Emily Prime, a year older than last time, is visited by an incomplete backup copy of her third generation clone, who is using time travel to visit her own inherited memories. The clone hopes to copy Emily’s consciousness over her own, a process which somewhat succeeds, after some memory tourism, personality glitches, future history lessons, and of course, philosophizing on the meaning of life and our individual place within the universe.

The computer-animated mindscapes and off-world dystopian future visions are as great as in the previous film, which I’ve been known to call the best animated short of all time. So I had absurdly high expectations, and Episode 2 met them, feeling like a perfectly natural continuation of the first film. Not as many mindblowing new ideas in this one since he set up so much previously, but the writing (based around conversations with a six-year-old) is probably better, circling back to each idea and conversation in a self-conscious loop while expanding the ideas about memories and identity.

World of Tomorrow is out on blu-ray!

I watched it again, along with the others.

The Meaning of Life (2005)

I was hard on this the first time I watched it, having expected another Rejected, and was dismissive the second time, but appreciating it more and more. Interesting visual effects illustrate Hertzfeldt’s nihilist meanderings, which would be explored from a more personal perspective in It’s Such a Beautiful Day and perfected in story and dialogue form in World of Tomorrow.

The Simpsons Open (2015)

I am simpson! I am simpson!

Give me your money. Give me your money.

World of Tomorrow extra (he teases a sequel in the interview):

Rejected (2000)

I didn’t mean to watch the movie that beat Rejected at the oscars on the same day, but that’s how it turned out.

Appreciate the paper effects in HD.

Lily and Jim (1997)

Been a good while since I watched this blind date story. “Women just don’t understand me! Come to think of it, this is a problem that a lot of women seem to have.”

“I really don’t like coffee… and actually I’m extremely allergic to the caffeine but, you know, I didn’t wanna ruin the evening or anything.”

Billy’s Balloon (1998)

Seen this a thousand times. The picture remaster isn’t revelatory because the miracle of the comedy is all in the audio and timing. Always worth watching again, tho.

Roughly in descending order of how much I loved ’em.

World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)


We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (Konstantin Bronzit)

An ode to friendship and space travel. Pretty traditional-looking animation with some fun effects (I loved when the stars turned into falling snow) and a beautiful story. Bronzit has made a bunch of shorts including the oscar-nom Lavatory Lovestory.

Prologue (Richard Williams)

Firstly, holy crap, Richard Williams is still working. Looks like a very good figure-drawing exercise come to life – a single “shot” detailing a violent gladiator fight and the moments before and after.

If I Was God (Cordell Barker)

That’s National Film Board of Canada legend Cordell Barker, of The Cat Came Back and Strange Invaders fame. The animation here does not disappoint, terrific stop-motion, though the story’s just alright: reminiscing of schoolday fantasies.

Sanjay’s Super Team (Sanjay Patel)

Saw this with The Good Dinosaur.

Bear Story (Gabriel Osorio Vargas)

From Chile – Lonely bear has a complicated mechanical box that tells his life story of being kidnapped and imprisoned by Pinochet’s police zookeepers, losing his family while away – though in the mechanical version his family stays. Not wowed by the animation but I loved the inventiveness of the “mechanics”. Doesn’t Osorio mean “bear river”? Was that bear the director?

The Loneliest Stoplight (Bill Plympton)

Not Plympton’s best work about inanimate objects in love (that’d be The Fan and the Flower), but cute. Patton Oswalt voices a stoplight who’s had some good times but is now mostly forgotten since everyone takes the highway.

The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse (bunch of French directors)

Hard to focus with the girl behind me saying “soooo cute!” over and over, but I guess a fox and a mouse take turns saving each other’s lives and become friends. Second animated movie I’ve seen this month casting owls as the villains.

Catch It (bunch of French directors)

A wannabe Ice Age, meerkats vs. a vulture. Every year when this program needs to fill time it throws in something animated by a gang of French people.

These shorts programs are fun, even though World of Tomorrow looked better on my TV than on the movie screen somehow. Watched the 2014 program at The Ross and the 2013 in Atlanta… and I guess the 2006… so I’d have some catching up to do if I got a sudden urge to watch all the oscar-nominated animated shorts ever… not that I’d do a thing like that.

World of Tomorrow (2015, Don Hertzfeldt)

Emily Prime is contacted by her third-generation clone, discussing memory, robots, love and life in the outernet of the future.

Only 16 minutes long but I watched it seven times.

Choose You (2013, Spike Jonze & Chris Milk)

Written by Lena Dunham and directed by Spike Jonze – and yet it’s terrible? I think that’s because it’s a corporate-sponsored short made for a music video awards show. Anyway, subtitled and censored, club dude’s ex-gf is now dating DJ Michael Shannon, some girl he doesn’t even know freaks out about this, then Jason Schwartzmann hosts a choose-your-own-adventure ending and double suicide is chosen.

