31 May 2013

Peña de Bernal: Now Officially the World’s Tallest Rock

About 8.7 million years ago in what is north central Mexico, a pair of tectonic plates converged.  One was forced under the other and sank in to the mantle of the Earth. The resulting volcanic activity formed a dacite rock which, after hardening, eventually forced itself through as a solid plug to the surface. This subduction zone activity created Peña de Bernal which has, you could say, weathered the passing time remarkably well. It has recently been declared the tallest monolith on Earth.

It has taken an age of argument for the monolith, in the Mexican state of Querétaro, to finally acquire this status.  For many years scientists have that the Rock of Gibralta and South Africa’s Sugarloaf Mountain were both larger than the Mexican monolith.  However, the journal Geosphere has finally settled the competition and declared that Peña de Bernal is indeed the world’s tallest free standing rock.

Paris Hyperlapse


The time-lapse is dead, long live the hyperlapse!  This is perhaps not a completely truthful statement but one which could be argued over a glass of wine or two.  And where better to do that than the city of lights, Paris?  This remarkable hyperlapse by Kirill Neiezhmakov shows the city in all its spectacle.

The video shows some of the best examples I have seen of the hyperlapse techniques which involves moving the camera while still shooting at a speed normally associated with time-lapse.  It’s a new(ish) technique and one that has been evolving at some speed recently - Neiezhmakov and his ilk are comfortably taking it to the next level with some huge, sweeping shots that make you wonder exactly how they were done.  They  certainly make me scratch my head.  Have a gawp and see if you can work it out yourself.

The Sim Chung Story


This is a rather lovely animated version of a traditional Korean myth.  It tells the story of a dutiful daughter, Sim Chung, whose mother died when she was young and whose father is blind.  Promised that his life will be restored if she sells herself to sailors for sacrifice, Sim Chung does so and as she hits the waves her adventures are barely beginning.

You do have to bear with the first minute or so of this animated short by M9 as it does take time to tell the story before the full visual treat gets underway.  But do stick with it – the underwater sequences are quite lovely.  Plus the denizens of the deep put Gershwin to good use!

30 May 2013

Cheese Rolling: Traditional Death Defying Race goes Ahead Despite Health and Safety Warnings

Cheese Rolling 2013, Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire.
Thousands of people gathered last weekend at Cooper’s Hill in the English county of Gloucestershire for the annual cheese-rolling race.  The unofficial event, which has taken place at the same spot for over five hundred years, sees people risking life and limb in the pursuit of a rolling 7lb round of Double Gloucester cheese.

Cheese Rolling 2013, Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire.
However, this year the weighty cheese was replaced with a lighter foam version in a gesture towards making the event a little more health and safety conscious.  Just a little. The event is, as you can imagine, never without casualties.  However, cheese rolling has always been exuberantly amateur in nature and everyone who participates is well aware of the risks that they take. To grab and win the cheese is, it seems, worth the potential hazards of lunging headlong down a hill at breakneck speed.

Hadoken: Japanese Schoolgirl Trend Goes Global

A month or two ago a trend started in Japan. Photos of schoolgirls doing what looked like extremely impressive manga style martial arts moves on their friends started to appear on social networking sites, notably Twitter. Most popular of all was 波動拳 or hadoken (sometimes spelled hadouken) made famous in the Street Fighter series of fighting games. Now, it's going global.

29 May 2013

The Scream


I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

These are the words of Edvard Munch in 1893, after he had created one of the world’s best loved pieces of art, The Scream. Now Sebastian Cosor has taken the words of the artist and created this animation.  It may not be quite what you were expecting (replete with Pink Floyd soundtrack) but it is certainly a new take on the work.  Tell us what you think!

28 May 2013

Metrology in Daily Life


Metrology is one of those overlooked sciences, perhaps (ironically) because it is so ubiquitous. As it takes in all practical and theoretical aspects of measurement it rubs shoulders alongside the branded sciences, such as mathematics, physics and chemistry. 

