Monthly Archives: December 2012

Take Five Jazz Great Dave Brubeck Dead at 91

Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck

Jazz pianist-composer Dave Brubeck, whose record­ing of “Take Five” sold over a mil­lion copies in 1960, died Wednes­day of heart fail­ure at Nor­walk Hos­pi­tal in Nor­walk, Con­necti­cut, near his home in Wilton, Con­necti­cut. He would have turned 92 on Thursday.

Brubeck was on his way to an appoint­ment with his car­di­ol­o­gist when he was stricken Wednes­day morn­ing, said long­time manager-producer-conductor Rus­sell Gloyd.

His “Take Five” was heard on the sound­track of the 1973 Ralph Bak­shi adult car­toon movie Heavy Traf­fic. As well, he com­posed for — and per­formed with his ensem­ble on — “The NASA Space Sta­tion,” a 1988 episode of the CBS TV series This Is Amer­ica, Char­lie Brown.

David War­ren Brubeck was born in Con­cord, Cal­i­for­nia on Decem­ber 6, 1920.

Des­ig­nated a “Liv­ing Leg­end” by the Library of Con­gress, he con­tin­ued to be one of the most active and pop­u­lar musi­cians in the world up until his death. In a career that has spanned more than six decades, his exper­i­ments with odd time sig­na­tures, impro­vised coun­ter­point, and dis­tinc­tive har­monies remain hall­marks of a unique musi­cal style unfazed by fad and fashion.

Born into a musi­cal fam­ily — his two older broth­ers were pro­fes­sional musi­cians — at age four he began piano lessons from his mother, a clas­si­cal pianist. When his fam­ily moved to a 45,000 acre cat­tle ranch in the foothills of the Sier­ras, his life changed dra­mat­i­cally. He stopped music lessons and began to work with his father as a cow­boy. On week­ends, he played piano with a local dance band.

He entered the Col­lege of the Pacific in Stock­ton, Cal­i­for­nia as a pre-med stu­dent with the idea of becom­ing a vet­eri­nar­ian and return­ing to ranch life. Work­ing his way through school as a pianist in local clubs, he became increas­ingly involved in jazz, and decided to switch his major to music.

After grad­u­at­ing with a bach­e­lor of music degree in 1942, he mar­ried Iola Whit­lock, who was a fel­low stu­dent at Pacific, and enlisted in the Army. While serv­ing in Europe under Gen­eral Pat­ton, he led an inte­grated GI jazz band. After his dis­charge in 1946, he began his stud­ies at Mills Col­lege with French com­poser, Dar­ius Mil­haud, who encour­aged him to intro­duce jazz ele­ments into his clas­si­cal com­po­si­tions. This exper­i­men­ta­tion of mixed gen­res led to the for­ma­tion of the Dave Brubeck Octet that included Paul Desmond, Cal Tjader and Bill Smith. In 1949, Brubeck formed an award-winning trio with Cal Tjader and Ron Crotty, and in 1951 estab­lished the Dave Brubeck Quar­tet with alto sax­o­phon­ist Paul Desmond. This his­toric col­lab­o­ra­tion lasted sev­en­teen years, and even after the dis­so­lu­tion of the “clas­sic” Quar­tet, Brubeck and Desmond fre­quently per­formed together.

The Quartet’s record­ings and con­cert appear­ances on col­lege cam­puses in the 1950s intro­duced their indi­vid­ual style to thou­sands of stu­dents, many of whom became life­long “fans.” Their audi­ences were not lim­ited to cam­puses, how­ever. The Dave Brubeck Quar­tet with Paul Desmond played in jazz clubs in major cities and toured in pack­age shows with such jazz artists as Duke Elling­ton, Ella Fitzger­ald, Char­lie Parker, Dizzy Gille­spie, Stan Getz and Gerry Mul­li­gan. They repeat­edly won top hon­ors in trade mag­a­zine critic’s and reader’s polls, includ­ing the Black news­pa­per The Pitts­burgh Courier.

In 1954, Time mag­a­zine ran a cover story about Brubeck’s remark­able ascen­dancy in the jazz world. Also in 1954, the Dave Brubeck Quar­tet “break­through” album, Jazz at Ober­lin, made the charts in Bill­board. In 2005, his CD Lon­don Flat, Lon­don Sharp was also charted by Bill­board, mak­ing Brubeck the artist who appeared on Bill­board charts over the longest period of time.

