Something hidden -- go and find it;
Go and look beyond the Ranges
Something lost behind the ranges:
Lost and waiting for you. Go!

-- from Guy Maddin's CAREFUL

Being a periodic meditation on some of the more obscure outlying regions of cinema;
regarding movies that are inadequately publicized and hence, easily overlooked --
and by cinema, it is meant in the larger sense of films/tv/DVD/internet --
that might be worthy of your interest, but perhaps has escaped your notice.


Friday, February 1, 2008


       With the Academy Awards presentations less than a month from today, now is as good a time as any to discuss some of the nominated films; except that, -- as I’m sure you’d be quick to point out, dear reader -- Academy Award nominated movies don’t exactly fit the profile of Cinema Obscura; supposedly what this blog is all about, or so I’ve led you to believe. But while the major categories of the Oscars certainly don’t intersect with the avowed purpose of this blog all that much, some of the minor awards might -- not just any minor award, though. An entire post regarding the Award of Commendation that the Academy is giving out this year (To Jonathan Erland, apparently; in "recognition of his leadership and efforts toward identifying and solving the problem of High-Speed Emulsion Stress Syndrome in motion picture film stock") might make interesting reading... -- to some; most likely not to regular readers of this blog, however. On the other hand, an award category like “Animated Short Film” might fit the bill -- why, yes, I think it does! So without further ado... ladies and gentlemen, mademoiselles and messieurs, allow me to present... Madame Tutli-Putli !

       As its nominating category would imply, the film is a short; animated in the pain-stakingly slow-to-create stop-motion style. It’s brief -- just a little over seventeen minutes in length -- and concerns a woman, and what must be all of her belongings, taking a train ride to some undisclosed destination. She shares her cabin-berth with several fellow passengers; all of whom are endowed with some varying degree of grotesquerie. She makes an effort to establish contact with most of them, but ultimately withdraws from any such attempts, into her own musings. Feeling cut off from her fellows, her isolation is made all the more unbearable when she notices some strange goings-on outside the train... and that’s as much as I’ll say.

       The film’s style is reminiscent of the work of the Bros. Quay -- but with a new, computer-processor-driven wrinkle. While the puppets are all animated in the conventional stop-motion fashion, the characters eyes -- and movement thereof -- are all taken from actual, human actors; and digitally composited onto the puppets countenances. It’s a subtle, eerie effect; one that lends the puppets a greater dimension of emotion and depth -- of humanness, if you will. The film itself has more style than substance to it; but it’s a very impressive style, and there are many images from the film that stay with you; even if they don’t quite all add up to a cohesive whole. Madame Tutli-Putli is not, I think, a better film than my favorite animated short from 2007 -- but since that wasn’t nominated (more a matter of Hollywood politics than an issue of worthiness, I suspect), I’m betting Tutli-Putli will garner this years award -- if only for its level of technical achievement.

       You can buy a DVD copy of Madame Tutli-Putli directly from the producers of the film, the National Film Board of Canada, for a rather pricey (given the movie’s brief running time) $14.95. Fortunately for us cheapskates, it’s also available as a download from iTunes for a mere $1.99! At that meager cost, it’s worth the ticket price.

Some links:

Madame Tutli-Putli official website

Finding Madame Tutli-Putli, a short, behind-the-scenes film about “casting” the movie.

Animating Madame Tutli-Putli, a short, behind-the-scenes film about the making of the animation.

Next post -- 02/08/08


Paula said...

Glad you're posting again, grigorss!

Apparently, Netflickers can also see that animated short as an "instant watch" (and will be able to rent it soon, too.)

grigorss said...

Ahh! Good to know! For you mac users out there who can't access Netflix's Instant Watch movies (which also includes myself), you'll be glad to know that the kinks regards that have been ironed out (which apparently had more to do with D.R.M. than any genuine Tech issues with OS X), and we should be able to utilize this feature sometime in the 2nd Quarter of this year.