Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cucalorus Films: "Meeting MacGuffin" and "World of Tomorrow"

This year, I was fortunate enough to sample two impressive, yet wholly distinct forms of animation. The two shorts I had seen were the films Meeting MacGuffin and The World of Tomorrow 1&2.

Meeting MacGuffin: An Ecological Thriller was a bizarre yet charming take upon a dystopian future where humanity is all but extinct -- and the ascendant surviving species (typical woodland creatures) have taken to creating humanlike proxies known as "homies," constructed from the discarded bodyparts that are all that remain from humanity, itself. Utilizing stop motion animation with figures constructed from dolls and other such crafting materials, the film gives a charming feeling of a dark and macabre fairy tale -- paired with the gentle voiceover performances, yet all together unsettling aesthetic, I don't know if I would necessarily classify this film as a "thriller," as there were really no moments of suspense found within.  It would be my own assumption that the filmmaker placed the subtitle upon his film simply because of the dark "between-the-lines" content found within -- often I find that films that place the genre of the work as part of the subtitle seem to be forcing the audience to draw certain conclusions from it.  In the instance of MacGuffin, I feel that it works contrary to the film's favor.

Regardless, the film's production quality was incredibly charming -- and the "scavenged" aesthetic of many of the film's models and characters definitely helped add to the mythology behind the setting, itself.  In many ways, I was reminded of Shane Acker's short film 9, that was later turned into a (lackluster) theatrical release.  In many ways I feel that this narrative does such a great job of building an exposition behind the story that we would be cheated to not have more time to "play in the sandbox," as it were.  While a full-length, wide theatrical release is probably not viable or realistic, I feel that it could be supplemented by creating additional short films to expand upon this intriguing concept.

Don Hertzefeldt's World of Tomorrow, a work of hand-drawn, illustrated animation was far more traditional in its approach, however far more adventurous in its narrative.  I was eager to see this film given my familiarity with the filmmaker's previous work, Rejected, which had been a long-time favorite of mine.  In World of Tomorrow, we are introduced to Emily Prime. A young child who is about to engage in a conversation with her cloned descendent, several centuries in the future.  The simple, childlike figures coupled with the voice actress for Emily Prime similarly gives the film a bit of a childlike pallour that underscores the sinister implications underneath. Throughout the course of the conversation, Emily's descendent (heretoafter simply named "Emily") begins to explain to Emily Prime some of the numerous technological breakthroughs that her time period has access to, as well as many of the cultural advancements made in society.  While presented in a lighthearted, humorous edge, there are many disturbing elements found within these descriptions -- a human boy grown without a brain and kept on permanent display, for instance.  Yet all of these sinister implications go over the head of Emily Prime, who continues to make innocent, childlike observations about them all.  I wonder if Emily Prime's role was scripted or if the voice actress (similar to South Park) was simply given a microphone and allowed to babble and react to the dialogue much like a child would, naturally.

While not as "randomcore" humorous as Rejected, World of Tomorrow was no less engaging or impressive in its function.  I was rather surprised to find how emotional poignant the film became, in its last few minutes.


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  2. Blake, thank you for the awesome review of "Meeting MacGuffin".

  3. No, thank YOU for all of your amazing work on it! As an aspiring animation filmmaker, myself, I really appreciate you reaching out.

  4. Thanks Blake. Let's stay in touch and keep each other, fellow animators, posted.:) I'm currently writing "Las Nogas", that is when I'm not travelling with "meeting MacGuffin" to film festivals. "Las Nogas", the third in the trilogy will be, I promise, "thrilling"! After that I'm planning to produce a feature within the same Mythology. Cheers. :)