In 1958, the Quar­tet per­formed in Europe for the first time and toured Poland and the Mid­dle East for the U.S. State Depart­ment. This led to the intro­duc­tion of music from other cul­tures into the Quartet’s reper­toire. Then, in 1959, the Dave Brubeck Quar­tet recorded an exper­i­ment in time sig­na­tures, Time Out. To everyone’s sur­prise, the album sold over a mil­lion copies, and Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk, based on a Turk­ish folk rhythm, and “Take Five,” com­posed by Paul Desmond, began to appear on juke­boxes through­out the world.

In 1959, Brubeck pre­miered and recorded his brother Howard’s Dia­logues for Jazz Combo and Orches­tra with the New York Phil­har­monic under Leonard Bern­stein. In 1960, he com­posed “Points on Jazz” for the Amer­i­can Bal­let The­atre, and in later decades com­posed for and per­formed with the Mur­ray Louis Dance Co. His musi­cal the­ater piece, The Real Ambas­sadors, star­ring Louis Arm­strong and Car­men McRae, was recorded in 1960 and per­formed to great acclaim at the 1962 Mon­terey Jazz Festival.

Early in his career, Brubeck wrote pri­mar­ily for the Quar­tet, and some of those pieces, such as “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke,” became part of stan­dard jazz reper­toire. His first orches­tral com­po­si­tion, “Ele­men­tals,” writ­ten for an impro­vis­ing jazz combo and sym­phony orches­tra, was pre­miered and recorded in 1962.

The “clas­sic” Dave Brubeck Quar­tet with Desmond, Eugene Wright (who joined in 1958) and Joe Morello (1956) was dis­solved in Decem­ber 1967; “The Light in the Wilder­ness,” the first of many works com­bin­ing clas­si­cal and impro­vised ele­ments, was pre­miered by the Cincin­nati Sym­phony Orches­tra in Feb­ru­ary 1968 by con­duc­tor Erich Kun­zel. Brubeck’s sec­ond major work, “The Gates of Jus­tice,” a can­tata based on the words of Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. and the Old Tes­ta­ment, was also pre­miered by Kun­zel in Cincin­nati in 1969.

Bari­tone sax­o­phon­ist Gerry Mul­li­gan joined a newly formed Dave Brubeck Trio (with Jack Six, bass and Alan Daw­son, drums) in 1968, and they recorded and toured the world together for seven years. In the mid-1970’s, Brubeck per­formed with three of his musi­cal sons, Dar­ius, Chris and Dan. He later led a quar­tet that fea­tured for­mer Octet mem­ber clar­inetist Bill Smith with son Chris on elec­tric bass and Randy Jones, drums. In 1988, this group, along with for­mer bassist Eugene Wright, had the honor of accom­pa­ny­ing Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan to Moscow to per­form at the Reagan-Gorbachev Sum­mit. Since the Quartet’s first appear­ance at a State Din­ner for King Hus­sein of Jor­dan, dur­ing the John­son admin­is­tra­tion, Brubeck per­formed at The White House on many spe­cial occasions.

Through the decades that fol­lowed the dis­so­lu­tion of the “clas­sic” quar­tet, Brubeck com­posed many fully notated com­po­si­tions. These include bal­let suites, a string quar­tet, cham­ber ensem­bles, pieces for solo and duo-piano, vio­lin solos, orches­tral works and large-scale works for cho­rus and orches­tra, most notably a mass, “To Hope! A Cel­e­bra­tion”, that has been per­formed through­out the Eng­lish speak­ing world, Ger­many, Rus­sia and Aus­tria. In 2002, Clas­si­cal Brubeck was recorded with the Lon­don Sym­phony Orches­tra and Lon­don Voices. The dou­ble CD includes his Easter ora­to­rio “Beloved Son,” “Pange Lin­gua Vari­a­tions,” his excit­ing Pen­te­cost ora­to­rio, “The Voice of the Holy Spirit,” and a com­po­si­tion for string orches­tra, “Regret,” all under the baton of Gloyd, who, since 1976, was asso­ci­ated with Brubeck as con­duc­tor, pro­ducer and man­ager. Through­out his career, Brubeck con­tin­ued to exper­i­ment with inter­weav­ing jazz and clas­si­cal music. He per­formed as composer-performer with most of the major orches­tras in the United States, and with pres­ti­gious choral groups and orches­tras in Europe and America.

