Monday, May 6, 2019

Oregon Film History Conference & "Avengers: Endgame"

I just returned from my old home-town, Portland Oregon, where I attended a wonderful symposium organized by Anne Richardson and Dennis Nyback, of the Oregon Cartoon Institute.  It was a bit awkward for me, because of the a majority of the speakers talked about me and my work.

David Chelsea, an Oregon-based graphic novelist and expert on perspective, and Paul Harrod, design director par excellence ("Isle of Dogs") led a discussion titled "Brush Up on Bill", about some of my feature films, and Marne Lucas, an Oregon/NYC artist who also worked on one of my favorite short films, "The Operation", led another panel discussion.

with David Chelsea and Paul Harrod
Then the great animator and music video genius Jim Blashfield and I had a conversation about Oregon and independent animation, moderated by Chel White.

with Chel White and Jim Blashfield
This all took place on the beautiful Lewis & Clark College campus, high up in the forested hills overlooking Portland.

I remember 40 years ago, drinking in my favorite bar, the Veritable Quandary, when someone said there was an easy-access outdoor pool at Lewis & Clark College.  "LET'S GO!!"  So about 6 of us, male and female, jumped in a car and climbed the security gate, doffed our clothing and had a nice summer's night swim.  But if the campus police had caught us, we'd have dried off in the county jail!

Back to present day - I saw a lot of friends at the conference, the night before my talk there was a welcome reception at Black Hat Books.  Chel White, stop-motion genius, the great artist Mike Smith, the wonderful writer Mark Christensen - who after 40 years has moved back to Oregon.  It was a wonderful event and I had a great time.  Thank so much, Anne and Dennis!

with Mike Smith
By the way, right now Portland is probably the second largest scene for animated features in the U.S. Of course, Laika is in the middle of producing animated features, they just released "Missing Link" and are probably starting production on another one.  Henry Selick is producing his feature, "Wendell and Wild" there, and on top of that, Guillermo del Toro is in town, in production on his animated version of "Pinocchio".  It seems like Hollywood finally realized that there's something in the water or the air around Portland that produces great animators, so it just makes sense to open a studio there!

Also, last week I was able to watch "Avengers: Endgame", a much-anticipated film that I was really looking forward to.  Unfortunately, I left the cinema very tired and disappointed.  The first problem I had with it was the feeling that the directors, the Russo brothers, tried to cram every Marvel character, alive or dead, into the film - and my brain started to shut down from character overload.  At some point, more becomes less.

Also, when the Avengers finally rescue the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet, why weren't they able to defeat all the forces of evil?  But my biggest complaint is that, perhaps understandably, the main audience for this film is the gamers.  But can't they find a more peaceful way to resolve their issues than massive waves of good guys and bad guys punching each other to death?

This is a perfect film for the Trump era - we can't live together, so let's just pound the shit out of everybody.  For a 3-hour film, it seemed like 2 of those hours were fistfights and battles - and I'm the guy who makes films entitled "Sex & Violence"...

I give the film a C- and that's only for all the great special effects.

Now, here's my cartoon for the week...

--Bill P.

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