Friday, March 27, 2020

Virus update / new music video coming

Because of the Covid/corona virus, I find myself stretched thin economically - I've got three huge jobs on the horizon, but because many other offices are shut down, that horizon seems to be getting farther away. 

The weird thing is that the virus has stopped all live-action motion picture production - so it would seem like a good time for animators, because many of us can do our drawings from the safety of our homes.  So, one fortunate thing during this pandemic is that I've been able to get a lot of work done on my next feature, "Slide".  Maybe it's odd to look for a silver lining in these dark days of a health scourge, I don't know.

One job I'm very excited about is a music video I'm animating for saxophonist Jeff Pearring - the track is a bit different from the other music videos I've made, no country/western, instead it's full-out experimental jazz.  But what's really interesting to me is the opportunity to get really dreamlike and almost abstract with water-colors.  Although it still looks Plympton-esque, it's also going to be very crazy and surreal.

It should come out in a few months, I really don't know the title yet, but I'll certainly let you know when I find out. 

Here's my gag cartoon for the week - very appropriate for shut-in New Yorkers like me.

Later,

Bill P.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Short films streaming on Shout Factory!

Hello, everyone, I hope that wherever you are, you're coping as best you can with this terrible virus that is spreading across the world.  As you may know, my animation studio is in New York City, which has quickly become the new epicenter for the crisis.  I am still drawing in my studio, as we have a number of animation projects in different stages of production, but my producer and office manager are now working from home, and we're trying our best to follow the new rules about staying isolated from each other and maintaining "social distancing".  It's funny, New York City has long had a reputation for putting a large number of people close together, and sometimes that's caused a lot of friction - and now after the corona virus hit, they're telling us that we all have to separate ourselves, which is not easy to do in such a big city.

If you remember, back in early March I was supposed to go to Paris, on a trip I was very excited about, and it got cancelled because of the effects of the virus in France. Shortly after that we started to see film festivals in the U.S. being cancelled, and of course now all movie theaters are closed and even bars and restaurants because it's dangerous to have people gathering everywhere.  The whole entertainment industry is being rocked, because it relies on people going out and getting together, watching concerts and movies in a shared experience. 

I heard that a lot of movies are now going to be on streaming platforms much quicker than before, so while we all deal with this crisis and enforced isolation as best as we can, I wanted to let everyone know that my short film library is now streaming via Shout Factory, and you can check my animation out on their web-site at:

http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/plymptoons

Shout Factory has been really great, I signed a distribution deal with them last year, and first they put all of my features on the big streaming platforms, like Amazon, Google Play and Apple TV+.  I had been trying for years to break into those markets, but I only managed to get one feature ("Cheatin'") on Netflix, and that was just for a limited time.  So I really want to thank Shout Factory for getting my library out there in the digital world for the first time. 

I just found out that my short films are also streaming now, thanks to this article from SVA that lists a bunch of other things to binge-watch while you're quarantined at home.  So if you've already seen my short films, and you're looking for more ways to pass the time, give these a try!

https://sva.edu/features/sva-watch-list-13-tv-shows-and-movies-to-binge-during-quarantine

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and remember, it's important to stay entertained too! 

--Bill P. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

My trip to North Carolina, "Slide" music

I've just returned from my planned week-long trip to North Carolina, and then Paris - except Paris never happened!  The French government apparently ordered a ban on public gatherings in enclosed spaces to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, so my big weekend doing a Master Class in Paris was cancelled - damn!  Because I love Paris and I know I have a lot of fans there.

However, my show in Asheville, North Carolina was a big success, with a lot of fans from UNC.  During the day I was able to create 8 songs for my new animated feature, "Slide", with two musical geniuses, Maureen McElheron ("Your Face", "The Tune") and Hank Bones ("Hair High").  To me, this is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of filmmaking, hearing the music come together, and then putting it together with the finished animation just blows my mind.  What you'ree see in the video posted here is a very rough cut of "Slide" with Maureen and Hank creating the music as it plays.

