Tuesday, December 23, 2008

16: The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl, 2006
Disney, Roger Allers

Excuse me for plucking this straight from the latest Nostalgia Critics video, but this truely is one of the best short christmas animated shorts ever.
I DARE you not to cry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15: Mysterious Mose

Mysterious Mose, 1930
Fleischer Studios

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

I said the best till last, and I meant it. Who did spooky ghost cartoons better than Fleischer Studios?
I've credited Mysterious Mose a dozen times on the dA masterlist, it feels like I've been talking about it forever. It is one of the singularly brilliant pieces of animation the studio ever did and I don't say that lightly.

Dog Betty is merely the tip of the ice burg. A comment on the video suggests she looks vaguely Josephine Baker-esque in this version of her early incarnation. Betty was based on some of the most beautiful women of the black and white era, Clara Bow being the one she most strongly bears resemblance to, but the commenter is right, and its not JUST because of her skin tone.

This video also, sadly, contains my favourite design of Bimbo the dog. Ghost or not, he'd never look that good or smarmy again. You may just say he looks like a rip-off of the Mouse, but really, what character wasn't.

So watch and re-watch my dears, as that song never quite leaves your head.

14: Haunted House

Haunted House, 1929

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

Haunted House is proof that whilst you can do something amazingly the first time, and because you have a character building in popularity, doesn't mean you should smush your hands together and make something amazing.

Skeleton Dance is one of the most beloved of all the Silly Symphonies, especially among "dark" young animators who value it's appeal of both being old (and therefore good in some jaded industry critics) and "creepy" (thus satisfying their need to be as spppoooky as possible). Which is fine and dandy. And for its time, it is very impressive, and is alot of fun to watch. It's influenced alot of "spooky" animated subjects in its time- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Corpse Bride- basically, anything with dancing skeletons? Owes it to this short.

And Mickey Mouse? You may have heard of him. Nothing to be sniffed at.

But Haunted House fails (like so many of the Disney Shorts) to be entertaining.
It's still worth watching, and you may disagree with me.
But it feels WAY too much like Skeleton Dance, even if it was released in the same year.

And again, another ghost cartoon with a Questionable moment- I missed it the first time, but the comments point it out.

13: Jeepers Creepers

Jeepers Creepers, Looney Tunes,1933
Robert Clampett

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

Jeepers Creepers is actually one I stumbled upon whilst looking up info on a much more recent piece of animation.
Whilst Warner Brothers aren't my favourite golden-ghost cartoon studio (The Best I save for last). But as I stumbled upon it, and as Black and White Looney Tunes don't get enough love in the public eye (remember, I'm naught but a humble art student) I thought it'd be good place to start. And being the 1930's, there is bound to be some racism. But can we just look past it? Acknowledge that it’s horrible, but just appreciate it for what it is. Isn't it just nice to see Porky again?

And if you know who the voice of the ghost also voices, then no-duh. It's not all that hard to recognise.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12: The Water Babies

The Water Babies, 1978
Lionel Jeffries

More of a mini post, and one of the many examples of your childhood playing tricks on you later in life.

Here I was, in my flu-like state, trying to think of a good cartoon to do next for the blog, because apparently I can't let myself fall back on the infamous dA masterlist, even though I do promise to archive all that on here one day. And I ALSO didn't want to record my experiences with the two movies I watched in the last two days until I'd built up the courage to say that I actually enjoyed them (believe me when I say these two movies have enough emotion surrounding them, because of the beloved subject matter behind them). And even now as I sit typing this, I have Anastasia loading in another window- and Three Bluth's in a row is ridiculous.

So as I sat wondering what to do it hit me. Water Babies.

Water Babies is another one of those movies, much like Heidi or The Little Toaster, that doesn't have a big name studio attached to them that my grandparents brought me as a child. And like Heidi or The Little Toaster, that I have blurry memories of. "Did I like it? I remember seeing it more than once, I must have enjoyed it. Wouldn't I have more memories of it if I did though? I remember THINKING it looked different- does that mean it's actually got some substance to it?"

But unlike Heidi or The Little Toaster (The former having some supremely excellent nightmarish scenes in it that I forgot about and The Little Toaster having some BRILLANT animation) Water Babies is ever so "meh".

If you follow John K's blog, you'll remember a month or so ago, he was ripping in to the Canadian's animation style. Whish-Washy and weirdly formed, Water Babies comes from Poland- one of the Canada’s of Europe. (No-offence meant to Polish or Canadians on that, I just meant in terms of style it is kind of close. Infact, part of it was done here in the UK. We’re just as weird in that case!).

