Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Download These Cartoons

While admittedly, this blog tends to focus on films that were made many decades ago, today I’ll get my consciousness out of 1933 movieland and call attention to some present-day animation.

Nina Paley's
Sita Sings The Blues is an imaginative and highly original animated feature. This winning combination of Hindu lore, the 1920's music of Annette Hanshaw and inventive Cartoon Modern graphics can be downloaded off Nina's website, and is still available in a high-res download from WNET-13 New York. I also support her efforts to establish alternatives to conventional distribution channels. Here's the trailer.

Mark Kausler's It's The Cat is that rarity, a cool animated short with genuine old school verve and style. Mark and collaborator Greg Ford (another outstanding animation historian) have hit a grand slam in the cartoon universe. View and download it here. Mark knows more about animation history than just about any of us and has been a friend, mentor and supporter to many (including this blogger). I had a chance to see the pencil test for the followup to It's The Cat. This will be another fantastic cartoon in the classic spirit and I much look forward to the finished film.

This blog also suggests checking out Henry Selick's Coraline; yes, that means going out to a movie theater and enjoying its visual splendor on the big screen. As Coraline is reaching the ending of its theatrical run, go now; the 3-D version was yanked out of many theaters over the past week. Don't wait for DVD on this one.

It's important to support those intrepid independent film makers who are living among us.
To paraphrase a blog ebntry In an ideal world, we'd get a new cartoon by animation treasure Mark Kausler at least once a year.

Sadly, it looks as though Some Other Cat will likely be his last. There's no way of recouping the cost of an independent animated film done in traditional ink-and-paint in this day and age, he says.

Like its predecessor It's the Cat, Kausler has created a sincere love letter to the cartoons of the late silent and early sound eras, particularly those "drawn" by Bill Nolan, the animator credited with defining the rubber-hose style of movement.

As in those black-and-white cartoons, colorful surprises are abound in Some Other Cat, as when Itza randomly produces a jackhammer to use on his rival's tongue or when the characters become fully rendered backgrounds.

The pure spontaneity of Kausler's creation Itza Cat (an obvious nod to the animated Krazy Kat of the late '20s) in sync to a prerecorded track, though, mostly evokes the best Fleischer cartoons, only moving with a grace and intelligence befitting of a learned master who's lived and seen it all.

The film isn't available online, but you can see it if you buy artwork directly from the filmmaker.

"Of course it's possible to do shorts cheaper with computer software, but for me that's not good enough," he said to me. When you take a look at the gorgeous line work in person, you'll immediately see where he is coming from.

Kausler has written that the film has been positively received wherever it has played.

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