Key Lime Pie

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The beauty of animation is that it allows for a distorted and stylised version of reality that is quickly accepted by the audience. If a film ventures into the realms of surrealism it runs the risk of being shunned, but a cartoon can get away with a lot more, just look at the The Ren & Stimpy Show, or even SpongeBob SquarePants. These animations are bizarre and otherworldly, but also beloved and accepted by the very same people who might sneer at the beautiful City of Lost Children, or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Key Lime Pie really, really, makes the most of these advantages, in that the world it creates is so deliciously insane that you can feel your mind falling apart, like a soft biscuit, while you watch it. The protagonist of the film, Mitch Bernstein, is a bloated, madman hellbent on self destruction in the darkest, and most surreal, film noir you’re likely to see. His love of Key Lime Pie takes him to the very edge, where he proceeds to dive-board into madness and oblivion. Mitch knows his obsession with Key Lime Pie is a death sentence, a heart attack waiting to happen, but even as Death turns up to pay him a visit, Mitch isn’t about to give up on the greatest high he’s ever known.

Key Lime Pie is just three and a half minutes long, and it milks every second, creating a surreal nightmarish world that is a joy to watch. The animation is accompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s fantastic Vertigo theme, and the voice-over work is perfect, almost out-doing the brilliant artwork itself. Key Lime Pie is wonderfully intense, making the most of it’s noir theme with grizzly blacks and leering whites, blending both the familiar feel of children’s cartoons with the smashed-up mind of a raving lunatic.

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Earth To Earth

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Shot with a single cartridge of super8, for the Straight8 competition, Earth to Earth is a wonderfully simple little film that works incredibly well. At just under four minutes, the story is played out in a documentary style, with an old man recounting his treasured allotment, and his gift for growing a rather special product. The “reveal” is delightful, and beautifully animated, but remains underplayed, so that the film feels warm and friendly, rather than surreal.

The narrator is perfectly cast, while the jolly music whisks the narrative along. The short time the film has is used efficiently, nothing felt flabby, and the jokes come thick and fast. The inclusion of the Japanese chaps is hilarious, and a welcome change of pace.

While there is still room for the film to include a more downbeat moment, lamenting people’s fear of what they don’t understand, the film doesn’t allow you to linger, instead pushing forward to a charming and witty conclusion. Earth to Earth is a simple, warm little film with a very clean and clear purpose, it doesn’t venture out on flights of fancy, as the subject matter might imply, but this is actually a good thing. The film has a down to earth quality about it, and is refreshingly restrained with the- dare I say it- “wacky” premise.

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