While increas­ingly active as a com­poser, Brubeck remained a lead­ing fig­ure in the jazz main­stream, appear­ing at jazz fes­ti­vals (recently at New­port with Wyn­ton Marsalis), record­ing (for Telarc) and tour­ing inter­na­tion­ally with today’s ver­sion of the Dave Brubeck Quar­tet — Bobby Militello, sax and flute; Randy Jones, drums; and Michael Moore, bass.

Brubeck was a Duke Elling­ton Fel­low at Yale Uni­ver­sity and held numer­ous hon­orary degrees from Amer­i­can, Cana­dian, Eng­lish and Ger­man uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing an Hon­orary Doc­tor­ate in Sacred The­ol­ogy from Fri­bourg Uni­ver­sity, Switzerland.

He received national and inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion, includ­ing the National Medal of the Arts pre­sented by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton, a Life­time Achieve­ment Award from National Acad­emy of Record­ing Arts and Sci­ences, the Smith­son­ian Medal, and a star on the Hol­ly­wood Walk of Fame. In 2000, the National Endow­ment for the Arts declared him a Jazz Mas­ter. His inter­na­tional hon­ors include Austria’s high­est award for the Arts, a cita­tion from the French gov­ern­ment, and the Boc­coni Medal from Italy.

Brubeck served as chair­man of The Brubeck Insti­tute, estab­lished in his honor by his alma mater, the Uni­ver­sity of the Pacific in Stockton.

Dave Brubeck is sur­vived by his wife Iola; four sons; daugh­ter Cather­ine Yagh­siz­ian; and sev­eral grand­chil­dren and great-grandchildren.

He was antic­i­pat­ing a 92nd birth­day con­cert. The per­for­mance in Water­bury, Con­necti­cut will go on, but in the form of a tribute.

L.A. Critics Name “Frankenweenie” Best Animation

Frankenweenie

Franken­wee­nie

Franken­wee­nie,” directed by Tim Bur­ton, has been named the Best Ani­ma­tion of 2012 by the Los Ange­les Film Crit­ics Association.

Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beau­ti­ful Day was declared runner-up in the category.

The 38th Annual LAFCA Awards were announced Sunday.

Amour was named Best Pic­ture of the year. Its star, Emmanuelle Riva, tied for Best Actress for Jen­nifer Lawrence (Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book).

Runner-up for Best Pic­ture was The Mas­ter. Paul Thomas Ander­son was named Best Direc­tor, while Best Actor went to Joaquin Phoenix and Best Sup­port­ing Actress went to Amy Adams.

The Mas­ter also earned Mihai Malaimare Jr. a runner-up nod for Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy. The movie’s Jack Fisk and David Crank won for Best Pro­duc­tion Design. Jonny Green­wood was named runner-up for Best Music Score.

Doc­u­men­tar­ian Fred­er­ick Wise­man received the Career Achieve­ment award.

Founded in 1975, the Los Ange­les Film Crit­ics Asso­ci­a­tion is com­prised of Los Angeles-based pro­fes­sional film crit­ics work­ing in the Los Ange­les print and elec­tronic media.

Plaques of recog­ni­tion are pre­sented to win­ners dur­ing LAFCA’s annual cer­e­mony, held in mid-January.

Cartoon of the Day: Mouse Cleaning

Mouse Cleaning

Mouse Clean­ing

Back before their tele­vi­sion empire, back before the Flint­stones and Scooby Doo, William Hanna and Joseph Bar­bera played a cat against a mouse. From Tom & Jerry, today’s car­toon of the day is Mouse Clean­ing from this date in 1948.

Mammy-Two-Shoes tells Tom that if the house gets dirty or untidy, he will be thrown out. Once she leaves, Jerry uses a cig­a­rette ash­tray to spread filth all over the place. Gags and chase sequences ensue. Jerry diverts a coal chute into the liv­ing room as Mammy comes home.

