Archive for July, 2011

Fritz the Cat (1972)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 22, 2011 by dpallee

from the 1972 animated film "Fritz the Cat"

I stumbled upon this movie again (having seen it in my youth) and almost passed it over for review. I told myself that what I remembered of the Ralph Bakshi comedy based off the R. Crumb underground comic character was nothing more than a sophomoric humor piece from the drug crazed 60’s era, but something told me to go back and take a closer look. My regard for Bakshi’s work persuaded me to sit down and see the film again and I was quite surprised at what I had forgotten about this movie.

Sure, it’s laced with drug and sex references and happens to be the first animated movie to receive an X rating but if you look beyond the obvious and actually look at the imagery and expressive direction of Fritz the Cat, you can see a lot of inspiration there. The movie is set in New York City in the 60’s. The main character, Fritz, is up to whatever he can latch onto that will get him high or in bed with a cute girl (or 3). Stereotypical depictions of characters, i.e. pigs used for police and crows used for African Americans in Harlem, are handled with a blunt realism to the times and give the humorous take on life during this period of American history. One of my favorite visual interpretations is the death of Duke, a crow he befriends in Harlem. The interpretive imagery is something I find lacking in a lot of today’s films.

Watch it for a laugh, but appreciate the visual donation to animated arts this film brings. For all of the negative people may find in Bakshi’s work, I have to stand firm on applauding his groundbreaking approach to cinema.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 19, 2011 by dpallee

Gin (left), Miyuki (middle back)m Hana (left) and the baby Kiyoko (front) from "Tokyo Godfathers" .

Excellent illustrative quality, good storyline and a heart-breaking scenario, all in this classic 2003 animated film, “Tokyo Godfathers” from the creative mind of the late Satoshi Kon. Kon brought such notable anime to the screen such as Paprika (reviewed by me in an earlier post) and Millennium Actress brings this tragic story of three street people who discover am abandoned baby while searching through some trash. Along with the baby are some clues to help this trio of misfits find the baby’s parents. The trio includes Gin, a homeless man with a gambling and drinking problem, Miyuki, a runaway high school student and Hana, a drag queen.

The color theme of the movie is set more in the night, in the city, and plays well with the feeling of life on the street. The underlying stories of all the characters would be a pretty sad tale to watch but Kon manages to create a humorous look at the strengths and weaknesses of the main characters. Tokyo Godfathers is not a feel good Disney movie but a classic nonetheless tat shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cartoon Noir (1999)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2011 by dpallee

from the short animation by Suzan Pitt, "Joy Street"

For those of you subscribers to Netflix who see this animated title pop up as a suggestion, be forewarned from me that “Cartoon Noir” is a bit dark (actually consider it more than a bit dark) and a bit long. The actual run time of the film is much shorter than you perceive while watching it as most of the six animated short subjects tend to have one waiting in anticipation for the thing to be over.The stories include Gentle Spirit by Polish animator Piotr Dumala, Club of the Discarded by Czech artist Jiri Barta, Abductees by UK artist Paul Vester, The Story of the Cat and the Moon by Pedro Serrazina (Portugal) an American artists Susan Pitt and Julie Zammarchi give us Joy Street and Ape.

I did appreciate the diversity of styles and techniques used in the shorts, for instance, Abductees is a short film based on interviews and hypnotic regressions from individual who have reported being abducted by alien. Vester uses snippets of live footage and mixes it with animations he creates from actual sketches and idea given to him by those allegedly abducted.

Dark brooding atmospheres prevail in quite a few of the shorts bringing imagery of death, loneliness, despair and alcoholism for you to view in shades of sepia and black. One of the most clever pieces, and the shortest, was The Story of the Cat and the Moon, a clever black and white animation that lets you listen in on the feelings of a street cat’s obsession with the moon-very well done.

Susan Pitt’s Joy Street, although long on length (and a shame that it was put at the last of this compilation, when most people’s attention span will have dwindled) is one of the more colorful, entertaining piece in this collection.

My end analysis of Cartoon Noir is it reminds me of a student animation film festival where you sit through a dozen shorts and like maybe one or two of them, but have to make an effort to sit trough the entire thing at one sitting. That is perhaps the great value of watching it on DVD or on Netflix as you can start and stop it at your leisure.