Sparkill Ave! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sparkill Ave!


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Robert Breer has been making animated films for 40 years. His films are all short and unpretentious, their subjects mostly drawn from daily life, and they have none of the cuteness of much prizewinning animation. Nevertheless they offer pleasures as intense as any work of art can. His latest, Sparkill Ave!, combines still photos of his home and environs in Tappan, New York, with hand-drawn images of ordinary objects and scenes--a disposable razor, a parade, a basketball going through a hoop. The brightly colored lines of Breer's drawings are rapidly intercut with the photos, encouraging the viewer to see photographic reality as pure color and shape. Breer's organizing principle is surprise: just when the film seems at its most illusionistic, we see images of abstract black-and-white patterns; at its most rapid, we get relatively long takes of single photos. The viewer's expectations are constantly kept on edge: no one moment of the film can be predicted from the previous one, which intensifies our experience of each color, each movement, each instant of time. Part of Chicago Filmmakers' "International Animation Extravaganza," this shares a bill with Breer's equally great Swiss Army Knife With Rats and Pigeons plus work by nine other animators. Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Wednesday, May 4, 7:30, 384-5533.

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