who write about film ignore the scrappy Slamdance Film Festival at their mortal
peril. Sure, it takes place during another big film event that is fun to cover,
but Slamdance has had its share of breakout hits as well. Filmmakers who
launched their careers there include small cult figures like Christopher Nolan
(Following) and Oren Peli (that’s
right, Paranormal Activity). Bill
Plympton was already an established name with a sizable following when he
brought his latest hand-drawn animated feature to this year’s Slamdance, but he
seemed to dig the laid back-just folks vibe. Given its freshness and subsequent
success on the festival circuit (including Fantasia), Plympton’s Cheatin’ (trailer here) is a fitting
alumnus film to help celebrate Slamdance’s twentieth anniversary with a special
Slamdance On The Road screening in Salt Lake City.
and Ella have animated bodies that put Jessica Rabbit to shame. When they first
meet, the romantic sparks immediately start to fly. Before long, they are a
passionate and committed couple. Unfortunately, the lust they inspire in others
will lead to trouble. When Jake spurns the advances of a temptress-floozy, she
returns with fraudulent evidence of Ella’s supposed infidelity. Devastated by
the phony revelation, Jake embarks on a binge of cheap assignations, openly
inviting Ella’s suspicions. However, she discovers a way to thwart his vengeful
libido with the help of a seedy magician and his fantastical invention.
Cheatin’ ventures into genre
territory during the third act, it is really grounded in universal themes, like
love and sex and how they work with and against each other. Stylistically, it
is Plympton’s most ambitious film yet, strikingly incorporating elements of
watercolor. Almost completely free of dialogue, he tells the story entirely through
visual means, like a far trippier version of The Artist.
resulting vibe is quite distinctive. The early scenes have a Continental
flavor, evoking Toulouse-Lautrec and Chekhovian heroines, while the middle section
has the Americana feel of Hopper paintings, Our
Town, and James Cain (Jake’s lonely looking filling station is a perfect
example). Of course, Plympton’s still incorporates plenty of surreal flights of
fancy, as his fans would hope, but the fundamental romanticism keeps it
looks terrific—even elegant at times. Plympton’s
frequent musical collaborator Nicole Renaud also really helps set the mood with
her lush magpie score, freely repurposing bits and pieces borrowed from classic
opera and tango. Fully Oscar qualified, it could be a dark horse contender.
Recommended for adult animation fans, Cheatin’
screens this coming Wednesday (9/10) at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake, as
part of Slamdance On The Road.
Labels: Animated films, Bill Plympton, Infidelity movies, Slamdance On The Road