Animation Outlaws (2019) [Slamdance Film Festival 2020]

I’ve been an animation nut ever since I was a kid, and it was tough to find varieties of animation since in the nineties it was a steady diet of Disney and Disney only. I was never really aware of the vast possibilities of the medium well into my early adulthood. “Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation” is an event I would have loved to attend early in to my teens, if only to verify that there’s so much more you can do with the medium beyond singing animals, and fairy tales. “Animation Outlaws” is a very niche documentary but an outstanding film that will also speak to all kinds of fans of film and animation.

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Millennium Actress (2001) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

Satoshi Kon’s “Millennium Actress” has become one of the most celebrated animation masterpieces of all time, and for good reason. It’s managed to transcend everything about its medium to convey a tale that everyone can relate to. A big departure from “Perfect Blue,” his grim polemic about fandom, Kon gifts us “Millennium Actress,” a film that is a great and often riveting celebration about life.

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Rocketman (2019)

Another year, another mediocre big budget biopic, filled with Oscar aspirations, about a musical genius. I’m a huge fan of Elton John, and have been for years, but he deserves so much more than what is mainly just a serviceable musical drama about his life. While it gets credit for consciously dodging biopic tropes (and seems to also be a retort to “Bohemian Rhapsody” which openly shied away from Freddie Mercury’s sexuality), “Rocketman” only inspired me to re-visit his classic music.

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Halloween in a Box (2019)

In 1988 my kindergarten class was having a Halloween party with just the class immediately after lunch. It was a very exciting experience for me considering I’d never done anything like that before. At the time we couldn’t really afford elaborate or huge costumes, so my dad bought me a generic mask in a box with the classic plastic smock. I was a mutant. So for a few Halloweens we opted for the sweaty plastic mask with no peripheral vision, and odd smock. That is until they were phased out. For years one of the highlights of Halloween was seeing the rows of boxes of plastics masks and smocks for various characters from Superman to Popeye.

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Power of Grayskull: The Definitive History of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2017)

You could basically call “Power of Grayskull” one of the first spin offs from Netflix’s “The Toys That Made Us.” The hit documentary series about the creation of some of the most popular toy lines of all time recently ran an episode about the fascinating history of He-Man. The monstrous eighties toy line and eighties franchise apparently warranted its own documentary. If you haven’t seen the episode, “Power of Grayskull” is a wonderful documentary about the series that digs a bit deeper in to the weird history of He-Man and the Mattel toy line.

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You Have to See This! Monster Camp (2007)

What do you do when the world you’re in is too boring, too stressful, or too miserable to endure? You retreat into your own imaginary world, of course. “Monster Camp” is one of the many documentaries taking off from the ilk of “Trekkies” and “Ringers,” in which we spend a time in the lives of folks who just love their hobby. They don’t just love their hobby, but it’s something of a way of life that manages to have a positive influence on them and everyone around them.

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Millennium Actress (Sennen joyû) (2001)

Satoshi Kon’s contribution to the animation medium was nothing short of absolutely breathtaking, as the director created films that blurred the lines of fantasy and reality and placed great emphases on the feminine energy. After the mind blowing “Perfect Blue,” Kon delivered what is arguably one of the best animated films ever conceived. Now bring granted a limited run in theaters nationwide, “Millennium Actress” is a wonderful experience you have to see for yourself, as it’s stunning, and absolutely surprising in the way Kon celebrates the adventure that is life.

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The Queen (1968)

One of the telling lines of “The Queen” is when show runner Flawless Sabrina explains that the biggest task of organizing the Miss All American Camp Beauty Pageant is finding a hotel that can house all the contestants, and finding a hotel that’s “hip” enough to want to house them. In 1968, being out and yourself was about being as discreet as possible and operating behind closed doors. While “The Queen” is basically a documentary about the cut throat world of Drag pageants, as well as a sobering portrayal of how the LGBTQ community had to function behind closed doors for much of the twentieth century.

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