Here’s Another Helping of Delicious Western Spaghetti!

Here’s Another Helping of Delicious Western Spaghetti!

Western Spaghetti is a classic, a tasty short film, with animation by PES and Javan Ivey. The film won awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Annecy Animation Festival and was named #2 Viral Video of the Year by Time Magazine. Everyday objects become delicious ingredients as we learn how to cook spaghetti through stop-motion photography.  It’s funny how truly mouth watering this film is, you can almost smell the fabric!

Here’s Another Helping of Delicious Western Spaghetti!

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Yours Truly: The Ultimate Kiss-Off Letter

Yours Truly: The Ultimate Kiss-Off Letter

Yours Truly is a truly amazing stop-motion animated eight-minute short film by the British animation genius, Osbert Parker.  The film was nominated for Best Short Animated Film by BAFTA in 2008 and won the Best Short Film, British Animation Awards in 2008.  Despite widespread critical acclaim, Yours Truly has not been available on DVD, nor accessible online until now.

The film’s dark, hard-boiled plot builds upon both the atmosphere and characters of famous film-noir movies of the past.  It’s a crazy combination of stop-motion, cut-out animation and live action that creates a new and strangely re-imagined mean streets of 1940’s Los Angeles, where animated photos of people get out of model cars then turn into real life actors. The impact of Yours Truly is so powerful that you won’t be able to take your eyes away from this wonderful world of shadows, guns, femmes-fatales, and love mixed with betrayal and murder.  Try imagining Casablanca mixed with Double Indemnity on peyote, then shut your eyes and you’ll get the idea.

I double-dare you to watch this movie while trying to eat a juicy bacon cheeseburger!!

Yours Truly: The Ultimate Kiss-Off Letter

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Hot Dog: A Tail of Sadly Broken Dreams

Hot Dog: A Tail of Sadly Broken Dreams

Hot Dog is an animated short film by Bill Plympton, the third animation about Plympton’s little Dog. Hot Dog follows Plympton’s 2005 Oscar Nominee Guard Dog and its sequel, Guide Dog. Hot Dog played at the 2008 Strasbourg International Film Festival and at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It was an Oscar Nomination commended animated short film in 2009.

In this film, the Dog decides to join the fire department. The enthusiastic pup will do absolutely anything to become the fire station’s resident pooch. However, at first the Dog moves with a bounding enthusiasm that isn’t shared by his fellow fire officers. As the inevitable disaster builds, tension is increased by the Dog getting a brief moment of glory as the fire department’s new best friend, but then something more interesting grabs the attention of the fire officers and poor little Dog is left to cope all alone. The Dog is stretched to beyond his reach as he resorts to lapping up water from the gutter to put out the outbreak of another smaller fire, but then gasoline leaks into the puddle. Soon afterwards, the little Dog’s hopes are sadly crushed.

Hot Dog: A Tail of Sadly Broken Dreams

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Green to Blue: A Modest View of a Serious Problem

Green to Blue: A Modest View of a Serious Problem

Green to Blue is an animated short, which was named to the Top-Ten Shortlist of Friends of the Earth’s 2008 one-minute film competition. Green to Blue is a stop-motion animation that was made to promote global warming awareness. Elizabeth Klein, the film’s creator, explained that, “I made this stop motion to promote global warming awareness. Sometimes the simplest messages are the most powerful, so I’ve tried to present a child-like view of a serious problem.”

Green to Blue: A Modest View of a Serious Problem

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Grapevine Fires: A Daintily-Pretty Tale of Fiercely Smothered Love

Grapevine Fires: A Daintily-Pretty Tale of Fiercely Smothered Love

We’ve long been accustomed to bearing with the emo musical scene, based as it is, sometimes unfortunately, upon those deep, often over-sharing diary-like outpourings of personal emotions (or disturbed emotions). And I really can be just as sensitive as the next fellow to some of emo’s musical railings either about love or unrequited love. But jeeez, this latest thing by Benjamin Gibbard! The new music video put out by his band Death Cab for Cutie, the daintily-pretty Grapevine Fires, has to be one of the most disturbing animations to come out lately.

