Animation Week at the Parkway

San Francisco International isn’t the only film festival launching next week. The New Parkway is running Animation Week from Friday, April 6 through the following Thursday, April 12. The selection includes the traditional kiddie fare, as well as movies that would probably send your young child into therapy.

Movies I’ve seen and reviewed

In order from best to worst

Persepolis

Can one call a 95-minute, low-budget, animated film an epic? I think this one qualifies. It may also qualify as a masterpiece. Iranian/French cartoonist Marjane Satrapi based Persepolis on her own autobiographical graphic novels (Vincent Paronnaud shares screenwriting and directing credits). Through the eyes of the young Marjane, we see Iran go through oppression, revolution, hope, worse oppression, war, and even worse oppression. Read my full review.

  • Saturday, April 7, 7:20
  • Monday, April 9, 6:45

Coco

This beautiful journey into Mexican traditions of the afterlife (via big-budget Hollywood, of course) manages to be serious, emotional, and fun. Young Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez) belongs to a family of shoemakers who hate music. But music runs deep in the boy’s soul. On The Day of the Dead, he accidentally goes to the other side, even though he’s still alive. To come back, he must learn a lot about life in general and his family in particular. And, since Pixar made this movie, his journey is also funny, suspenseful, exciting, and visually stunning.

  • Friday, April 6, 8:10
  • Saturday, April 7, 5:30

A- The Red Turtle

A man marooned on a deserted island struggles to survive, escape, and ward off loneliness in this unique and beautiful animated tale. In a strange way, he will find almost everything he wants. This French film, co-produced by Japan’s great Studio Ghibli, contains no dialog beyond cries and an occasional “Hey!” You don’t want to know too much about The Red Turtle before you see italthough you might want to read my spoiler-free full review.

  • Sunday, April 8, 7:30
  • Thursday, April 12, 4:00

Loving Vincent

This mystery/drama about the people who knew Vincent van Gogh is not strictly an animated film. The filmmakers shot it in live action, then painted every frame to make it look like a van Gogh painting. The effect looks amazing, but it also alienates you from the characters not quite visible onscreen. Living Vincent uses a Citizen Kane-like story structure, with Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth behind a lot of oil paint) interviewing people who knew the painter near the end of his life. There’s even a theory that van Goth’s death was a murder. The film spends too much time on Roulin and not enough on van Goth.

  • Friday, April 6, 6:00
  • Wednesday, April 11, 6:30

D+ Have a Nice Day

Imagine Pulp Fiction in limited animation, without clever dialog, wit, or a sense of redemption. That’s pretty much what you get with Jian Liu’s cartoon noir. There’s little character development or rooting interest – and the cheap, extremely limited animation doesn’t help deepen the script’s shallow characters. The story is confusing, brutal, and pointless. On the plus side, Liu can occasionally amaze you through his nearly motionless drawings. Read my full review.

  • Saturday, April 7, 9:35
  • Tuesday, April 10, 9:25

Rarities

These are unique and rarely screened movies. I can’t grade them because I haven’t seen them in ages – if I’ve seen them at all. But they’re all intriguing for one reason or another.


Fritz the Cat

  • Fritz the Cat: I saw the first adult-oriented animated feature when it was new and I was barely old enough to see an X-rated movie without lying about my age. I don’t remember liking it much.
    • Friday, April 6, 10:30PM
    • Wednesday, April 11, 9:05
  • Superman: The Max Fleischer Serials: This sure sounds like fun. On the other hand, serials can be awfully repetitive.
    • Saturday, April 7, 2:55
  • South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut: I saw this some 20 years ago at the UC Theatre of blessed memory. The house was packed, and it was very, very funny.
    • Saturday, April 7, 10:00PM
    • Thursday, April 12, 9:30

Studio Ghibli

These movies are so popular that my commentary feels pointless. You’ve probably already seen them or know you should.

  • My Neighbor Totoro (all screenings dubbed)
    • Friday, April 6, 4:00
    • Sunday, April 8, 12:00 noon
  • Princess Mononoke
    • Sunday, April 8, 8:15 (subtitled)
    • Monday, April 9, 6:30 (dubbed)

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