20th International Tournee of Animation | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

20th International Tournee of Animation 

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There are many pleasant surprises in this collection of 18 animated shorts from ten countries, but perhaps the biggest one is that the range of influences informing animation seems to be getting wider. While the terminal cuteness of Disney and the gallows humor of Eastern Europe have tended to dominate in the past, and are far from absent here, the more vernacular genius of Tex Avery also seems to be making some headway--in such diverse works as Bon Kurtz's parodic Drawing on My Mind from the U.S., Guido Manuli's Plus One, Minus One (a screwball remake of It's a Wonderful Life) and Bruno Bozzetto's Baeus (a doodle-bug variation on Avery's King Size Canary) from Italy, and Joanna Quinn's Girl's Night Out from Great Britain, which plays with some Averyesque gags on striptease and libido from a female Cockney point of view. There's also striking hyperrealist computer animation from the U.S., clay animation from the Soviet Union and Hungary, and the usual batch of glum parables from all over. But my favorites in this batch strike out freshly on their own: Susan Young's semiabstract Carnival, which beautifully evokes a London ethnic street fair; Academy Leader Variations, the most avant-garde selection which combines the giddy talents of 20 animators from the U.S., Poland, Switzerland, and China; Bob Stenhouse's The Frog, the Dog and the Devil from New Zealand, which uses exciting forms of illumination and transition to carry a straight narrative; and Bill Plympton's American Your Face, which features some nightmarish facial contortions worthy of David Lynch. (Music Box, Friday through Thursday, October 2 through 8)

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