Get a Horse! (2013, Directed by Lauren MacMullen) English 6

Image result for get a horse

(6-Good Film)

Nostalgic. Zany. Fast.

Attempting to update a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon for modern times, this short starts off with Mickey in a quintessential premise. The big bully, Pete, is after Mickey’s girl, Minnie, and it’s up to Disney’s greatest creation to save her. Complicating matters, and putting a new spin on the material, is the breaking of the fourth wall, almost literally. Mickey breaks through the theater screen and becomes a three-dimensional figure. The short then sees Mickey using the fourth wall and his bag of tricks to stop Pete. Much of the short is clearly designed to show off the then-booming trend of 3-D. Thankfully, the film avoids being outright gimmicky. It’s a solid piece of animation, though Mickey looks a whole lot better in 2-D.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Sanjay’s Super Team (2015, Directed by Sanjay Patel) English 5

Image result for sanjays super team

(5-Okay Film)

Miscalculated. Underwhelming. Mediocre.

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 superheroes. 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 decent enough short film.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Puce Moment (1949, Directed by Kenneth Anger) 5

(5-Okay Film)

Formless. Baffling. Experimental.

A short and relatively conventional piece from Avante-garde filmmaker, Kenneth Anger, whose devotion to all that is aberrant and taboo made him a leading figure in the underground experimental film movement. Although made in the 1940s, this short was re-released in the sixties with a rock soundtrack, and this is the version I saw. The short is highly fetishistic, but never very provocative, as it focuses on one woman in a puce dress staring into the camera for almost the entirety of its six-minute running time. While not boring, the film is also not very interesting.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


John Henry (2000, Directed by Mark Henn) English 8

Image result for john henry 2000

(8-Exceptional Film)

Vibrant. Beautiful. Compelling.

Beautifully animated telling of the famous John Henry folktale wherein the newly freed black man attempts to build a better future for his wife and family out west. There, on the verge of their dream, Henry and many other black families face opposition leading to the folklore hero’s legendary battle with a steam-powered hammer. Man versus machine. The story is told in colorful, hand-drawn (with the pencil shadings left in) fashion mixed with excellent music from Sounds of Blackness. This is a wonderful adaptation of the myth and would be a perfect introduction to John Henry for any kid. It also represents, unfortunately, the earliest portrayal of black people in a Disney animated film as far as I can tell.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Superbia (2016, Directed by Luca Tóth) Hungarian 4

Image result for superbia film

(4-Bad Film)

Vulgar. Crude. Uninteresting.

Described as a short film about, “the native people of the land of Superbia, where men and women form separate societies, (who) face the changes sparked by the first equal couple in their history,” but whatever meaning lays within, lays deep within, buried under grotesque, crude visuals and what I’ll generously call avant-garde storytelling. With no dialogue and no distinct characters, I can only assume that Superbia is meant to be symbolic, but since there’s nothing noticeably interesting about the short, I gave up trying to figure out what it’s symbolic of.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


One Man Band (2006, Directed by Mark Andrews, Andrew Jimenez) English 6

Image result for one man band pixar

(6-Good Film)

Simple. Effective. Faded.

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, though the visuals are slightly faded with time.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Sunday in Peking (1956, Directed by Chris Marker) French 5

Narrated by Gilles Queant

Image result for sunday in peking

(5-Okay Film)

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-