The Dutch Metrology Institute has commissioned this very cool video by Studio Smack to show the impact of measurements in our everyday and immediate surroundings.  The word I used in the previous paragraph – ubiquitous – is more than a suitable description of how metrology is an omnipresent force in our lives.  Here we take in something as simple as a daily jog – and metrology can be seen in all of its pervasion.

Appearance - Charlie Higson Gets More Than He Bargained For at a Book Signing


Charlie Higson became well known in the UK for his comedy acting in series such as The Fast Show yet he is known to a newer audience as the author of the Young Bond novels.  He has also written a popular if gruesome series called The Enemy, a series of zombie books for teenagers, effectively (would make a very good replacement to Harry Potter at the cinema) where everyone over 16 becomes undead and the kids are left to fight off the hordes.

It seems he is not quite ready to give up the comedy, however.  To begin with I thought that Appearance was simply that – a short created to show him engaging young people about his writing as a British school.  However, it is something a little more… when he is accosted by a pair of sullen yet spooky teenagers the truth about his writing career comes out.

Charlie Higson’s fifth installment in The Enemy cycle of novels is due out this year.

26 May 2013

Bismuth: Beautiful Diamagnetic Chemical Element

Until the 18th century it was often mistaken for tin or lead. Yet once refined in to its purest form it becomes a thing of great beauty. About twice as abundant as gold, the chance are you have come unwittingly in to contact with it if you have ever had a minor digestive upset. As a bismuth oxide core structure with salicylate ions attached to the surface (uh huh) you probably know it as Pepto-Bismol. What you see here is the chemical element bismuth in crystalline form.

Sydney Transformed in to a Canvas of Lights with Vivid 2013

The light show is back another year! Vivid Sydney 2013 high-points comprise the immensely popular immersive light installations and projections.  There are also shows from local and international musicians at Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House (what has become known as the epicenter of the festival) not to mention the Vivid Ideas Exchange which features public talks and discussions from prominent global creative thinkers.  The event carries on till 10 June so there is still time to get there. However, if you can’t, enjoy the gallery above!

25 May 2013

Intercom


This is short film making at its barest; the minimum of dialogue reflects the dislocated lives led by its unnamed protagonists.  A Thames side block of flats is shared by a group of people and the only real knowledge they seem to have of each other is through the intercom used to buzz people in.  Yet one stands out to all of them, the brash young man who makes their lives miserable by coming noisily home at all times of the day.  Even when he is at home everyone knows it too, with his banging and clattering – not to mention the loud music he consistently plays.

If this makes it look like nothing much happens then believe me, something does but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  I will say, however, that the short film makes a profound statement about how we live and what our responsibilities to others may be.  With a cast made up of wonderful British actors Jenny Agutter (pictured above and still as fragrant as ever!), Marc Warren and David Calder, Intercom has won 5 awards and has been featured on selections at 20 festivals. It was written, directed and produced by Mark Gutteridge.

Bushido


Bushido literally means the way of the warrior and that is (again, literally) what you get here.  We see just a few split seconds in the life of a meditative samurai.  Bushido allows for the violent existence of the samurai to be subsumed by wisdom and serenity.

This animated short was created by Said Ibrahim as his 2013 graduation film.  It’s a great combination of drawing and animation styles and is a great showcase for Ibrahim’s talents as an animator. It is also very, very cool.

24 May 2013

The History of the Tulip


The Himalayan mountain range was the original home of the tulip even though most of us associate the flower with the Netherlands.  How it got there makes for a fascinating story, from the courts of the Turkish dynasties to its Dutch arrival, this animation gives us the whole history.  That shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise as it was created especially for the Tulip Museum in Amsterdam by Stepahne Kaas, an independent Dutch maker of film, documentaries, short fiction, music videos, commercials and this.

