Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Concept art & behind-the-scenes pics from Noro Drziac's The Great Sneezer

These don't really require any explanation. Just some beautiful art and BTS shots from a fantastic film (more info in the previous entry just below this one). Sent to me quite kindly by Mr. Drziak himself in honor of the exhibition opening in New York (also detailed in the preceeding post).
I particularly like this one - it reveals the secret to those wonderful, warped buildings!!! Look closely -- is that sheets of styrofoam I see being cut and glued to each other? Interesting....

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Exhibit of Czech/ Slovak animation at Czech Center in NY (now including PDF Exhibition Catalog!!)


These pics are of puppets from The Great Sneezer (Velky Kychac), directed by Noro Drziak. You can see a clip from it on my Video Clips Page at my Darkstrider.net site. Scroll down a ways, you'll find it next to a couple of clips from Jan Bubenicek's Pirat, which is also included in the exhibit I believe.

Following is a quote from the Czech Center New York website about it:

New Generation of Czech Animation
January 20–February 5
Opening: January 20, 6:30 pm

Czech Center New York at the Bohemian
321 East 73rd Street, NYC

Exhibition of works of Czech film directors, artists and animators. Michal Žabka, Václav Švankmajer, Noro Držiak, Jan Bubeníček and David Súkup are graduates of the Film and TV School of the Academy of the Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), whose films were awarded in prestigious international film festivals. The exhibition includes marionettes, costumes, stage properties, designs, and a retrospective of their films.

Film screening at the exhibition opening at 7:30 pm.

The films I mentioned above, as well as other fantastic ones also made in many cases (if not all?) by students of FAMU can be found (in R2 unfortunately, last I checked) on the Nova Generace, Ceska Animace series of DVDs. My favorite place to buy international puppetfilm these days is through HMV Japan, which carries all 3 volumes of the series:

Nova Generace, Ceske Animace

Vol. 1

Vol. 2

Vol. 3

For information on buying DVDs from foreign sites like HMV or Amazon Japan or Bontonland, and on getting ahold of an all-regions, all-systems DVD player (which cost the same as a regular DVD player by the way) check the left sidebar on the Masters page of my site.

Special bonus!!!! Here's a PDF file of the Exhibition Catalogue!!!! Right-click and Save As. Enjoy!!! This is really incredible info to anyone interested in Czech and Slovak animation, especially the newer stuff!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

the Blasphemous Brilliance of Moral Orel


I'll freely admit -- in the beginning, I was not a fan of the show, or of just about anything on Adult Swim. I had seen a couple of the early episodes, and to me it seemed like little more than an irreverent poke at Davey and Goliath, dragging the characters through the mud for laughs.

But something happened around the end of season 2 -- the show transformed into something exceptional. I wouldn't even have known, because my original impression stuck with me, except that I've been hanging out with some friends who keep Cartoon Network on all the time, day and night. And of all the shows on Adult Swim, Moral Orel is probably the least stupid and offensive (hmm... faint praise, but it gets a lot better).

Little by little, I got to know the characters and the situations, so I was primed when I suddenly saw the season 2 closer... a 2-parter called Nature, about a hunting trip Orel shared with his father. I caught it on the Moralthon for New Year's Eve. And suddenly I was riveted -- compelled by an irresistible force that wouldn't let me look away. I was literally stunned by the sheer power of the writing. Deep, dark stuff.... definitely not for the faint-hearted!! But brilliantly done. I'm still in awe.... and at this moment I'll go out on a limb and say it's the most powerful stuff I've ever seen on a TV series, broadcast OR cable!

And after that bombshell, as I was still trying to get my breath back, season 3 started to unspool.... episode after episode building on the brilliance I had just witnessed. Let's say I consider Moral Orel to be a rare gem spawned in the sewer that is Adult Swim.

Another great thing about the show I'd like to comment on is continuity.

Most cartoons follow a simple formula... no matter what happens, everything is restored to default for the beginning of the next episode. Even if they kill Kenny. But on Moral Orel when something happens, it stays. One of the funniest things for me was when Orel's baby brother Shapey got accidentally switched with the neighbor's kid, who looked almost the same except for different colored hair. Oral was the only one who noticed!!! For the rest of season 2 (if not longer?) the parents failed to notice, and even when Oral tried to tell them, they interrupted him.

Little touches like this really make the show shine. References to things that happened in earlier episodes might be lost on you if you haven't seen it, but if you have it adds a lot to the entertainment value, and really, it shows that the creators of the show credit the viewers with some intelligence, unlike the creators of most cartoons shows today. Watching an entire season is a very rewarding experience.

Huge congratulations to animation director Ethan Marak and of course to creator Dino Stamatopolous, and all the rest... including a host of very familiar names. You can go to Adultswim.com and watch any or all of the episodes. Strider's highest recommendation, but viewer discretion is definitely called for!