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Unshown Cinema: The Animated Films That Got Away

The Story of the Fox (Le Roman de Renard)

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, in conjunction with the American Cinematheque, continues its sterling efforts to unearth gems that slip under the American distribution radar with a selection of animated features and shorts for children and adults, not a CGI-processed movie among them. Under no circumstances should you take the kids to see “Dangerous Visions,” a terrific but disturbing collection of international short films that cover everything from family disorder to the death of the planet. Among the highlights is the beautifully drawn ecological nightmare All Nothing (Tout Rien), a 1980 Oscar-nominated short by Canadian animator Frédéric Back, which shows a meditative God conjuring fish and fowl, fauna and flora into exuberant life — until humans show up. J.J. Villard’s Son of Satan (2003), a Charles Bukowski adaptation, competes for sheer transgressive brio with Igor Kovalyov’s Milch (2005), a quietly rancid vision of domestic love and paranoia achieved largely through images of eating and drinking. Both filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their work. The great coup here — a classic for all ages seen for the first time with English subtitles — is Ladislas Starewitch’s adaptation of the famous fable The Story of the Fox (Le Roman de Renard), a mischievous work dedicated to the proposition that flattery will get you everywhere, and featuring a rabbit in a surplice and a triumphant baby fox in a diaper. The only disappointment, and it’s a mild one, is Whisper of the Heart, a 1995 Studio Ghibli production about a girl discovering love and literature, directed by Hayao Miyazaki protégé Yoshifumi Kondo from a script by Miyazaki. The movie is never less than charming, but it feels overly controlled by the master. Kondo died of a brain aneurysm shortly after making the film. One senses that had he lived, he’d have taken off beautifully by himself. American Cinematheque at the Egyptian and Aero theaters; Fri.-Sun., Sept. 22-24. www.americancinematheque.com.

—Ella Taylor


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