June 18, 1998
June 21 - Enzian, 4pm
As they do every year, the Florida Film Festival puts together a
screening of animated shorts. This year, we get another slew of them (18
in all) in all sorts and styles, from the elaborately drawn to simple stick
figures to still-frame photography. And with the variety of styles comes a
variety of subject matter: the superhero ("Radioactive Crotch Man"), the
tutorial on how to ingest wood ("Wood Technology"), the interpretation of
dreams ("5 Dreams"), the insanity of drug abuse ("Dirty Baby Does Fire
Island"). Fans of Spike and Mike's should line up, even if they won't find
such familiar faces as "No Neck Joe" and "The Buliminator" here. But
there's still plenty of laughs, especially in the fantastic stop-motion
parodies of Corky Quakenbush, whose material stole the show, and some
fantastic, inventive animation.
Quakenbush's shorts (who's work is best known to watchers of Fox's
Mad-TV), as he explained to the audience in a short Q&A after the
screening, mix the innocent stop motion of the Rudolf The Red-Nosed
Reindeer with the violent chic of Scorcese or Coppola. My two favorite of
his: "Bwisk" and "CLOPS."
"Bwisk" parodies that Lipton Iced Tea commercial featuring Rocky
Balboa by replacing Mike Tyson and Don King in the roles of Rocky and
Mickey the manager, respectively. The twist is that Bwisk doesn't so much
quench Tyson's thirst as it increases his hunger. Tyson's opponent?
Evander Holyfield. You can guess the rest.
"CLOPS," a clay-mation version of the "COPS" TV-show, features such
inspired comic moments as Gumby getting busted for disorderly conduct (and
being sent to the "pokey" of all places) and Santa Claus being pulled over
for drunk driving (they find a mother load of cocaine in Santa's trunk,
which he cites as being "just a bunch of snow from the North Pole."). I
was in hysterics.
Aside from Quakenbush's shorts, which comprise nearly a third of the
screening's hour and a half, a majority of the show revolves around films
of self-reflection. For the most part, these shorts seem too self-absorbed
and serious to really connect well with me.
There is one exception, though: "That Strange Person," which examines
a woman's vanity by showing her obsession with looking in the mirror. The
animation reminds me a lot of Picasso's , while its narrative is witty and
real and makes good use of self-deprecating humor. When the narrator says
at one point: "A person can waste a lot of time doing this," it's funny,
but it also works well as satire of the other self-reflection pieces at the
My two favorites of the show are also its most dramatic. "Division,"
a haunting parable about greed and patience, shows that emotional
complexity isn't always needed to make something worthwhile, which this
short clearly demonstrates with its simple, universal story and its eerie
animation and soundtrack. And "Repetition Compulsion," drawn in a
sketchbook manner, describes the story of a woman who can't escape from an
abusive relationship: both frightening and compelling, it could easily be
double as a great PSA about spousal abuse.
Other highlights include a series of amusing short-shorts by animation
guru Bill Plympton titled "Sex & Violence" (Plympton introduced the
screening and told the audience of his future plans - a television show for
MTV.) and Pixar Entertainment's "Geri Game," 1997's Oscar-winner for best
animated short. (Pixar made 1995's highly successful and highly
entertaining Toy Story.)
"Geri's Game" is a sweet little tale of an old man playing a game of
chess with himself. With its is glorious animation, and its witty story,
"Geri's Game" is a wonderful testimony to what a lot of inspiration - and a
lot of money - can do for animation.
Check it out.
I am a fiction writer supporting myself as a government clerk for the US
army. Until I can fully live off writing, I plan to milk all the luxury I
can from the American taxpayer.
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