Monday, November 22, 2021

Fancine Festival in Malaga

If you read last week's installment, then you saw my rant about "Cryptozoo".  There were other films I saw at the Fancine, also called the Fantastic Film Festival of M├ílaga, Spain. 

The opening night film was Keira Knightley's latest, "Silent Night".  It starts out as a traditional Richard Curtis family holiday comedy - but then devolves into an end-of-the-world pandemic movie. Weird. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's not really a feel-good film.

Then, the much anticipated "Belle", from the great Mamoru Hosada. Talk about big budget - it's a traditional 3-D animation mixed with gobs of CG.  Thankfully, I saw in on the big screen so I could enjoy all the incredible detail.  It's a story about a young girl whose internet fantasies take over her life - I recommend the film for all its beauty.

Then I watched "Prisoners of the Ghostland" starring the great Nicolas Cage.  I won't talk about this film because you really don't want to see this film.

But the pick of the festival for me was a strange deadpan film called "Wild Men" by Thomas Daneskov of Denmark.  It's a quirky film about a normal guy who abandons his family to live in the forest dressed as a caveman with a bow and arrow.  The humor is very "Fargo-esque".  This loser "wild man" has many adventures with a bunch of assorted wackos and criminals that leads to a violent ending.  "Wild Men" is my kind of film, from the category I call "Twisted Noir". 

This was my first festival trip since the pandemic started, and even though there was a LOT of paperwork to fill out to visit Spain and even more to come back, it was worth it!  It's so great to be out traveling the world again!  I got to serve on the Fancine jury and the festival also commissioned me to make drawings of cats dressed up, to represent each film.  In the photo below you'll see me signing some posters with all the drawings of the cats on them! 

More good news, I just finished the basic animation for my newest animated feature film, "Slide".  I'm really loving watching the scenes fit together.  In fact, I love them so much, I'll show you a few of them, with each episode of my Scribble Junkies blog.  

Since it's near the holiday season, I'd like to remind all my fans that I'm available for caricatures and we have artwork available from "Your Face" and the "Simpsons" couch gags.  They make amazing gifts for under the tree!  

--Bill P. 

Monday, November 15, 2021


I've just returned from the wonderful Fancine Festival in Malaga, Spain - a festival that, like a lot of other cool festivals in Spain, showcases weird and fantasy films. 

One of the films I was anxious to see was "Cryptozoo", by Dash Shaw and his partner, Jane Samborski.  I had heard a lot about this film, it won a prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Films, which is something I've never been able to do. 

I remember seeing his first feature, "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea", which I wasn't that impressed by - but perhaps he'd matured and developed a nice style, and become an accomplished film maker.  

But, in all honesty, I think "Cryptozoo" could rank with some of the great classics of all time, such as "The Room" by Tommy Wiseau and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" by Ed Wood Jr. Yes, it's that bad!  In my humble and critical opinion - it's the worst animated film I've ever seen.  Although it's a good idea and title, everything else fails.  The backgrounds are abstract shapes with bright neon colors that make it hard to find the characters.  

The characters themselves are badly designed, drawn and animated.  In fact, they change throughout the film. The story is truly fantastic - but with no clear or entertaining plot line.  Strange animals, or "cryptos" appear and disappear for no real reason.  And I can't really remember the plot at all.  

The sound and music are also badly designed and hard on the ears.  The stars of the film seem to be on some kind of mission, and there are soldiers as part of the party that continue to kill cryptos - the other members of the party seem to put up with them as they continue to try to SAVE cryptos. 

One of my issues with art and animation schools is their lack of any color education classes - and apparently Mr. Shaw never took any color design classes, because there's a hodgepodge of crazy psychedelic colors everywhere.  Maybe that's the charm of "Cryptozoo" - it's a STONER film!  Even the credits are hard to watch and understand. 

I remember when my first animated feature, "The Tune", was released, and Charles Solomon of the L.A. Times (the premiere voice of animation criticism) wrote a review that eviscerated the film, and that killed the release in L.A., and hence the U.S. as well.  So I know the power of bad reviews.  However, I'm not the L.A. Times and I have no influence at all.  

And I think maybe part of the reason for my negative reaction is the success of this film with distributors in the U.S. and Europe.  How did such a bad film get such great success?  I'm jealous!  How did this couple sell such a lame film to the world?  

I must congratulate anybody who is able to make an animated feature film - it's a very rigorous and tough business.  But please, Mr. Shaw and Ms. Samborski, go back to film school and learn some art.  

I'll report on the festival in Malaga next week.


Bill P.