Anxious Animation
10 Short Animation Films by
Lewis Klahr, Janie Geiser, Jim Trainer, Henry Garon Ascher
81 minutes
Distributed by Facets Multimedia 2006

If you like animation, not cartoons but short animation films, Anxious Animation is right up your alley. The ten short films here, the longest being 15 minutes, are probably very good and entertaining if you are an expert. Unfortunately, this reviewer is not.

Then again, perhaps short animation films should be able to reach more than fans of the genre. In Anxious Animation, the three shorts by Lewis Klahr are visually interesting but I had no idea what story he was trying to tell and this after reading the synopsis in the insert that comes with Anxious Animation. Klahr uses collage to produce his short films and this makes for a very interesting looking film. The short Lulu is supposedly about the rise and fall of an opera diva. Altair is, according to the artist, about “the woman’s battle with large, malevolent societal forces.” The most interesting of the three is Pony Glass which features collages of Jimmy Olsen from Superman as the main character and a soundtrack by Frank Sinatra.

This collection of short animation films also includes two shorts by Jim Trainor. Bats is white Sharpie on black or grey background. It is the autobiography of a bat with a few references to his sex life (the animation here is definitely not biologically accurate). The print quality does show signs of wear with constant horizontal lines across the screen. Moschops is another black and white animated biography but this time of a dinosaur like creature.

Immer Zu, one of the two short animated films by Janie Geiser is supposedly about the undercover world of secret messages, cryptic languages, and indecipherable codes. It probably is as this animation is basically indecipherable to this viewer. Geiser often superimposes a veil of some sort over her animation which masks what is going on and annoys the viewer. Whatever happened to just telling the story without all the artsy fartsy cutesy tricks only your animator friends will appreciate? Geiser seems to have a fascination with clocks and clocks running backwards as both Immer Zu and Lost Motion, her second animated short in Anxious Animation, begin with clocks and show them running backwards. Lost Motion is probably more accessible than Zu and seems to be the story of a man (depicted as a pewter figurine) going around looking for something. Geiser uses a lot of old model toys and postage stamps to tell this story but again seems unable to not put something in front of the image you are interested in. This is greatly annoying as it makes trying to figure out this story that much harder. An animation fan will notice the strong similarity between the female characters in both these shorts.

The collective of Eric Henry, Syd Garon, and Rodney Ascher form Henry Garon Ascher and three of their shorts close this collection of esoteric animation shorts. Spokes From The Wheel Of Torment is as accessible as the other animation films in this collection but the images are more interesting, it looks like a rock video, and the music is kind of cool. Sneak Attack will remind some of the kind of cartoons seen on Adult Swim. Lord knows what it means though it seems to be some kind of a superhero tale. Somebody Goofed is a cartoonish collage animation and a debate about the nature of God and heaven and hell. Somebody dies on the street and an old guy and a playboy looking time have a religious argument. Things get weird after that. This is the only short in this collection you can understand without a fine arts degree in animation.

Anxious Animation is for the cognoscenti and types in tweed jackets with elbow patches and a pipe or women in long skirts and unshaven armpits.


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