She and Tom col­lide out­side the front door. When Tom pokes his head out of the coal, he becomes a stereo­typ­i­cal black Stepin Fetchit-style char­ac­ter. Mammy thinks Tom is a man and asks, “Hey you! Has you seen a no-good cat around here?” Tom replies (in a stereo­typ­i­cal black voice), “No ma’am! I ain’t seen no cat around here! Uh-uh! No cat, no place, no how, no ma’am!”

Mammy spots Tom’s tom­fool­ery and yells “Thomas!” Tom runs away and hob­bles along the side­walk, shuf­fling and mumbling.

This car­toon was redubbed in the 1960s, with Mammy-Two-Shoes speak­ing in an aggres­sively non-racial white-bread accent (her legs are still 100% “of color,” though!).

Addi­tion­ally, the scene where Tom, in black­face, does his “Stepin Fetchit” rou­tine was excised and replaced with some newly-created ani­ma­tion by the Chuck Jones MGM unit nearly 20 years later.

Ken­neth Muse did the ani­ma­tion in the sequence where Tom jug­gles eggs and an ink pad, accord­ing to ani­ma­tor Mark Kausler. Ed Barge ani­mated the old horse and the coal, while the final sequences were done by Ray Pat­ter­son and Irv Spence.

Three “Simpsons” Episodes Nominated for WGA Award

The Simpsons

The Simp­sons

Three episodes of “The Simp­sons” are among the five nom­i­nees for the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica Award in the cat­e­gory of animation.

The three are “Hol­i­days of Future Passed,” writ­ten by J. Stew­art Burns; “Ned and Edna’s Blend Agenda,” writ­ten by Jeff West­brook; and “Tree­house of Hor­ror XXIII,” writ­ten by David Man­del and Brian Kelley.

Also up for a WGA Award are “A Farewell to Arms” (Futu­rama), writ­ten by Josh Wein­stein, and “Forget-Me-Not” (Fam­ily Guy), writ­ten by David A. Goodman.

In the Tele­vi­sion Graphic Ani­ma­tion cat­e­gory, the nom­i­nees are “CBS News Ani­ma­tions,” ani­ma­tion by David Rosen, and “The Oscars” (Sun­day Morn­ing with Charles Osgood), ani­ma­tion by Bob Pook, CBS.

The Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, West (WGAW) and the Writ­ers Guild of Amer­ica, East (WGAE) jointly announced on Thurs­day nom­i­na­tions for out­stand­ing achieve­ment in TV, news, radio, pro­mo­tional writ­ing, and graphic ani­ma­tion dur­ing the 2012 season.

The awards will be pre­sented jointly in all com­pet­i­tive cat­e­gories dur­ing simul­ta­ne­ous cer­e­monies Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 17 in New York at the B.B. King Blues Club and in Los Ange­les at the JW Mar­riott L.A. LIVE. For more infor­ma­tion, visit www.wga.org or www.wgaeast.org.

Cartoon of the Day: Santa’s Workshop

Santa's Workshop

Santa’s Work­shop

In keep­ing with the hol­i­day spirit, today’s Car­toon of the Day is Santa’s Work­shop. From the mid­dle of the Silly Sym­phonie series, this short was pro­duced in Tech­ni­color, and directed by Wil­fred Jackson.

Santa is assigned by his elves in prepa­ra­tion for the famous sleigh ride on Christ­mas Eve. As Santa reads off the list of good or bad boys and girls, the elves go about con­struct­ing the toys and mak­ing things ready for Santa’s long trip. As the toys are fin­ished, they come to life, and they march into Santa’s big bag.

Because they are con­sid­ered polit­i­cally incor­rect, sev­eral scenes are deleted from cur­rent video releases: one in which dolls are fright­ened by a spi­der, so their hair sticks up on end and gets curled; a stereo­typ­i­cal black doll say­ing “Mammy”; and a black doll rid­ing a don­key cart.

If you’ve not seen this short, pop on over to BCDB today and give it a look!

Brave, Muppets Animated Film Music Nominated For ’13 Grammys

Grammy

Grammy

Tunes from such ani­mated or partly ani­mated films as Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s The Mup­pets are up for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards.

