Triplets of Belleville

By Noah Beaver

What do you think of when someone says ‘animation’? Perhaps you’ll imagine the cartoonish, yet realistic characters in Pixar. Or maybe the goofy and fluid Princesses and animal sidekicks of Disney. If you don’t get invited to a lot of parties, you’ll likely think of the giant eyed, small skirted, badly dubbed girls and boys of Japanese cartoons. But there’s one country that differs far from America and Japan, the only one that’s still trying to keep the fluid 2d animation alive even today. This is one of the best movies from that country with some of the best animators, France’s Triplets of Belleville.

Though the plot is simple, it’s unpredictable, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A grandma buys her son a bike. Years later, he becomes a professional bike racer. He then becomes kidnaped by the French mafia, who ship him over to New York, New York (which looks more like Montreal with horrifically morbidly obese people), so that they can make him race against other bikers against his will for gambling. His grandma and her dog follow the kidnappers to America, where they find the grandmas favorite (and old) musical stars, the Triplets of Belleville.

To summarize this movies art style seems impossible, the closest I can compare it to is vintage cartoons such Felix the Cat and Betty Boop, suggested by the fluidity of the animation and the intro of the movie that pays homage to those tunes, as well as the fact that the technology used in the film suggests that it takes place sometimes in the 30’s, when those cartoons were popular.

The music isn’t epic, nor is it simple. It’s classical, paying homage to French Music, the main attractions are the scenes where the characters play tunes using household objects, a genre called Found Music.

The visuals are unlike anything else, one can’t help but laugh, because even the most minor characters have been drawn with the most amazing proportions, so much that they’ll always remain in your mind. Take this snooty French waiter for example:

His eyes are always closed, his head is always closer to his butt then his chest (really, his upper torso should have broken off long ago), and he only has 2 minutes of screen time. And that’s part of the beauty of the film, every single character leaves an impression, no matter how insignificant. That makes this movie eerie, not weird, though the visuals are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, the plot is easy to understand even without dialogue, calling it weird would be an evasion.

If you like animation, watch it. If you think animation is only for kids, watch it. If you think originality is dead, watch it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll also wish more people would make films like this.

Heathcliff: A Loving Takedown

By Lola Burris

You know that orange, feline delinquent? The snarky cat we all know and love? Okay, no…not that one. The other one: Heathcliff; also scratch the “know and love” part. Heathcliff somehow managed to be a bootleg copy of Garfield before Garfield was even made. Heathcliff has had a few shows of his own, but we’re going to be focusing on the real treasure trove: the Heathcliff comics.

Now, I want to state one thing before I begin this take-down of the awful orange cat: I love Heathcliff. Heathcliff comics are beautiful little one panel packages of incomprehensible jokes. Sometimes, I can stare at a Heathcliff comic for 10 minutes and still not get it; I just sit in awe of some sort of higher power of comedy that I will never understand. I think the only way to convey the vicious glory of these comics is to attempt a run-down of a few of them with you.

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I don’t even know where to start with this one. I guess I’ll just start with the fact that Heathcliff has styled the lower half of his body to look like jeans; cuffed jeans. Secondly, why is he eating a drumstick with no hands? I guess it’s not too far off to believe that Heathcliff, after years of probable food theft, has learnt this little trick. So, what really puzzles me is what is happening in this comic exactly. My first guess is that the dog threw a stone at Heathcliff’s stomach (stupid move) and that he used his belly to repel it back “I’m rubber, you’re glue,” style. My second guess would be that a button popped off of Heathcliff’s “jeans” and hit the dog in the face. I’m guessing that it was purposeful, given Heathcliff’s criminal tendencies and bad attitude. But, how is Heathcliff growing buttons out of his abdomen? Also, I want to point out the fact that six year olds (the kids in the background) don’t typically use the word “girth.” Onto the next comic.

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In the Heathcliff helmet canon the helmets serve as a harbinger of bad times to come. In this comic he is wearing a helmet that says “gravy.” The family that Heathcliff lives with seems to live in a constant state of paranoia; they are always taking extreme precautions as to not spill Heathcliff’s precious gravy. I, too, would be extremely fearful when living in the same house as the orange menace. I don’t understand where Heathcliff gets these helmets. I don’t see who would or could be selling helmets that say “gravy,” or “ham.” So, is Heathcliff making these helmets himself, or does he have a guy? Also, the Y in “gravy,” is kind of ghosting off of the helmet.

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This one is truly an enigma. I have no clue what this one means. I can’t even begin to guess. I didn’t know that bread could fly in the Heathcliff universe. I didn’t know that, specifically, white bread could fly as opposed to whole wheat; which I guess is what they’re trying to say? Also, Heathcliff has a job? Who would hire this orange monstrosity.

 

  1. He’s a cat, I don’t believe that cats can be appointed to human reserved jobs such as construction work.
  2. Heathcliff must have a heavy criminal record at this point. Even if we disregard the fact that he’s a cat Heathcliff would never find work with a record like his.
  3. I don’t believe that Heathcliff would even want a job. He really doesn’t have an ambitious attitude. Plus, his family is rich so there’s no need for Heathcliff to get paid.

 

Heathcliff has a lot of problems. There’s a lot that doesn’t work in these comics, but that’s what makes it work (for me at least). I think that I could have more fun dissecting Heathcliff comics than I could doing most things. Inside the head of George Gately, the creator of Heathcliff (god bless his soul), is a scary place to be, but trying to understand him and the work he’s created is an amazing exercise for both the mind and the spirit. 

Cartoon Rewind: A Look Back at ‘Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends’

by Lola Burrisimage00

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends first aired around 13 years ago, which is insane to think about; the long-lasting effect that Foster’s had on animation makes it feel like it aired just a few years ago.

