All That Crap I Learned In High School

Of all the remedies for a foul temper, a screening of animated short films might rank a grade or two above leeches.

Depending on who was being leeched and how, I suppose.

Last night Signe Baumane and Bill Plympton presented a collection of  pieces at the Kodak screening room.  This is maybe the 8th or 9th incarnation of the show.

I recall Signe once saying that making these presentations is a good way to have your own  work shown, and both Bill and Signe made cinematic contributions to the program in addition to their between-screening banter.  I do respect and understand that opinion, though I feel it’s a little like hanging your own art in your house.  Not that degree of gauche, but perhaps a little ungenerous.

There were three Oscar shortlisted films in the program, none of which suggested they were the “best of” anything, let alone the short animated films released last year.

The program began with one from Argentina, “Luminaris”.  This might have been revelatory if some Canadians made it 40 years ago.  In fact, they just may have.  The difference is that the Canadians probably wouldn’t be thinking “The is will look great on our reel and totally land us a big commercial”.  I’m all for landing big commercials, but I hope that substance wins out over form.

The other Oscar shortlisters were “Pates of Hate” by Damian Nenow which was simultaneously humorless and hilarious.  It’s a video game that I’d never want to play projected at 100 decibels and “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg.  This film poses the question “What Would Pixar Do?” and answers it with “ravage a lily-white gulf town with hurricane sending one of its inhabitants to Purgatory after he passes ghost Barbie on a flying bicycle to ultimately be whisked into the great unknown after, presumably, Tim Tebow beats Tom Brady at the Apocalypse.  At least that was my interpretation, to make it a little more interesting.

It was a very well attended evening.  The highlights were Danny Madden’s “Notes on Biology” (which I’ve seen a few times and still delivers a fun and spirited energy), Nick Fox-Gieg’s “More Than Winning” (a great story and Nick’s voice over narration is superb -his secret “There’s a day towards the end of a cold where you sound like Christian Bale”), I’d also like to see Dave Levy’s “A Test Late In Summer” once more.  It’s a similar tone to his last film.  Understated can be difficult to appreciate in a diverse program.