(THE BEACH) 1966
Director: Edward Sturlis

Directors: Andy Garnica, Alejandro Lopez,
Victor Valezquez & Francisco Hernandez

Director: Francisco Jose Hernandez Tapia

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Bluesman Six & a half minute stop motion puppetoon from Poland, The Beach (Miejsce, 1966) opens with numerous sunbathers by the water, with a backdrop of individual bathing huts. Everyone is lying so still they might as well be dead. Periodically another person comes out of one of the huts.

One guy comes out & sees there is only one spot remaining on the whole beach where there isn't already someone lying perfectly still, but before he can reach it, another fellow horns in rudely.

Fortunately, there is another spot way the other end of the beach. He picks his way between bodies heading carefully for that spot, only to have a bully boot him out.

His general maltreatment continues. It's not comical, not interesting, & truth be told, the puppets are so unattractive they're not even fun to look at. One gets spoilt by the aesthetic nature of Trnka or Svankmajer & it's hard to settle for these homely puppets.

Our abused hero goes into one of the huts to escape further assault. When he comes out again, he's wearing a tuxedo. Because he looks like a man of means, room is made for him, at cost to others. Man after man wants to suck up to the apparently wealthy fellow, & one by one everyone becomes involved in a general free-for-all. The survivors of the battle fight over whose blanket the rich man can lay on.

In the end they all role into the sea & drown. The "point" of it all is as uninteresting as it is obvious.

Bluesman A robot strolling down the avenue has his head drop off & he collapses apparently dead. A crow with some miscellaneous robots check out his body for scrap.

Thus begins the weird & successfully sorrowful The Last Sparkle (El Ultimo Destello, 2006), a short-short stop motion puppetoon, made in Barcelona, Spain.

We soon figure out that healthy robots have heads that are various unusual sorts of lightbulbs. When these burn out, the whole robot rather than just the bulb needs replacement.

These mechanical creatures come in numerous varieties, & live their lives as scavengers & consumers. One such scavenger returns home with very few useful items found amidst the city's trash. At home, an infirm companion robot with flickering lightbulb-head lies upon a table/bed.

The recently scavenging robot sits in a chair beside its companion & takes one of the hands, as the last of its companion's life flickers out.

Bluesman A stunningly work of animation from Barcelona, Spain, Bluesman (2006) opens at night on a grubby street in rundown urban neighborhood. In a room on the third floor of a grimy hotel dwells Rab Daniels, a young man who is already a failed blues musician who probably took his stage name from a brand of whiskey.

The 3D computer graphics emulate the puppet animation of Jiri Trinka, as filtered through Tim Burton's Vincent or Nightmare Before Christmas. Visually it's extremely attractive, not as much so as it might've been had it really been puppetry, but still a nice imitation.

A supernatural presence resembling a human rat, unseen by Rab, starts a record player operating, with a record on it Rab never knew he had. He listens to "Me & the Devil" by Preacher Johnson. The lyrics are about being a failure every day as a musician, until a mysterious man (the devil) put a voodoo curse upon his guitar, making him the great bluesman he became.

BluesmanRab's been tempted by the devil, shown a way to become a success without need of hard knocks, merit, experience, or struggle.

With his guitar in its case, & for some odd reason wearing his sunday best, Rab runs through the dark streets to a closed ruin of an old rhythm & blues club. Within, he hears the partying ghosts of the club's better days. Posters are still attached to the walls, including several for Preacher Johnson's long-past gigs.

A ghostly devil in pink with a serpent's body appears at one of the tables. He slithers up to Rab, whose guitar case opens without a touch. He plays Rab's guitars, puts a blues hex on it, & gives it back to Rab.

His career skyrockets thereafter. He puts together the Rab Daniels Band & they're hugely in demand at jazz & blues clubs everywhere. But eventually a contract comes due, & the devil comes to take away the magic guitar.

When one thinks of the great animators like Jan Svankmeyer or Jiri Trnka, then Bluesman isn't a great cartoon. It's too derivative of Tim Burton, & the all-important sound mix isn't as good as it needed to be in order to function as a blues fable.

It's nevertheless heads & tails above the average independently done computer animation that proliferates today, & vastly more imaginative the commercial 3D computer animation of Pixar.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]