Blood: Disliked from the start, showing a neglected round-bellied child walking stupidly around some animals, hitting them, unsupervised, an animal herself. Movie explores the problem of AIDS in China, how it is widespread and misunderstood. Uses the ol’ “look how sad everything is, feel sorry for us” effect… more a mission than a movie.

Sari: the excised fourth Iraq Fragment (and seems shorter than the others), also about AIDS. The kid in this one is human, with thoughts and feelings, expressed in voiceover like the rest of the Fragments, as his mother runs the bureaucratic gauntlet trying to get him treatment.

I think in both situations the kids got the disease through blood transfusions… sad that’s still happening anywhere in this decade.

Doesn’t exactly make sense until the ending, where it is dedicated to a woman who wrote letters home from an asylum, so worth seeing again with that in mind from the start. Watched an old TV rip of this while pondering whether to spend $25 on their new DVD set. Really don’t need the director commentaries and I haven’t even gotten around to Piano Tuner of Earthquakes yet, so probably not.

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Lots of close-ups on pencil leads here. For the first half, my lowered expectations of the Quays’ work since seeing Institute Benjamenta were unaltered, but then it started to come together with the completely awesome music by Stockhausen, images growing less abstract and almost wanting to join a narrative of some sort. Some of the weirdest music I’ve heard… don’t know if I need to get an album or if, like Morricone, I’ll like it better set to images like these. Anyway, turned out to be a fine little 20-min film, in whatever station-logo-blighted form I managed to watch it.

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Bunnies – quick, great, 30 seconds long.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Ward 13 – awesome claymation action flick about a horror hospital, so impressive. Director’s doing live-action horror next, I guess.
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Hello – Tape deck gets nervous around hot CD player, gets advice from old gramophone. Cute, neat sound effects.
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Rockfish – tiresome indie 3D action sequence about hard dude and pet jarjar in badass moon rover fishing beneath rocky planet for giant dune sandworm.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Fireworks by PES
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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?
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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.

Le Coup du berger, or, Fool’s Mate or maybe Checkmate, with an all-star new wave crew. Rivette directed and narrated, Straub assistant-directed, Chabrol wrote, Truffaut and Godard had cameos, and Cahiers cofounder Jacques Doniol-Valcroze played the husband.

A woman’s lover (Brialy, he of the luxurious hair in Claire’s Knee) gives her a fur coat and she wants to keep it, but she’ll look suspicious to her husband. She they concoct a foolish plan: she pretends to find an airport claim check in a cab and has him pick up the case, where she’ll be pleasantly surprised to get a free fur coat! But he twists the plan by replacing the coat with something cheap and giving them good one to HIS lover. Gotcha!

A decent little flick… worth a look, but as Keith Uhlich in Slant says, it’s more Chabrol’s film than Rivette’s. He also says “the whole thing is shallow and obvious in ways that Rivette’s features never are”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I wasn’t assessing its worth in the Rivette canon, just watching for the fun of it.

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Fireworks (1947) – the one where young Ken daydreams that he is beaten by sailors and a roman candle is set off in his pants.

Didn’t blow me away as much this time, but maybe I’ve seen it too many times. Would still recommend to everyone as the definitive statement on being gay & 17, the United States Navy, American Christmas, and the Fourth of July. Just unbelievable that this was made in 1947, with practically no precedent… before even Stan Brakhage had picked up a camera. I guess Anger wasn’t old enough to know that this kind of thing was not done.

Fireworks sailors:
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Puce Moment (1949) – the one where a glamourous actress lives in her glamorous house, and a bunch of classic hollywood dresses are paraded in front of the camera.

Guess I didn’t see the point because I don’t care about dresses and glamour. Commentary was the best part. Anger’s mom or aunt or someone was a costume designer for the silent films, so he’s filming these dresses in vivid color which have only been seen on screen before in black and white. Part of a longer movie that got scrapped.

Puce woman:
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Rabbit’s Moon (1950) – the one where mimes do a dance in a forest, and one tries to reach the moon to impress a girl and I’m pretty sure he dies in the end, oh and there’s pop music playing.

Really neat, wasn’t expecting to find a mime movie on here. Anger says the film was commissioned and the actors were hired from the Marcel Marceau school. He talked about the storyline too, but I can’t remember much of that. Cool little movie – the one from this disc that I’d show off to people in my never-gonna-happen short-films fest.

Rabbit mime:
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Eaux d’artifice (1953) – the blue-tinged one where Ken just photographs water in some garden fountains and sometimes a woman (actually a very small woman) runs by in a fancy dress.

Maybe my favorite of the bunch. Just light sparkling through water, opera music playing. Peaceful.

Eaux d’artifice:
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Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) – the slow one where people in fancy costumes stand around and do stuff and finally blend in weird montages (or “the one with Anaïs Nin”).

I was dozing off, should watch again with the commentary on. A long, pretty, entrancing and colorful movie. Maybe best to watch while dozing, really.

Pleasure Dome montage:
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Rabbits! Eight episodes of rabbity nonsense, with Laura “Rita” Harring, Naomi “Betty” Watts, Scott “scenes deleted” Coffey, and Rebekah “Del” Rio.

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The rabbits seem to be having an actual conversation, but all the lines are out of order. So if you try to remember the dialogue in an episode, at the end you can piece it together, sort of. Or it probably doesn’t matter. And thrice there’s an episode where there’s just one person singing.

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And sometimes this happens.

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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!

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Six Figures Getting Sick
is exactly that. With an annoying siren.

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The Alphabet
is my favorite David Lynch short film so far.

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The Grandmother
is so disturbing on so many levels.

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The Amputee
is lame, but it was a one-off overnight project so whatever.

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The Cowboy and the Frenchman
is pretty damned funny, actually.

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Lumiere
is neat, with some simulated cuts and visual effects.

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