During its limited theatrical release in 1983 Rock & Rule was discounted by critics and ignored by audiences. But over the past three decades it has steadily gained a cult following, particularly among movie geeks who get a thrill out of watching anthropomorphic animals singing new wave songs.
With its amusing cyberpunk plot, clever direction by Clive Smith and a pretty fine soundtrack by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Cheap Trick, Debbie Harry and Earth, Wind and Fire, Rock & Rule kept me engaged and entertained for the duration of its tight 77 minute running time…which is saying quite a bit considering I have little patience for animated movies. And it’s hard not to like a movie featuring an evil Mick Jagger in the form of a large cat-like humanoid.
If you like Ralph Bakshi and Heavy Metal, you should get a kick out of Rock & Rule.
Now this is delightful. Terry Gilliam has always seen the world differently. One of his fellow Pythons (Michael Palin?) said Gilliam described the world through his own particular language. Once, while flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Gilliam looked out of the window and remarked, “Wow, a whole bunch of water.” It’s wrong, but it’s also wonderfully right.
Gilliam (along with Ronald Searle and Ralph Steadman) was a major influence on my mis-spent doodling career, not for the illustrative style but for his uniquely original approach to animation and story-telling, where stories didn’t have to be linear, or have endings, and ideas counted for more than punchlines.
Here is Gilliam, looking like a hot young film star, in the studio of his Putney home (actually his spare back bedroom), explaining how he put together his famous “Fig Leaf” animation, from 1970.
Lee Hardcastle makes “claymations that are not for children”. We’ve featured some of Lee’s excellent work before, and this is his latest Clay Cat Cinema presentation, a bloody great version of The Raid, which thoughtfully differs form the original to avoid any spoilers.
Bonus: ‘Clay Cat’s The Thing’ in 3D, after the jump…
If you watch the show, you know Breaking Bad is as addicting as meth, but a lot more fun and better for your health. The fourth season is finished and the big question among fans is where is the show gonna go next in its twisty turny road to its fifth season conclusion. Well, those nutzoid Taiwanese animators over at Next Media Animation have come up with what they think is going to happen and it’s batshit crazy.
In addition to being an illustrator for Disney, painter Frank Armitage is also known for his stunning medical art. In this 1970 educational film on anatomy, Armitage guides us through the human body in beautifully rendered paintings.
When I first watched this, I was reminded of the murals of Diego Rivera. I later discovered that Rivera was a big influence on Armitage. He also won an Academy Award for his set designs for the movie The Fantastic Voyage and that movie’s visual sensibility is clearly apparent in this amazing short film, which Armitage also narrates.
Coming this summer to theaters in Japan and eventually to the rest of the planet, After School Midnighters looks like one of the freshest animated films to hit the screens in some time. I’m not a big fan of anime, but this I could get into.
The film’s producers describe After School Midnighters as…
[...] an original computer-generated animation film by a young and spirited director with a skillful VFX/CGI crew who has a lot of experience in movies and TV commercials. The main character ‘Kynst Lijk’ is a human body model that stands in a science room of an elementary school. Kynst Lijk also reigns over the school after midnight. One day, when a naughty kindergarden trio accidentally meets him, his ordinary life changes. The scariest and craziest after midnight adventure begins…
A collection of 10 different limited edition Yellow Submarine posters (in two box sets) by artist Tom Whalen are going on sale on May 29th at the Dark Hall Mansions’ website.
The posters are officially licensed from The Beatles’ Apple company and they’re stunners. They’ll probably sell faster than Kraftwerk at MOMA tickets, but scoring a set would be sweet. I’m in.
The posters release seem to be timed to coincide with the June 5th release of the newly-restored Yellow Submarine on DVD and Blu-ray. Having recently seen the restored digital version on the big screen, I can testify to its mind-altering beauty.
British artist Gerald Scarfe’s corrosive satire of Nixon-era America Long Drawn-Out Trip: Sketches from Los Angeles is an animated assault on the culture of greed, violence, the cult of celebrity and mass media that managed to piss off a lot of people when it was shown on BBC TV once in 1973. A combination of its harsh (though not inaccurate) depiction of the USA and problems obtaining the rights to the music on the soundtrack has kept this piece of cultural dynamite out of the public eye for four decades.
