Carrying on where we left off from 1.11, and the wikis confirm that the stuff I didn’t remember from the series (suicidally British pilot Mari) is new to the movies. Doubling down on the Christianity stuff and the teen nudity. Asuka jumpkicks an angel to death, then when her robot becomes possessed, the bosses remote-pilot Shinji’s eva and beat the hell out of her. Some good action, slowed down by a couple of lame pop songs – and it’s fun that the subtitles only translated song lyrics in the final scene instead of the dialogue that might’ve explained what is happening.

Evident from the opening moments hyper-narrated by the lead girl that this is a movie for teenagers, not for me. Stuck around for the different animation style (blobby 3D humans with sharp anime expressions / red panda spiderman) and to see if her mom would turn into panzilla and murder an entire boy band (almost). This is the second time in a few weeks that I’ve thought of Detention – maybe I should put down the new stuff and just rewatch Detention.

The Beholder (1983, Chris Sullivan)

A restaurant scene and a street preacher, in constant states of absurd transformation, first-person camera flying through it all. Sound is field recordings, or a good approximation. Blobby watercolor, with inspired animation, comparable to Bill Plympton. Sullivan made a few shorts then got to work on his 2+ hour feature Consuming Spirits, which was recently on Criterion.


The Fall of the House of Usher (1984, John Schnall)

One problem with reading Poe aloud is that “acute illness” sounds like “a cute illness.” Usher House looks like an American suburban house from outside, but still has a butler. Ol’ Rodrick is worried about his sick sister, whom he maybe buried alive. The musician here can’t match the spoken phrase “the wild improvisations of his guitar.” Calm, soft candle-lit drawings with some good closeups. Schnall turned in the occasional short for the next couple decades, worked on Sesame Street, lives in New Jersey. These were both from the “Animation of the Apocalypse” video.


Hideous (2022, Yann Gonzalez)

Yann stages a talk-show transformation to four songs by The XX, or technically from their singer’s solo album. So it’s a music video EP. We need more stuff like this.


The Telephone Box (1972, Antonio Mercero)

I knew the general premise (man gets trapped in telephone box), but always imagined it as a cheap-looking b/w short, not this eye-popping Prisoner-era color. What seems like a stupid accident escalates when a procession of townsfolk can’t free him from the box, then apparently a phone-box truck arrives to fix the mistake, but nope, they pick up the box with man inside and cart it impersonally to a warehouse full of phone boxes with men trapped in them. Feels like a metaphor for oversized companies that set stupid procedures in place which keep merrily humming along even as they wreck people’s lives, but maybe this Comcast telephone hold music is influencing my thoughts.


Also watched an episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, and need to see the rest.


I feel like horror is underrepresented on the year-end lists, and deserves its own award show, so here are the 2022 SHOCKies nominations:

Best Writing:

Best Directing:

Best Acting:

Best Shocks:

Perfect example of a whim of an experimental concept getting painstakingly taken all the way, the arthouse festival-film equivalent of those people who create live-action remake videos of Mario Kart games. In Stephen King’s The Langoliers, the villain’s extreme “idle hands” anxiety has him constantly tearing paper, so Maragkos has printed the 3-hour TV version onto copy paper and ripped and torn it into an hour-long edit.

Cool concept, but the problem with your source material being a 1990’s TV movie is that your experimental film feels a lot like a 1990’s TV movie, which is quite bad, especially when the never-idle Bronson Pinchot is onscreen. Billy Crystal’s wife in City Slickers is top billed, for some reason. Dean Stockwell plays a mystery writer who has Got It All Figured Out (RIP Angela Lansbury). Frankie Faison is here to be the Black guy who gets killed first. There’s a blind Shining-child who helps out by feeling the spooky vibes. Not gonna blame King (who cameos) since I remember digging the original story, and despite all the clunky dialogue, the new version is worth the ride.

Linklater very suddenly diving into his decadent old-man era, sitting on the porch and proclaiming “when I was growing up, things were like this and that, we used to do the following activities, let me list every TV show we ever watched.” I’d think it a low-effort tossed-off nostalgia fest for the streaming circuit, but the work involved in making an animated feature rules out that theory.

Cursed Mutant kids meet up and share a musical connection. Tomona was blinded by the magic sword that killed his father, and Inu-Oh was born a mutant due to a deal his serial killer father made with a magic mask. Stories of mutants and curses are usually good, and Yuasa’s animation is playful and unusual, especially when visualizing how blind Tomona “sees” the world through sounds. But then after a half hour it abruptly becomes a hard rock musical… returning to sum up the kids’ stories at the end, but too late. And while some directors will shoot the plot scenes normally then make the style come alive during musical numbers, Yuasa does the opposite. The whole hour of rock & roll theatrics is full of repeated shots and movements and angles, third-rate early-MTV stuff.

