Short Film: “Oktapodi” (2007)

For some reason I never thought to share this one before. It was one of the very first animated shorts that I discovered on YouTube, and it’s equally hilarious every time I watch it. My niece and nephews also get a kick out of it. There’s a madcap, slapstick brilliance to it that reminds me of both Looney Tunes and Buster Keaton. But what are words in the face of it? I can say this, however: Oktapodi features one of the most entertaining car chases I’ve seen in any film, long or short. And there’s only one car involved.

It’s also kind of a sweet love story.

Another gem from Gobelins l’école. Here is more information about the filmmakers.


Short Film: “The Girl and the Fox” (2011)

“The Girl and the Fox”

Premise: A young girl who lives in the wilderness with her family takes it upon herself to hunt a fox that has been killing their livestock.

I like short movies like this. It’s a simple, sweet concept well-drawn and animated. The characters have bold, clear designs, uncluttered by unnecessary lines, but they move through landscapes of subtle shades (that, while almost certainly digitally drawn, look like watercolors). The music is smooth and ethereal to bring out the emotions, but is grounded by the natural sounds of the forest; as the high flute and lyrical strings play, we hear birds twittering and leaves rustling. The central concept of the story is a bit romantic and not likely to happen in real life (though I have heard stories of wild animals showing uncharacteristic care for humans), but there’s a layer of reality at its foundation: the girl’s family needs their livestock in order to survive the winter, and likewise the fox needs to eat in order to avoid starvation. The success of “The Girl and the Fox,” apart from the beauty of its art and sounds, is that it acknowledges this reality while still telling a tender almost-fairy-tale.

The Girl and the Fox from Base14 on Vimeo.

Congratulations to the team who made this for the awards it has received.

The movie’s official site.

Short Film: “Metro” and an update

Firstly, I apologize for the egregious lack of updating for the past two weeks. It was not what I had expected of myself. In fact, this whole year has been pretty bad as far as planned reviews go. I’ve been very busy with life stuff, but I’ve also gotten lazy. Fortunately, my reviews of the 1985 movie Legend and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island are nearing completion, and hopefully should pop onto the Internet before long.

(Notice the vague term “before long.”)

As a bit of a conciliatory gift, I do offer you another imaginative short film. This one—somewhat like Neverwhere—explores a sprawling, magical world beneath our city streets and among our subway and sewer systems. Unlike Gaiman’s book, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly murderous lurking around: just a white fox who steals orange subway tickets from little girls, before dashing off through the pipe system and into a surprisingly spacious underground world. This girl, however, gives chase (she must really have been looking forward to wherever the subway was going to take her), and what she finds—that is, what  the white fox seems to want her to see—is rather unexpected, and, I think, quite nice.

METRO by Jacob WyattLike so many short fantasy films, this one is like a visual poem. There is a story, but the purpose of the film itself is more about the emotional and artistic experience of it all: of the impressionistic, light-on-details animation, of the dreamlike, but sometimes insistent, piano music, and of the suggestion of beauties in our world that we haven’t yet discovered, not because they are so far over the horizon, but because they lie quietly under our very feet.

METRO by Jacob Wyatt

METRO from Jacob Wyatt on Vimeo.

Short Film: “Night Light”

I promise, an actual Post of Original Content will come before too long. I’ve got the Meme to finish and a bunch of other overdue stuff as well.

But first, another pretty animated short film. I had to watch it twice to understand what was going on, because it flies by so quickly, but it’s worth watching more than that just for the beautiful colors and music. It’s got enough heart to make you smile, even if it doesn’t have the emotional punch of After the Rain or Eyrie. And the central idea is really cool, dreamlike stuff. I wish it were longer.

Night Light from Qing Han on Vimeo.

Short Film: “Dinosaur Battle Town”

Now how can you resist a name like that? Dinosaur Battle Town is a short animated movie that happily delivers exactly what it promises, logic be hanged! For a short, experimental medium like this, I don’t bother to question the practicality of building a town on the back of a massive living dinosaur. That’s beside the point. The point being the Rule of Cool. Dinosaurs are cool, fantasy battles are cool, and towns are…well, towns are needed for lots of cool things to happen. For instance, you can battle over towns. And build them on top of dinosaurs.

This movie — which is funny in its style, though lacking a punchline — will probably leave you thinking: Gee, why isn’t my hometown on top of a gigantic dinosaur?

Dinosaur Battle Town from Eddie West on Vimeo.

…No, it doesn’t make you ask that? Am I the only one?

Directed by: Eddie West

Short Film: “The Lighthouse Keeper” by Gobelins School of the Image

Those who know me personally may be aware of my peculiar fascination with lighthouses. The romance and symbolism of those beacons attracts me, romances me, and causes me to think of important things. The vital responsibilities, the potential loneliness of the keepers, the beauty and conflict of the two worlds, land and sea, meeting at the coast, the light shining in the darkness, even on cloudful nights…all these I love.

And so it comes as little surprise that a short animated story that gets all these elements right is bound to delight me. “The Lighthouse Keeper” (or “Le phare”) by those talented folks at the Gobelins School of the Image is one of their most restrained in terms of color, taking place, as it does, at night. But the light and dark contrast is superbly and dramatically used. A fantasy, like all the others, it involves but one creature…a huge mosquito! Not exactly a welcoming thing, in my opinion. Neither in the lighthouse keeper’s. But as it turns out that, just when disaster seems certain, a surprise of the mildly eucatastrophic kind decides to appear.

“The Lighthouse Keeper”
(“Le phare”)

Short Film: “After the rain” by Gobelins School of the Image

Fishing with bananas as bait can catch you some strange creatures, apparently.

This may be my favorite of the Gobelins short films so far. It’s a real story, for one. It’s funny, beautiful, energetic, touching, and pretty understandable (despite a heavily fantastic nature). A perfect example is how the blue creature moves: it breaks all the laws of physics, and yet absolutely works for the character. Thinking back, I’m not sure I’d expect it to move any other way. It’s too full of joy and energy to move the way physics says a body its size should.

And while the film’s focus is on the boy and the gargantuanly cute creature, I also find the city itself to be of an intriguing design. All colored boards and awnings, stuccoed towers and rickety piers. Like an enlivening blend of all the different Mediterranean architectural styles. A place I’d like to visit, even if only in more stories like this one. And what’s that rooftop of balloon-things and a huge pool at the end? I don’t know, but I can’t deny it’s pretty neat!

After the rain
(Apès la pluie)