Mel Brooks’ The Critic

criticlogo.jpgBrew reader Charles Brubaker wrote in to tell me that Mel Brooks Academy Award winning animated 1963 short, The Critic, had popped up on You Tube. I always forget how funny this film is. I did some searching around and found a better version on brettratner.com. If you haven’t seen it in a while, or not at all, here it is. Created and narrated by Mel Brooks. Produced and Directed by Ernest Pintoff: The Critic.

Enjoy!

Hans Bacher’s Dreamworlds

Dream Worlds

Hans Bacher (the art director of Disney’s Mulan) reports on his blog that his new book, Dreamworlds, has just been released in Japan. The book offers a primer on animation production design, and judging from the preview pages Bacher posted some months back, it should be a how-to book well worth owning. Right now, the book is available only in Japanese (Amazon Japan link here), but Hans says an English version is also in the works and should be released later this year.

PAPRIKA trailer

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Click here to see the exciting trailer for the new film by Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers), Paprika.

Watching this trailer only reminded me about the sorry state of hand drawn feature length animation in the United States. The word moribund comes to mind.

The dictionary definition of moribund is

1. in a dying state; near death.
2. on the verge of extinction or termination.
3. not progressing or advancing; stagnant

Yep, that word sums it up.

The Japanese continue to advance the possibilities of animation in the feature film arena. They seem undisturbed by the CG/Mo-Cap blockbuster-mentality that Hollywood has embraced. The highest grossing film in Japan last year was Studio Ghibli’s traditionally animated Gedo Senki (Tales From Earthsea) by Goro Miyazaki.

I’m optimistic enough to believe it will turnaround here, in time.

Till then, we’ve got The Simpsons.

Grindhouse Triple Feature

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Quentin Tarantino is curating a two month retrospective of grindhouse movies at the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood. He’s using his personal collection of 35mm prints to program a 52-film homage to drive-in cinema and downtown exploitation films. Of interest to Brew readers is the Friday-Saturday March 23rd-24th triple bill. That day he’ll be unspooling Ralph Bakshi’s original Coonskin (1975) along with the X-rated animated Tarzan spoof, Shame Of The Jungle (1975) and the live action comedy anthology Tunnel Vision (1976, which has a short animated segment). This festival is tied into Tarantion’s latest feature Grindhouse. The complete schedule of films is posted on the New Beverly’s website.

New Internet ads by John K.

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John Kricfalusi has done four mini animated pieces for Raketu, a new internet/cell phone entertainment/communication service. John has been blogging about the creation of these spots (one of which includes George Liquor). I love how John solved a problem by recalling a Roger Ramjet cartoon technique for inspiration. I can’t vouch for the service, but these little cartoons are fun.

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I’ll probably regret posting this in a few hours but the animation at Technicolon.com is some of the most trippy (innovative?, annoying?) CG I’ve seen in a while. Take heed of the warning at the front of the site: “PLEASE DO NOT WATCH THESE CARTOONS IF YOU SUFFER FROM PHOTOSENSITIVE EPILEPSY (PSE).”

[Note: The manifesto has been removed at the request of the filmmaker. He says it wasn't really intended to ever be put up on the site, so just enjoy the cartoons for what they are.]

(Thanks, Nathan Barley)

Walt Stanchfield’s Gesture Drawing For Animation

Anybody who’s studied animation in recent years is doubtless familiar with Walt Stanchfield’s drawing handouts. Stanchfield (1919-2000), an animator at Disney, taught drawing at the studio for many years and his class notes have been passed around by everybody, first as photocopies and now online (Animation Meat has a nice collection of the notes).

Leo Brodie had the ambitious idea of taking Walt’s notes and arranging them in a more cohesive order to create a book as Stanchfield might have written it. Brodie calls the book Gesture Drawing for Animation and has made it available as a series of downloadable PDF files. Brodie explains on his website how his version differs from the original handouts:

As I was reading the notes and trying to absorb as much as I could, I thought I might understand them better if it were all laid out in sequence, with basic topics followed by more complex ideas. I wanted to see his ideas grouped by subject so I could compare the ideas. In other words, I wanted the topics to be arranged like a normal book. So I’ve re-arranged bits and pieces from the handouts into cohesive chapters, while taking the liberty to eliminate redundancy and make minor edits just as book editor would.

Whether you prefer the raw notes or the book version, Stanchfield’s notes are an excellent source of knowledge, and considering they’re free, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of them.