Sure it might be the most thankless job, but no one can argue that it’s not the most interesting. A Bartender’s Tale is a series that animates intriguing stories told by Brooklyn bartenders. The eight bartenders featured were selected through a contest where they were asked to describe their most unusual day on the job. The finalists were then paired with animators to bring their stories to life.
Presented by Jack Daniels (just ignore the shameless product placements), the eight animated videos range from tales of lost love to bar-top dancing embarrassments. It was hard for us to choose our favorite, but we eventually went with this story (above) about a fat little chihuahua and his superstitious, sports-loving owner. You can watch the rest of the videos in the playlist above, or here.
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Tuesday, December 8th, 2015||No Comments »|
If you follow the animation world you’ve probably already heard of Sarina Nihei’s short Small People With Hats, a 2014 graduation film that won the top prize at this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival — a huge honor for a student film. Nihei’s strange short will most likely baffle most, and I understand that not everyone will like it, but her world of shocking weirdness speaks so deeply to me even though it’s both a truth and a lie. And if you’re wondering what that means, that’s the weird allure of Small People With Hats. It’s contradictory in its oddness.
But let me attempt to explain it anyway. Nihei illustrates a world where there are only two types of people: giant “normal” sized people and small people with large hats. The giants constantly mistreat the small people, but the small people have their own mission that delves into sporadic devilishness. “The story is based on ideas of despair and absurdity in a society,” Nihei tells Vice. “People are killed for irrational reasons, which always makes me feel despair. But when it comes to filmmaking, I make much of it entertaining and don’t want to make it too serious. That’s how the story ended up.”
I watched the short about three times and still came away feeling slightly different each time. However, my favorite thing about it is that it doesn’t preach. You know it’s saying something, but at the same time it’s saying nothing at all — that weird juxtaposition of meaning and absurdity is something you don’t see every day. If you have seven minutes to kill today, I highly recommend having your brain punched and stretched to this delightfully weird short film.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, November 24th, 2015||No Comments »|
There are two things kids today will never understand: 1) The Simpsons‘ “glory days,” and 2) VHS tapes. This hilarious nostalgic homage by Yoann Hervo will be a psychedelic trip down memory lane for most of us, but most importantly, it continues the awesome trend of Simpsons fan art, which birthed the brilliant Bartkira earlier this year.
This short video is part of a collaborative art project of artists and animators who planned to create a short story within the Simpsons universe. However, the project never got off, so Hervo released his contribution anyway. “Weird Simpsons VHS” is only a small snippet, but it’s full of weird gags, bizarre reinventions of classic characters, and a split second of a birthing video (?). Yep, that was the ’90s.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, November 17th, 2015||No Comments »|
It’s a bit like a rite of passage to be a kid in middle school being forced to watch an educational video about “your changing body.” Mine was held in a special classroom where they showed us some ’90s video about some girl who got her period and panicked because she didn’t know what to do. I always felt like the videos they showed us weren’t really informational, just blatantly fear-monger-y, with a bleak conclusion that periods are awkward so just deal with it.
Normally when you hear the words “1950s” and “Walt Disney” you think of things that are super old-fashioned, conservative, or sexist, but this animation surprisingly has none of those things. Sure it’s a little outdated, showing shots of women cleaning houses and cooking, but its message is straight forward and educational, unlike those frightening ’90s videos I was forced to watch. There is some cringeworthy mothering in the cartoon, like telling girls to “not slouch” or to smile and “stop feeling sorry for yourself,” but overall it’s an interesting relic of Disney history that was made during a time when Disney, apparently, was desperate for cash.
Unfortunately, if you’re wondering why your teachers never showed you this video in school, it’s because the cartoon was later banned for some reason. I guess they had to make room for those scary ’90s videos. Too bad.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Thursday, November 5th, 2015||No Comments »|
German illustrator Raphaëlle Martin has the kind of bold style one might expect from a René Magritte admirer. They both love bold colors, vast landscapes, and most importantly, surrealism. This animated tribute is more than just a rehashing of Magritte’s most famous works. Instead, Martin injects new life into these classic pieces by updating the art to appeal to today’s loyal netizens. That’s right–gifs. And while some people might scoff at the increasingly blurred lines between gifs and art, we think this tribute is brilliant.
Probably the most interesting thing about these tribute pieces is how Martin uses an animation style that makes the pieces look old, like some colorized classic film. The pieces jump to life as if you’re tuning in to some broadcast expressionist station. Or, you know, you could also just sit back and take a more laid back approach to this. After all, they’re just gifs.
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Friday, September 4th, 2015||No Comments »|
My love for short film and animation was honed in the late ’90s, back when channels like IFC and Sundance would play them all time. These days short films are just unleashed into the void of the Internet while people run around desperately trying to “curate” what’s there (kind of like what we do).
However, my favorite short film TV show of the early ’00s was SciFi (before it became SyFy)’s Exposure. I think that’s where I saw Shadow Puppets for the first time. Although I can’t remember exactly where I saw it, the film itself has stayed with me ever since. Earlier this week while clicking through a YouTube rabbit hole of rare animated shorts, I stumbled across Shadow Puppets for the first time in years and was immediately consumed with nostalgia. This is just one of those films you don’t forget once you’ve seen it.
Created by Chuck Gamble in 1994 for his thesis in computer animation, Shadow Puppets says a lot about society and our passion to be independent. What happens when society tries to dictate our personal freedom–our freedom to enjoy life, to be creative, to be anything but the norm? It’s a film that speaks to our inner need to break free from life’s constructs while, at the same time, showing the beauty of triumph in the face of adversity. But I think the less I say about this film the better. Just watch it for yourself and I promise you’ll feel a lot better about marching to work this morning.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Thursday, July 16th, 2015||No Comments »|
This is the part where we make a bunch of tasteless jokes about psychedelic drug, hallucinations, and mind-altering trips. But you know what? Why waste your time? We know what you’re thinking, and maybe Japanese animator kanahebi does, too. Set to Magic Lantern’s dreamy “Feasting on Energy,” kanahebi paints a world where shapes are shapeless, forms are formless, and the wonders of the underwater world stop just short of being its own cosmic universe. His other videos, “hadopelagic” and “orange,” also echo the same aesthetic if you want to take a peek at those as well. Just remember: we’re not responsible for any come-downs (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves).
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Monday, June 22nd, 2015||No Comments »|