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Embedded above is 17 minutes of perhaps the most insane, random and almost gut-wrenching animation I’ve seen so far this year. Warning: it’s definitely NSFW and contains plenty of adult themes, although the film addresses that point oh so adroitly somewhere in the middle.
This is not necessarily a film for the faint-hearted. There are plenty of scene that one might conclude were included only for their shock value. While that may be true, those same scenes have to be viewed in the context of the whole film, and then they will most likely get a laugh.
The film is loaded with pop-culture references (video games, TV shows, etc.) although they only support the action that’s actually going on. In stark contrast to OReilly’s previous film, Please Say Something, there is little, if any, invitation for the audience to connect with the characters, who are never given a chance to develop.
Some don’t like this aspect of the film, but I was perfectly fine with it. It’s almost like you are flicking the channels while watching TV. If you are not intimately familiar with the characters on the screen, then you are much less likely to care about them, and I think this is what David was aiming for.
The External World is full of David’s wit, which is just as sharp as his animating skills. There are tons of side jokes, background gags and of course, the actions of the sardonic characters themselves. Besides the pop-culture references, there are plenty of animation references, including cartoons of the 1930s (in particular Felix the Cat, of whom David is an avowed fan). Of course, these are not mere references but modern interpretations thereof.
Overall, there’s not much more I can say about this fantastic film. It is well worth watching and it has seemed like an age for it to finally make it to the internet. David is offering a HD version for download for 4 euros, which is hardly breaking the bank to own such a great short, and it supports the man too.
With The External World, David OReilly has proven that he is a filmmaker with considerable skill (and if my twitter feed is any proof, has a heck of a following in the animation community and beyond).
In a matter of fact, yes it is! Well, in less than a month’s time anyway. I mention it now because the pamphlet arrived yesterday with details of all the screenings and events that are going to take place during this wonderful celebration of cinema.
Of course, just because it has the word "children" in the title does not in any way preclude adults from being entertained too. On the contrary, the films are more than suitable for adults and besides, their are plenty of adult-friendly events held during the course of the festival.
Screenings and workshops are only held on the weekends, so if you happen to live in New York City, you have no excuses whatsoever for not making it to at least one screening. For the rest of us, the roster is full of top-notch films (both feature-length and short form). Many of the films showing are receiving their US premiere, which I think says a lot about the gravitas of the festival and its place in the film world.
Besides loads of great movies to see, there are also numerous workshops (on sound and the green screen) running during the festival itself in addition to ones that occur from February through till July that can give budding filmmakers a chance to learn a few of the tricks of the trade. One workshop that happened to jump out at me was the Flash animation one in July being held by the Rauch Brothers, two extremely nice brother who are more than capable of encouraging young minds towards a career in animation.
The festival normally has at least one big, mainstream film to show. Last year it was The Secret of Kells, which was then only an Academy Award-nominee, so there was much excitement in the atmosphere about whether it would triumph at the ceremony the following week.
The year, the main film is Mars Needs Moms, the motion-capture vehicle of Robert Zemeckis. Think what you will about the film (I know I am reserving my thoughts) but it will receive it’s world premiere at the Director’s Guild of America theatre on March 4th.
Last year I made the trip up for the day (in freezing weather and with slush everywhere) and it was well worth the effort. Sure it took up one of my precious, precious Saturdays, but I had a lot of fun and met plenty of interesting people. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to see films that otherwise might not be shown here in the US and I think they directors do a marvelous job of putting it on every year.
Yesterday, when I was stricken with fatigue, I had some time to finally watch a few things in the ol’ Netflix queue. I got through On The Waterfront, which I enjoyed immensely, and had to figure out what to watch next. The two and a half hour director’s cut of Metropolis seemed tempting, but I reckoned that was too long. So instead, I opted for Ralph Bakshi’s seminal underground film, Fritz the Cat.
As awesome and as defining as the film is, I had to turn it off after 35 minutes. Clearly this is a film that you have to be in a certain mood for. I only saw half an hour, so it’s not fair to poo-poo the whole film based off of that but I found it to be wanting in many areas.
The animation is OK, there’s lots of colours and of course, Robert Crumb’s character designs. The only problem is, that’s where it seems to stop! I simply could not find anything to like about the eponymous character. Am I missing something? Probably. I can sense Fritz’s antagonistic relationship with the world and those around him, but for me, that added nothing to the viewing experience.
Again, I write this more as a mental note on what I’ve seen so far, I still need to finish it, but I’m willing to bet that it’s more of the same, at least it seems that way.
Is there a certain shock value involved? Sure, Friz is infamous for being the first (well, first widely known) X-rated animated film. It delivers on that promise, but if that’s the main selling point, there’s little else to make it worthwhile.
Sigh, I suppose I could have picked a better time to watch it than when I was parked on the couch in a daze, but I honestly expected a bit more from the film. I might go back and watch the rest at a later point, but I think Fritz is certainly guilty of being over-hyped.
No post today as I am holed up in bed. Regularly scheduled posting will resume tomorrow.