Nom­i­na­tions were announced Wednes­day night by The Record­ing Academy.

For Best Song Writ­ten For Visual Media, the nom­i­nees include “Learn Me Right” (from Brave), writ­ten by Mum­ford & Sons (per­formed by Birdy and Mum­ford & Sons) and “Man Or Mup­pet” (from The Mup­pets), writ­ten by Bret McKen­zie and per­formed by Jason Segel and Walter.

The Mup­pets (Var­i­ous Artists), on Walt Dis­ney Records, is up for a Grammy for Best Com­pi­la­tion Sound­track For Visual Media.

Nom­i­nated for Best Score Sound­track For Visual Media is The Adven­tures Of Tintin — The Secret Of The Uni­corn, com­posed by John Williams. It’s on the Sony Clas­si­cal label.

For the fifth year, nom­i­na­tions for the annual Grammy Awards were announced on prime­time tele­vi­sion as part of The GRAMMY Nom­i­na­tions Con­cert Live!! — Count­down To Music’s Biggest Night, a one-hour CBS enter­tain­ment spe­cial broad­cast live for the first time ever from Bridge­stone Arena in Nashville.

The Black Keys’ Dan Auer­bach, Fun., Jay-Z, Mum­ford & Sons, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West topped the nom­i­na­tions with six each; the Black Keys, Chick Corea and Miguel each gar­nered five nods; and pro­ducer Jeff Bhasker, mas­ter­ing engi­neer Bob Lud­wig and Nas are each up for four awards.

The Grammy Awards process once again has pro­duced a diverse and impres­sive list of nom­i­na­tions across mul­ti­ple gen­res,” said Neil Port­now, pres­i­dent and CEO of The Record­ing Acad­emy. “This year’s nom­i­nees truly rep­re­sent an excep­tional and vibrant cre­ative com­mu­nity that exem­pli­fies some of the high­est lev­els of artistry and excel­lence in their respec­tive fields. Com­bined with the fifth year of our prime­time nom­i­na­tions spe­cial, we’re off to an excit­ing start on the road to Music’s Biggest Night, the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, on Feb­ru­ary 10.”

This year’s Grammy Awards process reg­is­tered more than 17,000 sub­mis­sions over a 12-month eli­gi­bil­ity period (Octo­ber 1, 2011 to Sep­tem­ber 30, 2012). Grammy bal­lots for the final round of vot­ing will be mailed Decem­ber 19 to the vot­ing mem­bers of The Record­ing Acad­emy. They are due back to the account­ing firm of Deloitte by Jan­u­ary 16, when they will be tab­u­lated and the results kept secret until the 55th Grammy telecast.

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be held at Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los Ange­les and once again will be broad­cast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 sur­round sound on CBS from 8 to 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

Cartoon of the Day: Frosty The Snowman

Frosty The Snowman

Frosty The Snowman

What would the hol­i­days be with­out great Rankin-Bass ani­mated spe­cials like Frosty The Snow­man? 43 years young today, Frosty The Snow­man is not that hor­ri­ble sequel Frosty Returns (which was cel ani­mated), but proper stop motion ani­ma­tion and nar­ra­tion by none other than Jimmy Durante.

A dis­carded silk tophat becomes the focus of a strug­gle between a washed-up stage magi­cian and a group of school­child­ren after it mag­i­cally brings a snow­man to life. Real­iz­ing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder cli­mate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Lit­tle do they know that the magi­cian is fol­low­ing them, and he wants his hat back. This ani­mated short is based on the pop­u­lar Christ­mas song of the same name.

June Foray was recorded as the voice of Karen (along with the Teacher), but only her voice as the Teacher remained in the fin­ished car­toon, as she was replaced as Karen by another actress. “To this day, I am unsure of the rea­son,” Foray recalled.

The story of Frosty the Snow­man had ear­lier been ani­mated in a five-minute, black and white car­toon orig­i­nally shown on “Garfield Goose and Friends.”

One of the sequels to this car­toon, “Frosty Returns,” was not pro­duced by Rankin/Bass.

National Board of Review Lauds Animated Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” has been named Best Ani­mated Fea­ture of 2012 by the National Board of Review, the Board announced Thursday.

