Monday, March 28, 2011
In the 1980's, the the 1961 Canadian cinematic spectical "The Mask", was delivered to the masses via independent TV stations with promotional considerations from a local sponsor who charged you a buck or so for the "Mystic Masks" needed to enjoy the short three segments or so of 3-D goodness. Bridging these sequences was an originally produced sequence featuring Square One TV's Harry Blackstone the magician to give you an insight into the Third Dimension with the help of a few ghastly assistants. Come with us back to them bygone days when making a quick buck out of a gimmick like this was every indie station's dream!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
JAPANESE ANIME HELL - Hell comes to Hogtown for its seventh straight year of wild and wacky, brain-busting examples of incomprehensibility as filtered through the lens of Japanese cartoons. Forgotten failures, fake ads, film trailers, giant monsters, IMPORTANT government safety films, childhood toys, super robots, kung-fu fighting and more packed into two solid hours of funtime. All aboard!
It's all happening at 10pm Friday in the Plaza Ballroom! You know, where they have the Costume Contest.
I also have it on good authority that on Saturday in the International Ballroom there will be a 2 hour presentation on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO, a look at SHOJO FROM THE 60s & 70s, on Friday something called "Anime Guilty Pleasures", and on Sunday the CLASSIC ANIME COLLEGE will give you a (non-transferrable) Master's Degree in History Of Japanese Cartoons. Also, Neil Nadelman will return with TOTALLY LAME ANIME for your Saturday night viewing (dis)pleasure! Check your schedule for time and location!
Anime North, May 27-29 Toronto Ontario
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Bob Stenhouse offers an animated ode to the "nation of drunkards" (as New Zealand was tagged in the House of Lords in 1838). Set in 1902, a shepherd tricks a Mackenzie barman out of a bottle of ‘Hokonui Lightning', but too much pioneer spirit sees him haunted by the devil's daughter (or a case of delirium tremens). The Chicago Tribune called the macabre humour and distinctive look "lushly conceived". It won the Grand Prize at the Hamilton International Animation Festival (1986) in Canada, and was nominated for a 1986 Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated).
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sony has been digging around its vaults and putting some treasures online, uncut even. And while I'm not a huge fan of American Pop it does have it's moments. The rotoscoping reminds me of Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. The story, covering generations through American history, is very much like Coppola's Godfather. The same year Disney would release The Fox and The Hound, which should give you a rough idea of where animation was at the time. Bakshi's last animated feature had been Lord of the Rings, which had had some mild success. There had been some expectation of more Tolkenesque movies and that certainly wasn't what American Pop delivered.
I do remember seeing American Pop on the VHS rental shelves back when I worked at the video store. And I recall it didn't get a lot of rentals. I know my first viewing didn't connect. I was a kid and American Pop bored me, which makes sense. American Pop is very much a movie aimed at an adult audience. Bakshi doesn't aim low here. He's not interested in holding your hand, even at the risk of losing you. If I can point to a problem with the movie I'd have to say it's the lead characters. By the time we get to the 70s and Pete the dope pusher I'm pretty much checked out. I just don't care if Pete gets that record contract. He's just not a likable guy and I can't find anything besides the music to relate to the guy. Or maybe that's the point.
Question. Do animation fans like this movie?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Monitors is now on instant view at Netwflix.
I guess I was twenty minutes into this movie when I started to think about how to produce it on stage. It would have saved us from a lot of the annoying montages and flashbacks.
Harry is a pilot, who's had multiple confirmed kills during his career. He's hired to fly Barbara around for some film she's working on, but she's a douche about it and gets him fired. Peter Boyle gives Harry his last paycheck.
Harry lives at home with his annoying brother Max, who wants to be a comedian, and their mom, who watches TV. She watched Alan Arkin give a speech about how the Monitors are very clean and how sanitation workers are treated better.
The Monitors are very nice guys in black turtle-necks and bowler hats who are in charge of everything. Barbara works for them on the side and is trying to recruit Harry.
A street-preacher starts a riot and the Monitors break it up with sleepy-spray, knocking out Max. Harry and Barbara drag Max off, but Harry hits a Monitor with sleepy-spray, so he's a wanted man now. The street-preacher is actually part of an underground movement to overthrow the Monitors and kidnaps everyone (at gun-point) into his incredibly large car, while quoting Thomas Jefferson. They drive a car off the road and Harry jumps out to save the occupants (Monitors) and is captured.
