A funny puppet version of dante’s inferno, updated for 2007. But for the most part, “funny” means juvenile jokes at easy targets, “puppet” means stiff 2D drawings with hinged limbs, and “updated” means Virgil has a cellphone and we namecheck each member of G.W. Bush’s cabinet as we go through the circles of hell.

So not too great, but surely not bad either… worth a waste of 75 minutes to hear the not-always-bad jokes, see the occasionally-clever puppetry and watch a little video that someone spent a lotta time on. Not much of a recommendation, but it neatly filled an early afternoon timeslot at the film festival without making me go home or making me wish I had.

Oh and some famous actors did the voices as usual.

Bunnies – quick, great, 30 seconds long.

Guard Dog by Bill Plympton, the beginning of his new period of good stuff (also: Guide Dog, Fan and the Flower) after a long tiring stretch of mediocre junk.

The FEDS by Jen Drummond. I think she talked about this one at the atlanta film festival a few years ago. Not that there’s anything to say. She’s a roto-animator on the Linklater films and in her spare time she made this little doc about her crappy job at a grocery store. Not exactly Clerks, but good enough for what it is.

Pan With Us by David Russo, director of POPULI and one of my favorite animators ever. Watched this about ten times. Stop-motion with highly controlled animated foreground and wildly variating backgrounds… so animation without a set, in a live environment. Uses giant rolls of animation paper, cut-outs, translucent slides, metal sculptures, everything. Best short of this bunch, probably of the surrounding few years.

Ward 13 – awesome claymation action flick about a horror hospital, so impressive. Director’s doing live-action horror next, I guess.

Hello – Tape deck gets nervous around hot CD player, gets advice from old gramophone. Cute, neat sound effects.

Rockfish – tiresome indie 3D action sequence about hard dude and pet jarjar in badass moon rover fishing beneath rocky planet for giant dune sandworm.

Magda – stop motion puppetry where a contortionist and her biggest fan fall in love, then commerce turns romance into ritual and they fall back out. Pretty neat.

Fallen Art – by the guy who made Cathedral, and a strong improvement. The 3D is less serious and arty and dreamy this time, whole feel is cartoonish. Big soldier pushes little soldiers off a cliff, photographs are taken and sent to mad fat scientist who projects the photos to form a dance, and dances along. Surely some political commentary on the futility of war, but I just liked the dancing.

When The Day Breaks – one of those serious/sad shorts that’s always gumming up the otherwise fun/ny presentations. Since it’s hand-drawn and not intended to make kids squeal with glee, it’d probably be one of my co-workers’ favorites of this bunch. I thought was alright. Lady pig sees uptight rooster hit by car, goes home and thinks about it.

Fireworks by PES

The Meaning of Life by Don Hertzfeldt, big ol’ WTF here. So glad I saw this after his redemptive Everything Will Be OK. He worked 4 years using only handmade effects and 150 voices to form a film with no meaning of its own. Maybe the filming of this dull short was a performance art piece about the futility of life, hence the title?

Lifted – came in late and missed it, but it’s supposed to screen in front of Ratatouille so I’ll get another chance.

The Danish Poet – saw the end, didn’t look impressive, but cute maybe.

Maestro – cool, the inner workings of a cuckoo clock (that being the twist ending) with the camera moving around the room in increments like a second hand. Landmark liked it so much they played it twice in a row (or that’s because their heads are up their asses as usual).

The Little Matchgirl – too smooth looking, too disney looking, and too many credited animators. Unfairly sad little thing.

No Time For Nuts – an Ice Age short, also unfair. More importantly, not especially good/funny, not half as good as the Madagascar penguin short. Prehistoric squirrel-thing finds a time machine and it teleports him and his sole acorn all over, ending in the future with a fake oak tree. Poor guy.