John Good­man was given the Spot­light Award for sev­eral roles, includ­ing his voice work in the ani­mated Para­nor­man. (He was also rec­og­nized for his work in the live-action Argo, Flight and Trou­ble With the Curve.)

The National Board of Review awards are often con­sid­ered the begin­ning of the movie awards season.

Mean­while, Zero Dark Thirty was named the 2012 Best Film of the Year by the organization.

Zero Dark Thirty is a mas­ter­ful film,” said NBR pres­i­dent Annie Schul­hof. “Kathryn Bigelow takes the viewer inside a defin­i­tive moment of our time in a vis­ceral and unique way. It is excit­ing, provoca­tive and deeply emotional.”

Bigelow was named Best Direc­tor for her work on the film, while Jes­sica Chas­tain was named Best Actress.

The other films on the top 10 list are (in alpha­bet­i­cal order) Argo, Beasts of the South­ern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Mis­er­ables, Lin­coln, Looper, The Perks of Being a Wall­flower, Promised Land and Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book.

For Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book, Bradley Cooper won for Best Actor and David O. Rus­sell for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Beasts of the South­ern Wild earned Quven­zhané Wal­lis an award for Break­through Actress and Benh Zeitlin one for Best Direc­to­r­ial Debut.

The Top 5 For­eign Lan­guage Films were Bar­bara, The Intouch­ables, The Kid With a Bike, No and War Witch.

Top 5 Doc­u­men­taries (In Alpha­bet­i­cal Order): Ai Wei­wei: Never Sorry, Detropia, The Gate­keep­ers, The Invis­i­ble War and Only the Young.

Top 10 Inde­pen­dent Films (In Alpha­bet­i­cal Order): Arbi­trage, Bernie, Com­pli­ance, End of Watch, Hello I Must Be Going, Lit­tle Birds, Moon­rose King­dom, On the Road, Quar­tet and Sleep­walk With Me.

Other awards given by the National Board of Review:

Best Sup­port­ing Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Best Sup­port­ing Actress: Ann Dowd, Com­pli­ance
Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play: Rian John­son, Looper
Spe­cial Achieve­ment in Film­mak­ing: Ben Affleck, Argo
Break­through Actor: Tom Hol­land, The Impos­si­ble
Best For­eign Lan­guage Film: Amour
Best Doc­u­men­tary: Search­ing For Sug­ar­man
William K. Ever­son Film His­tory Award: 50 years of Bond films
Best Ensem­ble: Les Mis­er­ables
NBR Free­dom of Expres­sion Award: Cen­tral Park Five
NBR Free­dom of Expres­sion Award: Promised Land

A select group of knowl­edge­able film enthu­si­asts and pro­fes­sion­als, aca­d­e­mics, young film­mak­ers and stu­dents, the National Board of Review viewed over 250 films this year, includ­ing ani­mated, stu­dio, inde­pen­dent, foreign-language and doc­u­men­tary selec­tions. These screen­ings were fre­quently fol­lowed by in-depth dis­cus­sions with film­mak­ers, direc­tors, actors, pro­duc­ers, and screen­writ­ers. Vot­ing bal­lots were tab­u­lated by the account­ing firm of Lutz & Carr, LLP.

The National Board of Review hon­ors diverse mem­bers of the film com­mu­nity at their annual Awards Gala, which also acts as a fundraiser for stu­dent grant phil­an­thropy. Hosted by Mered­ith Vieira, this year’s gala will take place Jan­u­ary 8 at Cipri­ani 42nd Street in New York City.

Cartoon of the Day: La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet)

La Planete SauvageEnglish Title: Fantastic Planet

La Plan­ete Sauvage Eng­lish Title: Fan­tas­tic Planet

A car­toon we get asked about a lot (and I do mean a LOT!) is La Planète Sauvage (Eng­lish Title: Fan­tas­tic Planet). Not one I saw when I was grow­ing up, but many of you obvi­ously did. This joint pro­duc­tion by French and Czecho­slo­va­kian film­mak­ers was seen as a metaphor for Soviet oppres­sion of Czecho­slo­va­kia, and pres­sure from the Com­mu­nist government.

