The 19th Annual Animation Show Of Shows (2017) (a film review by Mark R. Leeper).

There are two or three annual films that are collections of animated films that go on tours. One is composed of the animated films that are nominated for Academy Awards that year. ‘The Animation Show Of Shows’ is different. It is just a good collection of films. Some are fairly recent, one or two may be a good deal older. This year the best film was 53 years old. It has a good straightforward style of telling a story. Your mileage may vary, but I really prefer straightforward language to films that are ethereal and abstract. I will rate each film A, B, C, or if it is particularly good, AA or AAA.

Can You Do It’ by Quentin Baillieux, France. This is an animated film set on the streets of Los Angeles. It is seemingly a celebration of multi-culture where people are singing and dancing. There also seems to be a horserace down the centre of the street. Every one of the many different cultures is singing a song called ‘Can You Do It’. The same song plays under the closing credits. Rating: B+

Tiny Big by- Lia Bertels, Belgium. This film was hard to interpret. It seemed to be line drawings showing a family spending a day at the beach and there is a man shooting a gun. Things escalate until someone shoots a gun and it goes further until a missile pierces the planet. Any interpretation I would attempt would be pure speculation. Rating C

Next Door by Pete Docter, USA. A very cubist man lives in his world made up of geometrical shapes that give his world a sort of order. His next-door neighbour has noisy fantasies and fairy tales. They come together over a certain toy. Rating: B

The Alan Dimension by Jac Clinch, UK. Alan is a latter day Walter Mitty who seems to himself as having visions from across time and space. This gets on his wife’s nerves. Eventually, he decides to behave and ignore the visions but this may not be the best choice. Rating: A

Beautiful Like Elsewhere by Elise Simard, Canada. This film looks at some beautiful or not abstract space shapes. Some of the images are rather dingy. There is not much connective tissue connecting the starscapes. They seem to be pictures of celestial events. Rating: C

Hangman by Paul Julian and Les Goldman, USA. This is a 1964 adaptation and visualisation of a poem by Maurice Ogden but it is certainly a film that deserves to be plucked from obscurity. The story is actually very similar to a quote attributed to German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller: ‘They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Communist; They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Socialist; They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a labor leader; They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Jew; Then they came for me – And there was no one left to object.’ Rating: AAA

The Battle Of San Romano by Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland. This film uses animation to show the chaos of war. It is based on Paolo Ucello’s painting of that name, though it seems to be in theme much like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. But every figure in the painting is transforming into something else in a rolling boil of images. Eventually, the painting returns to its original form. Rating: B

Gokurosama by Clementine Frere, Aurore Gal, Yukiko Meignien, Anna Mertz, Robin Migliorelli, Romain Salvini, France. The title means ‘thank you for all the hard work’. If you think the daytime is busy at the shopping mall, you should be there in the early morning when the cleaning crew dance, sing and have adventures. Rating: A

Dear Basketball by Glen Keane, USA. When Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers was retiring, he wrote a love poem to the game of basketball and all it had done for him. Literally, as the title implies, this is a love letter to a game that has been his whole life and, being the best, he could be has been his goal all his life. Disney veteran Glen Keane has taken the poem and rendered it as visual images and music. Rating: B

Island by Max Mortl and Robert Lobel, Germany. This is a whimsical look at the flora and fauna of an absurd volcanic island. There is no story, but there are geometric animals moving to a rhythm. The art and animation is reminiscent of the classic film ‘Fantastic Planet’ (1973). Rating: A

Unsatisfying by Parallel Studio, France. Again there is no story here, we just see a number of objects that do not meet customer expectations. In some sense, the film can be consider it an homage to ‘Road Runner’ cartoons in which no technology ever worked. Rating: A

My Burden by Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden. I have no idea what this was all about. Apparently, because it has to do with human-bodied fish, mice, and apes or animal headed people, you have fishes that wear shirts and ties. All are at the Hotel Long Stay, dancing and singing poorly in Norwegian. All seem somewhat alienated. They are animated in old-fashioned stop-motion. Rating: B

Les Abeilles Domestiques (Domestic Bees) by Alexanne Desrosiers, Canada. This one just seems to show us a modular house with pieces all the same rectangular shape and size. People seem to have monotonous and repetitious lives in the modules. The odd paths through the house remind one of Robert Heinlein’s story ‘And He Built A Crooked House’. Rating: B

Our Wonderful Nature: The Common Chameleon by Tomer Eshed, Germany. This film one is a little comic in 3-D animation we seen an old-fashioned cartoon. This is a parody of the David Attenborough style of nature films. We are introduced to the common chameleon that has a tongue twice as long as its body. This proves to be a mixed blessing. Rating: A

Casino by Steven Woloshen, Canada. This is a piece of jazz music accompanied by crude drawings of casino objects painted on bright coloured backgrounds. It is impressionist but not a masterpiece. Rating: C

Everything by David OReilly, USA. Alan Watts lectures on how every sentient animal thinks it is a human being. Behind him is a wholly synthetic forest scene with bears doing somersaults. I was never a fan of his philosophy. This did not appeal to me in its profundity. Rating: C

Mark R. Leeper

© Mark R. Leeper 2017

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