Monday, November 20, 2006

[Animation Nation] Bill Plympton's Dirty Shorts and Dogs

Today's series of shorts is da bomb! Rated R21 for adult oriented humour (and yes, some are in-your-face explicit), I've enjoyed much of today's series over the others, save for the technical glitch on the DVD it played off from, which resulted in painful jerky motions with skipped soundtracks for some of the shorts. I think Cathay gotta clean its DVD player, or someone should really check the condition of the DVD before popping it into the player.

Bill Plympton was around to introduce the shorts, and mentioned that these were those that were made in the last 8 years. You can tell that they're more polished than the early shorts days, and really outrageous with its many takes on, well, the aptly titled sex and violence. Here's my quick thoughts on some of the shorts:

Sex and Violence - if the first clip shows a mermaid sucking dick off a male diver on the diving platform, it more or less sets the tone of the rest in the series. Uncensored, and totally raw, fun. Some didn't work out, but most did.

Exciting Life of a Tree - this is one of my favourites from the collection. At first it doesn't suggest much, until you realize you're a silent observer on the life of a tree (and its neighbours), which turns out to be a very interesting angle to look at things, and the events too become somewhat as cyclic as the seasons. Oh yeah, the trees are privy to naughty deeds done in and around them too!

More Sex and Violence - More of what you'd come to expect from the first Sex and Violence, with a lot more hits than misses, if any. I am particularly fond of that short which unravels a sequence of events from inside a female's mouth, as she takes in lipstick, various food and beverage, and eventually.... !

Helter Skelter - what looked like a sitcom pilot about 2 guys and a girl living in the same apartment, turned out to be wicked violent fare. One character, about to receive his date for an evening dinner at home, accidentally gets his head lobbed off, and have to survive the date by having his head affixed to the body of a chicken. Bizzare stuff, and strangely funny.

Surprise Cinema - Candid camera, with Plympton's wit. It's like episodes of "sabotage" resulting in plenty of blood and gore, but was marred by the technical glitch on the DVD.

Eat- set in a diner with a variety of customers, like the lone male diner, a couple, a famly whose kids can't sit still, and ultimate pandemonium in the end, this short was also marred by the technical glitch.

Parking - This was inspired by a parking lot. It tells the tale of a carpark attendant's obsession with orderliness and neatness, and the irritant of a small blade of grass in the carpark, trying to force its way through cracks, which riles him. Obsession makes for over the top moments, and great entertainment.

There were also a series of Flash Animations which Bill had conceptualized the idea, and passed onto his assistant to transfer them onto Flash. Made up of many quick shorts that don't last more than 30 seconds each.

These shorts though, were the highlight of the evening:

The Fan and the Flower, narrated by Paul Giamatti, with animation done in black and white, based on a story not written by Bill himself. Bill recounted how he got Paul to perform the voiceover - as he was invited to the Oscar party, he noticed Paul from across the room. After a few drinks to build up courage, he approached Paul, and was surprised to learn that Paul's a fan of his animation. The rest, as you can say, is history.

Guard Dog - Winner of an Oscar in 2005 for Best Animated Short Film, Guard Dog tells of a story of a canine whose eager to please and protect his master. He barks at almost everything in its path, like insects and small creatures, and you probably wonder why. All these and more, explained, through the eyes of the dog. It's no doubt, after watching this short, why it deserved to win its award.

Guide Dog is the sequel of the eager canine, now taking on the task of providing guidance to blind folks. Again, its good intentions always leave much to be desired, unwittingly setting off a course towards unplanned destruction. I tell you, if there were to be a plush toy of this dog, it'll probably sell like Hot Cakes. Bill Plympton joked that the next sequel to the Dog series, would be Hot Dog, where our favourite canine gets involved with the fire department.

And guess what, everyone, and I mean everyone, brought home one of the Guide Dog cards, with Bill's own autograph and doodle of the dog done on the fly. Simply amazing, I think he took less than 10 seconds to doodle it, right in front of your eyes!

Totally awesome, and what a memento for the evening!

Bill Plympton's Official Website at

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