When I came up with the concept for "Slide", my idea was to make a cowboy musical, using old Hank Williams and Patsy Cline's kind of music.  Obviously, I can't afford the rights to their songs, so I brought in Hank and Maureen, who are, again, musical geniuses.  When I start putting their music with the rough animation, it helps so much to define the film for me.

I hope you enjoy seeing this film coming together as much as I do -

Thanks and Ciao,

Bill P.


Friday, February 28, 2020

Upcoming Events

I've got a lot of very cool events coming up, and I want to tell you about them -

On Monday I'm flying down to Asheville, NC to do a Master Class at the prestigious University of North Carolina.  It will take place on Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm, at the Rhoades/Robinson Hall 125 - and the public is invited.

It will be a grand event - I'll be showing a lot of my new films and works-in-progress.  I'll also be introducing the composers and musicians for my upcoming feature, "Slide".  So if you are in the area or know anyone who lives nearby, "Y'all come down now, ya hear?" And as usual, everyone who attends get a real Bill Plympton sketch.  So don't miss it!

You can see more information about this event here:

https://www.unca.edu/events-and-news/event/presentation-by-independent-animator-bill-plympton/


Hank Bones, my main music man, actually lives in Asheville, so my visit there is double-purposed. Maureen McElheron, songwriter, composer of the music from "The Tune", and several of my short films ("No Snow for Christmas", "Can't Drag Race with Jesus") and singer of the classic "Your Face" is also coming to help with our "Slide" music sessions.

From there, I fly to Paris, France for another big event.  I'm appearing at the IAMAG 20 Master Classes event, held at Forum des Images, March 6-8.  My presentation will be on Saturday, March 7 in Salle 500 at 5:45 pm.  I'm very excited about doing this show - I love Paris and I probably have more fans in Paris (where I'm often recognized on the street) than in NYC (where no one knows me, or at least pretends not to recognize me).


I'll also be able to visit my friends, distributors and publishers over there and catch up on future business projects -

You can see the full schedule online and learn more about this event here:

https://masterclasses.iamag.co/iamag-master-classes-2020-schedule/

UPDATE - As of March 4, 2020, this event has been cancelled, because of the Corona virus and the resulting influence on Paris, as the city has apparently instituted a ban on large crowds gathering in enclosed spaces.  The event organizers have started a relief fund to help them keep their company going after being forced to cancel, so if you can help, please follow the link below and donate, especially if you would like to see more events like this in the future.  Thanks!

https://masterclasses.iamag.co/donations/iamag-master-classes/

One more project I do want to promote is an upcoming animation convention organized by Phil Machi in Austin, Texas (one of my favorite cities).  This will take place on May 8 at Ao5 Gallery, and at this point, I'm planning on appearing at the event.  Any way I can help promote animation, I'm there.

Let's make this happen!
He's still raising funds for the event on Kickstarter, so here's the information - please consider contributing to make this event possible:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/livestockproductions/toon-in-atx

If you want to boost animation in Texas, this is the way to go  - as you probably already know, the great Don Hertzfeldt lives there, and legendary superstar Mike Judge's from around there also.  Anyway, if you're in Austin in May or anywhere nearby, swing on by!

I've got time for a quick gag cartoon before I leave on Monday - check it out below.

Thanks,

-Bill P.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Animation Update part 2 - "Slide"


Dear Readers, 

This week, I'll be showing another clip of me creating drawings for my upcoming feature, "Slide". 

Also, I've just finished a new music video for the great Matt Jaffe, it's called "Voodoo Doll", and it should come out soon.  I think you'll like it, the music is fantastic and the animation is a different style for me, one that really matches the music quite well.  

My new gag cartoon this week was written a while ago, but now it seems quite timely with all the ecological issues of today.  I hope you like it - 

Bill 









Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Oscars review

I hope you watched the Academy Awards - because apparently it was the lowest-rated Oscar show ever.  They need your eyeballs!

I personally enjoyed the event, except for the Eminem rap song about I don't know what.  First, I hate rap.  Second, he kept getting bleeped so I couldn't really get into the song, and lastly, what the hell did Eminem's song have to do with this year's Oscars?  The show is already too long and now they're just tossing in irrelevant performances like it's the Grammys...

