Monthly Archives: June 1980

Cartoonal Knowledge

From The Soho News (June 11, 1980). I’m sorry I haven’t had better luck in finding illustrations for the experimental and independent animated shorts reviewed here. But at least if you hit the first illustration, you can see it move. — J.R.

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New American Animation

Film Forum, June 12-15 and l9-22

Cartoonal Knowledge

Thalia, Mondays (June through August)

Did you ever step out of a movie theater in the good old days and exclaim, “Gee, that cartoon was better than the feature”? Whether you did or not, there’s precious little chance of such a thing happening today. Thanks to some of the packaging principles that currently dominate media, short animation is often treated like a ghetto art –  quarantined in its own little category and asked to stay there, mind its manners and keep a low profile, in such out-of-the-way corners as kiddie matinees and museums.

Consequently, to write about the New American Animation series at Film Forum — the last program for the season — is a bit like having to write about the Third World (another Film Forum specialty), rather than, say, simply Brazil or Algeria. And Greg Ford’s massive “Cartoonal Knowledge” series at the Thalia – encompassing 13 Mondays this summer, and billed as “probably the largest and most comprehensive cartoon festival ever mounted in a straight ‘theatrical’ context” — etches out an umbrella subject that is equally daunting to nonspecialists.… Read more »

Film Criticism on Canvas

From the June 1982 American Film. — J.R.

Fans of the brilliant, eccentric, and pioneering film critic Manny Farber who have been regretting his recent absence from the scene simply haven’t been looking in the right places. In fact, the sixty-five-year-old writer, teacher, and former carpenter has been a painter even longer than he’s been a critic, and over the past few years he’s been doing what he calls “auteur” paintings — canvases that recast the subjects and methods of his criticism in a number of fascinating ways.

Using a bird’s-eye view of small objects on a stagelike platform, his paintings, paens to such directors as Howard Hawks [see Howard Hawks II, 1977,  472 x 500, above], Sam Peckinpah, Marguerite Duras, and William Wellman illuminate the filmmakers’ styles and themes. “The compositions and structures are always always based on my take on the directors,” Farber says. “And they’re critical in the fact that I’m usually going away from what I think is known territory, in painting as well as in movies.”

One example of Farber’s oddball approach is his Stan & Ollie, which is full of references to the comedies of Laurel and Hardy, but scarcely uses their faces at all.… Read more »