Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Festival of Animation

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This varied collection of shorts represents a certain improvement over the International Tournee of Animation in terms of overall quality. An organization based in La Jolla called Mellow Madness has put it together, and after many successful years on the west coast is taking the show on the road, in competition with the International Tournee. A greater interest in the hallucinatory describes part of the different emphasis, although the selection is no less international: films from Hungary, Canada, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, the USSR, and the U.S. are included, and the styles vary from the near-abstract (Sara Penny's lovely Furies, about two undulating cats) to the political and notational (Jonathan Amitay's Oh, Dad) to School of Chuck Jones minimalism (Andrew Stanton's Somewhere in the Arctic) to jeering punk (Christopher Simon's Hello Dad, I'm in Jail) to top-heavy narrative (Eunice McCauley's Special Delivery and Andrew Stanton's A Story, the latter a nightmarish version of TV kiddie-show muck). Some of the cartoons here suffer only because they've already had so much exposure. (Seriously, fellas, isn't it about time to give Bambi Meets Godzilla an extended rest?) Otherwise, the overall level of quality is unusually high, and for sheer, unadulterated weirdness, Sing Beast Sing--by the auteur of Bambi Meets Godzilla, Marv Newland--is a standout. (Music Box, Friday through Thursday, April 15 through 21)

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