Down by Law is a 1986 American black-and-white independent film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, and Ellen Barkin. The film centers on the arrest, incarceration, and escape from jail of three men. It discards jailbreak film conventions by focusing on the interaction between the convicts rather than on the mechanics of the escape. A key element in the film is Robby Müller’s slow-moving camerawork, which captures the architecture of New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou to which the cellmates escape.
Independent animator and two-time Academy Award nominee Don Hertzfeldt has seamlessly combined his three short films about a man named Bill (“Everything will be OK” (2006), “I Am So Proud of You” (2008), and “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” (2011)), into a darkly comedic, beautiful new feature film.
Blending traditional animation, experimental optical effects, trick photography, and new digital hybrids printed out one frame at a time, all three chapters of the story were captured entirely on a 1940s-era 35mm animation stand, one of the last surviving cameras of its kind still operating in the world.
Upon their original releases, the short film trilogy received 90 awards, including the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking from the Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award from the Ottawa International Animation Festival.
“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” finally brings Bill’s entire story together, presented here for the first time in HD.
“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” was listed by many film critics as one of the best films of 2012. After a limited UK release in 2013, the film was ranked #3 on Time Out London’s list of the “10 Best Films of 2013” and #4 on The London Film Review’s list of the same.
In 2014, Time Out New York ranked “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” #16 on its list of the “100 Best Animated Movies Ever Made,” and in 2016, The Film Stage critics ranked the film #1 on their list of the “The 50 Best Animated Films of the 21st Century Thus Far.”
In 2019, The Wrap named “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” the #1 “Best Animated Film of the 2010s.” The same year, the Vulture film critics ranked it #12 on their overall list of the “Best Movies of the Decade.”
A series of dark and troubling events forces Bill to reckon with the meaning of his life —
or lack thereof.
“A masterpiece. I can’t even begin to articulate my thoughts about the film but it just gave me shivers and I wasn’t able to attend the party after the screening. Just had to be alone. It had this effect on a number of other people here too. Stunning, beautiful, tragic, absurd work.”
– Chris Robinson (Ottawa International Animation Festival)
“I Am So Proud Of You is, I think, as good a pick as any for film of the year. Certainly as good as Synecdoche, NY, and just as full of grand and complex thoughts about life and death and bodily fluids and years rapidly advancing, coming to ends and beginnings, back and forth, over and over, until one slips indistinguishably into the next.”
Sparks official video for the single Perfume from the 2006 album Hello Young Lovers.
Directed by Shaw Petronio
Sparks is an American pop and rock duo, originally formed as a Los Angeles band called Halfnelson in 1967 by brothers Ron and Russell Mael. Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks’ music is often accompanied by sophisticated and acerbic lyrics, often about women or Shakespearean literature references, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell’s animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron’s deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell’s distinctive wide-ranging voice and Ron’s intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style.
The Thief and the Cobbler is an unfinished animated fantasy film directed by Richard Williams. Originally conceived in the 1960s, the film was in and out of production for nearly three decades due to independent funding and ambitiously complex animation. It was finally placed into full production in 1989 when Warner Bros. agreed to finance and distribute the film. When production went over budget and fell behind schedule, the film was heavily cut and hastily re-edited by producer Fred Calvert without Williams’s involvement; it was eventually released in 1993 by Allied Filmmakers under the title The Princess and the Cobbler. Two years later, Disney subsidiary Miramax Films released another re-edit entitled Arabian Knight. Both versions of the film performed poorly and received mixed reviews.
Over the years, various people and companies, including The Walt Disney Company’s Roy E. Disney, have discussed restoring the film to its original version. In 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences archived Richard Williams’s own 35 mm workprint. Williams himself acknowledged the film’s rehabilitated reputation, thanks to projects like the popular fan edit by Garrett Gilchrist The Recobbled Cut, and Persistence of Vision, a 2012 documentary from Kevin Schreck detailing the film’s production.
Garrett Gilchrist’s fan restorations mostly follow the workprint very closely, at least in their intent, using most of its original audio track and editing structure. In order to present a more complete film, Gilchrist added additional music (some from the released versions) and sound effects, and also included finished footage that does not appear in a finished state in the workprint, whether taken from the released versions or from other rare sources. Most of the story changes made by Fred Calvert and Miramax are not present, but it does include a few minor Calvert-only scenes or alterations, either as a side effect of using Calvert’s footage as replacements for unfinished scenes in the workprint or because Gilchrist felt these scenes were useful to the plot.
