Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Animation Show 2005

THE ANIMATION SHOW 2005 (Various, 2005)

Co-producers Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have again collected their favorite animated shorts and named the compilation THE ANIMATION SHOW. The 2005 version marks the second program of what is anticipated to be an annual touring animation festival. THE ANIMATION SHOW features a variety of styles, including Hertzfeldt’s stick figures in the traditionally animated THE MEANING OF LIFE, the claymation of Peter Cornwell’s WARD 13, and the computer animated ROCK FISH. Bill Plympton may be the best known animator whose work is showcased in THE ANIMATION SHOW. Plympton’s Oscar-nominated short GUARD DOG is about a canine’s paranoid fantasies of the dangers facing his owner as they go a walk.

Animators seeking to get their work seen still face the perceptions that animation is primarily for children and that it begins and ends with the Disney and Pixar styles. Those who make shorts are also marginalized because theatrical exhibition is almost the exclusive domain of features. THE ANIMATION SHOW serves as a corrective to the limited views of what animation is and provides an avenue for worthy short subjects to be seen on a wider scale and where they were intended—on the big screen. Plympton’s GUARD DOG is far and away the funniest of the ten shorts in the program. Cornwell’s sci-fi nightmare WARD 13 is essentially one long action scene, but it’s a superbly edited and conceived piece that also utilizes some well-placed humor. Jennifer Drummond, one of the animators on WAKING LIFE, uses the same painting-over-rotoscoping technique for her distinctive short about food education demo specialists in a Texas grocery store. Georges Schwizgebel’s THE MAN WITH NO SHADOW produces the loveliest images through acrylic paint on cels. Hertzfeldt made my favorite entries in the 2003 ANIMATION SHOW. His THE MEANING OF LIFE is more head-scratching than humorous, but it’s a memorable way to end the 2005 edition.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the June 7, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

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