The Discontented Canary (1934, Rudolf Ising)

A sad caged canary gets his chance to escape, but nature beats the hell out of him, so he returns home, learning to appreciate his captivity. At least he wasn’t hit by lightning like the feral cat. Moral: life is just horrible.

The Alphabet (1968, David Lynch)

Now in high-def!

Les jeux des anges (1965, Walerian Borowczyk)

Heads roll.
Pipe organ becomes firing squad.
Angel wings.
Infinite scrolling.

Mouseover for decay:

The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918, Winsor McCay)

Didn’t realize this was a WWI propaganda film. “Germany, once a great and powerful nation, had done a dastardly deed in a dastardly way.”

Intro explaining how difficult the movie was to create, and plenty of title cards, so the nine minute short has maybe four minutes of animation. But the animation is real good stuff, all water and smoke.

We Give Pink Stamps (1965, Friz Freleng)

Absurd fun in a department store as the Pink Panther torments the night janitor.

Closed Mondays (1974, Will Vinton & Bob Gardiner)

Great claymation. Wino wanders into an art gallery, hallucinates (?) all the paintings and sculptures coming to life.

Night Mail (1936 Wright & Watt)

I’ve heard this is one of the greatest short documentaries. True, it’s admirably put together, showing all the moving parts in a great, manned machine that moves the mail across England and Scotland really damn fast. And it makes you marvel at the heights of human endeavor. And it ends with a post office rap song. So yeah I was gonna say it’s just a doc about a mail train, but I guess I see their point.

Monster (2005 Jennifer Kent)

Beginnings of The Babadook (there’s a pop-up book and everything). Monster-doll grows into full monster and attacks son, mom screams at it, tells it to go to its room.

Fears (2015, Nata Metlukh)

Terrific 2-minute animated short linked by Primal.
A man literally embraces his fears.

Restaurant Dogs (1994, Eli Roth)

Student film in which an evil brigade of fast-food restaurant mascots is bloodily defeated by a young dude who’s given a mission from the Burger King himself to save his daughter the Dairy Queen. Something like that, anyway. I thought the guy only wanted to buy a milkshake, and suspected he was drunk, so I’m surprised he signed up for the murderous mission so quickly.

Given all the trademarked properties being mixed with nazi images via Terry Gilliam-style cut-out animation, I thought I’d better watch this as soon as I heard about it, rather than wait until our corporate overlords remove it from the internet like they did the Soderbergh cut of 2001: A Space Odyssey which I’d been meaning to watch. Besides Reservoir Dogs, there’s some Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now in the grimace/hamburglar flashback scene.

Ritual (1979, Joseph Bernard)

Under three minutes, viewed online as a trailer for the new Bernard blu-ray, which I obviously need. Drawings, figures, people and scenes and stuttering colors cut together into changing rhythms and overlays. My favorite bit has an overlay of two scenes, one of which is cutting, an effect I don’t see often.

Part three continues Bill’s disintegration after Everything Will Be OK and I Am So Proud of You. Eventually Bill loses almost all of his memory, then drives away and dies alone in a field – but no, the narrator decides Bill can’t die, not ever, and will regain his senses then wander the earth and the universe for eternity. Personally I wasn’t all that attached to Bill, even after watching the first two segments together with this one as an hour-long feature.

from part 1:

mouse-over for televised head injury:

from part 2:

from part 3:

mouse-over to see increasing intrusion of live-action footage into Don’s animation:

Wisdom Teeth (2010 Don Hertzfeldt)

Dude offers to pull another dude’s stitches.
I kinda half-watched this with eyes averted – don’t like dental-horror.
Sounds like they are speaking swedish?

Last time I saw a filmmaker personally touring his film trilogy around the country it was Crispin Glover, whose new one is called It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. Hertzfeldt’s first two are called Everything Will Be OK and I Am So Proud Of You. Similarities end there, though.

Kicked it off with The Meaning of Life, which I hadn’t seen in a while but didn’t remember liking. Removed from the post-Rejected anticipation and taken in context of his recent introspective films, it’s not bad at all, just a bit one-note. We all die, and we are only one step in the evolutionary chain, not necessarily the best and final form of life. Wotever, Mr. Hertzfeldt. Looks super-nice on 35mm. I said mean things last time I saw it.

He played Rejected and Billy’s Balloon, both of which I have memorized and I think most of the crowd has too. Broke up the next two movies with Intermission in the 3rd Dimension, a fluffy piece of ridiculousness which I think both Don and the crowd wish he’d do more of.

Everything Will Be OK and I Am So Proud Of You are the first two parts of a planned trilogy about Bill. The first section focuses on Bill’s unnamed illness, his inability to function in everyday life. The second flashes back and forth through time exploring Bill’s childhood, present, old age, and ancestors and all the awful ways they all died. They’re good movies, and I love the look of the peephole split-screens. I mostly feel they’re depressing midlife-crisis movies, but there’s just (barely) enough warmth and love in there to keep it from falling apart.