The Friday Five - Falls, Trips, Metamorphosis (Week of 6/21/12)

The Friday Five returns with falls, surreal trips, and strange transformations. This week: "Metamorphosis" (BUCK), "38-39°C" (Kangmin Kim), "The Fox" (WINTR), "Black Sun" (Kagemu), "Junkyard" (Hisko Hulsing)

Off-Model (and The Friday Five), are back, with a vengeance! After a too long away, the blog is going to be up and running more than ever before, with new videos, summer con coverage, and loads more. Some brand-sparkling-new changes, as well, for us frame-by-frame fiends; the shorts featured here, both this week's and from past blogs, will now be easy to watch on AWNtv (if a fully released version has been made available to the public.) Get ready to take a trip, even if you're still counting down the hours at work. I, for one, think you deserve it.

Metamorphosis

If this is what charity looks like, consider me ready to give. BUCK summons the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson in Metamorphosis. This shake-rattle-rolling spew of slick animation and rambling words was made to promote Good Books, an online retailer who pass all proceeds to Oxfam. The team nails Thompson's trademark voice, and gives it all they've got on the visuals to create animation that's as full of fear and loathing as you could hope. Sound nuts? It looks nuts, too.

38-39°C

The weird doesn't stop on the street, but follows an unwitting man into his bathhouse soak, in Kangmin Kim's evocative 38-39°C. Kim's steam-filled, dreamlike world is no idle fantasy, but slowly builds from watery relaxation to a pulse-pounding rhythm, all while exploring the odd connections between a father and son. Finally available online after a long and worthy festival run that included Sundance 2012, the mixed-media stop-motion piece effortlessly combines cutouts, vasline-wiped lenses, and direct-on-film effects in a continuation of Kim's unique style. I've seen dozens of iterations of this film, both in its in-production rough form, and in its final, seamless cut, and I find there are new surprises awaiting each time I watch. It will be exciting to see what such an original vision has in store for us in the future.

The Fox

The video for The Fox, from Swedish electro-pop duo Niki & The Dove and studio WINTR, stars a placidly falling body whose face morphs and sheds a host of guises. Sometimes appearing as a rocket shucking its boosters as much as it seems like a downward-bound jumper, the video intercuts the playful path of the figure with shots of geometric shapes over forest-strewn cliffs. Style overcomes any questions in this CG video, in a whimsical leap of design faith. Beware of the catchy tune, however, as this one's likely to get stuck in your head.

Black Sun

One part martial arts stage show, one part animated projection, this video of performance group Kagemu's show Black Sun has its appeal, though it can be corny. Front projection of CG animation from visual designer Nobuyuki Hanabusa provides spacial depth to the interactive, shadowy spectacle. There's an easy delight to be had as the gi-clad performer manipulates shapes, fights off a battalion of battle crows, and even takes on an enormous, glow-in-the-dark skeleton. Kagemu's shows have impressed some so much, it seems, that there have been accusations of popular pop acts like Beyonce and Lorella Cuccarini ripping them off. Imitation may be flattery, but not in show business.

Junkyard

Soft strokes of color and sharp cuts to the cranium come together in Hisko Hulsing's long short Junkyard. Shocking, sudden action slices through dark memories and visions, as a man reflects on the subway following a moment of violence. The characters are rotoscoped, but not in a way you've ever seen, their painterly 2D features tracked onto footage using 3D software. Innovative as the technique appears, it's neither jarring, nor out of place in Hulsing's warm-hued, grimy, underworld. All in all, the film is a nasty, visceral, at times beautiful experience that, while it traffics in the surreal, feels all the more real for doing so. Premiering at Annecy International, the Dutch-Belgian coproduction is currently making the rounds, but a short clip can be found online here.