Jan 112016
Still from Anomalisa

Still from Anomalisa

Anomalisa opens in Seattle on January 15th (find it at AMC Pacific Place). This Charlie Kaufman-penned film has been hotly anticipated by film and animation fans alike, since it’s the screenwriter’s first foray into frame by frame puppet manipulation. Its release made us think about what are OUR favorite stop-motion films? Here is a sampling:

Sihanouk Mariona (freelance animator – who also worked for a short time on Anomalisa!) picks Birdhouse, by Rich Zim:

“Birdhouse, by Rich Zim, has been one of my favorites since i first saw it in college.  It’s one of those wonderful combos of both abstract and narrative that absorbs you into its surreal world right away. Through the relationship of a regular guy and his new friend, we explore the ups and downs of friendship, dependency, loneliness and the freedom of release. Basically, the life span of most relationships.  I think we can all find something to relate to in this short film, whether it’s from the characters, the story, or the wacky environment. A strong piece, Birdhouse is definitely worth seeing and including in any animation curriculum.”

Devin Ensz
(freelance animator) picks Food by Jan Svankmajer:

“My favorite stop motion film is “Food” by Jan Svankmajer.  I love Svankmajer’s radical and disruptive treatment of the human body through it’s relation to food.  Svankmajer is something of an animation terrorist.  Combining pixilation and claymation, Svankmajer offers a devastating critique of capitalist values while documenting the collapse of the communist system and it’s discontents.  His animation is always surprising and completely original, and there is literally nothing like it.”

Webster Crowell (animator/director, look out for his live action/animation combo webseries Rocketmen) picks The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle by David Russo:

“A lot of modern stop-motion is too clean, the motion and the models are so tidy they could just as easily be CG without the bother of building all the stuff. David Russo is a filmmaker who knew better, his films are energetic and impatient, he’s a director who gets why our eyes are drawn to stuttering images. His feature film (The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle) is a project that wouldn’t function in lesser hands, and the animation/time lapse opening titles are stupefying.”

Stewart McCullough (animator/photographer) picks Street of Crocodiles by The Brothers Quay:

“I’ve always been attracted to stop motion animation, however this was the film that opened my mind to its more mature and meaningful potential. I love the symbolic, surreal, and dreamlike quality of the worlds that the Brothers Quay create. The setting, the music, the animation style, and the mystery surrounding the main character in Street of Crocodiles drew me in deeply. Their cinematic approach is always satisfying to me.”

Clyde Petersen
(animator/director, currently locked in a basement producing his first feature length animation Torrey Pines) picks Jellyfish Eyes by Takashi Murakami:

 “Jellyfish Eyes is a magical, intense film about life post-tsunami & nuclear meltdown in modern day Japan. Combining live-action with drawn animation, a few giant muppet-style shaggy puppets and some psychedelic wave footage, Murakami creates an incredible story from the point of view of teenagers and youth, forced to grow up too fast. Jellyfish Eyes was just released on DVD in the USA.”

Tess Martin
(animator/founder of Haptic Animation Amplifier) picks Wallace and Gromit’s A Grand Day Out by Aardman:

“I tend to prefer flat animation techniques, like paper cut-outs or paint-on-glass, but when I do see stop-motion with puppets, I like to be able to tell that it’s stop-motion, I want to see the finger tips, the jitters. Aardman’s 1989 short film, A Grand Day Out, the first of the Wallace and Gromit series, has fingerprints a plenty, a simple yet joyful story, and adorable British-isms that fill the characters with personality. This would be followed by Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers (1993) and and A Close Shave (1995), as well as their ground breaking interview-based Creature Comforts (also 1989).”

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