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Anxious Animation

The title of Other Cinema’s recently released collection of work by four avant-garde animators, Anxious Animation, doesn’t even begin to suggest the extent to which fears sexual, social, biological and spiritual course through the DVD’s 10 films. For these artists, anxiety itself is their true métier. Perhaps the best known of the bunch, collagist Lewis Klahr mainlines the depression and repression of Douglas Sirk’s domestic melodramas in three cut-and-paste symphonies of repurposed, vintage detritus. In Altair (1994), snippets of pulp-novel covers, magazine ads, playing cards and astrological maps swirl in a boozy evocation of lounge culture’s dark desires and despair. In Pony Boy (1996), Klahr mixes comic books, furniture catalog and porn to chart Jimmy Olsen’s tortured journey through his conflicted sexual identity toward a state of total liberation. Janie Geiser’s two films, Immer Zu and Lost Motion, explore similarly troubled romantic terrain, as Geiser infuses her heavily layered, richly textured collages of postage stamps, lace and silhouette cutouts with an overtly noir vibe. While collage dominates, the most troubling of all the films on this DVD are the simple, animated line drawings of Jim Trainor. In both The Bats (1999) and Moschops (2000), the films’ titular animals narrate their life stories, from birth to extinction, in mock nature-documentary fashion. Just as Trainor’s style reduces animation to its simplest form, the creatures’ straightforward narration reduces existence to its barest, instinctual drives, making everything else seem like so much excessive adornment. Also included here are three short collage works by the San Francisco collective of Eric Henry, Syd Garon and Rodney Ascher, who draw inspiration for sources as diverse as Hieronymus Bosch, Buckethead and Jesus Christ.

—Paul Malcolm

Also released this week:

DVD: Basic Instinct 2; The Black Swan; Bill Maher: New Rules; The Ellen Show: The Complete Series; ER: The Complete Fifth Season; Grand Prix: 40th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition; Homecoming; House of Eliott: Series Three; The Garden; I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Second Season; The Keys of the Kingdom; Martha’s Guests: Master Chefs; Perry Mason: Season 1, Vol. 1; Pink Floyd: Pulse; Pirates (2006); Reno 911: The Complete Third Season; Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Season 1, Vol. 2; Weeds: Season 1: Tucker Gates.


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