Garrett Gilchrist graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Cinema-Television Production in March 2005.
Garrett has been a regular staff writer for Cinemontage, The Editors Guild Magazine, since 2008, interviewing the editors of upcoming Hollywood films and television series. He has also contributed to ACE CinemaEditor. He has published one novel, Cratchit & Company, which focused on the characters of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Garrett is known for his restoration of Richard Williams’ unfinished animated masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler (The Recobbled Cut). The first Recobbled Cut was released in 2006. The fourth was released in HD in September 2013, after over two years of work.
He is also an artist, and from 2007 to 2009 he created Whosprites, a project designed to animate lost episodes of Doctor Who.
In 2005, Garrett released a popular fan documentary titled Star Wars: Deleted Magic, which focused on the difficulties encountered during the production of the 1977 film, and how these were fixed in editing.
In 2007 and 2008 he wrote, directed, and edited a feature titled Shamelessly, about a female superhero.
“The whole point of our experiment was that I would say nothing about my intentions and Marek would interpret the visuals in his own way. So I say it was a great successful experiment, and I loved the composition Marek wrote for the Penderecki String Quartet.”
“I thought it was a very melancholic film in a certain sense and also very poetic. Without trying to be too explicit, I tried to illustrate further what David was doing. For example, there is something that looks like a hailstorm and I used a lot of pizzicato, but I also used a soaring melodic line to add a lyrical element to it.”
Mervyn Peake was an English writer, artist, poet, and illustrator. He is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast books. The three works were part of what Peake conceived as a lengthy cycle, the completion of which was prevented by his death.
“Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” Welcome to Interzone, the hellish playground of William Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’. Along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs was among the central figures of the Beat generation. Over a frenzied decade bridging the 1950s and ’60s they were instrumental in reshaping America’s cultural landscape, tearing up their elders’ starchy doctrine and blazing the trail for the counterculture that followed. As dynamic, brilliant young things they seemingly make for ideal cinematic subjects, but only one film managed to capture something of the essence of its author and the Beat generation at large: David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch.
A key idea of the Beat generation was to treat the most authentic, uncensored human thoughts and desires as art. In a buttoned-up society, they challenged social norms via their insatiable appetite for sex, drugs and confessional intimacy. ‘Naked Lunch’ was banned for years in the US and even taken to court for its perceived obscenity, while Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ suffered a similar fate. Both eventually won their respective trials, ultimately helping to liberate American publishing. Liberalisation was, in many ways, what the Beat generation was all about: from strait-jacketed literature, from sexual repression, from lock-step social conformity.
The problem with films about the Beat generation is that so few are genuinely transgressive. But Naked Lunch is a different beast altogether. As is protagonist Bill Lee’s typewriter – it’s an insect that groans with pleasure as he works it, crowing for him to rim its pulsing sphincter with drugs. Bill Lee is really Burroughs, and Cronenberg’s film is about his becoming a writer – his relationship with his typewriter. Rather than attempting to adapt the book in a literal sense, Cronenberg treated Burroughs’ schizoid prose as a secondary source. He gave it structure, but it remains essentially a bizarre work.
Fantastic Planet is a 1973 experimental adult animated science fiction film, directed by René Laloux and written by Laloux and Roland Topor, the latter of whom also completed the film’s production design. The film was animated at Jiří Trnka Studio in Prague. The film was an international co-production between companies from France and Czechoslovakia. The allegorical story, about humans living on a strange planet dominated by giant humanoid aliens who consider them animals, is based on the 1957 novel Oms en série by French writer Stefan Wul.
Baby Snakes is a film which includes footage from Frank Zappa’s 1977 Halloween concert at New York City’s Palladium Theater, backstage antics from the crew, and stop-motion claymation from award-winning animator Bruce Bickford.
