Archive for the ‘movies and films’ Category

Aardman Studios

So I’ve decided to keep going with this stop motion animation theme this week. I want to share a few shorts from one of my favorite animation studios, Aardman.  Aardman Studios is a British animation house founded in 1976 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton. They started as a low budget studio making claymation shorts as part of a children’s television series for the BBC.  Their big break came as a result of the work of Nick Park, one of their younger associates.  In 1990, his short Creature Comforts won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film (more on that in a minute).  Park went on to create what is arguably Aardman’s biggest success, the fabulous duo Wallace & Gromit.  Of the three original short films featuring the pair (A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave), two won Oscars.  They’ve even made a feature length film: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.  They’ve also released a series of shorts on the web featuring the two.  Here is one of my favorites:

In 2007, an American-ized version of Creature Comforts was made.  They made 7 episodes but only ever aired 3.  They put it on in an odd time slot, didn’t advertise it well and then wondered why ratings were low.  Instead of letting people come to the program naturally, they booted it early and replaced it with reruns of another sit-com. How some TV executives get to be in charge of ANYTHING is beyond me.  At any rate, I found the new version to be just as hilarious as the original and was sad they never made more. The premise of the show is that the producers went around and interviewed regular people about regular things.  Those voices were then used as the dialog track and animal characters were animated around the conversations.  Each show is centered around a theme (attraction, loss, travel, favorite things to eat and so on).  Here is one of my favorite bits where every one is talking about art:

Aardman also has a bit of a naughty side.  One of my favorite examples of that is a series of shorts called Angry KidAngry Kid is a vile, foul mouthed, booger picking teenager who ends up in all sorts of trouble, much of it entirely of his own making.  The animation technique is actually quite unique.  Instead of an entirely clay character, Angry Kid is a full grown person.  The animation is all done in the face which is a mask that is replaced or changed repeatedly.  The person is moved just like a puppet by the director as you would a clay character.  Here is an example of one of my favorites:

I totally recommend you work your way through the whole series.  Be forewarned – there is a fair amount of naughty language and gross-out situational comedy. If those things don’t bother you, go nuts.  Those things don’t usually do it for me, but some how when it is all done with a British accent, I find it hilarious.  Go fig.

Labyrinth

We just got back this evening from an amazing weekend camping adventure and I promise I’ll share much more about that tomorrow.  But for now, you’ll have to settle for this.

Tonight is all about a girl named Sarah and a sad and lonely Goblin King:

dance

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is one of my all time most favorite movies.  I’m a huge fan of all things Muppet (well, really all things Jim Henson – a whole lot of the magic died with him), but Labyrinth captured my heart early and will always have a special place there.  I saw it for the first time when I was in fourth grade.  Our teacher threw us all an end of the year party at her house and put it on just to keep us quiet by the end of the afternoon when she was done with us.  I was utterly transported.  But I’d more or less forgotten it until my theater friends in high school pulled it out after we’d spent the day lurking around a cemetery and taking dramatic black & white photographs of ourselves.  It was perfect for the mood and I was shocked I’d ever let it slip my mind.  After that, we were, shall we say mildly obsessed with the movie.  Well, with David Bowie really.  Because come on, so much of that movie is all about showing off his, eh-hem, talents to their best advantage.  I had one friend who would always turn it off right in the middle of the fever dream sequence where Sarah eats the peach and is transported into this sexy dancing dream world where she and Bowie are clearly about to have a thing.  She always pretended that was where the movie ended.  I could see her point.  Still, I liked the full arc of the story, even if it didn’t end the way everyone thought it should.

Now, I’m not SO in love with it that I can’t see its flaws.  However, I am attached to it enough to be quite happy to gloss over them all and watch it again and again and again.  So when a friend of mine sent me this review of the movie, I was a bit nervous.  Because, hey, no one really enjoys watching their favorite things be skewered to brutally.  But this particular review is so well done, it was worth it.  So, my hat is off to you, Nostalgia Chick.  You made me laugh at one of my favorite things in a very good way.

Update: Well, crap. I can’t seem to get the video to embed.  Just go HERE. I PROMISE it is worth it.  Trust me, take the time and watch it all.