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Lark Theatre hosts annual animation show


FINAL FRONTIERS  ‘We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos’ is animation at its best.
  • FINAL FRONTIERS ‘We Can’t Live Without the Cosmos’ is animation at its best.

It's called the "Show of Shows," and that's lofty, but animator Ron Diamond's "17th Annual Animation Show of Shows" deserves the tag.

Conor Whelan's dialogue-free "Snowfall" is so delicate that it needs to be watched carefully to get the gist. A solitary man goes to a party and has an encounter with a stranger, and the evening ends with a bicycle ride across a snowy Amsterdam canal. It's not a bummer of a film; it accepts the possibilities of happiness (if not happiness for the hero), as in the little jig the hostess does when she sees a friendly face at her door.

Konstantin Bronzit's "We Can't Live Without the Cosmos" continues the work Ray Bradbury did to humanize questions of space travel. I wish Bradbury had lived to see it. This wordless Damon and Pythias story of two Russian cosmonauts is animation at its best.

Made in 3-D by a French collective of five artists, "Ascension" mocks a figure we might think is above ridicule: the amputee mountain climber. He and his sherpa are hauling a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary to the top of an alp. The icon is unwanted by both the mountain and by an ornery bird who, incidentally, is better animated than that seagull in The Walk.

Don Hertzfeld caps the show with his "World of Tomorrow." Hertzfeld is a wonder. He's long been able to bring depth and savage humor out of the shaky stick figures he draws, which are here augmented with retro-future backdrops. It's a dialogue between a toddler and a crisply accented British futurian from the 2280s.

Speaking to Emily Prime, her babbling four-year-old grandmother-to-be, future Emily speaks of robot poetry, her mature love for a rock and the memory of a brainless clone exhibited in a museum vitrine. Hertzfeld is as minimalist as you can go, and yet the poignancy is vast.

'The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows' runs Oct. 30–Nov. 5 at the Lark Theatre, 549 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur. 415.924.5111.

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