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“My bonnie lass she smelleth, making all the flowers jealouth.”

I’m with you, Anthony . The P.D.Q. Bach concert I saw years ago was excruciatingly funny¯the kind of gasping funny that you can’t hear the next line because you’re still laughing at the last one.

And, Joseph, I’m with you on The Incredibles . What a surprise that film was! There’s an evangelical Christian at Pixar named Matthew Luhn who works in story development; I got to interview him a few years ago. It seems like Pixar has a saner and healthier viewpoint than other animators, and they turn out better stories all around (though Cars was a bit of a disappointment in that regard¯only in comparison to the terrific earlier stuff, that is).

I just got to screen the new Michel Gondry film, The Science of Sleep , which opens September 29. Gondry is best known for 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind . Personally, I’m even more a fan of his music videos, which are surreal, playful, brilliant, fun, and mostly suitable for children. (You can rent a DVD collection of 27 music videos, titled The Work of Director Michel Gondry .) I can’t say much about the new film because, if you release review opinions early, they send someone over to your house to deliver a knuckle sandwich.

But this thread got me thinking about CGI animation, which is wonderful in animated films but is becoming wearying in live action. Just way too many Orcs whaling away at their enemies in the everlasting rain. (Did you know that for Lord of the Rings , in order to get enough variation on the screen, they wrote a computer program that randomly assigned each CGI Orc a set of characteristics on the basis of which he could evaluate his strength, injuries, age, and weapons, and decide what action to take? A number of them sized things up and simply ran away.)

The Gondry film takes place mostly in the main character’s dreamscape and is plenty surreal, but it uses no computer imaging. Instead, it’s old-fashioned animation, things cut out of paper and felt, clay figures, collapsing cardboard structures, all kinds of more primitive forms. I was surprised how fresh and charming this was. CGI sometimes seems tiring and too literal for stories that need to remain dreamlike and spontaneous. And it avoids the eerie problem of the “uncanny valley”¯but I’ll quit here. Hey, isn’t it a general rule that you should keep blog posts short? I remember hearing that “people stop reading after a thousand words” because “reading on the Internet is like reading while someone shines a flashlight in your eyes.” Anyway, I’m outta here.

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