Calling All Bees…

Honeyland, a sweet little cartoon from Harman-Ising. See, I knew spiders were evil and here’s the proof. More scared of me than I am of them – ha! I don’t think so.

A Small World Floating in Outer Space

Went to the Curzon Soho on Sunday for a screening of The Moon and the Sledgehammer, a 1972 documentary about a wonderfully strange family living in the Sussex woods. Full of the buzzings and rustlings of the forest, along with the sons tinkering with steam engines, the father playing the organ and musing – “Now you never want to take apart a magneto with a monkey in the vicinity. You can’t rely on a monkey.” In the Q&A afterwards the director Philip Trevelyan explained that Mr Page had worked as both an engineer and a circus clown, so these are obviously the words of experience.
Totally captivating view of a way of life that’s gone – it doesn’t close its eyes to the more unsettling aspects of the Pages’ life, but always treats them with respect and listens to what they have to say – sensibly, since it’s well worth listening to. It’s just been released on DVD.

Forgotten Men

Saturday afternoon viewing: My Man Godfrey. One of those tough but highly moral Depression-era comedies, it’s got the best opening I’ve seen for a long time – as the unemployed try to keep body and soul together on the city dump, some thick rich types turn up in search of a “forgotten man” for their scavenger hunt. These heiresses could teach Paris Hilton and co a thing or two, but they’re no match for butler William Powell. All seems frighteningly familiar – short-selling even plays a vital role in the plot.

Magnetism = Hair

Magnetic Movie from Semiconductor on Vimeo.
This art/science film about magnetic forces seems to divide proper scientists on the subject of its educational value, but presuming you’re not the sort of person who sees a magnetic field depicted as a big green bubble and wonders why you’ve never noticed it doing that before, I think it does a pretty good job of suggesting the wild nature of the invisible forces around us.

A Rat With Hair On It

This slightly stunned lull between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to watch old films – I suggest Capra’s You Can’t Take It With You. It’s uplifting, but also topical, featuring a greedy banker getting his comeuppance during the Depression.
The family of eccentrics that you’re supposed to prefer to the capitalists are actually quite wearing – see below. Personally it makes me want to go and get stuck into some serious paperwork at the bank. But there are lots of good little scenes – as above, where James Stewart demonstrates how to embarrass your stenographer-fiancee in a posh restaurant.

Irwin Moon’s Electric Eel

This apparently simple educational film from 1954 was actually made by the religious Moody Institute. Evangelist turned scientist Irwin Moon demonstrates the amazing properties of the electric eel. Moon was famous in his earlier life for such miraculous acts as frying an egg on a cold stove, and letting one million volts surge through his body, but here he is happy to make some bemused-looking colleagues jump with a shock from the eel, which seems to be called Joe.

Lots of fun at Finnegan’s wake!

Who’d have thought it? I confess to not having got round to finishing or let’s face it starting the original – but Mary Ellen Bute’s 1965 film, Passages from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, with its mixture of surrealism, TV parody, sci-fi imagery and straight stagey renactment leads you by the hand through the dreaming and waking of Joyce’s story – or at least enough of it to be going on with. It’s quite a lovely, strange and funny little film, in that swimmy black and white – and hearing the words spoken means they somehow make a lot more sense. (At Ubuweb, via feuilleton).

Forest Friends

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s charming animation My Neighbour Totoro might like to have a look at the Totoro Forest Project, a scheme to save the Tokyo forest that inspired Miyazaki’s tale of friendly woodland spirits. Two hundred artists have donated work to be auctioned for the cause. (via Things).
Meanwhile, if you’re in the UK, the Woodland Trust is looking for friends to help them create the largest new native forest in England.

Balloon Land

A land where everyone is made of balloons gets a visit from – the pincushion man! This 1935 cartoon from East Frisian animator Ub Iwerks is actually pretty scary, so watch out…