Outrageous yet tender, the film begins with the skip of a cracked 78 rpm record and a handmade title festooned with streamers and lettered in dripping red. In vignettes continuing in this vein, characters occasionally stumble on glimmers of beauty in their bleak existence: a view from the roof and kids drawing on the sidewalk. The scenes are unsettling in their immediacy. Jacobs embraces the New York City streets as his stage and improvises props and costumes from castoffs. The characters, including Jack Smith and Jerry Sims, are completely at ease with the camera. They cavort, they pose, they affront, and they demand our attention. Like it or not, we are made part of the scene.
For many years Jacobs played 78s at screenings, again transforming poverty into a live-performance asset. A grant from Jerome Hill facilitated by Jonas Mekas enabled Jacobs to add voice-over to the middle section and create a sound print. By this time, his relationship with Smith had soured, and he had lost touch with most of those pictured. Jacob’s narration, presented self-consciously as anything to distract you from talking to each other, acts as a remembrance of things past. The closing vignette, shot on a New York rooftop on a crystalline day, shows Smith clowning with a balloon to the tune of Happy Bird. In Little Stabs at Happiness, moments in the sun do not last.
Ken Jacobs is an experimental filmmaker, who, along with Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Maya Deren and others, helped spearhead the American avant-garde film movement. His impressive filmography spans more than 60 years and 45 films, utilizing just about every experimental technique imaginable. In the ’60s, he helped redefine the notion of domestic (home) movies, and along with it, domestic space—pioneering work that expanded the parameters of art cinema, and also, coincidentally, the gender expectations of male artists. Jacobs has also experimented with found footage, creating such memorable works as Star Spangled to Death, a nearly seven-hour epic charting an alternative U.S. history. Most recently, he has been reformatting, reworking, and altering silent films to give illusions of depth, creating experimental, heavily stroboscopic abstract cinema, and 3D. At every stage of his career, Jacobs has sought to push the technology as far as it can go and to challenge his audiences to think about politics, gender, class, race, documentary, and movies differently. This series provides a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the greatest living American filmmakers.
The ‘?’ Motorist is a 1906 British short silent comedy film,commonly called “The Mad Motorist” or “Questionmark Motorist” and directed by Walter R. Booth. Released in October of 1906, the film features a couple on the run from the police. While running from the police, they end up driving over the policeman, who magically recovers seconds after and continues to run after the car. Soon the couple comes to a building and their car magically drives up the wall, evading the stunned policeman and leaving an amazed crowd behind. The car drives past stars on clouds, around the Moon, and around the rings of Saturn before crashing through the roof of Handover Courthouse. The car drives through the courthouse and outside once more, interrupting the hearing. Outside on the road, a policeman and court officials stop the car which suddenly turns into a horse and carriage. The couple drives off in the carriage victoriously having escaped a ticket. The trick film is “one of the last films that W.R. Booth made for the producer-inventor R.W. Paul,” and, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, “looks forward to the more elaborate fantasies that Booth would make for Charles Urban between 1907 and 1911, as well as drawing on a wide range of the visual tricks that Booth had developed over the preceding half-decade.”
Booth later remade the film as The Automatic Motorist in 1911.
The film has also been compared to the work of Georges Méliès and “The Impossible Voyage.”
The Automatic Motorist
Walter R. Booth (1911)
A Trip to the Moon
Georges Méliès (1902)
A Trip to the Moon (French: Le Voyage dans la Lune) is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. It’s considered one of the first science fiction film.
The Impossible Voyage
Georges Méliès (1904)
The Impossible Voyage (French: Voyage à travers l’impossible) is a 1904 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. Based in part on Jules Verne’s play Journey Through the Impossible and modeled in style and format on Méliès’s earlier, highly successful A Trip to the Moon, the film is a satire of scientific exploration in which a group of geographers attempt a journey into the interior of the sun. Since the film is silent and has no intertitles, the proper names and quotations below are taken from the English-language description of the film published by Méliès in the catalog of the Star Film Company’s New York Branch.
Rabbits is a 2002 series of eight short horror web films written and directed by David Lynch, although Lynch himself refers to it as a sitcom. It depicts three humanoid rabbits played by Scott Coffey, Laura Elena Harring, and Naomi Watts in a room. Their disjointed conversations are interrupted by a laugh track. Rabbits is presented with the tagline “In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain… three rabbits live with a fearful mystery”.