Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting animated

Back in the 80s, and maybe even for a brief part of the 90s, my favorite clothes were skorts, my favorite accessory was the slap bracelet, and my favorite movies were animated-- the The Land Before Time perhaps topping the list. Even though I know animated films are all the rage these days -- with many of my friends in Hong Kong raving about Kung-Fu Panda this summer -- I still associate animated films with childhood, and tend to steer clear unless I have a child to entertain.

But in the past week, I've seen two animated features that are making me rethink my aversion to the cartoon set. On Saturday, I checked out a series of presentations that were part of The Wonder Cabinet, a series on "wondrous stuff" organized by the NYU Institute of the Humanities and its director Lawrence Weschler (who teaches me the Fiction of Nonfiction this semester). My favorite presentation from the day was an excerpt from Fears of the Dark, a creepy black-and-white animated short film. A robber creeps into a house in the dead of a snowy night, and ends up the victim rather than the victimizer. The film, with its suspenseful shadows and suggested dangers, was supremely creepy.

With the appetite for animation whetted, I checked out Waltz with Bashir, an Israeli animated film about the massacre in Beirut during Israel's war with Lebanon. It was a deeply disturbing movie in its exploration of the horror of war and its effects on the psyche of Israeli soldiers.

So, I'm coming around on animation, but only those animated films of the disturbing, horrifying, distressing variety.

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