The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Creature Comforts

This is a compilation DVD of short subjects created by Aardman Studios (the Wallace and Gromit people). It's all painstaking stop-motion claymation, with nary a CG effect in sight. Watch the special features documentary to get an idea of what it takes to put one of these together... they shoot an average of 3 seconds of film time per day!

The shorts were presented as a television series in Great Britain and I hear that BBC America has picked up the series for showing in the US. It's probably better to watch them sprinkled here and there as an amuse bouche between other shows than to wade through an entire disc-full at once. Each segment might last about ten minutes or so.

The gimmick is that interviewers went all over the United Kingdom to talk to random people about a variety of common subjects (the circus, gardening, going to the seashore, etc.). They collected the interviews on audio tape only and brought them back to the studio. Then they went through more than 600 hours of audio and culled little snippets of sound bites. For each voice, they invented a claymation animal to speak the lines and strung them together as a "mockumentary." Every word in the program is some uncredited, unknown person in the UK coming out of the mouth of a seagull, a dog, an earthworm, a bird, or some other Wallace & Gromit looking creature. Everybody has the wide toothy mouth that is a trademark of the studio.

Sometimes the stuff is brilliantly funny and sometimes it's just weird. It has much the feel of one of Christopher Guest's quieter films like Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Kiddies will enjoy looking at the creatures, but they will be bored with the non-action and high concept discussions. Adults need a willingness to spend some quiet concentration in small doses and an appreciation of this kind of dry observation humor. Worth a look.

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