After seeing all the short animated films, the winning film, "Hair Love" was my least favorite.  Perhaps it was voted in to honor Kobe Bryant?

As for the Best Animated Feature winner, "Toy Story 4", I liked the story, of course, but I would rather see something fresh and different win.  To me, "Klaus" was the outstanding film of the year - so charming, original, and also hand-drawn.  But of course, you realize that Pixar and Disney artists rule the animation categories!

And although I like "Parasite" a lot, I was shocked that "Joker" didn't win.  It's such an original and over-the-top film.

I'm including a new gag cartoon below -

Thanks,

Bill P.


Friday, January 31, 2020

Animation Update

This week, I'm sending a sample of the animation work I'm doing for my upcoming feature, "Slide". Here I'm drawing Delilah, the heroine of the movie.  I hope you like it.  And I'm also including a new drawn gag cartoon -

Thanks,

Bill






Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Oscar Voting

Sorry for the long delay between posts - I spent a week and a half in Oregon for the holidays, and now I'm back to work.

Yesterday was the deadline for the voting for the 92nd Oscars nominations, with the nominations revealed next Monday (January 13) - and the awards will be presented on TV on Sunday, February 9. As a member of the Academy, Shorts and Animation branch, I got to vote on nominations for live-action shorts, animated shorts, animated features and also live-action features (aka "Best Picture")

Due to my busy schedule, and the shortened voting season, I wasn't able to watch any of the live-action shorts in order to vote in that category.  The live-action shorts are much longer than the animated ones (though "longer shorts" sounds a bit like an oxymoron) so it's often difficult to see all of those films.

The Academy warns us not to reveal our preferences for the nominations - however, the deadline for nominations has now passed, and there are so many members in the Academy (about 8,000) I doubt that revealing my selections will take away any of the mystery over who will win the gold statuette.

So here are the films that I selected for feature animation - I've already discussed these films here as my favorites, so this probably won't be a shock to my regular readers:

"How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World", a new sequel from my favorite series with beautiful art and story; "Klaus", by Sergio Garcia with brilliant 2-D animation; "Missing Link", a very funny, clever film from Laika; "I Lost My Body", a very strange but compelling story of a hand searching for its body; and "This Magnificent Cake", a film that came out of nowhere for me.  It wasn't until the night before I voted that Signe Baumane alerted me to this gem.  I immediately watched the film online and was blown away by the style, great sound and wonderful characters.  It's about the colonial evil perpetrated by the Belgians in the Congo during the 1880's, which is a bizarre coincidence because I'm also now reading "King Leopold's Ghost", about the same ugly events.

For animated shorts, the shortlisted films I liked were: "He Can't Live Without Cosmos", by the great Russian director Konstantin Bronzit; "Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days", a beautiful film by Regina Pessoa; "Mind My Mind", by Floor Adams from Holland; "Sister", by Siqi Song; and my all-time favorite, "Hors Piste", a very wacky Tex Avery-style rescue film.  If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on "Hors Piste".

In the live-action feature category, I chose: "Parasite", a dark comedy from Korea; "Yesterday", a beautiful comedy from Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle; "Booksmart", directed by the brilliant actor Olivia Wilde (she's got a big career ahead of her); "Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood" by you-know-who, a little too long but genius; and of course, "Joker", by Todd Phillips of "The Hangover" fame.

So, those are my choices - watch for the announcements coming soon on January 13th.  And then we can all see how I did.  Now below is my cartoon for the week:

Thanks,

Bill P.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Two Big Deals

I've got two very exciting announcements to make - so get ready, fasten your seat belts!

The long-awaited DVD collection of "The Simpsons" season 19 has just been released by Fox Entertainment.  Unfortunately, they chose not to put my artwork on the front and back cover, they decided to go with their staff artists for that.  However, everywhere else - inside the package - is Bill Plympton art!  There's an inside fold-out with 10 panels, an illustrated booklet, plus original animation for all the disc menus, guides and intros.  All of these have true, new, Plympton art!  There's a "family road trip" theme to the art, and I feel very honored to be involved with this DVD collection, especially since I didn't start animating any "couch gags" for the show until Season 23!