When the tulip got there it was considered such a rare and interesting flower that it sparked something of a social frenzy which would eventually lead to the down fall of an entire economy (known as the tulip bubble).  It’s amazing to think that a single flower could be responsible for all of that, but watch the video and discover the truth for yourself!

Moon River


If you really need a short vacation then I think I have found the perfect destination for you.  Known as Moon River this resort offers everything that the holidaymaker may wish for – and an awful lot more, too!  Once you experience Moon River you will quite possibly never leave…

Moon River was created by Sue Magoo, aka Alan Warburton.  He did just about everything on this animated short except for some of the modelling and the voice over – which was supplied by a friend of his called Steve.  We suspect that Mr Warburton may be just a little bit bonkers which makes his work a perfect fit for Kuriositas.  Now, where’s that suitcase..?

21 May 2013

Skywhale Rises Over Australia

The Australian state of Canberra is 100 years old this year.  As part of the on-going celebrations the Skywhale – a 34 meter long hot balloon was commissioned to symbolize… well, a lot of Canberrans aren’t exactly sure what.  Skywhale has hardly gotten off the ground before she is the center of very divided opinion.

20 May 2013

(S)he's Right Behind Me, Isn't (S)he?


This has happened to a lot of people. It may well have happened to you. It has certainly happened to me. If you are an innocent here, then take this great mashup by Plot Point Productions as a piece of visual advice: never badmouth someone with your back to the door through which they may enter. It doesn’t have to be a door, either, as you will see.

This is a great collection of those moments when someone says something about someone else and that person is right behind them.  It takes in a number of films: Miss Congeniality, City Slickers and Goldeneye to name but a few. TV shows are also well represented, with Supernatural, Justice League and Crossing Jordan among others. What is that German word again? Ah yes, schadenfreude...

Worlds Apart


A young family live on a small farm in central California.  Although they have only a single child his imagination and the love of a good teddy bear keeps him from feeling any loneliness. Their life is a good one until a global environmental catastrophe means that everything will change.  Many years later their homestead receives some extra-terrestrial visitors…

Worlds Apart was created by a very capable and motivated group of Cogswell Polytechnical College students (which is based in California where part of Worlds Apart is set). State-of-the-art software and studio techniques were employed in the making of this animated tour de force.

This is an exceptional short film with production values rarely seen at undergraduate level.  It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Zachary Huber.

19 May 2013

Future.Inc


Steven Moffat, the executive producer of Doctor Who called Future.Inc "Terrific. Really clever and really sad". And it is.

Set just a few years from now, this short film turns our present ideas around social media on its head.  Whereas today we join Facebook and the like and make contact with friends of yesteryear, Future.Inc suggests the opposite.  What if, instead of making contact with friends from the past we can, instead, establish a connection with those from the far future?

Written by Andrew Ellard and directed by Martin Stirling (whose website describes him as director / writer / douchebag!), Future Inc features Hils Barker as the hapless Rose, the awkward office worker who gains a new lease of life thanks to the new social network.  Be warned, though, you may need a hanky if you are of a lachrymose nature. Unsurprisingly, Future.Inc won the Sci-Fi London 48 hour film challenge last year.

Eurovision Presenter Petra Mede Steals the 2013 Contest with Comedy Show Song – Swedish Smorgasbord

If you are not European then this video presents you with an opportunity to take a glimpse in to the rather silly heart of a continent… thanks to Swedish Smorgasbord, comedienne Petra Mede and of course the Eurovision Song Contest..

Petra Mede Eurovision 2013 Sweden Swedish Smorgasbord Interval Song Contest Funny
When Ireland astonished a slack-jawed Europe with Riverdance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest it set the bar with its amazing but nevertheless somewhat po-faced interval act showing Irish history and folklore. Since then each host country has done its very best to promote itself through the medium of song and dance. It has become, if you like, something of a competition within a competition.

