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Archive for December 15th, 2010

by Jaime Grijalba

Rob: Hello.

Steve: Hey Rob, Steve.

Rob: Ooh. Hiya, how are you?

Steve: Good, good… Listen, are you free next week… to go away?

Rob: Where?

Steve: Ahm… it’s kind of a tour, a tour of the north… restaurants, really good restaurants.

Rob: Right… Why me?

Steve: Er… Misha can’t come and I don’t wanna go alone… I’ve asked other people, but they were too busy. Uhm… it’s a job, I’m not seeing it as… going on holiday with you or anything weird… it’s… it’s for the Observer Magazine… So… you know… you wanna come?

I know, I know, I should be reading the first novel of recent Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa for my literature column (in fact, I’m halfway through it as of now). Many will say that I should stick to that, but I can’t help but  try to open your minds to new content that maybe you have not been aware of (anyway that’s what all of the writers here do, half of the time I don’t know the movie/band/TV-series they’re talking about and just go on reading and getting myself an education). Maybe there are people out there who know what I’m going to talk about, it’s not really that obscure, just not really well publicized (at least from the sites I receive the news from).

I want to talk a bit about this BBC2 miniseries called ‘The Trip’, which premiered this year, which runs for six episodes each lasting a total of 28 minutes, directed by Michael Winterbottom, who also directed ‘The Killer Inside Me’ this year. There’s also a feature-length movie edited from this series which has run in some festivals with its own share of praise. This has been described in many venues as a sitcom of sorts, even if it really doesn’t fit in the genre/format.  It doesn’t have a laugh track, it’s not filmed on a studio, the episodes while they can be seen on their own, seeing them in order is where the real flavor is at..The only characteristics of the genre/format that are present is the recurring cast of protagonists, the changing supporting characters, the comedic element and the length of the episodes.

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(France 1934 26 min)

Director / Cinematography / Art Direction Wladyslaw Starewicz; Music Eduard Flament; Cast Toy Dog (himself)


by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

We often apply a double standard when we judge the worth of animated work. If the animation is technically impressive we forgive it its narrative weaknesses. If the story is diverting we ignore the shortcomings of an uninspiring aesthetic. We don’t often make the same allowances for live-action feature films, allowances that are, in some respects, patronising.

It is clear from the beginning of The Mascot, in which live-action sets and backdrops are blended seamlessly with animation, that Wladyslaw Starewicz is a very talented film-maker in any realm. His background was in documentaries and his panoramic understanding of film shines in every frame – in the whiplash fast chases through city traffic to the tender moments of the singular bond between child and toy.

The Mascot begins with a mother (played by the director’s wife) knitting a toy dog for her daughter (Starewicz’s daughter!) who lies ill (and blind) in a nearby bed. Animation is full of breathtaking instances of creation, where the inanimate become animate, gaining a soul and life and any moment we will be treated to something quite breathtaking…. The mother, sad, sheds a tear that falls into the stuffing of the un-stitched dog .That very tear becomes its beating heart. Even in a world where special effects might seem to make the fantastical trite, this miracle of love is heart-stopping.

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