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The Salad Days

7 Jul

It used to be that all you could find on Netflix Watch Instantly were second-rate romantic comedies starring Katherine Heigl (and the Katherines Heigl of yesteryear), the low-budget porn-ish dredges of whatever National Lampoon is spewing out these days (although The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell does intrigue me…), or 30 Rock. I love you 30 Rock! We need to find a better list for 30 Rock to be on. Anyway, Watch Instantly is getting so much better! I no longer need to spend all night trying to find something I can justify wasting two hours watching, and the most recent finds have proven to be surprisingly inspiring. Monty Python: Almost the Truth, a documentary that originally aired on IFC featuring interviews from the surviving members plus a whole heap of comedians who love them.

Delving deeper into the world of Monty Python has been so interesting to me not because I’m unfamiliar with their work, but perhaps because I’m too familiar. The crew has always been a part of my life. In fact, the story goes that when I was keeping my parents awake at odd hours of the night as a baby, they would sit up with me and watch re-runs of the Flying Circus on PBS. And because it has always just “been there,” I’ve really taken advantage of how odd and incendiary it is. Furthermore, their work aligns so well with my father’s sense of humor (smart, nonsensical, meandering) that I still find myself trying to put together exactly what everyone else finds so odd about it. Doesn’t everyone’s father reenact the Ministry of Silly Walks scene at the mall?

Whoops! My dad is the coolest.

In any case, the documentary has made one previously discounted thing more obvious to me: the stunning, ridiculous, spot-on animations of Terry Gilliam. Mr. Gilliam is surely the most under-appreciated of the bunch, with very few people realizing his contribution to be equal to that of the other Pythons. This isn’t an unfair conclusion; after all, he was the only American, he rarely had screen time, and when he did, he was usually there just to look goofy and promote a laugh or two. However, the documentary really highlights his work and demonstrates how necessary his contributions were. He provided the perfect end to an endless skit, segued into others, and found the foot that would become forever associated with the troupe. The documentary also mentions that he was paid so little that he had to do all the animations without an assistant, which for a weekly television program is frankly insane. And as an animation fiend, I’m sort of ashamed that I’ve ignored his work for so long, as he truly is on point with the likes of Max Ernst, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Svankmajer, and the Brothers Quay… fart noises totally withstanding.

And lastly but not leastly, do yourself a favor and watch this. It makes me happy whenever I’m blue…

Photo via Vanity Fair.


Lost things.

24 Mar

Stop-motion animation, especially when done with a human subject, has always been a favorite medium of mine. Something about the way the subtle jolts hearken back to early, stuttering nickelodeon bits always tugs at my vintage-loving heartstrings, and the whimsical possibilities make for a nice shaking up of the ushe and the regular. This short film featuring the face and music of Alison Sudol is simply a lovely example:

Directed by Angela Kohler and Ithyle Griffiths.

“Look” by Sebastien Tellier

24 Mar

This airy (Air-y?) song by Sebastien Tellier has me looking forward to warm outdoor gatherings, but it’s the video’s darkly comedic concoction of naughty and macabre imagery that truly snagged my attention. The animation was done by French collaborative couple Petra Mrzyk & Jean-François Moriceau, who get an amazing range of material from a simple repetitive shot of, well, a woman’s arse. Needless to say, NSFW… but, you know, in the artsiest way.

Here is something I can’t actually show you… but it’s a good something! You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

3 Sep


I recently watched a wonderful short film by Toby MacDonald called Je t’aime John Wayne on the Cinema 16: European Short Films DVD (incidentally, Rabbit was on there too – it’s a great collection). The black and white short is an homage to French New Wave (which caters precisely to my predictable taste) featuring an English chap trying to act like Belmondo in Breathless, which is doubly funny since Belmondo was a Frenchman trying to act like an American. I would love to share it with you, but it’s unfortunately nowhere to be found on the internets. All I can offer you is the Cinema 16  trailer to give you a taste:

Martin McDonagh of In Bruges fame has a priceless short in the collection, too, as does Jan Svankmajer. Netflix it, quick! It says it’s a very long wait, but I believe it will be worth it.

The cuckoo revolution will be televised!

2 Sep

Last Time in Clerkenwell, by Alex Budovsky:

I thought this looked oddly familiar, and it’s because it is the sequel to the equally worthwhile Bathtime in Clerkenwell, which was featured at the Animation Show awhile back. Via The Denver Egotist.

I’m a loner Dottie, a rebel.

2 Sep

From Gallery 1988‘s Crazy 4 Cult 2: This Time It’s Personal show, which features artwork based on cult classic films:

Erica Gibson, from Fargo


“Johnny Eck”
Alex Pardee, from Freaks


“Effervescent Pestilence”
Jesse Riggle, from Evil Dead


“Five Scrumdiddliumptious Youths”
Justin Degarmo, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Texas Chainsaw Massacre


“Believe in Nothing”
Allison Reimold, from The Big Lebowski


“Special People Equals Retarded”
Mike Maas, from Welcome to the Dollhouse


“Pee Wee and His Dog Spec: Before the Curious Incident with the Bike”
Andy Suriano, from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure


“Alamo Fair & Rodeo”
Ben Walker, from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure


“I Awoke Early the Day I Died”
Gris Grimly, from Ed Wood


There are many more, and nearly everything is good. Check the rest of the works out here. With that, I’ve been reminded two things:

         x. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is soooo good!

         x. Not enough people have seen Ed Wood. What is wrong with all you people
             who have not seen Ed Wood? See Ed Wood, please. 

Greedy, murderous children: the best.

20 Aug

This short animated film has the potential to ruin a part of your innocent, children’s book-lovin’ heart, or perhaps even your sunny concept of children altogether. Luckily for me, that part of my heart was ruined a long time ago and  I hate children, so I think this is the best.

Via Videogum.