Take a Drink: for fish head
Take a Drink: for musings on mortality
Take a Drink: for schizophrenic episodes
Take a Drink: for brains
Do a Shot: “Mah pipe is leaking!”
By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
How’s that for a clickbait title for ya?
And yet… I’m serious. I’ve always been a Don Hertzfeldt fan from the moment I first saw one of his minimalist, pitch black humor-drenched hand-drawn shorts, but I’ll have to admit I kind of lost track in the years since college. When Oberst pointed out Hertzfeldt’s only full-length feature was on Netflix, we took the plunge, and, well… hence the title.
I didn’t summarize the plot, because it’s pretty damn difficult to do so. Basically, the film is a so seamless it’s impossible to tell grafting together of three of Hertzfeldt’s shorts about his stick figure everyman Bill, who appears to be losing his mind or developing a debilitating brain tumor or something to that effect. The result is a stream of consciousness account of his daily life, peppered with absurd dream and nightmare-like sequences, sometimes so engaging and bizarre you’re not quite sure which is which.
Gonna go with nightmare for this one…
Running through the film is an incredible current of pathos- bittersweet ruminations on the joys, tragedies, and ultimate strangeness of just being alive. Hertzfeldt melds together universal observations on the human experience with specific memories and character details, packs them tight into a canister, then shoots them far into the firmament to explode in a dazzling array of light, color, and heart-breaking and gorgeous flights of fancy and fury.
That’s he’s able to do this so expressively with his signature simplistic animation is incredibly impressive, although he employs much more dazzling techniques to augment it, from stop-motion to blended computer animation to even short live action interludes and a master’s deployment of sepia-toned stock footage. Set to a positively Terrance Malickian array of classical music pieces, the end result comes off as a perfect marriage of Chris Marker and The Tree of Life. When its scant 62 minutes are over, you’ll swear much more time has passed… perhaps a lifetime’s worth.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day maybe not be the best animated film ev… fuck it, maybe it is.