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Wild animated music videos for Joni Mitchell, Kinks, Coven and more
06.25.2014
12:21 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Cher
Joni Mitchell
Kinks
Coven


 
John David Wilson, an English animator who died last year at the age of 93 was the proprietor of his own animation house Fine Arts Films. Among Wilson’s many, many credits are Disney’s Peter Pan and Lady and The Tramp, various Mr. Magoo shorts, Shinbone Alley the animated “jazz adventure” of Don Marquis’ archy and mehitabel (made with Mel Brooks, John Carradine and Carol Channing), the opening for Grease and an animated version of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka made for television in 1956 with the maestro’s participation. For an innovative body of work mostly seen on The Sonny and Cher Show in the 1970s, Wilson is considered to be the father of the conceptual music video.

I saw this animation for Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” when it originally aired on The Sonny and Cher Show. Like The Lorax, I never forgot it:
 

 
Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” This originally had Sonny and Cher singing, but was re-tracked with the original song here (which is why, when Sonny and Cher are seen singing behind the bar that their lip-sync is off):
 

 
Sadly, although this animation was originally done to The Kinks’ own version of Muswell Hillbillies’ “Demon Alcohol” this version is sung by Wayne Carpenter:
 

 
Cher’s own “Dark Lady”:
 

 
An unexpectedly powerful take on “One Tin Soldier” by Coven, made famous in Billy Jack:
 

 
Helen Reddy’s somewhat sinister “Angie Baby” hit given a more light-hearted prime-time TV touch by Wilson:
 

 
Cher covers Melanie’s “Brand New Key”:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Yellow Submarine’ style short depicts a jaunty stroll through a bad trip (set to Tiny Tim!)
06.24.2014
08:54 am

Topics:
Animation
Drugs

Tags:
Tiny Tim


 
Whether you find it nauseatingly cheerful or hyperactively sweet (and I’m partial to the latter), Tiny Tim’s “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” is the perfect backdrop to this ironically dark piece of animation from the Layzell Bros. Our down-and-out protagonist, played by English comedian Adam Buxton, takes a huff off a cheerful cartoon pipe, and is transported to a Yellow Submarine-style wonderland where his antics are rendered childishly delightful—nevermind his wanton destruction of property and growing troubles with the local authorities.

At one point the psychedelic dreamland becomes a little too ominous for our hero, but no matter! His magical pipe friend makes quick work of the darkness! Just say no to drugs, kids! Or just say yes if that’s what you want…
 

 
Via Juxtapoz

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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If Quentin Tarantino directed ‘Ghostbusters 3’

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This could be a highly watchable cinematic mash-up of blood, guts and spooky goings-on: Quentin Tarantino directs Ghostbusters 3, as imagined by claymation wizard Lee Hardcastle.
 

 
Via Popbitch

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Lars von Trier made a cute stop-motion cartoon when he was 11. Somehow it’s still super creepy
06.16.2014
08:04 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Lars von Trier


 
My introduction to the work of Lars von Trier came by way of his brilliant supernatural mini-series The Kingdom—a kind of a Twin Peaks-style hospital drama in which Udo Kier has a terrifying role as a doomed baby from the netherworld. Still, Turen til Squashland… En Super Pølse Film , or Trip to Squash Land… A Super Sausage Film strikes me as an even creepier chronicle of childhood… maybe it’s the music?

The two-minute stop-motion short was created by von Trier (the “von” was adopted later) on a Super-8 camera when he was eleven. It’s technically quite impressive for a kid that age and ominously cheerful. There’s a bunny abduction and a sausage super-hero who I just don’t entirely trust. It seems worth noting that Trier had a non-normative childhood. His parents—who were lifestyle nudists—didn’t believe in punishment, but still managed to keep a distinct emotional distance from him. The controversial Danish director’s mother also told him on her deathbed that he was the product of an affair.

