Narrated by Gilles Queant
Simple. Curious. Whimsical.
A cultural snapshot of Peking, now Beijing, in 1956 under Mao Zedong’s rule, though the whimsical tone and especially eloquent narration establish the film as an anthropological study rather than a political one. Many of the shots and images captured by the filmmakers are incredible. Candid shots of children passing, school in session, foggy mist covering the fields. Aided by Eastman color, the film looks stunning at every turn. If you’re interested in foreign cultures and different eras, you’ll find much to enjoy in this piece. Marker makes no statement as far as I can tell. This belongs more to the fly on the wall style of documentary filmmaking, though at times we see the filmmakers converse or engage with the natives on the screen. For those less interested in the subject, such as myself, you’ll find yourself, drifting off.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-
Disconsolate Edmond is pranked by his office coworkers who put a pair of fake donkey ears on his head. To their astonishment, Edmond never takes them off. Never. Not while he’s asleep. Not when he’s at home. A bizarre take on mental illness and severe depression, this animated short also captures the monotony of a life doing a thankless job. Strong work though with an ultra crude visual style. Bleak. Perplexing. Vivid.
Pixar’s first great short. Where their previous efforts showcased innovation in the 3-d Computer Animation field, Geri’s Game tells a simple yet memorable story to go along with the technology. An elderly man plays a spirited game of chess with himself as an opponent. Perfectly paced and edited, and though Pixar’s animation continues to evolve and becomes more sophisticated with each day, I don’t believe Geri’s Game has been topped. Odd. Funny. Clever.
An alien experiences his first day on the job controlling the spaceship while his boss observes. Pixar short with all the trademark qualities (clever idea and no dialogue), but lacks the trademark appeal. I think it comes down to the character design which is fine but fairly traditional. Every aspect of the animation is well-done, but feels like it’s been done before. Droll. Conventional. Meh.
The short that started it all for animation juggernaut, Pixar, was merely a tease of what was to come. It’s a very simple story about a lamp and that lamp’s son playing with a ball, but it’s a testament to the studio that out of that premise, they were able to make a relatable film. To make the audience empathize with inanimate objects would prove to be their first claim to fame nearly a decade later with Toy Story.
Two market place street musicians in medieval times compete for the last coin from a young girl. After the two’s escalating performances cause her to drop the coin and lose it, she demonstrates her own musical ability earning her more gold than the two men could ever imagine. Reminiscent of a Looney Tunes cartoon in a way, because of the intense rivalry and one-upsmanship and pettiness of the characters. Shows once again Pixar’s talent at telling an engaging story without dialogue, which they put on full display soon after with Wall-E. Their artwork and Michael Giacchino’s music tell the story.
Uniquely personal short film from the Pixar team, relating a scene from the writer/director’s childhood with his father. Young Sanjay, like most kids, fantasizes about super heroes. A battle between his modern fantasies and the Hindu traditions of his family ensues when his father’s prayers conflict with a favorite television program of Sanjay’s. The hyper-cartoonish art style, while lovely, seems at odds with the material, and the main action feels designed to keep younger kids attention. I would have preferred a simpler design and telling of Sanjay’s story. Still, a fine short film.