Screen Reviews

The Don and Bill Show: Slightly Bent

Short animated films by Don Hertzfeldt and Bill Plympton


These guys are sick. Sick, but in a good way. These two independent animators have cranked out some of the most interesting and disturbing ‘toons of the past two decades – Plympton with his colored pencil sketch from hell style, and Hertzfeld’s Satanic stick figures. Some of these shorts will be familiar if you’ve attended any of the Sick and Twisted animation festivals, but if you haven’t, this is a great sample program. Some of the highlights are Plympton’s Your Face, with a smarmy singer’s head warping into itself in the most unlikely ways, while never dropping a beat. Then there’s the notorious More Sex and Violence, replete with people sneezing their guts out and sexy airbags for a little oral sex after a sudden stop. Surprise Cinema presents host Al Merton doing horrible things to innocent people like replacing a restroom blower with a 727 engine, a electric razor with a chain saw, and replacing a guy’s wife with and octopus. Turns out, the octopus is a really a sensitive cephalopod, and love can cross species lines. The final Plympton flick is the impressionistic Eat, a complex study of a nice little French bistro, and when things seem to be getting a bit to maudlin for this master of mayhem, a burst of vomitus will have you thinking “One wafer thin mint?”


Hertzfeldt films are even more cynical – after all, his production company is “Bitter Films.” The famous Billy’s Balloon features gangs of evil balloons hoisting children to the clouds and dropping them, beating them up, and otherwise doing the sort of stuff that would get you banned in Boston if it weren’t done to stick figures. There’s a lengthy and bitter study of a blind date that falls apart, Lily And Jim. Both seek love, both avoid saying the right thing, and after a few minutes, it’s obvious who caused this insta-breakup – the other person! But, as Jim summarizes, love is like those little packets of condiments. They last forever, but if you open them up they become useless pretty fast.

Some of these prints are pretty rough, with lots of surface damage and degraded sound tracks. But even if you’ve seen them before, they are so bizarre you need another viewing. Take your friends, take a blind date, and just keep telling yourself “I AM a consumer whore!”

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