Third time’s the charm – the longest and most extensive look at Laika studio’s forthcoming stop-mo feature, ParaNorman:
Saturday Night Live has, throughout the years, produced numerous classic skits and comedy films spoofing Disney and their classic characters. This is not one of them. From last night’s Lindsay Lohan-hosted episode, I give you The Real Housewives of Disney:
The Lorax, anyone? I’ll be seeing it an an ASIFA-Hollywood screening next week, so I’ll reserve judgement. I’m not trying to be negative, but the L.A. Times‘ Kenneth Turan says “most of it not very good and not in keeping with the spirit of the Seuss original.” Claudia Puig disagrees in her 3-stars (out of four) write-up in USA Today, saying “it remains faithful to the spirit of Seuss.” A.O. Scott at the NY Times sums it up this way: “The movie is a noisy, useless piece of junk!”
How about you? Per usual, our talkback posts are open to those who have seen the film in a theater, and have a thoughtful opinion–pro or con.
As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be enough praise and recognition for United Productions of America (UPA). They may be long gone and (by some) long forgotten, but their influence is still felt in every nook and cranny of the animation craft.
On March 30th in Los Angeles, I will be curating a special selection of UPA cartoons at LACMA (The Los Angeles County Museum of Art) in conjunction with their ongoing exhibit, California Design. We will be celebrating the studio with ten newly restored 35mm prints courtesy of Columbia Pictures/Sony (titles will include ROBIN HOODLUM, ROOTY TOOT TOOT, THE JAYWALKER, GERALD McBOING BOING and others). Not only will I introduce the show, but my colleague Adam Abraham will be on hand to sign copies of his hot-off-the-press UPA history book, When Magoo Flew. We will also have copies of TCM’s new DVD collection, UPA Jolly Frolics on hand for purchase. The event, titled Madcap Modernism: Mid-Century Cartoons from UPA and Beyond will start at 7:30pm on Friday, March 30, 2012, in LACMA’s Bing Theater. General admission is $10. ($7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID; $5 LACMA Film Club members). Advance tickets are now on sale: call 323 857-6010 or purchase online. For more information visit the LACMA website. Several other surprises are being planned. Mark your calendar now – don’t miss this special cartoon event.
This is what you’ll see when you attend The Lorax this weekend. Should look good in 3D.
“Sparky” lives! Tim Burton’s animated feature version of Frankenweenie opens October 5th, 2012. Here’s our first look at the animation:
Time for another round-up of recent reads I can highly recommend (How’s that for alliteration?). First up, a magazine: Disney Twenty Three (Special Issue, Spring 2012), the “exclusive magazine of D23: the official Disney Fan Club”. I have not been tempted to subscribe to this publication, despite it’s lavish production values and occasional in-depth articles – but this latest special edition (sent to me for review) may change my mind. Its theme is “75 Years of Disney Animated Features” and its a must-have for all Disney aficianados. It is 64 oversized pages (in color) and loaded with articles and images by many of my favorite Disney historians: John Canemaker on the milestones of Disney feature animation; David Gerstein on The Six Older Men, the animators (Ub Iwerks, Grim Natwick, Ben Sharpsteen, Fred Moore, Norm Ferguson and Hamilton Luske) who mentored the famous “nine”; Jim Fanning takes a fresh look at the famed story meeting notes; Didier Ghez on Disney’s merchandising man, Kay Kamen (this piece is particularly well illustrated with rare materials); Greg Ehrbar on the music and songs of the great Disney Features; Don Hahn on “The Morgue”, where the studio keeps its original animation art; Max Lark on inspirational artist Tyrus Wong; and much much more. Did I mention the cover contains a removable facsimile Snow White animation cel. This commemorative issue is being sold through Barnes and Noble and other retailers, as well as available through DisneyStore.com.
Stop Motion has certainly made a comeback (with three stop-mo features being released this year alone) and books about the technique keep on coming. The latest is Tom Gasek’s Frame-by-Frame Stop Motion: The Guide to Non-traditional Animation Techniques. Gasek, a professor at R.I.T. and former animator at Laika and Aardman, concentrates his book on alternatives to puppetry and model animation: pixilation, collage, time lapse and other down-shooting techniques. The book is peppered with practical advice by top pros and animation artists like PES, Joan Gratz, Jim Blashfield, William Kentridge, Caroline Leaf, Dave Borthwick and others. An excellent reference and text book. If stop-motion is your thing, you need this book.