18 May 2013

Dreams Come True


Do you really think Man is the only one capable of dreaming? I know it isn´t so…

This is quite extraordinary.  Combining time-lapse and HDR techniques, Dreams Come True is a visual poem voiced by a city.  A what? You may well ask, but the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the autonomous community of the Canary Islands delivers a message to the rest of Europe.  She is ancient but still thrives, she looks back but forever walks forward – and she wants something.

The something in question is the position of European Capital of Culture 2016.  For those of you outside the continent that when a city is designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year throughout which it organizes a succession of cool cultural happenings with a strong European element.  It is quite the coveted title: previous winners such as Liverpool in the UK have seen their city’s cultural life reinvigorated and strengthened.

The Dreams Come True was imagined, produced and directed by Damián Perea Lezcano. I can only say that with this innovative and truly imaginative approach to applying for the title, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria gets my vote!

The Lonesomeness of Mazinger Z

When Professor Juzo Kabuto built the super robot Mazinger Z he envisioned a world protected from the forces of Dr Hell and his mechanical beasts by this, his ultimate invention.  Made from Japanium (found only on the slopes of Mount Fuji) Mazinger B’s sheer size and power would defend humanity against evil for generations.  He never imagined that his gargantuan brainchild would end its days in an unfinished suburb of a quiet Spanish town, rooted to the spot and silently, gently decaying.

Yet that is just what happened. Returning to the real world (for however short a time), just how did this mountainous monument to Manga finish up in Tarragona, a Spanish city better known for its Roman ruins than robot remnants?

Does the British Government Really Care?

In my real world life I teach teenagers at a college in South East London. I mostly deliver a range of IT subjects and a recent addition to the curriculum has been designing and running a blog. My group this year created 2wenty4se7en.com as a two month project and it has been (at least in my mind!) successful: it has generated income, and enabled my students to learn more about blogging from a personal and business perspective. Another benefit has been that it has encouraged the students to look closely at their literacy skills and work towards producing good copy.

So, take a look at the latest post by one of my students, Louis Christodoulou (pictured left) by clicking on any of pictures or the link below. Like many in the UK the recession has hit his family hard and he has not escaped its ravages either, finding it impossible to get even a part time job. You may agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments or you may disagree entirely – it will all depend on your politics. Yet I am very proud of his feature on Does the British Government Really Care?

This isn’t a two minute talking hoodied head on the TV, it’s not a sound bite gathered quickly by an anxious journalist in the darkest depths of South East London. This is the real deal. This is a British youth beginning to find his voice, one which speaks for his generation through online journalism (which you would probably agree is better than a brick through a window). As such it is both a plea and a warning.

If you are reading this and you are an employer in London and you want to give a hard-working and diligent young man a start in life by offering him a meaningful job (or an interview!), then drop me a line!

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World


Can you name the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? If not, this animation may well form a visual and literal mnemonic to aid your memory. After all, you never know when you are going to asked to name them. We have them all here, each presented in a different and individual style.

It is the work of a group of students from Supinfocom Arles (in France) who rather than work collectively on the piece have created a chain animation – a form which is enjoying its moment in the sun at the moment. Small groups of three or four students worked together on each individual wonder and then the seven resulting clips were sewn together to make this fantastic animated montage.

In case some of these have left you scratching your head they are, in order presented here: the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia.

My Face is in Space


When NASA launched Voyager in 1977 on board was a gold record.   The record held information about our history and our achievements, our location and our DNA.  It also included photos – lots of them.  One of them was a photo of Larry, a young American teenager whose life was changed irrevocably by the inclusion of his image on board Voyager.

Yet, to paraphrase Bentham, stretching up to touch the stars, young Larry forgets the flowers at his feet.

My Face is in Space was created by London based animator, writer and director Tom Jobbins

17 May 2013

Sincerity


Lunch is over and David finally has to tell his parents the secret that he has been keeping to himself.  It is something that he feels he has to tell them even though the news will have a profound impact on the family.  Yet it is something that he has to do: he simply cannot live a lie any longer.