Click that link at your own Peril. I can't stand musical numbers like that...anymore.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

11: Xanadu, Don't Walk Away

Don't walk away, from the movie Xanadu
Don Bluth, 1980.

Before you start whining about "Oh god, not another Bluth post" don't start getting complacent- I'm NOT that much of a fan of his. I have serious issues with his animating style (it makes me a little uneasy...queasy even).

But I watched this movie for the first time the other day, and I was struck by how much a decent piece of animation can have no effect on how terrible the rest of your movies is.

So to save you the pain of actually watching that god-awful piece of retro camp trash, just watch this one snippet. You don't even need to know the context, and believe me, you don't- I wish I could have that 93 minitues back.

And also keep in mind the human portions were proberbly rotoscoped- that is to say, traced frame for frame. Or "Photo Referenced" as Disney used to call it.

Just watch it anyway- turn the sound off if you hate early 80's sap-pop as much as I do.

This post is more of a reference post to link back to this earlier one about the music video Mary. According to sources (wiki of course, I don't follow Scissor Sister gossip, what am, 40?), the band contacted Bluth to do Mary after remembering this scene in Xanadu (which is like a 93 minitue length Scissor Sister video).

Which is fair enough I guess. It is nice to see how much better Bluth became between the passing 24 years, and these two pieces of animation are nicely enough around the same length, and are both about frolicking humans for the most part.

But you can be the judge on that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

10: Rock-A-Doodle

Don Bluth, 1991

When I said sporadically updated, I really meant it.

Now, Rock-A-Doodle was a movie I had a love-hate relationship with as a kid. It wasn't one of the many Disney’s I had. When my grandparents gave it to me, I sat there and turned the cassette over in my tiny hands and immediately asked, "Where's the Disney logo? Is this a Pirate copy?"
I was of a highly elitist mind as a child.

But then I actually watched it, and after a while, I watched it again and I actually grew to like it. I rather enjoyed the it once it got past the farm stage (I never liked farms in movies-Which is why it took me so long to like Charlottes web- I didn't like the idea of pigs talking sweetly. I'm not kidding. I actually said that to my Grandmother when we watched it together). There is a certain amount of gritty "cartoon" realism I liked about the city. I spent half my childhood living in the centre of town, and the other half in suburbia with my grandparents. I also noticed the amount of adult innuendo in the club scenes. Now I've watched it again after all these years, I was a little shocked it didn't bother me, but it’s ever so subtle.

But what I really love about this movie is that the gloopy/fluid kind of movement that Bluth uses not once bothers me. You know what I mean. The slow sweeping arm movements, the cute/smallest character with a giant hat constantly having to push it up off their eyes. It's that over exaggerated kind of style of moving that Bluth pour into every single character in every single one of his movies. When he puts it on human characters (like in Anastasia) it looks really awkward. Like they're bodies and heads are independent of their mouths and eyes. But because every one in this movie is an animal (and a humanised/anthro kind of animal without being deviantart-furry creepy) it almost just about suits them.

I still hate that hat to head ratio though.

So, I might hear you cry, "Why not feature another Don Bluth movie? This is one of his worst!" Well, it might be because this was one of the ONLY ones I saw as a kid that I enjoyed. I think everyone has seen The Land Before Time (I was FORCED into watching that every Christmas by my school, because it was one of the only tapes they had. And I still wiggled out of it by opting to read at the back of the hall instead), and All Dogs go to Heaven (What IS the fascination with that movie? Dear god it was just so boring). The only other ones I actually liked where Anastasia (which I saw in America with my cousins) and Titan A.E (...What? Why was I one of the only people that saw it that enjoyed it?!).

The truth of the pudding is that although this movie has some serious flaws (the annoying little kid/kitten being the biggest one), It's a really good escapism movie. The reason I kept coming back to it time after time was that it managed to make me actually interested in the lives of the animals involved (and mainly, I was rooting for them to get the kid back to his parents- who needs the little bastard ruining their swinging little farm with that shrill voice of his). There are engaging background design as well as character designs for most of the main cast (some big voice-acting names in there by the way; Phil Harris of Jungle Book fame as Patou and Eddie Deezen of Dexter’s Lab fame as Snipes) especially the one of Goldie- who probably helped kick start of young furries...*shudder*

Rock-A-Doodle is given alot of bad press from the poor box-office reviews as well as the over shadowing from Bluth's better known work. But if you get the chance, and you’re in the mood to sit through some surprisingly decent songs and some even better animation, then you might end up enjoying it.