Okay, this one really isn’t about animation – but it’s so much fun I know you’ll want it. Author Kirk Demaris (of SecretFunSpot.com) has unearthed the secrets behind ALL those products sold in comic book and monster magazines of the 1960s and 70s. Remember the X-Ray Spex and Amazing Live Sea Monkeys? This book shows you what those products (and about 100 others) really were. The Polaris Nuclear Sub (“Big Enough for Two Kids”) was apparently nothing more than a cardboard box; the 132 piece Roman Soldiers set was actually two thin pieces of plastic; and all that crap in the Johnson-Smith catalog was, well …crap! Who knew? I was fooled too, back in the day – but this book is the real thing: hilarious fun and a rush of nostalgia. Loaded with reprints of the original ads and photographic evidence of their hilarious junkiness. Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads! is highly recommended!
And last but not least, Laurel and Hardy’s Animated Antics. I was informed of an earlier edition (above left) but by the time I tracked this down, a newer version (the “A-Z Edition”, above right) came out and I grabbed it. What is it? Well, it’s a little pocket-sized (4 1/2″ by 7″) paperback, 152 pages that obsessively documents any and all animated cartoons with Laurel and Hardy caricatures. Apparently the authors are members of The Sons of the Desert (the International Laurel and Hardy fan Club) and were determined to screen every appearance of Stan and Ollie as cartoon caricatures. They describe each cartoon and what the comedy duo does in it, illustrated with a frame grab if possible. In addition to all the golden age Hollywood cartoons you can think of, the authors also document all the Larry Harman/Hanna Barbera TV cartoons, all the Family Guy, Darkwing Duck, even Phienas and Ferb references, mentions of the characters in various TV cartoons… with crazy thoroughness. Do I recommend it? Begrudgingly Yes, if you are collecting books on cartoons or Laurel and Hardy; but unquestionably No, if you aren’t as obsessed with L&H as the authors (or I am).
(Thanks, Marc Baker via College Humor)
If you’re going to make film that looks like it was made from corrugated cardboard, you couldn’t do better than French director MichaÃ«l Bolufer. Here is the first of 12 cute Mr. Cardboard webtoons Bolufer is producing out of his studio in Lyon.
Morghan Fortier and Brett Jubinville are so excited about their upcoming project at their newly established Toronto studio, Tinman Creative, they’ve posted a video showing off their first month of production. They plan to create such a video every month. I don’t know if their mystery project is a commercial, short film or TV production, but it sure looks intriguing with its great character designs and great sense of color.
“Vaesen is an original story that I wrote and directed. It’s not based on any specific folktale, but I chose a very iconic visual aesthetic, and used folktale conventions that are engrained in many from childhood, so that I could explore a looser narrative. Basically I wanted Rankin-Bass on acid, written by Borges.”
So says Danish-American Adrian Dexter, currently working at Important Looking Pirates (ILPVFX) in Stockholm. He recently graduated from The Animation Workshop in Denmark with this Bachelor film project (2012). As you can see, he definitely achieved that “on-acid” Euro-fairy tale feeling.
One night after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences salutes excellence in film, Cartoon Dump is back saluting crappiness in cartoons! Now in our 5th year – join MST3K’s Frank Conniff as “Moodsy, the Clinically Depressed Owl”, comedian Erica Doering as “Compost Brite”, the infamous J. Elvis Weinstein as “Dumpster Diver Dan” and me, in Hollywood, on Monday February 27th at 8pm. And we are joined this month by special stand-up comedy guest Dana Gould (The Simpsons), Emo Philips returning as Cartoon Musicologist Professor Emo, and comedy/burlesque sensation Kasey Wilson! Fun! Fun! Fun! And Bucky and Pepito! Click here for more info!
In this new stop-motion commercial, animator Eleanor Stewart uses recycled paper to tell the story of how Hyundai recycles rain water at its factories.
The latest trailer from Pixar’s Brave is a complete 2 minute sequence.
Omer Ben David’s graduation project from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, in Jerusalem, Israel. For The Remainder takes a sensitive look at the last moments of a dying house cat, a moving (in every sense of that word) portrait made especially effective by the film’s almost abstract sketch and brushstroke style.