The boys are misjudged as hardworking and brilliant and sent to space, where they cause some deaths and hop a wormhole into the future. Buncha plotty stuff about an astronaut-turned-congresswoman trying to murder them, the (w)hole point of the movie being to get them into situations where somebody nearby says “hole.” It’s no Matrix 4 or Bill & Ted 3, just minor brand extension / light entertainment.

A Dream Walking (1934, Dave Fleischer)

The soundtrack makes good use of the title song as Olive goes sleepwalking across rooftops into a construction site, while P and B beat each other up for the chance to be her rescuer. P “wins” and takes credit, but O gets home safely on her own. Some good 3D movement through the girder grid. Wimpy’s voice is different than I remembered it.


Adventures of Popeye (1935, Dave Fleischer)

Something different, a live-action child holding a Popeye comic gets beat up by the local bully, Popeye jumps out of the book and runs a clip show of action scenes from previous shorts, the kid gets the message, eats his spinach and pummels the bully.


Minnie the Moocher (1932, Dave Fleischer)

Betty thinks her parents are cruel for making her eat sauerbraten, so she runs away with Bimbo. They hide in a cave where Cab Calloway and his band perform the title song (they appeared in person over the opening titles but an animated walrus is his stand-in here) and this scares them into returning home. Anyway we’ve learned that Betty’ parents are German immigrants, so the name Boop might’ve been an Ellis Island misspelling of Boos or Rupp or Hoppe.


The Merry Musicians (1936, Aleksandr Ptushko)

Puppet animation: four old mistreated animals run away from home and form a traveling band, playing the same song over and over. Needing a place to stay, they find a house of thieves in the woods and scare away its residents, and live happily ever after. Not as much fun as it sounds.


The Barber of Seville (1944, Shamus Culhane)

I haven’t seen one of these in a while – is Woody meant to be chaotic evil? He goes into a barber shop to get a Victory Haircut to support the troops, but the shop is vacant so he takes over, terrorizing anyone who walks in. He does sing Figaro in the last scene.


Who Killed Cock Robin? (1935, David Hand)

How many Disney murder mystery musicals are there? A lady wren seems like a Mae West caricature. The cops respond to the crime with a wave of random brutality (actual lyric “We don’t know who is guilty so we’re gonna hang ’em all”). Turns out Cupid shot the robin, who was only dazed, wakes up to kiss Mae Wren in court. Travis Wilkerson later made a film with the same title. Oscar nominated, beaten by the same director/studio’s Three Orphan Kittens.


The Band Concert (1935, Wilfred Jackson)

Another orchestra toon, people were really into orchestras back then. Mickey’s conducting the William Tell Overture, and an early-model Donald interferes, as does a bumblebee and finally a tornado. Much violence ensues, excellent animation. The first technicolor Mickey, won an award at the third Venice Film Festival.


Clock Cleaners (1937, Ben Sharpsteen)

Literally clock cleaners, like with feather dusters on a clock tower, none of them especially competent. A nesting stork interferes. Some better aerial antics than the Popeye sleepwalking thing.


The Brave Little Tailor (1938, Bill Roberts)

A misunderstanding has Mickey appointed the town giant slayer, offered millions of “pazuzas” and the hand of the princess if he succeeds. I must’ve seen this short a hundred times as a kid, one of the few readily-available Disneys. MM getting swallowed is still a cool scene, and the giant swatting at MM in the same way that MM was swatting flies in the opening scene is nice. Our guy prevails, and the town harnesses giant-snores for wind power. Another oscar-nominated Disney short that lost to a rival Disney short, the far inferior Ferdinand the Bull.


Night on Bald Mountain (1933, Alexander Alexeieff)

Animated engravings? Ah, it’s pinscreens, invented by the director and his wife. Blobby 3D rotations, back-and-forth repetition, transformations, what looks like a photographed miniature town. This goes in a bunch of different directions, all set to familiar music. Can’t say I got what it’s going for (ghosts rampant on the mountainside?) but it’s a change of pace from the Disney stuff.


F├ętiche / The Mascot (1933, Ladislas Starewicz)

No subtitles, but a feverish kid is haunted by the roomful of dolls he’s resting in, seeing them come alive in glorious stop-motion. A wizard conjures an orange, fought over by a cat and monkey.
Dollmaker mom takes the dolls out to the city, presumably to sell, but if you’re sewing together evil dolls with souls, it’s a mistake to create a knife-wielding thug. He arranges an escape from the moving car, but rather than a fun Toy Story 2 romp through Fontenay-sous-Bois, they get trashed and broken and lost, only the cute dog surviving to the shop, though he escapes his buyer immediately and then it does become Toy Story 2. The blending of controlled puppetry and live-action chaos is beautifully done. Suddenly the devil is there, resurrecting the skeletons of eaten animals, summoning creatures made of paper and shoes and vegetables to his lair, where they party all night. Our doggy comes too, with his prize orange, which he never bites into, so it keeps getting stolen. Some of his old housemates are there helping cause havoc. The devil tries to sow discord and provide entertainment but gets his ass beaten to death – as does everyone else when puppet cops with clubs start brutalizing the innocent. The dog makes it home with his two uncredited-actor people (while Ladislas, who appears for ten seconds in the film, gives himself a prominent opening credit).


