Cartoon Noir (1999)

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.


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