366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.The prospect of reviewing animation is always alluring, but perhaps never more so than when the Slamdance film festival rolls around. Alternately dream-like and nightmarish as a general rule, this year’s slate bends considerably more toward the abstract and absurd—and as such were a particular treat. I highly recommend you invest in access to these fine additions to the “cartoon” canon, with a particular shout-out for Frank Volk and his ad-blitz bombastic “Hotdogs!”, which has the visual and narrative chops to pull on the heartstrings, induce plenty of chuckles, and squeeze in a seamless mention of dialectical materialism.
And without further ado, the Animation Shorts ’23 showcase!
Arrest in Flight (dir. Adrian Flury; 8 min.)—Candy-colored props and sets are put to unsettling use through an ambient-industrial-choral score and jerky animations—as if the mechanized legs, kitchen chairs, and “people” are being sliced in and out of time. Flury’s dissection of modern life, with all its repetitions and tipping points, hypnotizes the eyes and ears, making even a flippant optimist like myself all too apprehensive.
Babe Beach (dir. Ida Lasic; 8 min.)—Some social commentary from Croatia, with a (top) half-fish / (bottom) half-human beach guide. ’90s polygons and ’80s neon are on proud display as a couple of beach-bum tourists ask a not-quite-local about the benefits of tourism. Visually pleasing, wryly humorous, and remarkably salient.
Baloney Beacon (dir. Max Landman; 6 min.)—Stop-motion using balloons is a gimmick I had never before laid eyes upon. The effect was unsettling. Cosmic creatures are overrun by a death-ray emitted by a hungry god of a tiny planet, who then consumes his prey. Top marks for originality, tone, and medium.
Don’t Die on Me (dir. Ori Goldberg; 3 min.)—A couple of guys on a park bench sharing a doobie frame this scattered narrative, but I would remiss if I did not share the content warning: quintessence mucous. Ori Goldberg animates this quick, spiritual exploration of mucous in a George Grosz style, and does not shy away from the general unpleasantness of nose-related usage. Some sick humor.
Horse (dir. Diana Gong; 4 min.)—RAM trucks, sunsets, and a claymation horse sporting pretty eyelashes. The methods of “mixed media” never fail to keep my attention. Diana Gong combines live video, clay, tissue paper, and a little computer noodling to talk about masculinity, ideals, infidelity, and doubtless a bit more. While there is always something moving onscreen, it never overwhelms, and it almost feels like one of the more abstract interludes I remember Continue reading SLAMDANCE 2023: ANIMATION SHORTS