Showing posts with label Latvia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Latvia. Show all posts

Monday, 16 March 2009

Signe Baumane "Dentist"

You'd never guess that Latvian born Signe Baumane was mentored in animation by Bill Plympton. Can you imagine Bill making a film about a dentist with both feet pressed up against the chin of the patient as he yanks the tooth out? Dentist (2005) is not for the squeamish. To the sound of a drill going off fully loaded, we enter the surgery of the dentist with the big glasses. He is reluctantly joined by the patient with the big abscess. The two are destined to do battle. My own dentist's love for sport mirrors mine though our opinions are not necessarily in harmony, differences tending to be one sided in their resolution. Signe's dentist wages an unequal struggle utilising all the technological aids of the day to get to the root of the problem. I confess a stick lodged between upper and lower canines is something unknown to me in my rural backwater though in the rarefied atmosphere of a famous film director's dental haunts such practices might pass muster. Anyway, there is something decidedly fishy about the whole business - ever since Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man I've harboured suspicions about the profession. Signe's style is certainly Plymptonesque in that it is exaggerated, ruthless, and always with an eye for the absurd as she hones in on her subject. In fact a dentist is the perfect target for Signe whose other work has laid bare the business of sex, a subject she likes talking about. After studying for a degree in Philosophy in Moscow, Signe joined Riga's Animated Film Studio until, after making a number of films, she made her way to New York in 1995 where she obtained employment in Bill's studio and from there her career has snowballed. (Visit her website.) There are five very short additions to the Dentist series providing information on such essentials as the mole or anesthesia. A trawl of YouTube will reveal them; though as my birthday is coming up shortly I have tactfully requested that my wife purchase Signe's DVD Ten Animated Films for the princely sum of $30, including P&P.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Vladimir Leschiov "Insomnia"

Vladimir Leschiov's "Insomnia" is an elegantly drawn animation recreating that awful zone we all experience at one time or another when sleep utterly eludes us. Here the restless would-be sleeper is disturbed by a feline visitor who demands that his dark circled owner feed her milk. Now whether or not the cat is an actual cat or insomnia personified is best left to the viewer's discretion. And this is the beauty of "Insomnia" because reality and dream are intermingled. The restless wanderer of the night peers out of the window at the huge moon before clambering to the front step to pick up the bucket to collect the milk to milk the cow to feed the cat. All this and a sleepy electronic soundtrack and often surreal images of night. There are some lovely sequences in which the dreamer or insomniac scales the buildings using a pick-axe, or the languid cat stretches out on the windowsill. And stangest of all is the Scotsman in his kilt clutching a pipe. As I said, it is elegantly drawn in pencil with usually greys but the merest hints of the subdued colours of the night. A warm, classy piece of work and a welcome introduction to this highly talented artist and animator. The animation seems to have won a clutch of awards since its first screening in 2004. YouTube has the video and a plea to purchase this and other work on DVD. There is an excellent and very candid biography in Vladimir's introduction to his newly opened Lunohod Animation Studio in Sweden which has short excerpts from his other work, all of which have that distinctive, stylish air about them. You can purchase full copies of the films from Vladimir via his website. Remember, YouTube is often but a pale shadow of the actual works reviewed here.
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