Perfect time of the year for a little fantastical. Give your self a break from the holidays, politics, the cold weather, sundown before 5:00. Dive into the whimsical “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore”, a wonderful ode to storytelling, books, writers and readers.
William Joyce’s creative and touching tale brings together animation, the literary arts, silent movie aesthetics and music into a satisfying tale of a solitaire writer whose town is swept up into a giant tornado ala Dorothy to Oz. Fortunately, the book that he is in the midst of writing lands next to him, although most of the words and letters within it have been blown away by the storm. He gets to his feet, collects himself and sets out on a walk where he encounters a small flock of flying books.
Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg, in concert with the animation team and John Hinter’s musical score, have made a warm and simple short movie. One which upholds the importance of the creative arts as its plot, and whisks your imagination away (or is that to…?). A fantastical fifteen minutes.
“No Robots” is a touching animation short by YungHan Chang (Taiwan). He and Kimberly Knoll (USA) directed the student film, made at San Jose State University. No Robots was his first animation project. It’s a mostly silent film, so don’t despair if you don’t understand the newscaster at the beginning; it’s quite easy to follow. I’ve always liked the warmth of ‘classic’ line drawn animation and colorization (even if it’s primitively drawn) over the often artificial 3-D computer-generated kind. It’s just easier on the eyes and more folksy. Add in an old city landscape setting and some futuristic themes (anti-robot demonstrations, robots that care) and I’m good to go. Nice job, guys.
I’ve always liked the image that cartoonists and writers have used to signify a new idea or inspired solution; the thought bubble with the lightbulb aglow. I wonder how the cartoonists handled it before Edison. Maybe they used imagery like a match lighting or the ‘ding-ding’ of a bell or a prospector striking gold.
Something occurs to us all of the sudden, whether it’s regarding a dilemma we’ve been puzzling over recently or an unfinished Great Idea that’s been lying dormant for a few years. We have our “Eureka!” moment and finally get to write the ending to our unfinished article or story, see the perfect plot twist for our movie, come up with a great idea for a new business or invention, or stumble upon an untried approach to a pressing societal need.
Even finding creative “A-ha!”s for how to remodel the living room, think outside the box on a work assignment, or combine the pantry contents into an imaginative improvised meal, creativity and those moments of inspiration can strike at any time in tasks both large and small. Where do the ideas come from? How does the brain navigate through the possibilities and then select the one that seems most appropriate? What makes a good idea and what happens in the brain during those lightbulb moments? Here’s author Steven Johnson’s entertaining animated take on it:
Here’s an interesting and provocative video by Heliofant, a new indy computer animation studio based outside Montreal. ‘I, Pet Goat II’ appears to be their debut piece of showcase work. Professionally done? -Check. Quality animation and soundtrack? -Check. Controversial? -Triple check, lol. Part horror movie, part divine play, I Pet Goat II considers what may lurk behind the tragic drama unfolding all around us. The Shock Doctrine meets animated featurette, with religion, war, profiteering, mass manipulation, tragedy, evil puppeteers and a host of dropped references and archetypes. Sort of like an instrumental atmospheric update of A Perfect Circle’s “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” video that blends in touches of North Carolina trumpetscape band Geezer Lake.
It’s a dizzying ride, with cultural tripwires galore. OBL wearing a CIA badge, an intensely meditating Jesus, W turning into BO, weapons as gifts to children, prisons, masks, exploitation and death; with layers of details spread through every frame. I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to feel hopeful for our species or not at the ending, but I think so. Maybe. There’s so much packed into the video, you pretty much have to watch it again and hit ‘Pause’ every few seconds to catch all of the details you missed on the first viewing. Someone could probably write a five page article on this; -as a matter of fact, there’s already a number of videos analyzing it on vimeo and youtube. The video plays a little smoother if you let it load ahead a bit first.