Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Joanna Quinn "Dreams and Desires: Family Ties"

Our heroine Beryl has a new video-cam, is obsessed with it and can't say no: "I've got lumbered with videoing Mandy's bloody wedding now tomorrow." Film-making transports Beryl to dreamland, festooned in naked men, climbing from them and Rubens or Botticelli-like, chasing cherubs in the heavens. Until that is she is rudely awakened by preparations for the big day. Joanna Quinn's simply fabulous Dreams and Desires: Family Ties (2006) is a joy from start to finish and breaks my hiatus occasioned by a virus. Through the rewind facility we and she see the noisy chaos in the household: tight red body hugging dress that won't fit despite the tugging, incontinent dog, dog invited to wedding by bride, view of bride's rear and realisation that tugging the dress to the front causes repercussions at the back. Still, the petite underwear is clean I guess. Leaving the camera in the hands of Owen in the wheelchair was a miscalculation though. Beryl is banished to the rafters for an aeriel view. Religious vision, beating the dog ...I've got to stop. There are enough seriously hilarious antics to make this a serious contender for film of the year, despite being in January. Every error made by the overly ambitious amateur film-maker is here with close-ups, unintended shots, fuzziness. The lot. And Joanna is a genius - I have never used the word before in the blog - with her comic eye and ear for the absurd. Sitting on the loo, red wine in tipping glass, spotted knickers by her ankles, reflecting on the day so far, at least Beryl is at that stage sober. Well, she was. So it's left to the dog to give us a dog's eye view of proceedings. How many are in that bed? Chaos. But at least the cake is a work of art. Wrong tense. "I was too ambitious" laments Beryl. Les Mills wrote and produced the film, but it is indisputably Joanna's world of wonderfully Welsh caricatures, affectionately drawn, and with relish, by a master animator and artist of a style you can only say is a one-off. The cast of Menna Trussler, Rachel Atkins and Brendan Charleson revel in their roles. Visit Beryl Productions or, as I did on its release last summer, purchase the compilation The Animation Show: Volume 3 with the also inimitable Don Hertzfeldt, Mike Judge and Bill Plympton - this is a crazy collection. The link is to YouTube and will not be there for long!


Michael Sporn said...

Joanna's short, to me, was THE great film of that year. The fact that it wasn't nominated for an Oscar was unacceptable. That it lost the BAFTA to Peter & the Wolf, was sad. It's an animated film that supercedes its medium - a brilliant film. Not a brilliant animated film.

Ian Lumsden said...

I'm so glad you said this, Michael. How Joanna eluded nomination beggars belief. "Peter & the Wolf", excellent though it is, does not advance the genre in a way that Joanna has. Her blisteringly fast pace has a sureness of foot and innovative quality that richly deserves the accolade "brilliant".

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