L’Idee (1932, Berthold Bartosch)

Guy has a good idea – his idea is for a miniature naked woman he can hold. He puts her in an envelope and mails her to the society of overdressed men, who don’t appreciate her at all, wishing her to be overdressed. The dreamer reimagines her fullsized then goes to town square to convince others that his naked-woman idea is good, but they are dicks and have him arrested and killed. A creepy guy who hangs out in crypts rediscovers the idea in the modern era and has her mass-produced on paper, and this idea givess an overdressed guy a new idea: that he should send people to war in order to get rich. Thousands die, while the original idea re-merges with the cosmos. Dour black and white animation, hard to tell what technique was used from my low-res copy, but the wikis say it’s multiple layers on glass with paper backgrounds.


The Little Match Girl (1937, Arthur Davis)

The barefoot girl’s matches are battered by a merry bustling new year’s crowd. She finds a quiet spot and starts lighting matches in a futile attempt to stave off the cold. From other versions I’ve seen, I don’t remember her lovely fantasies (having shoes and a doll and a parade of naked angels, etc) getting destroyed by a violent storm as she dies.


Galathea (1935, Lotte Reiniger)

An excellent followup to L’Idee, about a guy who sculpts a naked woman who comes to life, to the distress of his wife. He assumes he’s got a new sex slave, but Galathea trashes his studio and runs off. When the sculptor hears that she’s carousing at the pub he brings her home, where the wife tries to solve the problem by putting clothes on Gal, but that doesn’t go well. While everyone’s fighting, Gal transforms back into a statue and all the town’s women get their men back. Shadow-puppet animation of course, nice and crisp looking.


Daffy Duck in Hollywood (1938, Tex Avery)

Daffy causes chaos at a movie studio, then cuts a bunch of random pictures together onto a single reel, driving an Italian pig director insane.

An animated anthology released on netflix, so almost everyone has seen it according to letterboxd stats (as many as Kimi, 3x more than Phoenix or Mad God, 5x more than Downton Abbey 2 or Beavis & Butthead 2) and practically none of the critics/publications I follow have covered it. It got a TV movie nomination at Annecy, winning second place to a short called My Year of Dicks. All three are stories about absolutely doomed attempts at house renovation, something a lotta people can relate to, and it’s all extremely high-quality work.

1. After a visit by some shitty rich relatives, dad goes outside drunk and sad and makes a midnight deal with the satanic spirit of a phantom architect to build the family a glorious new house. The house comes fully furnished, with daily meals and newfangled electric lighting, but after they move in the house starts changing, the architect making “adjustments.” The kids find their old house in the basement of the new house, then crawl lost through the walls, while the parents go mad, burning all their old stuff in a trance then transforming into furniture. The baby falling down the stairs was a rare action highlight.

Small faces on big fuzzy heads, and an all-star cast: the little girl is Mia Goth, her dad is Matthew Goode (crazy uncle of Stoker), and the architect’s rep is Mark Heap. The previous mid-length movie by directors Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels won awards at Toronto and Annecy.


2. A flipper/investor mouse has fired his construction crew, is working on a renovation by himself during a recession. As soon as the house is finished he discovers a beetle infestation, which he tries to hide during the open house (at which he’s the only one wearing the little shoe-booties). An Odd Couple loves the house and decides to sleep there, then takes it over without paying – they turn out to be supermutant rat forms of the beetles. He goes mad, of course. As a new homeowner myself, I’m not concerned about this at all, nope.

Director Niki Lindroth von Bahr is Trevor’s Stockholm neighbor. I thought I’d seen all her shorts (though I’ve only written up Tord & Tord) but I’m just learning of a recent one; see below.


3. Cat Rosa is having a bad time fixing up the apartments she rents out, because the tenants don’t pay. It turns out new-agey tenant Helena Bonham Carter has a hippie handyman boyfriend, and Rosa is thrilled when he offers to help out. But he’s removing the floorboards to build a boat. The hippies turn out to be right, Rosa in denial, as rapidly rising water levels have doomed the house (actually it sails away too, providing the anthology an unearned happy ending).

Lead cat is Susan Wokoma of a Sherlock Holmes teen spinoff series, the broke artist Will Sharpe of The Wrong Door, and the handyman Paul Kaye of Game of Thrones. Director Paloma Baeza also acts, is married to Alex Garland.


Bonus short:
Something to Remember (2019, Niki Lindroth von Bahr)

Feels like The Burden part two. A continuous dreary song of hopeless depression, begun by a child in the first scene, continued into each subsequent scene by a character who was present in the previous one – from an empty zoo, through a mattress store and doctor’s office, culminating in nuclear disaster. Pretty catchy song actually, but the delightful innovation here is the clothing design on the birds, moles, beetles and slugs. Funny, the opening shot made me think of Roy Andersson, and Indiewire says she works with Roy’s set designer.