The producers over at "The Simpsons" hinted that this may be the last set of DVDs released this way, now that all the old episodes of the show are streaming on Disney Plus.  So it may behoove you to go out and get this co-production of Matt Groening and Bill Plympton before it sells out - and if you see me at any event, please ask me to sign this DVD set.  Then it may REALLY be collectible.

The other big deal is a new book put out by CRC Press called "On Animation: The Director's Perspective - Interviews with the Most Talented Directors in Animation".  About five years ago, Ron Diamond, Bill Kroyer and Tom Sito began conducting interviews with some of the biggest hot-shots in animation, including me!  But also giants like John Musker, Ron Clements, Andrew Stanton, Brenda Chapman, Nick Park, Tomm Moore and Chris Wedge.


I haven't finished reading the book yet - but each chapter is full of gems of animation knowledge and gossip.  For me, the most exciting thing is hearing about John Lasseter's travails at Disney, then the astounding success of Pixar that totally revolutionized animated feature films.  I was spellbound to hear about his unique ideas and challenges to change the world of animation.

One curious side note is the fact that all of these animators have strikingly similar stories to tell.  They all grew up in woebegone areas in the middle of nowhere, loving Disney animation, hoping to one day work for Disney.  A lot of them, like myself, bought and were influenced by the Bob Thomas 1950's era book "Art of Animation" about Disney, and of course, the great book "Animation" by Preston Blair, one of the great animators.  I actually met him in his house in Carmel, just before he died - one of my favorite meetings.

But if you have any interest in animation or filmmaking, this book is so illuminating and inspiring. After reading it, you can't help but want to run out and make an animated film.

I give both of these products my A+ recommendation.

Happy holidays and a Merry Christmas!

--Bill P.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Christmas Shout-Out

It's almost Christmas time - I'm sending out cards and trying to wrap up a bunch of animated productions.  So I thought this would be a great time for some promotions.  Here at the studio we have lots of unique gift ideas for holiday shopping, so if you're still stuck on what to get for the people in your life -

We have great deals on DVDs, my entire library of features and shorts, most DVDs are just $15 and some are even cheaper.  And we have new BluRays of the features "Cheatin'" and "Revengeance" available.

Also, we have a number of books available, collections of my print cartoons like "We Eat Tonight", "Sloppy Seconds" and the very impressive coffee table book "Independently Animated: Bill Plympton".

Plus, some very rare artwork from my films, including original art from "The Simpsons" and shorts like "Your Face".

And then there's one of our most popular items, an original caricature of yourself or a loved one, drawn by the master himself, Bill Plympton.  If you ever wondered what you might look like as a cartoon, here's your chance!  We started offering this as a special holiday promotion several years ago, and it was so popular that we never took the offer down, and I probably draw two or three caricatures every month!  One family even recently requested for Christmas to be drawn as the Simpsons family, sitting on that famous couch!

Just visit the main store here:  http://www.plymptoonstore.com/

You'll probably see the caricature offer first, but then you can navigate through the site to find the DVD or book or piece of artwork that you can't find anywhere else!  You might find one of my DVDs or books on Amazon or eBay, but my own web-site is still the best place to get them!  And if you have any special requests or can't find the film you're looking for, just contact John H., my office manager, at:  john@plymptoons.com

And if you buy anything between now and Christmas, I'll include for free my handmade 2019 Christmas Card!  And if that's not enough, we're going to be posting a little Christmas short film called "Santa's Other Talented Reindeer" for FREE!  How about that for holiday spirit?



I wish you all a very merry Christmas holiday - and I'll see you in 2020!