Grapevine Fires certainly does a darn good, smash-up job of smothering any feelings of romantic love that you just might have been harboring at the moment. Now, I won’t spoil it too much for you, since you might have been browsing the web for a trigger to swallow a fistful of prescription meds. But there’s a forest fire here that invades a smallish suburban town, and the fierce scene to which the encroaching blaze gives rise does not end nicely. Nope…not nicely at all.

Grapevine Fires: A Daintily-Pretty Tale of Fiercely Smothered Love

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No Time: Seeing Life Through the Lens of Death

No Time: Seeing Life Through the Lens of Death

No Time

In a rush this weekday morning,
I tap the horn as I speed past the cemetery
where my parents are buried
side by side under a smooth slab of granite.

Then, all day long, I think of him rising up
to give me that look
of knowing disapproval
while my mother calmly tells him to lie back down.

Billy Collins

U. S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003

Seeing Life Through the Lens of Death

During an interview focusing upon our perceptions of the dead, Collins touched upon his portrayal of death in the poem No Time:

“The underlying theme of Western poetry is mortality. The theme of carpe diem asks us to seize the day because we have only a limited number of them. To see life through the lens of death is to approach the condition of gratitude for the gift, or simply the fact, of our existence. And as Wallace Stevens said, Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers….

We visit graves because they give the illusion that the person is somewhere, in some place. But like a mandala, the gravestoneitself is a focusing device. The treatment of the dead as if they were still alive is ancient. The Egyptians would entomb you with your favorite food, flowers, even pets (poor dears). In that way, maybe we are all in some form of hopeful denial.”

No Time: Seeing Life Through the Lens of Death

Animation by: Jeff Scher

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Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

Glenn Marshall has been described as one of Ireland’s most distinguished digital artists and accomplished computer animators. He began his professional career pioneering a new animation technique for The King’s Wake, which went on to win the Celtic Film and TV festival.

Metamorphosis is an animated video recently created by Marshall, which he produced using graphic design that was programmed entirely in Processing. The somewhat esoteric animation features music by the Boards of Canada, specifically the track Corsair from their Geogaddi album, which establishes a stagnant, twirling dark tone for the film.

Marshall has given a brief description of Metamorphosis, his most recent major work:

Butterfly, my first film and the inspiration behind my whole direction as an artist, is again the inspiration here. When making Butterfly I became obsessed with the wing patterns of the Monarch butterfly and how they looked like imaginary worlds within themselves, where butterflies lived and died according to a holistic, natural mechanism of nature.

These kind of ambitious concepts were difficult for me to implement back then within the practical limits of traditional 3d/2d software. So I wanted Metamorphosis be symbolic of my passing over into 100% programmed/generative computer art, where perhaps these kinds of ideas can reach more of their potential.”

Most people who have posted brief, superficial notes about Metamorphosis have described it as “beautiful,” or “a beautiful vision.” Much to the contrary, I find Metamorphosis to be totally plotless, yet it’s emotionally painful to watch. Painful because if one is really thoughtful about this film, it’s underlying theme is revealed to be a stark requiem of anger and death. The film evolved from Mr. Marshall’s earlier obsession with butterfly wing patterns as imaginary worlds of life unto death (see Exner, J. E., 1993, p. 499). Marshall’s own metamorphosis in making this new animated film noir has ended up with his creation of a mythical shadowy world in which seemingly boundless masses of butterflies appear to be trapped in suffocating confinement, eventually flittering and fluttering aimlessly away into a darkened cosmic void, into a state of non-existence.

If anything, the action in Metamorphosis is so sufficiently and diffusely generalized that the dark elegies it conveys to viewers may well be perceived as an evocation of the unformulated experience of all times of mourning. Or as Carl Sagan, astronomer, educator, author (Cosmos, 1980) and Co-Founder of The Planetary Society once wisely observed:

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

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