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Entries in short films (74)


Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse

Tim here. Today, the short film Steamboat Willie celebrates the 85th anniversary of its theatrical debut. And that makes today, according to Disney, the 85th birthday of Mickey Mouse, cinema icon and greatest company mascot in the history of mascots. This despite Steamboat Willie being only the third Mickey short completed (it was, however, the first one commercially distributed). But if the giant media conglomerate wants to semi-arbitrarily choose by diktat which day we are to gather in celebration of their most famous son, who I am to disagree?

Anyway, It’s an ideal excuse to revisit Steamboat Willie, one of the best of all early sound cartoons. Of which it was not the first, no matter what you might have heard; it’s certainly the most technologically sophisticated, though, and the one that introduces the idea that animals and inanimate objects make melodically squeaky noises when you poke at them. Thus revolutionizing the world of cartoon sound effects down to the present day...

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The 2013 Best Animated Short Film short list

Hi everyone, Tim here. Those who know me in my other life at Antagony & Ecstasy are well aware of my affection for animation in its many forms, and starting this week, that’s going to be carried over here to the Film Experience. Officially, as of now, this space will be home to a weekly column about the current world of animation with, I suspect, regular guest appearances from classics of both American and international animated cinema.

And there's some pretty exciting news to kick things off. Right on the heels of the announcement of the 19 films submitted for consideration this year in the feature category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the ten-film list of titles that will be competing for the Best Animated Short Oscar. It feels a little bit like a course correction after last year, which saw two major studio releases hit the final five: the only brand-name contestant in the lot is the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Get a Horse! , a new Mickey Mouse vehicle that’s going to be attached to Frozen when it makes its wide-release bow later this month. Rather conspicuously, The Blue Umbrella, Pixar’s annual short this year, failed to show up, perhaps because the plot is a functional retread of last year’s winning film Paperman.

Feral – Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)
I know nothing of Sousa’s previous work, but the trailer makes this one look pretty incredible: a very penciled, scratchy aesthetic with the apparent illusion of mixed media.

Get a Horse! – Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
If nothing else, this sounds like it’s going to be a fun throwback to the more prankstery, old-school Mickey that Disney has been marketing all year. As the only big studio project, this is the one thing I’m willing to call locked for a nomination this year.


Gloria Victoria – Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)
Not only is the NFB one of the few national film programs that fulfills its mission of allowing talented people a change to make challenging, unusual work, it’s also great at making sure that work can be seen. By which I mean, you can watch this short online right now. Personally, I like the marriage of Shostakovich and 1920s-style lines and color, though the implicit narrative about civilization and warfare is a little overworked for such a small movie.

Hollow Land – Uri Kranot and Michelle Kranot, directors (Dansk Tegnefilm, Les Films de l’Arlequin and the National Film Board of Canada)
Right now the material online consists of a trailer and a clip, and though the very flat stop-motion animation is certainly striking, as is the dramatic darkness of the sets and lighting, it has the feel of a lot of other pantomime shorts out there. But there’s apparently quite a lot of story in there about the immigrant experience.

The Missing Scarf – Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)
Brightly colored and almost unbearably cute-looking, though we are promised that this will turn out to be ironic; you can watch the trailer for a taste. It stands out, but there’s not enough to say whether it’s going to be bright and imaginative and interesting, or suffocating in its overwrought pop-saturated images. George Takei as narrator does not immediately give one cause for hope.

Mr. Hublot – Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)
A hand-hewn mechanized world in which a man lives in deliberate isolation, this one is going to live or die on the strength of its design, which seems from the brief trailer to be very much in the tradition of  City of Lost Children or Terry Gilliam at his least disciplined.That might be delightful in a short enough presentation; we'll have to wait and see.


Possessions – Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)
I can’t find more than a still online from this anime-style marriage of 2-D and 3-D animation technique (the same mix that helped Paperman to its Oscar), nor a terribly helpful description of the plot. That being said, this category loves impressive technological work, and this seems like it’s got that in spades.

Requiem for Romance – Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)
Another film available in its entirety online.The visuals are tremendous: spare lines, flowing water ink backgrounds, and a nice nod to traditional Chinese art overall. But God, is it appallingly precious: awww, the break-up is reflected in the fight choreography! Clever enough, but banal as all hell, and I would certainly rather watch it with the sound turned off, which is probably not what Ng was going for.


Room on the Broom – Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)
A star-packed TV special from the creators of The Gruffalo (a nominee in 2010) and The Gruffalo’s Child (which didn’t even make the shortlist last year), made in a virtually identical style. I haven’t seen this one, but my problems with both Gruffalo films are identical (too long and slow-paced, the character design is very same-ey and uninteresting), and this doesn’t seem to be any different.