I’m not saying that’s the kind of upbringing necessary to produce a film like Antichrist, I’m just saying, it probably don’t hurt. And no, the final scene is not a prelude to Nymphomaniac, either. “Slut” means “The End” in Danish.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Russian Rhapsody’: Gremlins from the Kremlin battle Hitler in this insane 1944 cartoon
05.30.2014
08:38 am

Topics:
Animation
History

Tags:
Hitler
Stalin
Merrie Melodies


 
Depictions of Russia in American propaganda had some wild vacillation before the Cold War. The first Red Scare followed the Russian Revolution, and anti-communist sentiment really found purchase around 1919. Leftists in the US (many of them immigrants) became a force to be reckoned with, and bitter labor conflicts (plus some radical terrorism) seemed to suggest a Bolshevik revolution was imminent in the Americas. There’s the period however, during World War II, before Truman decided to wave his nuclear dick at Stalin, when Russians were still our Nazi-fighting Allies, and 1944’s Merrie Melodies production “Russian Rhapsody” is a fascinating artifact of that ambivalence America had towards the Soviets.


 
Of course, the cartoon doesn’t quite portray Russians as “dignified.” Rather than some cartoon-friendly version of Red Army soldiers fighting Nazis in the snow, they’re literal “gremlins”—tiny things that are only really capable of sabotaging a plane. (The title was originally “Gremlins from the Kremlin,” but Disney was developing an animated version of Roald Dahl’s The Gremlins at the time and Roy Disney pressured Warner Brothers to change the name.) Regardless, the gremlins are clearly the good guys, whipping out a mask of Stalin to frighten Der Führer.


 
In addition to being a really beautiful (and profoundly weird) piece of animation, “Russian Rhapsody” has some great dog whistles. The cartoon starts out with Hitler delivering a speech that’s a direct reference to a scene from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. As an inside joke, some of the gibberish German Hitler spouts is actually the names of animators and studio staff. The gremlin faces are actually based on caricatures of Warner Brothers legends like Chuck Jones, Robert Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Leon Schlesinger. The berserk musical score was provided by the great cartoon composer Carl Stalling.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Toys’: Grizzly GI Joe stop-motion animation from 1966 takes a dark look at war toys
05.29.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
toys
Grant Munro


 
Last week Donald Levine, the man who brought GI Joe to millions of little boys, died at the age of 86. A Korean War veteran, Levine introduced the first-of-its-kind action figure to the market in 1964 while working for the company that would later become Hasbro. While GI Joe was initially a runaway success, the Vietnam War soon soured much of public opinion on war toys and sales quickly took a hard hit. Production was actually halted in 1976 and it was six years before GI Joe was relaunched.

There’s little evidence to suggest that war toys encourage violence and far more to suggest that dolls socialize children. When you consider the fact that GI Joe still has the distinction of normalizing doll-play for millions of little boys, it could be argued that he is inherently transgressive, maybe even feminist. For many adults though, the idea of war toys is at least vulgar, if not insidious, and “Toys,” the 1966 short by Grant Munro, articulates those feelings with brilliant GI Joe stop motion animation.

The film begins with a nauseating cacophony of childhood cheer, as the kiddies gaze into a window display of toys. Then there’s a switch—the kids become as static as the playthings they covet and the GI Joes come to life, reenacting gory scenes of a brutal war. It’s pretty evocative stuff especially considering it’s all plastic toys staged on simple diorama sets.

It’s difficult to say whether or not the film is directly condemning war toys, but I suspect the ambiguity is purposeful and that Munro intended to inspire critical thought rather than propagandize directly. Like Levine, Munro was a Korean War veteran, and as a member of the Canadian Forces, he even received the Presidential Unit Citation for his service in the Battle of Kapyong. It’s interesting that the film came out only two years after the release of GI Joe—“Toys” was, ironically, the very first GI Joe animation, proceeding even the Saturday morning cartoons that doubled as half-hour commercials for this iconic toy. 
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The psychedelic ‘coffee-based’ hand-drawn animations of Jake Fried
05.22.2014
11:24 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
coffee
Jake Fried


 
Boston-based artist Jake Fried creates these incredible, trippy, hand-drawn animations, or as he calls them “moving paintings,” by repeatedly layering on top of an original drawing with white-out, gouache, ink and coffee. Each animation shows the drawing process from original sketch lines to finished picture.

Fried’s animations are described as “psychedelic” and “spiritual,” and have been screened at the Tate Modern in London, Sundance Film Festival, and during Cartoon Network’s late night Adult Swim programming bloc.

See more of Jake’s work here.
 