--Bill Plympton

Friday, December 6, 2019

New film round-up

As an Academy member, each day I get a shipment or two of DVDs containing Oscar-eligible hopeful films.  Some are well-known films that I missed in the cinema and others are obscure docs, foreign films or even more obscure art films.  But I endeavor to see everything - which is an impossible task since I'm still trying to create two feature films of my own, and I have very little spare time.  So I'll avoid talking about the "duds" and only review my favorites here.


"Yesterday" is a curious film that was released over the summer, it's about a failed musician who discovers that nobody remembers the Beatles or their music except for him.  And as he begins to perform their music, he becomes a giant genius of rock.  It was written by the great screenwriter Richard Curtis of "Love, Actually" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" fame.  It was directed by Danny Boyle, who made "Slumdog Millionaire" - somehow these two worked miracles with the storytelling, humor and great Beatles music.  I love this film.  It's a delight and already on my top ten for this year.


The other film that's way up there is "Booksmart", directed by Olivia Wilde.  The film came out earlier in the year and I think the problem was that the title really turned me off. It seemed like it would be an intellectual teen drama, so I never watched it when it was in theaters.  But I got the Academy screener DVD, and the minute this film began, I was laughing out loud, and that continuted throughout the entire film.  And that doesn't happen often, it must be very hard to do.  The humor was raw, in-your-face and outrageous, which makes sense with associate producers like Adam McCay and Will Ferrell.  Definitely check out "Booksmart" - Olivia Wilde is going to be a superstar director.


And finally, I just screened "I Lost My Body", directed by Jéremy Clapin, which won the Audience Award at the Annecy Festival and the Grand Prize at the Cannes Critics' Week.  It's a very clever story of a dismembered hand who is searching for his original body.  It's kind of a love story - there are some wonderful moments in the film and you can see why it won all those awards.  It's made for film festivals!

But for me, it's too serious and arty.  The style is 2-D rotoscope - it looks nice but I prefer more stylization and caricature in my films, and also definitely more humor.


The other event I want to talk about is my recent trip to Spain for the Bilbao International School Zinema Festival.  They screened "Revengeance" and I held two Master Classes there - they didn't draw huge audiences but I got very enthusiastic receptions.

I was able to go to the fancy Guggenheim Museum, the one designed by Frank Gehry - it's a beautiful building in a beautiful city, but the shows were so boring!  One entire floor of boring photo portraits.  Then on the bottom floor was a large room of Richard Sera's large rusty metal slabs - I see the same thing every day at NYC construction sites - why do I need to go to Bilbao to see that?


I'll be reviewing more animated features here in the future - there are still a lot more eligible films from 2018 that I need to see!  Now, please enjoy this week's gag cartoon!

--Bill


Monday, November 25, 2019

Recent Films


For me, one of the most anticipated new animated films is "Klaus" by Sergio Pablos.  (If you recall, I hung out with Sergio about a month ago in Vancouver at the Sparks Animation Festival - photo reposted here as a reminder.)  I've been seeing clips of this film for a while and I was knocked out by the beautiful 2-D animation - so I was excited to see this fantasy about the birth of the Santa Claus legend (perfect timing for Christmas, right?)

with Sergio Pablos in Vancouver at the Spark Animation Festival.
And sure enough, the animation throughout the film is extraordinary - the design, the movements, the personalities are all perfection.  Also, the story is very cool - little bits about where all the elements and details of the beginnings of the holiday story came from.  Plus there's a wonderful plot about a ne'er-do-well rich kid who finds meaning in life.

The only tiny problem I had - actually, there were two problems - I felt the script was a little second-rate, full of dialogue clichés and expressions that lacked wit and flair, and that extended to the voices.  There was no real personality in the voices, they were flat and unmemorable.  Yet, I still think "Klaus" ranks up there with "The Polar Express" as one of the great holiday films.  I rate it an "A-".