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends is about – well, it’s about a foster home full of imaginary friends whose creators became too old for them so that they can be adopted and be the friend of another kid who needs them. The creator of the show, Craig McCracken,  has said that the idea for Foster’s came to him when he visited an animal shelter and saw all of the dogs there. So, basically: Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends is a show about a bunch of dogs. What could be better?

Foster’s relies on character to drive the stories in the show; most conflicts beginning with the personality of a character and what it causes them to do. A lot of episodes are just the main crew goofing off inside of the house. Something amazing that Foster’s accomplishes is making sure that these episodes never feel like filler and are just a purely enjoyable time. The reason that they’re able to pull this off is the amazing assortment of characters they’ve created. Craig McCracken says that there were hundreds of imaginary friends created for the show before they finally landed on the motley crew we all know and love. There is no friend that seemed to run dry before the end of the show, and the interactions between each and every character seemed genuine and fluid.

One of the ways that Foster’s retains it’s genuine feel is through the process for animating the crew uses: they first hand draw everything, then touch it up digitally, and finally animate it in flash. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends was the first show to use this process for animation, so I feel like this show really isn’t getting the credit it deserves as a revolutionary show for cartoons. Foster’s was created by a small crew entirely in house, which was unheard of for cartoons, especially Cartoon Network cartoons. The tool that allowed them to do this was the library of animations that they stored up. This bank of animations allowed them to crank out episodes faster and faster after each release.

Foster’s was airing in a pretty dry time for cartoons; in a time of “good vs. evil” Foster’s was a little oasis of just good hearted fun that I think everyone needs every once in awhile. I want to thank Foster’s for not taking itself too seriously, but taking itself seriously enough to create something wonderful, and something that I’m never going to forget.
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Lola’s Reviews Presents:

A Few Late Thoughts on Adventure Time‘s “Preboot” and “Reboot”

by Lola Burris

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Since around season 3 I would definitely make the claim that Adventure Time is one of the best shows on TV. It has the richest and most diverse world-building of any show I’ve seen, and it is able to build on that would while still remaining in the confines of what we’d expect from it. The season 7 finale just goes to solidify that. Since this is a season finale take this as your official Spoiler warning.

       image04 Adventure Time has been hinting at the plot of these episodes for quite a while, with people in Ooo living as cyborgs – Bmo’s creator especially. In this episode we meet Doctor Gross who has been making hybrid animals (monsters?) in her lab, and an old friend, Tiffany, is there too. Finn is always looking to meet someone who appears to be human, and Doctor Gross seems to fit the bill until she reveals the array of mods she has installed in her body. “Evolution’s too slow.” She claims. Doctor Gross and her nightmare menagerie seem to hold a lot of lore as to what happened to all the humans, but while Finn, Jake, and Susan are escaping they destroy the lab and everyone inside of it, seemingly, except for the hybrids. The death of Tiffany is very interesting for Adventure Time because it introduces an idea of killing off characters that we’ve had slight, or even major, attachment to. This happens a few times in the episode and I’ll touch on it more later.

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        The episode “Reboot” focuses heavily on Susan Strong. In the previous episode it is revealed that she has a chip implanted in her head, and that that chip is now malfunctioning, or maybe finally functioning the way it was meant to. Either way, Susan is now set on destroying Finn and Jake. In the early battle Rattleballs, another old friend, leaps out of hiding to try and save Finn and Jake. He is destroyed, his final words being “Yabba-dabba-dabba-dabba.” Which, I promise, is important. Everything leads up to a battle between Finn and Susan, which Finn totally doesn’t want. Susan is his friend, right? Finn and Jake form the Jake suit, yet another callback, and try to body slam susan, which basically does nothing. During the whole fight Finn is pleading with Susan to stop, and telling her that he doesn’t want to hurt her. Finn throws Susan into the ocean, but she emerges carrying a very large anchor. Susan throws the anchor and it lands on Finn and Jake, Finn manages to crawl out unharmed thanks to the protection of the Jake suit. Jake, however, is looking really bad; he mutters out a “Yabba-dabba-dabba-dabba.” Finn manages to destroy the chip on Susan’s head, which returns her back to normal, and he seems to be done fighting, his grass sword (which is attached to his body) however, is not. The sword takes control of Finn’s body, and starts to beat up Susan. We get this amazing shot where the grass from Finn’s arm slithers over the Finn sword, out of frame, and then back to wrap around it which tears it off off Finn, causing Finn to lose his arm for the second time in this series. The grass and sword form a sort of Grass Finn, and that is where we’re left this season, with no implication of whether Jake, Tiffany, and Rattleballs are really dead.

image00 The idea of a cliffhanger this heavy is new to Adventure Time, in fact, killing off characters is new to Adventure Time. I think this episode really proves how much Adventure TIme has matured from an episode where Princess Bubblegum continued to clone a Candy Kingdom citizen because she couldn’t stand to see him go, which was very representative of the series, at the time. The fact that Rattleballs was so clearly shattered and said the same thing as Jake before his death is really scary, I don’t know if Adventure Time could really ever kill off Jake, but the fact that they’ve even allowed us to think it is monumental for them.
It looks like the eighth season of Adventure Time is shaping up to be pretty incredible. The Adventure Time crew tends to use finales to set up the mysteries of the next season, so it seems like we may finally get to find out about what happened to the humans. With the end of Adventure Time nearing this seems like a major possibility for a season arch, and that is very exciting. It seems like everything has been leading up to this season, with all of Finn’s character development included. So, here’s to season 8 – whatever that may bring.

Article written by Lola Burris, posted on January 31st, 2016.