Independent animation has become readily accessible with the popularization of online video, but there's still nothing like seeing this visual art on the big screen. Fans get a special treat in Idiots and Angels, the new feature-length work by legendary cartoonist and animator Bill Plympton about a jerk forced to confront his good side after growing wings.
The movie premiered last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival, and has since played at animation-focused and general fests around the world, racking up awards as well as fans for Plympton. It's busy run continues through the winter and this spring, and is now confirmed to screen in Madison at the Wisconsin Film Festival come April.
Here is the film's official plot summary, provided by Plympton:
Angel is a selfish, abusive, morally bankrupt man who hangs out as his local bar, berating the other patrons. One day, Angel mysteriously wakes up with a pair of wings on his back. The wings make him do good deeds, contrary to his nature. He desperately tries to rid himself of the good wings, but eventually finds himself fighting those who view the wings as their ticket to fame and fortune.
Plympton has published cartoons and illustrations in numerous publications for decades, including a self-titled political cartoon strip. Renowned for hand drawing every image in his animations, he was involved directly through the complete production of Idiots and Angels, credited and co-credited as director, and scenarist, as well as for animation, production, and art direction. Two of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short: Your Face in 1987 and Guard Dog in 2005. He has also animated many more short and feature films, commercials, and other creations under the banner of Plymptoons.
As with many of his other works, this new film tells its story via fantastically malleable human forms, and is set to music sans dialogue. The soundtrack comes from a variety of sources, including Hank Bones, Nicole Renaud, Corey Jackson, Rachelle Garniez, Didier Carmier, 3 Leg Torso, Tom Waits, and Pink Martini.The official trailer for Idiots and Angels follows.
Several videos that feature Plympton discussing his work on Idiots and Angels can also be found online, including an impromptu animation roundtable at the Tribeca Film Festival, some brief red carpet comments and a longer sit-down interview at the AFI Film Festival, and a book signing in France. Then there are his animations themselves, many of which have been shared online by fans. Sprawling across many formats, they include a musical introduction to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, a montage from his 2004 feature Hair High, the music video for "Don't Download This Song" by Weird Al Yankovic, another music video for "Heard 'Em Say" by Kanye West, a mid-'90s vintage Taco Bell commercial touting its late night menu, and a promotional short for the Windows 95 release. Many others can be viewed here, with longer collections available for purchase directly from Plympton.
More information about Idiots and Angels can be found at IMDB and Facebook, as well as the MySpace page for Plymptoons. The animator discussed the movie last year interviews with AMC and Gothamist, as well as in recent talk with Dissidenz. Reviews can also be found in Variety, Time Out New York, and the Village Voice, as well as in acommentary by animation professor Mark Mayerson. More reviews are listed in the press page for the film.
The eleventh Wisconsin Film Festival runs from Thursday, April 2 through Sunday, April 5. Tickets go on sale on Saturday, March 7.