The other film I watched (a little late, though) was "Joker".  I'd heard all the gossip and reviews about what an outstanding film this was, and I must say I totally agree.  Even though I'm not a fan of overly gorey films, I have to say that "Joker" is a masterpiece!  Probably one of the best films I've seen in the last few years - the script is a knock-out, the camera work is visionary, the direction is experimentally wondrous and Joaquin Phoenix's acting is truly mesmerizing.  One of the most powerful images is when the lead character takes off his shirt and you can see his twisted and deformed back...I'm sure it's not CG because I remember in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" you could tell that Joaquin's back was a little strange.  But for his role in "Joker" it seemed so appropriate to reveal the Joker's deformed body in order to reveal his anger against the world.  Because of his searing acting and bodily revelations, in my humble opinion, he's now the front runner for the Oscar.

with Todd Phillips after the "Joker" screening
After the screening I attended, Michael Moore was interviewing the director, Todd Phillips (of "The Hangover" fame).  It was a fascinating talk about how the Joker reflects the political state of our country right now. After the Q&A we all got to hang out with Todd and Michael - and Todd revealed the fact that this film with a "tiny" budget of $60 million has now grossed over a billion.  Surely one of the most profitable films since "Deep Throat".

with Michael Moore after the "Joker" screening
I'm off this week to Bilbao, Spain, for another master class and screening - I'll tell you all about it next time - but have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

--Bill P.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Casablanca

I've visited Morocco a number of times - in 2007 and again in 2013 I appeared at an animation festival in Meknes, and while there I was able to visit the historic city of Fez.  Since I've had a lovely time on my travels there, when I was recently invited to Casablanca to present a Master Class, I immediately said yes.

The event was held in a cultural organization called Uzine, where they have concerts gallery shows and films. My class had a nice crowd, not large but incredibly enthusiastic, they wouldn't stop applauding.

The Uzine had an interesting gift shop, where one could purchase graphic novels and art books by young Moroccan artists.  So I could see there's a lot of young creative cartoonists there, just looking for a way to make it in the creative world, and I encouraged them to try animation.

While there, I was able to do some sightseeing.  First I wanted to visit the historic Rick's Café, mentioned in the film "Casablanca".  To be honest, it's not the original café from the film, that was a set in Hollywood.  But someone put together a recreation of the famous fictional watering hole for tourists and fans of the film.  Unfortunately, we arrived at 3 pm and it was closed.  Too bad.

Is this where Humphrey Bogart served drinks? 
Then I went to the Atlantic Ocean - took a dip but the waves were too wild to go swimming at any depth.  Then our next stop was the giant mosque - a beautiful religious temple on the edge of the ocean.  We couldn't enter because we weren't of the Muslim faith - but what a lovely sight!


And finally we toured the famous Casbah, where I got to walk through the market and purchase some delicious pistachio sweets and oranges.  And I got my photo taken with a camel!


I'm including my latest gag cartoon - I hope you like it.  Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

--Bill P.



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Home From France + Frozen II

I was invited to go to Lille, France, to take part in an event called "video mapping".  Now, I'd never heard of this term before, however, getting invited to a beautiful French town for an artist's residency to create a "video mapping" sounded good to me.  Upon my arrival, they took me to an old opera building from the 19th century - the plan was for me to check out the building, take photos and then they told me my art would be projected on the front of the building.  Oh, that sounds interesting!

(I do remember a few years ago, I watched films of endangered animals being projected on the Empire State Building to the amazement of Manhattanites - Oh, that's called video mapping!)

The next day, all the invited artists gathered at an artists' studio that had been converted from an old coal mine.  Included in this batch of international artists was Frank Dion, who is one of the greatest illustrators and animators around.  Then there was the great Marc Caro, director of "The City of Lost Children" and the wonderful "Delicatessen".

Working in a (former) coal mine!
It was interesting because all of the other artists were digital creators, working on their laptops.  So there I was, using pencil and paper, storyboards and a lightbox.  All the other artists would gather around me to check out the retro style of my animation.  But even with my old-school ways, I was able to finish my job in the prescribed week, while everyone else was just getting started.

with some of the artists-in-residency
At the closing night party, I was able to sit down with Marc Caro, and he told me a cool story about making and marketing "Delicatessen".  After a successful screening, Marc and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were approached by Harvey Weinstein, who badly wanted to distribute the film - except he stated that he had a list of just a few edits that he would demand.  Marc said that Harvey wanted to cut all of the directors' favorite shots, then Marc told Harvey that if he did that, he could add another shot to the edit list, and that was their names in the credits....

with Marc Caro
All of the video-mapping films will be premiered the night of April 3 in Lille.  So if you're in Lille on that date next year, definitely check it out.  It should be a fun night.

