All of these movies are favorites. I just want to share these, to let people know not to forgot that these exist, and that all are well worth watching. Some of these I may have spoken of in previous posts, but I certainly don’t mind mentioning them again, if you don’t mind reading about them again. Have any of you seen these, and if so, what did you think?
Triplets of Bellville
Triplets of Belleville is one of the more unusual styles of animation. Directed by the French animator Sylvain Chomet, in 2003, it has almost no dialogue, even though there’s lots of singing. The lead character, although unnamed in the movie, is Madame Souza, who has to rescue her grandson, Champion, a bicyclist who has been kidnapped, and taken to the city of Belleville, (a stand in for New York City), by the Mafia. Accompanied by Champion’s faithful old hound, she meets the titular triplets, who can lay down some awesome vocal beats, and who make their living by blowing up fish in the nearby lake. Together the four of them, and Champion’s faithful doggo, set out to take down the local Mafia, and rescue Champion and his companions.
This film is a joy to watch. The animation style is definitely unique and deeply funny, in that grotesque French style, that only they are capable of, with lots of weirdly distorted faces, massive globular bodies, and giant teeth. And then there’s the dog. Champion’s dog is just an old gentleman, who doesn’t do anything particularly heroic, but has lots of vivid dreams about being menaced by trains.
It’s always interesting to see how other cultures approach the art of animation, which can be very distinct in style and mood to American animation. Triplets is available on Prime video for rent.
This is the second film by the director of Triplets of Belleville, Sylvain Chomet. There is another, very odd, film before that one called The Old lady and the Pigeons, which is simply “bizarre:” on a whole other level, but this movie is very accessible, even though, it too, has no dialogue. In it, a failed magician, having been pushed out of the entertainment industry by Rock music, packs up his act (and his pet rabbit) and movies to Scotland, where he meets a little girl, who believes he has genuine magical powers. The little girl follows him to his next gig, where they become increasingly impoverished, as he takes care of her. Eventually however, she meets a young man who fancies her, after which the magician leaves her, to get on with her life, without him.
I absolutely loved this movie. It is the very definition of bittersweet. There’s less grotesqueness here than in Triplets, but the characters are no less charming. I do have to admit, the first time I watched it, I was expecting something a bit more wild and zany, like Triplets. I was disappointed that it wasn’t, and barely paid attention, but after subsequent viewings, this movie really grew on me. It’s a soft film, without much bombast, which gets right to the point, and is definitely easier to understand than The Old Lady and the Pigeons.The Illusionist is also available on Amazon Prime.
Aeon Flux – Liquid Television
Waaay back in the 90’s, there was a network that used to air music videos. At some point, it kind of stopped doing that, and started playing reality TV shows, and then late at night, it would air things like this, on a show called Liquid Television. This is a pretty weird episode, but its not even the weirdest one I first saw. When I first saw these I had no f*cking idea what to think of these tall, extremely thin, characters, wearing barely any clothes, shooting guns at each other. I just knew this were different from anything else on TV at the time, and that it was funny, in an odd, twisted, silly kind of way.
In the the first one I saw, Aeon was tongue kissing this same guy (it turns out that his name was Trevor Goodchild), on a train, in extreme detail, and then having her neck broken by her own rope, as she tried to jump off. The signature tropes of the Aeon Flux cartoons, was that everyone (and I do mean everyone), just casually walked around in bondage gear, and Aeon died in every episode. I would stay up til 11 or 12 at night to watch these, knowing I had to get my ass up n the morning, to get ready for work.
Later, there was a movie about this character, starring Charlize Theron, but it flopped. (I do not recommend it, because it bears almost no resemblance to the cartoon, beyond the wearing of the pseudo-fetish gear.) The story was bad, the acting was worse, and it was basically directed by someone who had no understanding of what made the cartoon so iconic. It was also not funny.
Aeon Flux can be watched on Amazon Prime, MTV (on the app for free) and the CBS subscription.
