A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Friday, June 29, 2007


My biggest must-see next to Tekkon Kinkreet was the 1941 Chinese film Princess Iron Fan. Based on a portion of the mammoth Journey to the West, this vintage black-and-white cartoon featured the Monkey King and his cohorts as they tried to pass through the mountains of fire!

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a little disappointing. It wasn't horrible by any means (though the image quality was; restored in 1994, I'd hate to see what it looked like before it was cleaned up!), it just turned out to be more of a historical curiosity than the sort of old school 'toon that woos you with its primitive charms. You could definitely see a Walt Disney influence, particularly Silly Symphonies and how they used music, as well as some Betty Boop in the character designs, leading me to think there was a time lapse in maybe what was making it to China. There were several action sequences where a particular movement was repeated a couple of times as if the animators were trying to show off, and even two singalong, follow-the-bouncing-ball songs. I'm glad I saw it, as it's a rare outing of something very few have likely heard of, let alone seen, but not all that I had hoped.

That clip is pretty much what it looked like in the theatre, too. Even that weird panning that made me think sometimes it was a film of the film being projected on teh screen, like how people used to film live TV broadcasts off the TV. We had subtitles, though. Someone also posted the first 8 or so minutes on YouTube if you want to search for it.

While waiting around for my next pogram to start, I sat in on the first four shorts in the 6th round of the competition. Outside of a commercial called "Speech Bubble" (it's balloon, moron!), they were all really good. "Small & Deep Love Stories" (Taiwan; dir. Hsin-Ping Pan) was a cutely designed series of vignettes where things like clocks fell in love and teacups kissed each other. It reminded me of comic strips you might see in an indie anthology. It was followed by "Naked (Sex)" (Netherlands; dir. Mischa Kamp), which combined rotoscoping and home-made art-styled hand animation to illustrate monologues about two young boys and their misconceptions about sex. It was very funny, though not as amusing as the fact that it was entered into the "TV for Children" category. Oh, you crazy Dutch!

Super awesome was "Wolf Daddy" from South Korea, directed by Chang Hyng-yun. It's about a wolf who is a novelist and who has several women show up at his door and drop off children he's sired. It's like a "Fractured Fairy Tale" redo of Miyazaki. But don't just take my word for it:

I should have stayed when I was on a roll, but I was curious about the "Viva Cuba" program, a retrospective of state-sponsored animation from our southerly neighbors. Boy, what a load of dross. I got through a half-hour of music videos that were seemingly cobbled together with clips of long cartoon series, corny gag shorts that felt like they were ripped off wholesale from Mad Magazine, and informational factoids for children before I left. I could see some government messages buried into the material (a strange gag with a black vampire and KKK members, the anti-Imperialist undertone of a foppish French king into S&M, etc.), but the limited animation wasn't appealing enough to weather through the weak writing.

On the way home, I stopped in at PNCA to see some of the installations: mainly, animated pieces projected on walls. The most interesting was the one you see when you first walk in. It has three different loops of action, and when you walk around to the back of the screen, you discover that the action is being created live. Cut-outs of the backgrounds and characters were put on a spinning wheel, and a camera captures the simulated movement as they turn at high speeds. Very cool.

There is a street party tonight that I may go to, but a friend is also in town. I'm actually pretty burnt on going out. There's been a lot of it this week. If I had my druthers, I'd stay in and watch the last three episodes of Studio 60.

Current Soundtrack: Pulp, Peel Sessions; Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad

Current Mood: exhausted

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