Friday 23 February 2018

Animation roundup + 8

Dinner for Adele (1978) - The Czech Nick Carter - some over-mannered comedy and some amusing Little Shop of Horrors-ish violin-loving plant monster schtick that is infinitely better for being the work of Jan Svankmajer.But otherwise, imagine an annoying Czech Great Race, see also some of director Oldrich Lipsky's other films, a lot of them fairytale-ish, like all those deliberately charming but rather staid Jackanory-ish fairytale films churned out by Soviet TV, e.g. the Soviet Mary Poppins and Gorky Film's Academia Pana Kleska.
I prefer Svankmajer's less surreal for the sake it, more recognisable, less experimental stuff. Was watching episodes of Adam 84, an early 80s Czech sci-fi series, somewhere between the Tripods and Star Maidens, with some Svankmajer animation and a Captain Zep-ish classroom. All very rum, but because it is Czech, it goes through some unexpected areas.

Been glimpsing a few Canadian Christmas  TV specials, Teddy Bear's Picnic, the schamltzy but visual Nilus the Sandman (voiced by Long John Baldry, a prolific CanCon animation voice, thus providing a link between Up The Chastity Belt and Sonic the Hedgehog), and For Better or Worse have the same anodyne feeling. But most Christmas specials do. This is the anodyne side of Canadian animation. Even the For Better or For Worse specials don't quite have the henpecked frenetic feel of the domestic shorts of the National Film Board of Canada. The unusual spark of NFB shots such as Caroline Leaf's magical The Street and Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa, less so in her Two Sisters. 

Ishu Patel's NFB work, even the Punjabi Noggin of How Death Came To Earth (1971) feel like overlong title sequences for ethnic programming.

The Journey of the Melonia (1989) - Attractive but inconsequential Swedish SVT adaptation of the Tempest, with a Worzel Gummidge-ish scarecrow-fish Caliban.

Epic (1985) - Stunning prehistoric tale about dingos, dinosaurs and lost children by Australian animation pioneer Yoram Gross, with narration by John Huston. Better animated and more serious than Gross' earlier ventures, the Dot movies and the creepy Little Convict, and not cos it has Rolf in it.

The Wind and the Song (1959) - Bretislav Pojar's short, beautiful if a little too trad, an adult Andy Pandy versus a lion, armed with an accordion.

Delta Space Mission (1981) - Romanian Movie Channel regular anime-alike, straightforward space mission from Romaniafilm,  with a Terrahawks-y soundtrack. Voice Marcel Iures later starred as the shifty foreign doctor in Wicklow-shot "itinerant, farmer and vet vs cow-monster" horror Isolation with Ruth Negga and John Lynch.

Also been watching other slightly-more-Eastern European favourites such as Lotte Reiniger's striking colour work, Karel Zeman's work and clumsy stop-motion baldies Pat and Mat, simplistic woodsman filler Boris the Bold/Jan Rumcajs, and Zagreb film's Professor Balthazar - a Doctor Snuggles type educator in some charming but fairly unremarkable little shorts featuring Mice who did a Robert Powell at Big Ben and aliens who sing giallo soundtrack-like jingles.

Been watching Bruno Bozzetto's glorious Mr. Rossi films, like an Italian proto-Wallace and Gromit. The Dreams of Mr. Rossi is the weakest, Mr. Rossi's Vacation goes from inventive caravans including the Nautilus to an Italian Animal Farm rip-off to Alpine fun to funny animal frolics to fourth wall-freaking frenzies, while Mr. Rossi Searches For Happiness includes time travel, Alias the Jester cosplay, rocket houses, singing tree trunks and racist native caricatures with bones through their noses!

Also watched one of the 70s Agaton Sax animations, but the style doesn't fit the character as well as the Quentin Blake drawings, and the whole thing resembles a cartoon Edgar Wallace krimi, and London looks like Stockholm.

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