On the fan­tas­tic planet of Ygam, located in a far solar sys­tem, a race of huge blue crea­tures called Draags keep Oms as domes­ti­cated pets. Oms are the descen­dants of the human sur­vivors of Earth, com­pa­ra­bly antlike in size and mis­treated by the Draags. With the aid of a Draag knowl­edge device, an escaped orphaned Om man­ages to unite a soci­ety of wild Oms to revolt against their oppres­sion. The wild Oms attack the Draags in their most vul­ner­a­ble spot, a mys­ti­cal moon orbit­ing around their home world: a moon which holds a pow­er­ful secret to the Draags’ existence.

Orig­i­nally brought to Amer­ica in the early 1970s through Roger Corman’s New World Pic­tures “Euro­pean Acqui­si­tions,” the film was wildly suc­cess­ful on the B-movie cir­cuit with the “post-hippie trip­pers,” seen as a metaphor for class struggle.

Pro­duc­tion design based on the art­work and draw­ings of Roland Topor.

First shown pub­licly at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, May 1973. Com­mer­cial release: Decem­ber 6, 1973. Re-released in Feb­ru­ary 1977.

Also known as: “Divoká Plan­eta” (Czecho­slo­va­kia), “The Fan­tas­tic Planet”, “Planet of Incred­i­ble Crea­tures” and “The Sav­age Planet.”

So when did you first see this sci-fi social com­men­tary ani­mated film? Does it still hold up today?

Bydlo Named One of Canada’s 10 Best Short Animated Films

Bydlo

Bydlo

Bydlo,” an ani­ma­tion directed by Patrick Bouchard for the National Film Board of Canada, was named Tues­day evening as one of Canada’s top short films of 2012.

The 12th annual Canada’s Top Ten list was announced at a Toronto gala orga­nized by the Toronto Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val Group. Actors Sarah Gadon and Don McKel­lar were the hosts.

An alle­gory of mankind head­ing for dis­as­ter, Bydlo is a tragic vision inspired by the fourth move­ment of Mussorgsky’s Pic­tures at an Exhi­bi­tion. Draw­ing on the composer’s bril­liant abil­ity to evoke work and labour in his music, Bouchard brings the earth to life through ani­mated clay sculp­tures, cre­at­ing a con­crete and ter­ri­fy­ing world, a tac­tile night­mare in which man is his own slave driver.

The film has been nom­i­nated for next year’s Annie Award for Best Ani­mated Short Sub­ject. It pre­miered June 7 at the Annecy Inter­na­tional Ani­ma­tion Festival.

Oth­ers in this year’s list of Top 10 Cana­dian shorts are (in alpha­bet­i­cal order) Chef de meute (Herd Leader), directed by Chloé Robichaud; Crackin’ Down Hard, directed by Mike Clat­ten­burg; Kas­par, directed by Diane Obom­sawin; Ne crâne pas sois mod­este (Keep a Mod­est Head), directed by Deco Daw­son; Lingo, directed by Bahar Noorizadeh; Mal­ody, directed by Phillip Barker; Old Growth, directed by Tess Girard; Reflex­ions, directed by Mar­tin Thibaudeau; and Paparmane (Win­ter­green), directed by Joëlle Des­jardins Paquette.

A list of Canada’s Top 10 fea­ture films was announced as well.

From a hilar­i­ous sex quest to an apoc­a­lyp­tic satire, this year’s diverse list of doc­u­men­taries, come­dies, dra­mas and epics serve the country’s savvy movie­go­ers the eclec­tic cock­tail of films they have grown to count on from Canada’s Top Ten,” TIFF senior pro­gram­mer Steve Grave­stock said in a statement.

Added TIFF artis­tic direc­tor Cameron Bai­ley: “We couldn’t be more impressed by the cal­i­bre of films the indus­try has pro­duced this year,”

TIFF will screen films from both Top 10 lists at its Light­box head­quar­ters in Toronto from Jan­u­ary 4 to 13. The screen­ings will be accom­pa­nied by spe­cial intro­duc­tions and question-and-answer ses­sions with the film­mak­ers. Some of the films will come to other Cana­dian cities in the new year. Screen­ings are planned for Mon­treal, Van­cou­ver and Edmonton.

A panel made up of film­mak­ers, movie indus­try peo­ple and jour­nal­ists across Canada chose the two lists.