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By Rory L. Aronsky | August 24, 2003

Animation is the name of the game in this edition of “Independent Exposure” and while 2-D animation is having its troubles in the merry ol’ land of Hollywood (It’s the story, you dolts! Cut the action/adventure crap and try something else!), it’s nice to find an outlet where 2-D and computer animation can be seen together side-by-side.
The Simpson Verdict ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Kota Ezawa Just when you think certain parts of history have left for the most part, along they come again, especially in this one, which has the final moments of the O.J. Simpson trial in animated form. There’s no apparent rotoscoping to be found here and the animation is pretty good.
Call of the Wild ^ *** ^ Directed by Julia Sarcone-Roach
A bunch of animals reside in spinning houses and a phone line connects them all. That’s as basic as you can get with this one, which sports some fascinating sequences, such as a walrus flossing his teeth, and a box that moves around a bit, until a cat’s head rises up and wheels pop out of the bottom. It’s your typical catbox! Come to think of it, the Home Shopping Network might have been selling those at one point.
Rude Roll ^ ****1/2 ^ Directed by Rick Raxlen
The rating on this one is carted over from my previous exposure to this short (“School’s Out Edition”). It still rules, what with text from books taking up some time on the screen, along with drawings as examples on how to dance ska. The chalk-like drawings toward the end are still great.
Duality (balance) ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Stephan Larson ^ Gray, square blocks swirl up and up and up and sometimes in different directions in this computer animated short. That’s the major highlight of this piece, but seeing the flowing patterns turn into solid shapes and back again is also fun to watch.
Clay ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Yoo Jung Lee
On screen, hands mold and shape a man out of clay. Toward the end, the hand movements seem to correspond to the clay man climbing up the tree.
Childhood ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Shizuko Tabata
A crumpled sheet of paper lies on the table and is soon smoothed out. While the paper moves, folds its corners, and curls at times, children’s voices can be heard on the soundtrack. Later on, a person appears in the paper and smoothes it out over and over again.
Tales of Mere Existence ^ ****1/2 ^ Directed by Lev
This series of 8 quick episodes in director Lev’s life subscribes to my way of thinking when it comes to animation: You could show me nothing but stick figures, so long as there is a good story behind it. The animation in this short is nothing more than drawings on paper, continually added to by Lev from behind the sheet of paper. He has plenty to tell in 7 minutes, including a time when he was 15 years old and kids teased him in school by telling him that he was so gay. On the way home, he stole a pickle from a delicatessen and got home and went up to his room. There, he took out the pickle and sucked on it for a few minutes and decided that it wasn’t his bag. Two other highlights here are a terrific satire on name brands and things about women that make him h***y. He has such a long list for the latter, and his deadpan voice makes it even more hilarious.
Sugar-Coated Girl ^ *** ^ Directed by Nyeland Newel
This music video features collages of images, different candies, and other things too…like women’s butts in thongs. So it’s not all bad.
Camouflage ^ ***1/2 ^ Directed by Jonathon Hodges
Schizophrenic parents are discussed by many people, in voice-overs, who have gone through that experience, while on screen, a girl looks out the window of her house and sees her mother vacuuming the lawn. Animation also helps the short along with many messed-up images signifying the problems that these people have.
Roots ^ *** ^ Directed by Baerbel Neubauer
Various colors snake across the screen and shapes slide all around while the sun rolls by. Everything was painted, drawn and stamped directly onto blank film.
Love Story ^ **1/2 ^ Directed by Signe Baumane
The end credits on “Love Story” thank many people for their support, including animator Bill Plympton. After watching this, I can see why Plympton would support it, given that a dog gets “intimate” with a crocodile. The main characters are a boy and girl who are in love and they begin to get intimate themselves, until they see said dog in the water struggling to stay above water. The animation looks like it could have come out of the illustrations of a children’s story book, but a children’s story book is not what you’ll find here, believe me.
Walk ^ ****1/2 ^ Directed by Jeff Drew
Jeff Drew’s definitely got something here. With a few computer programs (and scanning in characters drawn on notebook paper), he’s created a fascinating world where chain-smoking grandmas get hit by cigarette trucks, sidewalk preachers babble about shoes, and dogs break dance. More specifically, Edgar is out walking his dog Gigi and they encounter all the aforementioned people, but it is when they walk by two guys (one with a boombox) that Gigi shows his skill. It’s funny alright, and Drew’s production company logo, complete with hacking granny, keeps up the fun after “Walk” is over.
Kunstbar ^ ***** ^ Directed by Steve Whitehouse
Terrific! It’s back again! Creativity runs rampant here when a man walks into the “Kunstbar”. Of course, this is not just any bar to get drunk off your rocker. This is a bar where the cocktails and other drinks are named after various artists such as Jackson Pollock, Henri Matisse, and Paul Klee. The main character first orders up a Jackson Pollock and the bartender throws it in his face, making him look like one of Pollock’s paintings. At another table, a man drinks a Van Gogh and his ear falls off. Art lovers will be more than happy to see this one again and again, if only to identify what artist drinks these people are sucking down.

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