VOICES FOR KATRINA

In an effort to raise money for the Red Cross to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, the CESD Talent Agency is sending their clients to the monthly Los Angeles Comic Book & Science Fiction Convention this Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium Expo Center. Appearing in person to sign autographs for this cause will be cartoon voice actors Richard Horvitz (Invader Zim), Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), Kevin Michael Richardson (The Batman), Scott Menville (Teen Titans), Bill Farmer (Goofy) and many others. The show opens at 10am. For more details click here.

JANET KLEIN

crumbklein.jpgAs usual on the first Thursday of every month, I’ll be showing several 16mm films at the Steve Allen Theatre (at 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz) October 6th at 8pm, preceeding a live concert by Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys.This gig has finally caught on (despite limited press coverage) and the crowd grows larger every month. If you want to be musically transported back to the late 20s/early 30s – this be the place. I usually run a few Fleischer cartoons to set the mood and Janet usually sings a few songs that are familiar from movies and cartoons of the era.Join us!

Sunday Pants

SUNDAY PANTS is a new animated variety show that premieres on Cartoon Network tonight, Oct. 2, at 9:30 pm (ET/PT). Each episode will include “a fast-moving selection of short animation pieces from around the world” in “a variety of animation styles, from traditional hand-drawn animation to artists working on computer-based Flash and CGI.” Creators include Monkmus, Lance Taylor (Facelift Enterprises, Inc.); Lincoln Pierce (Global Mechanic); Tim McKeon and Adam Pava (Cartoon Network Studios); Andy Fielding (Red Kite Animation); and Andy Merrill, Craig “Sven” Gordon and Stuart Hill (Cartoon Network).

Sounds like an excellent idea, but the clips shown in the promo look uniformly weak. The kitschy Sixties-themed branding of SUNDAY PANTS sadly reinforces the idea that the show is cheap. Quite disappointing; it would have been nice to see Cartoon Network air a quality series of independently produced animation. About the only upside so far is that the series will apparently feature the television premiere of the PERIWINKLE shorts by Aaron Springer. These shorts have only aired publicly once — at the Genndy Tartakovsky retrospective in LA earlier this year. I’ve yet to see them, but everybody that I know who has says they’re terrific. That’s hardly a surprise considering that Springer is one of the most singular talents working in commercial animation today.

WALLACE & GROMIT

wallace1.jpgUnless I’m mistaken, I’ve now seen every substantial theatrical animated feature of 2005 (except CHICKEN LITTLE). MADGASCAR, CORPSE BRIDE and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE are certainly worthy films for Oscar consideration. But I think I’ve seen the hands-down winner: WALLACE & GROMIT in THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT.First off, (for the three people out there who care about such details) as I am someone chronicling animated features – not only for future updates to my THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE, but for Leonard Maltin’s MOVIE GUIDE as well – I have to note the film’s several title discrepancies. On the posters and ads the title is presented as “WALLACE & GROMIT The Curse Of the Were-Rabbit” with the characters names twice as large as the subtitle. The poster’s credit block (small print) have it as “WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” (all the same size) with a colon separating the character name from the subtitle. On the film itself, the title is presented this way: “WALLACE & GROMIT” as one card, “in” as a second card, and “THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” as a third card. Never since ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF have the film’s principals and the film’s title been so intertwined and confusing!Regardless, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is certainly the best animated feature of the year. Thoroughly entertaining, inventive, charming, hilarious, clever and fun. A total pleasure, produced with the highest standards of craft and creativity. I won’t go into story details – you should just go and enjoy that for yourselves – but I really admired, despite the story’s simplicity, the filmmakers ability to cram as many jokes and visual sight gags into the 85 minute running time. It never feels forced or overwhelming. The audience I saw it with laughed consistently the entire time.Dreamworks did an interesting thing: before the film begins (at least at the press screening I attended) they tagged on a three minute film explaining the film’s stop motion process – with behind the scenes footage, explaining what plasticine is, showing the set builders and animators at work. I think this was a good idea – I’m concerned that audiences are now so familiar with computer graphics, they’re unaware of the painstaking work that stop motion animation is. The animation in CORPSE BRIDE was so smooth, I’ll bet most viewers of that film probably thought it was the same technique as ROBOTS or THE INCREDIBLES. I applaud Dreamworks for informing the audience that what they are about to see was produced by hand, frame by frame, and shot on motion picture film. I predict this feature will be a box-office smash of SHREK 2 proportions. I hope AARDMAN is considering another feature length WALLACE & GROMIT adventure. I’ll be first in line.