Harry is put in an education camp, where he meets Mona, who shows him how to escape. Barbara is threatened by Mona and takes Harry to bed. He finds out she's working for the Monitors and gets pissed off. Barbara, Mona, Max, and Harry steal a helicopter and go see the president, who is lame.
The general of the anti-Monitor organization is tied up by a colonel and they steal a bomb. Harry activates the bomb and flies it to the Monitor headquarters with Barbara in tow.
The Monitors explain how everyone sucks and how they will die, but not kill. The bomb is a dud. The Monitors leave, the president is placed back in power, and there's a war. The end.
I have to say, you don't get the sense that the Monitors are aliens until the last few minutes. They're just guys who took over and are nice to everyone. The most jarring thing about the movie are the radio-jingles that talk about how great the Monitors are. When they leave, it's very sudden.
This is a preachy film with a lot of very good people in minor roles and very minor people in big roles. There are flashbacks that have no business being there. The pacing is weird. The music gets annoying.
I would say "watch it" only to say you have. You can fast-forward large parts, but I'd love to see it re-edited into a shorter and more effective film.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Monday, March 07, 2011
All you need now was to figure out the process, and Philips strove to give that in this demonstration video they gave away with their own format, the Video 2000! Very Euro-friendly so everyone can understand!
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Having lived through that period when stuff like this still find mileage in the 80's, it's fun looking back on these weird pieces of edu-public-TV crap they played during school on PBS stations across the country (before PBS Kids took over). Kinda miss not having a 15 minute piece that ends in a unresolved cliffhanger (since that was reserved for classroom discussion if schools still bother). Thrill to the drama, the action and pathos brought to us by the National Instructional Television (now Agency for Instructional Technology) with additional support from the Exxon Corporation!
Saturday, March 05, 2011
(I tried to have the rest of this post be after a cut, but it didn't work because I suck)
Although I was born in Boston and grew up in upstate New York--Rochester, to be precise--I moved to Florida when I was 10 (man, twenty years ago?) and have stayed there ever since. In fact, the only times I've ever been back to my old stomping grounds have been for anime conventions. The East Coast was being assailed by a serious cold front for the entire week prior to the convention, with snowstorms and the like causing numerous flight delays. As such, while I can count the number of times I've seen fallen snow since coming to Florida on one hand, this actually marked the first time since I was a child that I saw actual snowfall. Gotta say: snow's pretty darn awesome...as long as you don't have to shovel it and can retreat into a heated car or building once you start losing feeling in your extremities.
I didn't exactly have any heavy-duty winter gear, but as I predicted it didn't much matter: much like living in Florida, the goal is to minimize your time outdoors such that you're only out there when going in between your car and a building. The college con experience is not one I've had in several years, as the once-deluge of Florida anime conventions have now mostly become "media" cons.
One look around revealed a "college life" that I thought only existed in the realm of television and movies; this world of student dormitories with entire floors reserved for the anime enthusiasts [to isolate them...?] was a far cry from my commuter college experience. I felt slightly jealous of it all, doing my best to conceal the fact that I was about 1 to 1.5 decades older than the majority of the attendees. College anime cons have all but vanished from the once-crowded Florida anime landscape (reflecting geek trends, they're all "media" cons now with some anime on the side), and so I must confess: I was ill-prepared for the first Panel OF DOOM! for the year as far as on-site promotion was concerned. Hotel and convention center cons tend to strongly frown upon non-upper level staffers putting up flyers of any sort anywhere, but those rules don't fly in college land. Luckily, the con guide did feature the writeup I supplied them, though I overheard one attendee saying that there was no way they'd go to a "Panel OF DOOM" because "OF DOOM" was such an out-of-date phrase. Perhaps they're right. Over the last...er, eight years?...I've occasionally given consideration to changing the name--giving it a "something Hell" title to match up with the rest of us--but I'm not sure it's necessary. That said, having a panel with "Panel" in the name has always sort of bothered me.