The subject of Long Drawn-Out Trip is Los Angeles and America itself, the concerns being the same ones that Ralph Steadman was depicting that year in his illustrations for Hunter S. “Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72”: venality, violence, vulgarity and the omnipresent spectre of Richard Nixon, a president who had the good fortune to be drawn many times by two of Britain’s greatest living satirists although he wouldn’t have thanked them for it. In Scarfe’s film we also find Mickey Mouse being reduced to his constituent lines and colours after smoking a joint. The animated sequences for The Wall have their origin in this short film.” John Coulthart.
Scarfe recalls his first contact with members of Pink Floyd:
I did an animated film for the BBC in 1971 called Long Drawn-Out Trip. Roger and Nick (Mason) had seen it independently on BBC2 when it was aired. Roger told me that he rang Nick and said: “We’ve got to have this guy on board. He’s fucking mad.” Then Nick approached me and asked me to do an animation film and that’s how the relationship grew.
I first worked with them on their (1975) “Wish You Were Here” album then Roger came to my house and played me the first tapes of The Wall. He said he wanted to make an album, a show and a movie, all of which he accomplished.”
Scarfe on the genesis of his film:
I did a kind of stream of consciousness drawing everything I could think of about America at that time. Like, the Statue of Liberty, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Black Power, Mickey Mouse, Coca Cola, Playboy Magazine, sort of a million images all melting one into the other. I was supposed to be there for 10 days, but I stayed for about 6 or 7 weeks. Hence the title, Long Drawn-Out Trip. And it was also a kind of a trip, cause it was very much the drug era. And it was a kind of a hallucinatory trip too.
In addition to being a ferociously talented illustrator and cartoonist with an amazing past, Scarfe is married to one of the reigning queens of Sixties’ pop culture, Jane Asher.
Dirty Duck (aka Down And Dirty Duck) released in 1974 was a low-budget attempt to cash-in on the success of Fritz The Cat that manages to stake out its own turf in the X-rated cartoons featuring anthropomorphic animals genre. Directed by Charles Swenson and featuring the voices and music of Flo and Eddie, as well as Aynsley Dunbar, Don Preston and other members of The Mothers Of Invention, Dirty Duck is to Daffy what Charles Bukowski is to Ogden Nash.
Willard Eisenbaum (Voiced by Howard Kaylan) is a day-dreaming insurance worker who thinks he’s about to have the day of this life when he expresses his love to a fellow worker. When Willard’s intentions fail to materialize, he’s told by his boss to investigate an insurance claim from the elderly Martha (Lurene Tuttle). When Martha suddenly kicks the bucket during Willard’s visit, her will says that the one who causes her death (Confirmed by a Ouija board) will have to overlook her duck…Make that a grown, talking Duck! (Voiced by Mark Volman) Within seconds, both Willard and The Duck are hitting the streets, brothels, and tons of indescribable locations to get laid. By the time the film ends (Which is rather quickly) Willard will appear to be in love…But with whom? Or What?”
Within the raunchy confines of Dirty Duck’s universe lurks many pop culture references, including several that conjure up the spirit of Frank Zappa.
There are a few Zappa references peppered throughout the movie. For one, the duck is roughly the same character that Jeff Simmons morphed into in 200 Motels. At one point the main character and the duck are lost in the desert, and the duck is explaining how he came to be a duck. He says he used to be a TURTLE, but that wasn’t too happening, so he got some advice from his MOTHER and he just sort of FLO’d from there. If by any chance these references are too subtle for the more chemically aided members of the audience, at this point a cartoon version of Frank Zappa’s grimacing visage is looming over the entire scene, having just risen like the sun over the horizon. Hereupon Willard says: “Oh, Eddie, you have GOT to be kidding”, in reference to Zappa’s song Eddie Are You Kidding?. Later, 200 Motels is specifically namedropped. It’s almost as if this movie is a sequel to 200 Motels, sans Zappa involvement.” P. Neve
“You can’t do this to me! I was at Woodstock in ‘69. I saw “200 Motels”! I know who I am!” Dirty Duck.
Its not surprising that Dirty Duck evokes 200 Motels. Both films were produced by Murakami-Wolf Productions, who also produced the Harry Nilsson flick The Point.
Dirty Duck is a foul fowl so be prepared for some freaky, offensive and politically incorrect humor. This is one fucked-up duck.