A Gentleman’s Duel – 3D short with people, never a good idea but this one looked quite good. Uptight brit and uptight frenchie duel in battletech suits over pretty girl who ends up getting nekked with her butler/servant/whatever. Has its moments.

Guide Dog – only crossover with The Animation Show and my favorite of this bunch. Too bad, the Oscars could learn a lot from Judge and Hertzfeldt.

One Rat Short – brown rat follows cheetos bag into rat lab run by red-eyed robot where he falls for white rat. Cheetos bag causes chaos and the gates are all opened, brown rat escapes but white rat is left behind. SAD MOVIE.

The Passenger – kid is scared of dog, sits on bus next to fish in plastic bag that turns into hideous huge creature when he turns on his walkman. Funny, cool little piece.

Wraith of Cobble Hill – ugh, brooklyn kid with drunk mom drinks cough syrup with his friends, gets key to shop while owner is “out of town”, finally “saves” owner’s dog from rat-infested store. Claymation whatever.

Fantasia is exactly how I remember it. A drowsy opening, some pretty business, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, some more neat stuff, then the conductor announces the halfway point and I fall asleep, only waking up for the Night On Bald Mountain segment and the closing credits.

I guess the animation purists love it, but I just find it a pleasant excuse for a nap. Sorry!


Rabbit is an animated children’s book (complete with labels on everything) about a couple greedy, murderous kids getting their comeuppance via death by insects.

City Paradise is a cute Japanese girl learning English and wearing flippers – very nice look to it, reminds me of the Dave McKean short Neon.

Everything Will Be OK – good Hertzfeldt short, totally different style from the rest. More “mature” they’ll probably say. Too multilayered, sometimes hard to hear, gotta see again. Makes me a lot less apprehensive to see “The Meaning of Life” cuz even if it sucks I know he’s recovered since.
I watched this again a while later.

Collision – stars and stripes from flags colliding in neat ways. Pretty, short.

9 – awesome looking film of sock puppet guy with nightvision goggles, the ninth and last in a line of goggled puppets, using all his resources to defeat a giant rabbit monster. Soon to be a major motion picture by producer Tim Burton, who used up the only original ideas he’s had in a decade on “Big Fish”.

Eaux Forte – a light sketch sort of thing that I tuned out to recharge my mind’s batteries.

Overtime – funeral of a puppeteer given by the puppets, nice.

Dreams and Desires – funny, early plympton-looking drawn animation about a woman with dreams of being a great filmmaker making a horrible, drunken wedding video.

Game Over – video game scenes recreated with food, hilarious.

Guide Dog – surprisingly great plympton… I guess I like him again.

No Room For Gerold – CG animals sitting around a table having a confrontational roommate argument.

Versus – more CG, warlords on their own island castles fight over the tiny island between them, got big laffs.

TAS website says: “Versus” was directed by François Caffiaux, Romain Noel, and Thomas Salas from the French animation college Supinifocom. This is the same school that the film “Overtime” came out of. “Versus” has been one of the ‘hidden’ films in our current lineup but easily one of the better received audience favorites. More info on it soon!

Documentary about Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, pioneer in custom-cars, custom t-shirts, illustration and merchandising. Neat little movie with a fun Sadies score, but no big deal. The “talking cars” bit is just shots of Roth’s actual cars with the headlights pulsing and a celeb voiceover. Very little footage of Roth himself, just narrator and cars giving his story.

Roth’s take on Mickey Mouse in a custom car:
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Roth’s most famous creation (after Rat Fink):
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Jan 2010:
Watched again on DVD with Katy, who enjoyed it but kept commenting how obvious everything was – same thing I said when I first saw it. It’s still a nice movie, but watching a widescreen DVD on our square TV (similar problem as with Standard Operating Procedure) you lose all the detailed CG-animation magic that was added when sitting in front at the movie theater – so, all the story problems without the razzle-dazzle that made me overlook them last time.

all I wrote 7/16/2006 was:
Couldn’t help thinking of the Doc Hollywood comparisons I’d read before seeing this. Fun movie, looked great. More obvious than other Pixar movies. Nice enough preview for Ratatouille, our Next Great Hope. Patton Oswalt is in it!