Genericon is held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological university in the United States. The panel room in which I was situated was basically the PERFECT mood setter; a college auditorium-style lecture room outfitted with a thoroughly bizarre mish-mash of 1970s technology and modern day. Overhead transparency projectors, molded plastic chairs that only partially swiveled out, CRT monitors built into the lectern, and weird giant silver balls hanging from the ceiling that for all I knew would arc static electricity lightning at the push of a button sat right alongside a wall of fancy LCD HDTVs that were all disabled for the weekend. I never found that lightning bolt button, but I did find that the CRT monitors were wired up to a closed circuit surveillance system for the room, meant so professors could see when students were sneaking in late or trying to cheat!
Prior to my requested start time of Saturday at 7 PM--opposite cosplay and the formal ball, which is exactly where I want to be--I did a tech dry run with some of the A/V guys to figure out the systems by which I would have control over lights, video and sound. Everything was all set to go...or so it seemed. Being a small college-run convention subject to high staff turnover each year, there was nothing stopping the various other people using the room between my technical check and panel start from disconnecting every single thing in the room for the sake of connecting their own video setup, speaker system, microphones, and what have you. Nor was there an easy way to track if someone took the room-designated audio equipment to another room and locked them away. So when I got to the room ready to instantly switch over to DOOM...everything was gone. The cables connecting and powering the projector, the microphones, somewhere for me to sit down, you name it.
To their great credit the Genericon staff were able to help me out as fast as anyone could've possibly managed in that scenario, but I still lost about 30 minutes out of my allotted 2 hour block to that. Still, once we got rolling, I found an opportunity to reuse some of the classic standbys that are at this point "played out" on the traditional Hell territories. So this year, I got to bring back some of my dear favorites from years long past such as The Special Picture, Christopher Walken the Prankster, and (who else) Ivan the Red. Although Genericon is more sci-fi/gaming than anime, I've been dead-set on making sure my shows have a substantial amount of anime to them. To this end I've found that Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is one of the best series there is when it comes to pulling wacky 2 minute clip after clip after clip. My recurring theme which began at AWA was "Professor Nambu is a DICK" and that's probably the easiest picture of all to paint. I can't directly gauge the effectiveness of Hell/DOOM at getting people to watch classic anime, but showing people the bit from season 2 of Star Blazers where the Comet Empire kills all the dinosaurs then blows up the planet before noting "and you can see this cartoon for yourself in the video rooms of THIS VERY CONVENTION!" is about as good a sell for Star Blazers as I can think of until the SyFy Channel broadcast kicks off. Experimental Osamu Tezuka shorts, anime beer commercials (Suntory and Murphy's Irish Stout are my go-tos), anime cell phone ads, Black Jack and Dr. House, and the like keep things mostly in the realm of Japanese pop culture.
The Godfrey Ho/Joseph Lai pool is a near limitless source of comedy, but lately I've started to dig deep into the fountain of plenty that is Action International Pictures. AIP is great because virtually none of their catalog of B-grade and below action and sci-fi pictures were ever released on DVD, and because they were an independent get little to no play time on cable. Their most well-known movie is probably Space Mutiny thanks to the MST3K episode, but outside of the Everything is Terrible set, NOBODY knows about these movies. The AIP film I've picked as my go-to for this year's DOOM run is Deadly Prey, another Most Dangerous Game-type tale featuring a lead actor who...well...here's a compilation video courtesy of EiT that actually doesn't scratch the surface. Some enterprising folks have taken it upon themselves to digitally archive all their stuff, but as a good starting point I recommend "That's Action," a feature-length "best-of" compilation they put out in the early 90s.
Between the technical difficulties and the fact that it was a first-time outing for such a panel at the convention, I didn't pack the place to capacity but I got a respectable turnout. They originally had me in the main events room which seats 1400, and as nice as it is to run in the big room, the content of Hell and Hell-type events just aren't an appropriate fit for the 10 AM Sunday timeslot. Fortunately, my change request was granted!
All in all, Genericon was a good way for me to start off 2011's Panels OF DOOM!. I'm not sure if I should look into getting some silly flyers made up for future events. As smartphones become more commonplace I might just be getting more mileage out of using Twitter and hashtags in 2011 when it comes to on-site publicity of panels. That'll be the experiment for this year, I think.
Right now it looks like my next showings will be at Anime Boston as I once again cohost Anime Hell with Mike and Mike! See you then!