two ineffective-looking security guards in case things turned ugly. The whole thing was shameful and as my Disney friend said on our way back to our cars, “I’ve never gone to one of these Academy things before and I don’t think I will again.”
On future Brew postings for the Academy, you might want to include a disclaimer to the effect that “buying a ticket does not guarantee a seat”. I know I won’t waste my time on another event there.”
I’ve rarely seen any Academy event sold out like this… and the animation events are less likely to do so. I had heard the event was sold out shortly after we announced it on Cartoon Brew last month. A huge story on Kahl in last Wednesday’s LA Times probably caused the overflow of attendees. I can only hope the Academy will continue its animation programs with a better grasp on ticket allotment and crowd control.
UPDATE: Randy Haberkamp, the Program Coordinator at the Academy, has responded in the comments below. He would greatly appreciate it if ticket holders who were turned away would contact him at rhaberkamp-at-oscars.org
In case you thought I forgot to plug this month’s performance of Cartoon Dump… you’re wrong! Here’s the plug!
This month we will have two surprise guest comedians joining Moodsy, Compost Brite, Cue Card Goddess and me tonight at 8 PM, for an evening of comedy, songs and really, really awful cartoons. Join us at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. (two blocks west of Vermont). Map here, reserve tickets here. See you there!
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in association with Deutsches Filmmuseum in Franfurt Germany, will be presenting an exhibit of original anime art in their Beverly Hills HQ lobby and 4th Floor Gallery.
From May 15th through August 23th, the Academy will present ANIME! High Art – Pop Culture featuring collectors items and rare animation artwork seldom seen outside Japan. A portion of the exhibition is devoted to manga and its relationship to anime; the whole exhibit will provide a historical overview of the development of Japanese comic book and animation genres. Public viewing hours are Tuesday — Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday — Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays and May 23—24. Admission: Free. For more info, visit the Academy website.
The blurry image above is a frame from the “lost” ending to the early Bugs Bunny cartoon Hare-um Scare-um. David Gerstein found the missing sequence while researching this title recently at a major film archive — and now he’s written a post about how he discovered it on Ramapith: The Prehistoric Pop Culture Blog, his new website.
Gerstein, whose books include Mickey And The Gang and Nine Lives To Live: Classic Felix the Cat, is one of the most knowledgeable writers and historians of animation. His new blog will be worth checking on a regular basis.
Here’s a brief clip from the new Pixar short that will accompany Up in theatres:
(via Fire Wire)
It’s been acknowledged by the creators of The Simpsons that the blood-thirsty antics of Itchy and Scratchy were inspired less by Tom & Jerry and more by the violent situations of Herman and Katnip. By the 1950s, the writers at Paramount’s Famous Studios were suffering from cartoon fatigue — endlessly rewriting and redrawing the same tired stories for Popeye, Casper, Baby Huey et al. for years on end. The Herman and Katnip pictures were pure cat-chasing-mice opuses, which were by now running on auto-pilot, and got progressively more and more violent as the years went by.
The cartoons have what I call “Shemp syndrome” – it’s the same problem the Three Stooges shorts of the 50s had – they forgot what was funny about slapstick in the first place. The filmmakers just knew that “hurt gags” worked, so they upped the “hurt”, figuring it’ll be funnier. The results were less funny and more painful, and often in horrible taste.
Embedded below is the last 90 seconds from Mouseum (1956) which features my all-time favorite bad-taste ending. I love it. It makes me laugh because of how wrong it is. By this time, the animators had really lost all perspective. Here’s the set-up: Katnip is chasing Herman and his cousins through a natural history museum.
What follows next is pure genius: The cat chases the mouse into a stuffed elephant’s head. Katnip sticks a rifle into the elephant’s trunk and Herman, using super-human strength, bends the rifle to aim it back towards Katnip. His gunshot blast blows the elephant’s glass eyes into Katnip’s head! The eyes fall from his head and the cat thinks the eyeballs are his! He shoves them into his eye sockets making himself blind… he goes running into the street blindly, as Herman and the mice laugh at his handicap. Iris out.
Quentin Tarantino would be proud.
This is from Tom Brazelton, who posts a new movie-themed webcomic three times a week at Theatre Hopper.com
(Thanks, Jerrett Zaroski)