Archive for November, 2009

Fantastic Planet (1973)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , on November 28, 2009 by dpallee

Terr(right) fights an Om in the 1973 French animated film "Fantastic Planet"

By now most children of the 60’s and 70’s have seen this one, but for those of you who may have missed it, “Fantastic Planet” is a classic in both storyline and visual presentation. The original French version, titled “La Planét Savage” (translates to the savage planet) was the masterwork of French animator René LaLoux, whose work includes “Time Masters” (1981) and “Gandahar” (1987). The use of muted tones and pencil line contours rather than the hard-edged outline of most conventional 2d animation in the art give it a very soft appeal. Nice incidental music, mild nudity and a lot of hidden trivia for those who venture to study that sort of thing (case in point; Oms, the name of one of the races in the movie, was supposedly derived from the French word hommes, meaning men)

The story is based around two races of beings; the Oms are a small feral race of individuals who reside on this planet amidst the giant race known as Draags. The Draags are a telepathic race who treat the Oms like pets (or pests) and soon fall prey to the uprise of the oppressed Om race, led by Terr. I enjoy watching this one from time to time as a reminder of how expressive the visual artform of animation can be.

Idiots and Angels (2008)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , on November 24, 2009 by dpallee

Bill Plympton’s animated style is recognized at a glance with it’s sketchy, vibrating colors and images that grow into other images that grow into other images…his 2008 release of “Idiots & Angels” is a dark story about a man’s struggle with his soul. A selfish, not-so-lovable man wakes up one morning to discover he has wings. He tries to use them to his advantage, only to discover that the wings have a mind of their own and begin to cause him to weigh out his life. To me, the sign of a true storytelling piece of animation is when the story can be told with little or no dialogue. Plympton does this with fluidity and charm. Visit his site to see clips from his site here and if you are not familiar with his name, you will immediately recognize his art once it starts to play.

The Point (1971)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by dpallee

This story originated from the mind of the late Harry Nilsson who said, “I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to a point. I thought, ‘Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn’t, then there’s a point to it.” (source Jacobson, Alan (May 2004). “What’s The Point? The Legendary 1971 Animated Feature on DVD”) It took me a while to hunt up a copy of this as the original airing of it was on television back when a special program was typically shown at best, once a year. The Point follows the tale of a little boy name Oblio, a round headed boy in a village where by law, everyone and everything had to have a point. The sketchy style and expressive background coloring is very reminiscent of the old School House Rock short snippets on Saturday Morning where staying in the lines was ignored for patchy swatches of color as representational form. Voices provided for the characters include such notables as Ringo Starr (four people actually did the voice of the narrator, however, Starr’s voice was used for the home release of this movie), Davey Jones, Mickey Dolenz and Paul Frees. The storyline follows a highly imaginative group of individuals including giant bees, a pointing man and rock people. Be prepared for puns and double entendres as well as the melodious old songs of Harry Nilsson.

Gandahar (a.k.a. Light Years) 1988

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , , on November 23, 2009 by dpallee

from "Gandahar (a.k.a. Light Years)"

Here’s a tough one to find and even tougher to find in the English dubbed version (original language French). I place Isaac Asimov‘s name as an association to this film, as did Harvey Weinstein (after his purchase of the original version film Gandahar) for American audience attraction. A lot of editing interrupts the story but nostalgic fans of the magazine Heavy Metal may find it interesting to view. Gandahar is the last of three releases by René Laloux, the other two being Time Masters and the cult classic Fantastic Planet. The basic story line involves a fantasy world’s harmonious life being invaded by robotic drones sent to destroy their tranquility. Why? I suppose the intention of the mysterious source may implied….storyline on this one wasn’t the best and I can only surmise that a lot was lost in the interpretation. I did appreciate the underclass mutants in the movie, who step in and save the hero of the movie so he can go on to slaying the evil force later. Nice imagery, voice talents include Glen Close, Christopher Plummer, Bridget Fonda-they even got Teller from Penn and Teller to do a voice.

Gay Purr-ee (1962)

Posted in animation reviews with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2009 by dpallee

Warner Brother’s release of Gay Purr-ee is a classic example of Chuck Jones produced work (Jones most notable to American audiences for his work with the 1960’s prime time Bugs Bunny show) with a cast of characters and voice talent that made it a unique piece of entertainment. Judy Garland and Robert Goulet utilized their stellar singing voices in this musical adventure which reminded me of the Perils of Pauline…the helpless damsel always just missing true happiness with the one she loved. The songs aren’t too thick, although true showtune/musical buffs will appreciate this one more than most. Mel Blanc also uses his talents in this picture (most noted for being the ‘Man of 1,000 voices).

The story takes you from Provence France to Paris to Alaska following Mewsette (Garland) as she searches for the life of sophistication, leaving her beau Jaune Tom (Goulet) for the big city. It doesn’t take long before Meowrice (picture of Meowrice above-voice of Paul Frees) whisks her away to Paris (1895) to have famous artists like Monet, Degas, Van Gaugh to paint her picture and…well I won’t ruin it for you. This is a call back to an earlier time when show tunes and musicals were still fashionable, but I applaud this film as a classic.