 Subconscious Password - Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment)
Landreth is a two-time nominee, and won in 2004 for Ryan, so it certainly doesn’t do to write this one off. But the deliberately gross mixed-media style (which you can see in the trailer) is absolutely not the kind of thing that everybody will respond to, and enough of it barely looks like “animation” as we typically think of it that I strongly suspect this one has a rough uphill battle.


All Links Day

Grantland Mark Harris on 12 Years a Slave and the Best Actor race
/Film Jonas Cuaron made a short film that will be a DVD extra for Gravity. It takes place on earth during one scene in the movie. 
Coming Soon The Addams Family getting a reboot. But I'm okay with this news since it's animated. If you're going to remake something, it's fine if you can do it in a new way. 

Deadline Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates for the musical education drama Boychoir
Shortlist Sandra Bullock extends the Feuding with Streep joke from their 2009 Oscar war
Popnography Sir Ian McKellens super short gay sitcom Vicious coming to American tv, also getting second season

The Switch has an interesting update on what's going on with copyright extension laws. I do so hope the internet finds a way to collectively fight back because the laws are ridiculous. So many things that should be in the public domain are not
The Wrap the ongoing drama over Ender's Game and the Orson Scott Card boycott. All reports, including this one, which seems thorough end up being kind of misleading. Apparently true: he has no profit participation or creative input; Not true: he will not make a dime on this. Fact: He already made those dimes, years ago when the deal was signed. I wish people would point this out instead of pretending/saying he makes no money from this movie. He makes no "new" money, sure other than the rise in book sales, but Hollywood already paid him and probably handsomely. So yes he does profit from the movie.  

Halloween Hangover
I know I know. Halloween is over and as with all things people celebrate with excess you're probably a little relieved. But just in case it's your favorite holiday and you need a little hair of the dog, check out these horror-themed treats 'round the web...

Jessica Alba and friends as The Witches of Eastwick! Her best performance ever? (from her Instagram account)

Slant ranks the best "final girls" 
Empire famous horror film child stars all grown up from Haley Joel Osment to Daveigh Chase
MNPP's hilarious "ways not to die" series gets a pervy Halloween Sssssss (1973) edition
Pajiba Miley Cyrus is smarter than Julianne Hough (the proof is in the costuming)
Cinema Blend chooses 9 movies that deserve to ascend into "halloween classics" 
i09 the best halloween costumes from 'round the internet (I love the Peter Pan couples costume so much!)


"Beetlelink! Beetlelink! Beetlelink!"

If you say it three times, a link roundup appears from the other side!

By now you've heard that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are prepping a sequel to the 1988 comedy classic Beetlejuice, largely because Burton has long since run out of ideas and better a sequel than another remake, right?! If they name it "Beetlejuice 2" instead of "Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice" I will be disappointed in their mundanity. I love that movie but honestly if this project does not star Winona Ryder I hope whoever deigns to see it will sit in the theater alone... *utterly* alone... because the rest of us should boycott. Noni was the best thing about the original aside from its playfully smart comic visuals including the Oscar winning makeup.

Now a few links...

E! Online reactions to the awful Parks and Recreations hiatus news
Women and Hollywood on male directors and depictions of female sexuality: Chile's awesome Gloria and France's buzzy Blue is the Warmest Color discussed 
Film School Rejects on the short film Next Floor by Denis Villeneuve. You should see it. It's so good and Villeneuve is having a prolific "moment", what with the 1-2-3 punch of Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy.


Interview: Actress Dánae Reynaud on "Club Sandwich"

Dánae ReynaudThe 51st New York Film Festival continues with Jose's interview with Dánae Reynaud, co-star of Club Sandwich

In a relatively short time, the young director Fernando Eimbcke has become one of the most original voices in Latin American cinema. With a mere three movies to his name, he's one of the few auteurs working outside the standard subjects of drug trafficking, crime and magical realism. His movies tend to focus on young people living ordinary lives and coming to terms with impending adulthood. To call them coming-of-age films wouldn't do justice to the larger truths they carry. His latest, Club Sandwich, is no exception; it deals with a single mother (María Renée Prudencio) who takes her son Hector (Lucio Giménez Cacho) to a resort during the low season.

The first part of the movie finds them bonding over sunscreen application, discussing Prince's sexiness and ordering the title meal. Things change when more guests arrive to the hotel, one of them being Jazmín (Dánae Reynaud), a sixteen year old who catches Hector's eye. Suddenly he doesn't want to be with his mom for long, he starts noticing he's growing a tiny mustache and secretly washes his underwear so that his mother won't notice the accidents he's been having at night. The film is a delight made even more special by the naturalistic performances of the three lead actors. Reynaud in particular brings a sense of mischief to a character that could've been villainized by a lesser actress. I asked the charming Dánae about working with Eimbcke and when she realized she wanted to act. You'll relate to her profound love of movies (after the jump). 

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