If you think you know what this (very) short Spanish comedy is all about from the paragraph above, then perhaps you should reconsider – and press the play button!  This little gem was directed by Andrea Casaseca Ferrer and stars the fabulous Kiti Manver as Mom, Javier Laorden as Dad and Gerald B Filmore as the son with the terrible secret. 

Barbie’s Berlin Brouhaha

Barbie Dreamhouse Experience Berlin Germany Protesters
My school boy reading of the banners carried by the protestors above translates them as Barbie take off (perhaps they mean get lost) and Hermione Granger did not play with Barbie. True, true – one cannot imagine the Hogwart’s pupil swapping accessories and outfits with her friends even stretching the imagination to the upmost. Not in any shape or form. Yet, surely, haven’t these Berliners had since 1959 to get used to the doll’s somewhat inane take on femininity and, indeed, the female form? What’s got their goat? The answer is this...

Barbie Dreamhouse Experience Berlin Germany
Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. At almost 27,000 square feet, the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience, which opened yesterday in Berlin attracted acerbic (not to mention noisy) protests from Women’s Rights groups such as Femen. Even if you are ambivalent about Barbie’s use as a plaything for girls, you can see their point. One can only ponder what horrors of a fuchsia, salmon, or rose hue lie within.

Barbie Dreamhouse Experience Berlin Germany Protesters
Myself, this has made me wonder why these demonstrators were not joined by architecture aficionados who must surely see this monstrosity in pink as the affront to creative planning, design and construction it truly is. Shudder.

First Image Credit Flickr User Libertinus

The Body Snatchers: Corpse and Effect


Body snatchers snatching corpse cadaver burke and hare
You probably know about the period of British history when medical students were in need of bodies to dissect which gave rise to the rash of macabre thefts known as body snatching.  Perhaps the most famous pair were the notorious were Burke and Hare who ironically did not raid cemeteries but murdered people to provide a local doctor with corpses to dismember.  Fortunately the Anatomy Act of 1832 stopped the ghastly business of stealing cadavers from their graces and allowed for the bodies of the recently deceased unclaimed poor to go under the knife of curious students of human composition.

Yet have you ever wondered where the bodies went after the dissections were over?  Fortunately we have Dr Piers Mitchell of Cambridge University (in the video above) to answer that for us. No need to watch this if you are squeamish but if you are interested in pursuing this then Dr Mitchell and colleagues have published Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond: autopsy, pathology and display (2012) which is available on a number of websites including one which we won’t mention until they start paying more than 0.1% tax in the UK.

13 May 2013

Obsolete


obsolete smoking robot
A robot works on a production line – and discovers a sense of curiosity.  That is, plotwise, just about it but watch Obsolete because the colors are simply stunning, evoking a world boiling in heat.  No clues are given as to what caused this environment yet one suspects human hand even if not a single homo sapiens appears.  Yet despite our absence, Obsolete is brimming with pathos.

Obsolete was created by Smoking Robot, aka Lewis Gray and Esra Guldal, two students studying MDes Graphic Design at Sheffield Hallam University, specialising in motion and video.

12 May 2013

The Glitched King


I love this time of year!  So many talented students are finishing off their animated movies for their university courses that there is a veritable flood of wonderful work from which to choose.  This is another example of just what today’s students are getting up to while we imagine they are sleeping in, skipping lectures and drinking several gallons of alcohol a week!

A stranded astronaut finds that he has company on the planet upon which he has crashed.  Yet that may be just the beginning of his problems.

Made mostly in Maya, with a dash of After Effects, Flash, and ProTools this is the third year film for Michael Piazza, a student at CalArts.

11 May 2013

Moon Goddess


Ladies, you have probably met someone like him: the hopeless lecher who just won’t give up, the one who thinks he's perfect and just assumes you will fancy the pants off him, the one who keeps winking and sniggering and rubbing his... OK, that's enough.