Last night I was invited to watch an early screening of "Frozen II".  Now, quite frankly, I didn't get the great appeal of "Frozen", probably because I'm not a 6-year-old girl.  But I thought that I should check out the sequel and maybe by now it will make more sense.... NOPE!! I still don't get it!


Although there were some beautiful scenes - especially the close-ups - I felt that the story was weak, the characters were clueless and the songs were the same Broadway show-tune crap.  I have two more problems - one, these two films are creating an entire generation of wanna-be princesses.  God help the guys who have to date these brainwashed girls when they hit 16.  Number two, their eyes are so big that I wondered if their eyes were the usual spherical shape.  How do those eyes fit in their little girl skulls?  I mean, what keeps them from popping out?  If you have an answer, please let me know.

Anyway, I give the film a "C".

--Bill P.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lots of films and Spark Animation 2019 in Vancouver

Well, it's Oscar season again and I'm getting a lot of new Oscar-qualified films to see.  Some good, some bad, but way too many for me to watch.  So here are some quickie reviews of the ones I've managed to see.

Last week I rushed out to see "Parasite", Bong Joon Ho's new film, because everyone's been talking about it (that's the best kind of advertising there is...).  First of all, I'm a big fan of his earlier stuff, like "Okja" (which I loved), "Snowpiercer" and "The Host".  "The Parasite is about a scheming poverty-stricken family that gloms on to a wealthy Korean family.  And like a parasite, they bring a whole lot of damage to their host family.  It's quite twisted and graphic, but it could have used more humor - plus it's way too long.


Another film I liked was "Ford v Ferrari", directed by James Mangold.  I really wanted to see this film because in college I became really interested in sports cars (I wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo) and racing.  Then the Caroll Shelby AC Cobra came out and I was in love.  Even though I never rode in one, it became my obsession - and this film's story comes from exactly that era.  So I guess I liked it for nostalgia reasons, but it's also a really well-made film - great drama, characters, humor and racing!  I totally recommend "Ford v Ferrari".


Then last week, I took a 4-day visit to Vancouver, BC, Canada for the up and coming Spark Animation Festival.  I visited Vancouver 20 years ago to visit my animation heroes, Danny Antonucci (of "Lupo the Butcher" fame) and Marv Newland ("Bambi Meets Godzilla") - so it was wonderful to reunite with them and also Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden.  We also competed for the Oscar way back in 1987 - but another Canuck won, Frederic Back for "The Man Who Planted Trees".
With Sylvia and Danny Antonucci
with David Fine and Alison Snowden
After the screening of the "Animation Outlaws" documentary
But the real buzz of the festival was for Sergio Pablos of Disney fame.  He was showing clips of his soon-to-be-released Christmas comedy "Klaus".  And the clips were friggin' amazing.  What talent!! And his storytelling was superb.  I haven't seen the whole film yet by it's definitely #1 on my watch-list.

with Sergio Pablos, director of "Klaus"
I also got to hang out with the great Bonnie Arnold, producer of "Toy Story" and the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, plus I had a long chat with Glen Keane, animator extraordinaire and Oscar-winner for "Dear Basketball", on the need for better draftsmanship and life-drawing among today's young animators.

And finally, on the last day, I watched Robert Valley talk about his short film for "Love, Death & Robots" called "Zima Blue".  Speaking of draftsmanship - his drawings of women blow every other artist out of the water.  Whew!  What a talent!

with Robert Valley

Fortunately,  I also had a few hours to walk around Vancouver and explore the beautiful city - what a joy!  Keep an eye on the Spark Animation Festival.  It's got everything, great artists, great films, great audiences, plus it's in a great city and it has a super director, Keith Blackmore.


See ya,

Bill P.