Text Island by Chris Gavin at Tandem Films is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. A short animated film made almost entirely with a pinboard and some old plastic letters, it's incredibly inventive. I love those old sign boards at the best of times, but this takes it to a new level (via Creative Review blog).

I like Coraline

I took the boys to see Coraline the other week and we all loved it. I didn't know much about it to be honest, apart from Tim Burton being involved, so when I saw Tadahiro Uesugi's name go up at the start it was quite exciting. I've been a fan of his illustration for a long time, and the characters that he designed are magnificent. The whole film looks amazing, it's got a great story (from Neil Gaiman's book), some brilliant stop-motion animation (by LAIKA) and any film with that many Scottie dogs in it is a hit in my book.

Even thought it's quite dark and a bit scary, it didn't seem to bother either of the kids, even Danny who is only 3. I can't remember the last film I went to where everyone in the cinema was so quiet. They were totally engrossed. The Coraline website has some nice bits and pieces on it - you can even get words of your choice spelt out by Mr Bobinsky's Mice Circus. Anyway, highly recommended for young and old.

Might be a bit short notice, but Channel 4 are showing Thunderbird 6, the second Thunderbirds film from 1968 tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7.10am. This is a sublimely stylish film, great to watch even if you're not a Thunderbirds fan. The opening sequence (above) sets the tone. It looks beautiful and has a great Barry Gray soundtrack. Well worth getting up early for.

Lost and found

I've read a lot of good things about Lost and Found, an animated short film showing on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day on Channel 4. It's an adaptation of Oliver Jeffers' children's book, made by Studio AKA who have a solid track record of great animation. I'm hoping the Christmas madness subsides long enough to watch it. View the trailer or read more at Creative Review.


This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

This has been well blogged already, for good reason, but if you haven't seen it, This is where we live is a lovely little film made entirely from books. It celebrates the 25th birthday of 4th Estate, so even better, they're all 4th Estate books. There's more about the making of it on the website, beautifully put together by Apt.

There have been so many lovely Oliver Postgate tributes today that it hardly seems necessary to add another, but at the same time, how could I not? I like the way that every talking head has gone straight for their favourite Small Film, which pinpoints their age within a couple of years or so. It's Ivor the Engine that means most to me. I remember Bagpuss vividly, but Gabriel, Professor Yaffle, Madeleine and the others were an odd bunch. The noises The Clangers made drove my mum mad, so they were never on, but everyone in da house loved Ivor. He was so gentle and so green. From youtube, here's the first episode.


A Cultural Guide to the United Kingdom from James Houston on Vimeo.

I was at the Glasgow School of Art degree show today and same as last year, didn't make it past the Visual Communication stuff. Which is no bad thing because it's very good. James Houston's Big Ideas: Don't get any Radiohead remix using old computer equipment is part of it. No wonder it's been right round the internet. Seeing it on a big screen really shows off the colours and the composition - it's a beautiful film as well as a really clever idea. He also did A Cultural Guide to the United Kingdom which has a totally different style but is also brilliant. It's incredibly elegant and flows beautifully, but it's really fun. And it does what it sets out to do (present the diverse culture of the UK) in a very effective way. interesting2008 attendees will be able to see him speak tomorrow. For everyone else check out his website. The degree show finishes tomorrow (Saturday) so get in quick. There are some photos of the degree show on Flickr. Lots of other goodies there.

Philip Glass on Sesame Street. His distinctive music + lovely, simple animation. Outstanding (via Russell Davies).

I've never seen the Beatles cartoons before so I'm working through some clips on YouTube. They're great. Some of the animation was directed by George Dunning at the same studio (TVC) as Yellow Submarine so it's really colourful and wiggy. The accents done by US voiceover artist Paul Frees (John and George) and famous UK posh bloke Lance Percival (Paul and Ringo) are fantastically all-over-the-place. They were "Americanised" to suit the US audience but it's more like a mixture of Scouse, Welsh and Pakistani. There are some nice little singalong bits like Paperback Writer and She said she said and as they were made between 1965 and 1969 the songs are some of their finest. Two more clips: Strawberry Fields Forever and And Your Bird Can Sing, and more background on the series at Television Heaven. And for dessert two clips of the real life human Beatles looking gorgeous in Kew Gardens: Paperback Writer and Rain.

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