Neo Tokyo is an animated anthology film, released in 1987, just one year before Akira. But I didn’t see it then. I saw it a few years later on MTV’s Liquid Television, along with Aeon Flux. Actually, what I saw was the middle story by Yoshiaka Kawajiri, called The Running Man. (Kawajiri is the director of Vampire Hunter D.) The Running Man was “haunting”, and the memory of it stayed with me for years. It’s the story of a champion race car driver, who has been winning his races by using Carrie-like superpowers, which eventually run out of control, and kill him. This particular segment is iconic, but the other little known segments includes one by Katsuhiro Otomo, (the director of Akira), called Construction Cancellation, about a lone man trying to deliver ta pink slip to an automated construction center, that refuses to cancel itself.
Sections of this anthology are available for viewing on the Dailymotion, and Vimeo apps for free.
Atom Ant – Cartoon Network Groovies
I remember Cartoon Network’s little music jams that played in between ads. There’s no plot here, but this is one of my favorites. I remember watching Atom Ant, when I was a little kid, and I just liked this little electro-remix.Atom Ant was part of the 1965 Hanna Barbera cartoon series, called Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel, so I watched it in syndication, on idle Saturday mornings. This was directed by Jonas Odell, with music by Michael Kohler. There were several other Groovies that played at the time, with one of my top favorites being The Powerpuff Girls theme song. Atom Ant is available to watch …here, and on Youtube.
Metropolis is one of my quiet favorites, as it rarely makes it to people’s lists of favorite anime movies. This is a worthy successor to a movie like Steamboy. Yes, there’s robots, and yes, there is an apocalypse but that’s where the similarity to robot dystopias ends. This movie, about a little girl robot, named Tima, whose destiny is to destroy the city of Metropolis, is full of genuine feeling, as tries to find a way to avert an evil future through her love for a human boy named Kenichi. The animation is clear, and well done, with beautiful scenery, and great characterization, and the ending might well have you in happy tears. Metropolis is available for streaming now on Crackle, and Apple TV
While I fondly remember the brief television series called Family Dog, my greatest nostalgia is for the original episode that was featured in the second season of Steven Spielberg’s 1987 television series Amazing Stories. In the pilot episode, the nameless, little, Bull Terrier, (who was subsequently named Jonah), had to put up with two obnoxious kids, shameless house burglars, guard dog training, and becoming famous, all in the space of thirty minutes. The series itself eventually failed, because although the dog was the hero of the episode, and sweetly charming, his family was thoroughly unlikable. The very first episode is available for streaming on Dailymotion, and Vimeo.
Rock and Rule
This is yet another cartoon I watched, somewhere around fourteen, late one night, when I was supposed to be asleep. This is not exactly for kids, what with it being full of Rock music by people like Iggy Pop, but I’m sure pretty plenty of kids have seen this movie. I do have the distinct memory of being mildly confused by the idea that there were no humans in this universe, only elevated animals, that acted like human beings, who had lived through the seventies, apparently. I remember trying to figure out exactly what types of animals some of them were, how did they know English, or how to play guitars. Most movie cartoons have musical numbers, but this was hte first one I’d encountered that had more modern music.
At the time, I didn’t know much of anything about Rock music either, as this was something not listened to in our house, (you had two choices of music in our house, Country music, and R&B), but I liked the music just fine, because of Debbie Harry. My mom considered Debbie Harry to be Disco, which was acceptable in the house, so I knew a few of her songs, (Rapture, Heart of Glass) and recognized her voice.There was also some Earth Wind and Fire, which I recognized, but I knew jackshit about Lou Reed, and Iggy, even though Mok’s theme was one of the coolest songs in the movie, and Angel’s Song is still on rotation on my phone’s Playlist!
The plot is fairly simple, but the movie is puffed out with a lot of comedic scenery, that I thought was annoying, when I was a teenager. Mok wants to open a portal to allow some type of demon entry to Earth, or gain superpowers or something ,and he is looking for just the right voice to do it, because apparently his own is insufficient. he chooses Angle, who is stuck in a nowhere Rock Band with her on again off again boyfriend Omar. When Omar discovers that Mok is just blowing smoke up her ass, so he can use her in an arcane ritual, he has to try to rescue her and defeat Mok.
You can enjoy this weird little movie on YouTube for free, or pay twenty dollars to watch it on Amazon Prime.
Or you can use the streaming app of your choice. I’m not gonna tell you what to do…you are the boss of you.