If nothing else, Nine Nation Animation proves that there's a lot more to the animator's art than either the cutting-edge ultrarealism of Pixar or the flat functionality of sitcoms like The Simpsons. The nonet of brief films on display in the latest anthology from the World According to Shorts offers a virtual catalog of the tools available to the animator — stop-motion, CGI, rotoscoping — with the techniques often combined in a single imposing display.
But while each film has something to recommend it — the mordant wit of Deconstruction Workers, the witty nostalgia of Home Road Movies — virtuosity too often trumps communication, with the mind-bending visuals propping up unproductively abstract narratives.
So for all the advanced technique on display, best-in-show goes to the most lo-fi of the lot, Jonas Geirnaert's Flatlife. The title is a triple pun, referring simultaneously to the lives of the film's apartment (or flat) dwellers, the banal nature of those lives and the two-dimensional technique of the animation. Splitting his screen into four squares, Geirnaert cannily charts the inter-apartment annoyances that result from the supposedly private activities of people co-existing in too-close proximity to one another, a situation all too familiar to anyone who's ever lived in an apartment building. —Andrew Schenker (Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; July 29-Aug. 4)