Thank goodness for you if you haven't met this type but the moon goddess featured in this animated short by Melanie Atwater certainly has – in fact, he is there, skulking about in the bushes each evening when she descends from the moon for her nightly bathe.  So, what's a goddess do?

Yes – turn him in to a stag (I think  this particular moon goddess is based on Artemis who did that sort of thing all the time).  However, not even that works,  but the goddess has one or two more tricks up her sleeve…

Melanie created Moon Goddess as her third year film at CalArts.

Encounter


Independent animator Eoin Duffy has a message for you – be nice to mythical creatures!   Besides that, I am not quite sure what to say about this very clever, paired back animation except perhaps you should watch it and make of it what you will.  I thoroughly enjoyed it but have to admit to not quite getting all of it, even after three viewings.  Opaque is cool.

Here at Kuriositas Towers we are looking forward greatly to the release of Duffy’s co-venture with the Irish Film Board. Narrated by the indomitable George Takei, The Missing Scarf tells the story of Albert the Squirrel and a certain missing item of apparel (the clue is in the title, I think).

Tulips: Not Only from Amsterdam

red tulips in front of a windmill Amsterdam
When it's Spring again I'll bring again Tulips from Amsterdam – so goes the old song.  Tulips and the Netherlands seem to be forever inextricably bound, yet neither the plant or its cultivation originated there. It’s native range encompasses Turkey, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, and Iran all the way to the Northwest of China.  Today, however, the flower is a truly global species and each spring the fields of numerous countries explode in a riot of colors.

field of pink tulips
So, sit back and take in the glorious sight of tulips: from single flowers to meadows seemingly overflowing with them, the tulip is, quite simply, a thing of exquisite beauty. Fill your heart with spring!

6 May 2013

The Sugar Bugs


Do you have children who do not brush their teeth properly before they go to bed – or, indeed, are you one of those objectionable and obnoxious offspring who refuse to take dental care seriously?  If so, then you might want to spend a few minutes in the company of The Sugar Bugs – the millions of little creatures which live inside your mouth – watch and weep!

Joking aside, this animated short by John Kim is very funny – it tells a fairly straightforward tale which young kids will understand but is done with great panache and a few not so hidden movie references that adults will enjoy too.  Created for his BFA2 film at Cal Arts, Kim has created a monster here…!

The voices are created by his peers in the animation department at CalArts and I feel they should quite rightly now consider drama as a secondary subject.  If Kim's style seems familiar perhaps it is because you remember his previous animated outing, You've Been Mimed, which we featured on Kuriositas last year.

Aeon


animation about natural life cycles
Aeon is a wonderfully contemplative piece of animation created by The DMCI as part of the 2013 TEDxSydney Conference.  If you consider a conference of this nature to be a meal then Aeon serves as the palette cleanser between courses (or talks in this case!).  The animation explores the concept of growth as part of a cycle which covers seasons and years.

As the conference was in Australia the makers drew their subject matter from the nature of the country.  The stylised treatment and geometric shapes reflect the desire by The DCMI to reduce things to their core elements.  This is one to sit back and watch when in a meditative mood!

Five Days in San Francisco


Timelapse and hyperlapse of the city of San Francisco
San Francisco is a beautiful town, of that there is no doubt.  Yet I don’t think I have ever seen it so gorgeous, so luminescent (the only word I can use to describe the light in much of this footage) as during Five Days in San Francisco.  A team of three, led by Cameron Michael were given five days by Dynamic Perception (providers of low-cost and easy-to-use photographic motion-control systems) to capture as much of the Bay City as they could.  The results are simply stunning.

Combining both traditional time-lapse with very contemporary hyperlapse techniques, Cameron and his team have done the city proud.  Stunning morning and day time shots combine with those captured in the evening, when SF elegantly, seductively slips in to something more comfortable (as it were).  If San Francisco’s tourist agencies want to get people flocking to the city, then my advice would be to use this footage!

