Film Highlight: The Animation Show

Smith and Foulkes' "This Way Up"

Details

The Animation Show
Lagoon Cinema, starts Friday

Less hit-or-miss than the long-running Spike & Mike packages of drawn-to-the-dark-side filth, this touring animation program curated by Mike Judge (this time without co-founder Don Hertzfeldt) has hit its stride, emphasizing niceties such as craft alongside reliable crowd-pleasers like the ultraviolent deaths of cute little creatures and a self-explanatory something called "Yompi the Crotch-Biting Sloup." Faster and funnier than the somewhat lugubrious Volume 3, the new program features a decided international bent. Whether from France, Germany, or closer to home, the 20-odd selections mesh with Judge's skewed sensibility. Standouts include Smith and Foulkes's "This Way Up," a Corpse Bride-esque CGI fantasy with two cadaverous undertakers seeing more than they ever wanted of the underworld; Georges Schwizgebel's "Jeu," with its furiously morphing Escher perspectives; and Steve Dildarian's "Angry Unpaid Hooker," the ultimate unexplainable domestic crisis rendered in scratchy line drawings and deadpan conversational hilarity. (It bodes well for Dildarian's upcoming HBO series.) The technique alone can be dazzling, as in PES's "Western Spaghetti," two minutes of stop-motion magic tricks that convert pincushions into tomato sauce and Post-It notes into butter pats. Or it can be so minimal that visual crudeness becomes part of the joke—as in Grant Orchard's "Love Sport-Paintballing," in which tiny cartoon rectangles enact an arms-race Armageddon on the field of pellet-splatter combat. For older kids only.

 
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