 

 

 
Via Neatorama

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Cosmic Cartoon’: Trippy early animation from the father of ‘Tron’
05.09.2014
07:37 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
psychedelia
Tron


 
I need more vintage science fiction weirdness in my life, don’t you? This is an early production from future Tron creator Steven Lisberger and was made through his Lisberger Studios, an animation business he opened while still an art student at Boston’s SMFA. “Cosmic Cartoon” saw Lisberger receive a Student Academy Award nomination in 1973, which ultimately led to Animalympics (featuring the voices of Billy Crystal, Gilda Radner and Harry Shearer) for NBC in 1980, and then to the creative development of Tron at Disney.

You can really see Lisberger finding his artistic voice here. You got your psychedelic choreography of the galaxy! You got your Utopian futurist landscapes! You got your naked dancing lady montages (possibly NSFW, cartoon pubes alert!). All of this 70s sci-fi goodness is set to an epic synthy score—it should be projected on a planetarium dome. This thing is so fluid and trippy and so damned cosmically prog-rock that I had to make sure I hadn’t accidentally taken the cat’s medication by mistake.
 

 
Via Network Awesome
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Watch ‘Moon Rock,’ a 1970 psychedelic sci-fi cartoon from ‘Yellow Submarine’ animator George Dunning

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Watch ‘Moon Rock,’ a 1970 psychedelic sci-fi cartoon from ‘Yellow Submarine’ animator George Dunning
05.06.2014
11:23 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
Beatles
Yellow Submarine
George Dunning


 
While the style is certainly recognizable, the tone of George Dunning’s 1970 cartoon “Moon Rock” is a vastly different from its predecessor, Yellow Submarine. After a countdown and blast-off, our faceless astronaut lands on what appears to be the Moon, where a series of psychedelic characters are there to greet him, including a Blue Meanie-reminiscent slug-thing requesting chocolate and jelly. Interspersed with real video footage, the surreal subjects and austere setting make “Moon Rock” a product of its time without being dated. The trippy ambient music is from Ron Geesin, who also co-composed the “Atom Heart Mother” suite with Pink Floyd.

Apparently Dunning based the narrative on the notion of “lateral thinking,” a creative problem-solving concept from New Agey self-help consultant, Edward de Bono. For some frame of reference on de Bono, in 2000 he recommended sending Marmite to Israel and Palestine because he believed an unleavened bread-related zinc deficiency was exacerbating aggression in the region. Crazy? Sure, but it makes for darn good animation!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Hell Unltd’: Filmmaker Norman McLaren’s powerful anti-capitalism, anti-war animation
04.22.2014
07:27 am

Topics:
Animation
Movies

Tags:
Norman McLaren

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This year marks the centenary of the birth of pioneering filmmaker Norman McLaren, whose multi-award-winning animations inspired generations of filmmakers including Francois Truffaut, George Lucas and Michel Gondry. 

McLaren’s best-known for his work with the National Film Board of Canada, for whom he made his Oscar-winning 1952 short Neighbours, which mixed pixilation, stop-frame animation and live action to create a powerful anti-war message. The film reflected McLaren’s mixed feelings about the Korean War as he had just returned from China where he had been greatly impressed by the way the Communist country was progressing. He found his own experience of Chairman Mao’s China at odds with its representation in the West during the war.

McLaren was born on April 11th, 1914 in Stirling, Scotland. He attended the Glasgow School of Art, where he decided filmmaking rather than painting was the future of art. He started making short animations by painting and scratching directly onto the film. His first experiment proved so successful that the film was worn-out through continual screenings. His next film Seven Till Five (1933) told the story of a day-in-the-life of the art school. The film used various techniques such as montage and editing-in-camera lifted from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. McLaren followed this with Camera Makes Whoopee (1935), which covered the celebration of a student party. Again, the film is now best-known for McLaren’s innovative use of camera effects.

In 1936, McLaren collaborated with fellow student, sculptor Helen Biggar on a far more ambitious and political project, an anti-war film called Hell Unltd.. McLaren was a pacifist and, at this time, also a Communist, who believed he could change people’s attitudes through his films. Together with Biggar he created a highly imaginative (if politically simplistic) anti-capitalist take on the cause and effect of war and profiteering from it. The film mixes stop-frame animation with filmed and archival footage, captions and rostrum camera work. It’s a powerful little film and one that showcases many of the talents that made Norman McLaren a dynamic, imaginative and brilliant film-maker.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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