5 May 2013

Marseille Bursts in to Flames


Don’t panic, however. It isn’t a precursor to the apocalypse.  Rather it is the French city’s way of celebrating the fact that it is this year’s European Capital of Culture.  The event, Le Vieux Port: Entre Flammes et Flots (The Old Port: Between Flames and Waves and yes, it does sound better in French) marks the opening of the second chapter of the year-long cultural festival; this part is called Marseille Provence Under Open Skies

How to Tie a Bow Tie


How do I tie a bow tie
If you are currently avoiding participating in to the renaissance being enjoyed by the bow tie because you don’t know how to tie one, then here’s a lucky break for you.  You could visit many a website which will diagrammatically show you how to tie one but if you are anything like me the result is more often than not exasperation rather than a perfectly executed knot.  The Doctor never seems to have this sort of trouble!

Through the sleight of hand of stop-motion animation, The Hill-Side's indigo chambray bow tie comes to life and teaches you how to tie it, in a few simple steps. Best of all, there aren't any clumsy human hands to get in the way! I wonder if a certain Time Lord watched this video about how to tie a bow tie before he attempted his own for the first time!

Prime Evil


So, you want to know what really happened to the dinosaurs, do you?  OK, then let’s go back about sixty five million years to when the something came through our atmosphere, signalling the beginning of the end for the terrible lizards of yester-epoch.

It may not be quite what you were expecting – unless you were actually anticipating a psychopathic escaped convict rectangular alien.  Not even the dinosaurs can escape this kind of Prime Evil.

This is the second year film of character animation student Kyler Spears who is looking, learning and creating ambitious projects at CalArts. The compositing, layout, and coloring was aided and abetted by Jacob Streilein, Jason Reicher, Uma Mahendran, and Melissa Juarez.

Titans of Newark


There are a number of movies which deal with the Greek gods and their curtailed powers in the contemporary world but generally they can be a little po-faced and tend to disappear up their own ophiotaurus within the first ten minutes.  The limited length of Titans of Newark does not allow for this but the premise is familiar.

Zeus and the other gods are busy chewing the cud and lamenting their loss of influence and power.  As a bet with Poseidon, Zeus decides to randomly pick a mortal and bend him to his will.  He chooses Levi Katz, unemployed accountant and unhappy family man (the family being as unhappy as the man in this case).  Levi has a job interview and Zeus is determined that the hapless Katz will never get there.  Yet he has, perhaps, taken on a mortal who will not be deterred by the obstacles that Zeus places in his way.

Written and directed by Mike Marino, Titans of Newark was made as a graduate thesis film at Chapman University in 2012.  While the short movie’s small budget does show on occasion (and it is testament to the cast and crew that these moments are few and far between) I am taken aback that something of this quality was made as a graduate film.  No disrespect to undergraduates intended – we here at Kuriositas have very high expectations of student projects – but this is just outstanding.

The cast is outstanding.  Joel Brooks as the luckless Levi Katz is wonderfully droll and holds the movie together beautifully.  If his face is familiar to you then it is probably from his numerous appearances on American TV shows: he’s been in CSI, Law & Order, Six Feet Under and Without a Trace to name a recent few – but his TV history goes back to the early eighties and MASH.

Duke Valenti, too, gives a very muscular performance as the father of the gods who seems to be undergoing some sort of mid-life crisis.  Valenti too has one of those familiar faces – no doubt because of his memorable appearances on Life on Mars, The Sopranos and Law & Order (again to name just a few).  The rest of the cast are outstanding too and includes Lili Bordan (BSG: Blood and Chrome) as Calypso.

Along with a witty and fast-paced script by Marino, Titans of Newark is 25 minutes of great entertainment.  The Greek gods may have had their day but I do believe that the age of the short film is upon us.
Amung Feedjit
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