Yay, exactly lives up to expectations. Great adaptation of the book, great casting and animation and interpretation. Which means it gets fully depressing at the end, and makes me sad just to think about it. Sits inside the mind of a drug addict and tears his mind apart, turns it into not just a paranoid government conspiracy but a small-scale personal tragedy. Amazingly, unexpectedly, Linklater casts his jovial stoner hero from Dazed & Confused as the first addict whose mind falls apart… seems like a personal comment thrown into what is otherwise PK Dick’s vision (even including Dick’s list of dedications from the end of the book).

“We were all very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief.” “There is no moral to this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled; it just tells what the consequences were.” – PK Dick

Excellent program, sadly underattended. Used to sell out both screenings – what happened?

The Moon and the Son
The Oscar ™ winner for best short in 2006. Might not have belonged in this program, since it’s more than twice as long as any other short here. Guy venting frustration with his Italian ex-mafioso father via animation. I’m not into the whole squid-and-the-whale family bitching scene, but this was pretty good stuff. Faith and Emily Hubley mentioned in the credits, I guess as animators, though Faith died in 2001.

Kinda crappy music video to kinda crappy song. Things float by in bubbles, okay.

The Little Matchgirl
Disney cartoon that looks like Disney cartoon but moves… a little too smoothly… something seemed somehow wrong. Sad lil story of girl freezing to death set to some important music piece I forget which.

Man Drawing a Reclining Woman
Stop-motion! Director was there.

Stop motion… old woman is Death, collects thread from dying street musician’s head after he saves little girl in the street, weaves it in her loom. Director was there, spent four years on it, is angry about Adult Swim.

Girl draws horrors from her past at orphanage, director sells drawings for lotta money, girl summons dragon to destroy director. Something about commercializing other people’s artwork… filmmaker must work for a heartless cartoon company that rakes in large profits while paying him beans. Unjust!

The Mantis Parable
I never get parables. The mantis wouldn’t save the caterpillar, but the butterfly saves the mantis, or something.

The Zit
Gross. Cat pops huge zit or something.

Drawing Lessons
Girl can’t sleep, learns to draw Picasso upside down while listening to thrift store tape or something. Director tries to nimbly jump between insomnia and drawing and tape facets of plot but didn’t seem so nimble to me. I don’t always get the point of cartoon shorts… seems like they put too much thought into being fucking nimble and end up with nothing much to say and then you’ve got everyone telling me oooh, The Cathedral is a great little movie and I should see it. Not saying Drawing Lessons is as sluggish as The Cathedral, but both focus so much on technique and nothing else – intended audience seems to be themselves and fellow animators.

The Sandbox
Now this one had something to say, I think. Maybe about the world trade center. Maybe about the tsunami, or about absent parents, or The Future? I didn’t get it… was kinda pretty, though. Kinda.

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot
Finally a great one. Fumi’s foot is bad luck, and everything crashes into it and hurts her, till she learns to use its extreme bad luck to draw misfortune away from others. Nice closing shot, with Fumi walking through a field, tripping bulldozers and things.

By the talented Joanna Davidovich. Girl on bench just wants to get along with cat, I think.

The Cathedral, part 2, wherein guy at restaurant grows old while waiter catches tiny fish for dinner. Great part involving screaming and arms falling off, the rest an exercise in tedium.

Fluid Toons
Fantastic plymptoon & stimpy style badass grungy little bunch of skits with more humor in ’em than everything previous (except Fumi) combined. Voices obviously done after the fact just add to hilarity. Downloadable too! Kinda terrible, but also the one I most wanted to see again. That’ll show all you serious artists.

More fluid toons, starring a chicken hunting rabbit. Artist in attendance!