850 Meters

Whenever I see a tweet or blog post that describes an animated film as being very funny, I usually follow up in hopes of finding something good. Often they are pretty good. Occasionally they are less so. Like many people, I tend to share the work I think is successful. We all do that. But, it may be more instructional to assess what bothers me about those that I don’t find so funny. It’s especially risky when a fair number of people seem to disagree with me by having posted likes and positive comments on the work.

I found one recently that had some obvious problems – for me. Here is “850 Meters” with my review following.

850 meters (HD English version) from THURISTAR on Vimeo.

The knight, Roger Flambé, is what is known in theater as a “Braggart Soldier.” It is an archetype that is centuries old. He is quite full of himself despite how poor a warrior he is. Such types can be funny, but they are historically secondary characters. As part of an ensemble they can provide a strong personality for the others to deal with. A good example you might know is Zap Brannigan in Futurama. He is someone you laugh at, not with. 850 Meters does nothing to elevate Roger Flambé as a character likable enough to be the lead. It is another example of loser comedy, which I don’t find to be at all interesting.

I also have a real problem with the excessive use of slow motion effects. From the sped up motion of silent films to the zippy action of great cartoons, the history of film has taught us that faster is funnier. Applying dramatic effects used in action fight scenes has the opposite effect. Zack Snyder put that sort of thing in “300” where it belongs. It is the same with the extreme camera moves. The sweeping rotations and smash zooms only draw attention to themselves, and do nothing to improve the comedy. It is a real distraction.

At least the post credit coda left the character being happy with the outcome. He stayed true to his character, and I appreciate that.

Some Tex Avery links


Here is a link to a nice little site about Tex Avery.


Be sure to visit the sounds page, with wav files of small sound clips from Avery films.


How about a tumblr site with Tex Avery gifs? 25 pages at this time. Dig deep!


Bill Irwin performing in “Voix de ville”

Enjoy this terrific performance by physical comedian Bill Irwin. He has spent his life developing these skills.

voix de ville: Bill Irwin from Cori Olinghouse on Vimeo.

“A Windy Day” combines vaudeville comedy with cutting edge smartphone tech.

Here is a very interesting short film. It was created to demonstrate a new technology for Motorola’s Google powered Moto X smartphone. The video shows how the user can move the phone, and change the camera. It is a form of virtual reality. The world in the film is 360 degrees, but the action is limited to a 90 degree proscenium.

But, aside from the cutting edge technology, it is a very old fashioned style of film making. Doug Sweetland (Presto) helped develop the concept: “It’s like the old vaudeville bit of the guy trying to pick up his hat, and he keeps kicking it off the stage. In our case it was the wind. It can go in any direction we want, so we have total freedom.”

I love how they take the idea of the mouse and the hat through so many variations. The hat, at times, seems to have a mind of its own. It becomes a chase film, and the chase is reversed, which is something I don’t recall seeing done before.

It was directed by Jan Pinkava,(Geri’s Game, Ratatouille) and produced by Karen Dufilho, who I worked with years ago at Duck Soup in LA. The were assisted by several other Pixarians.

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