Animation runs riot at PIXL

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      A blast from top to bottom, Ruben Brandt, Collector is one of five animated features coming to the VIFF series PIXL, part of the festival’s boundary-pushing ALT stream.

      Milorad Krstić's film concerns the activities of a gang of swaggering international art thieves, all of them actually the patients of the titular Mr. Brandt, a psychiatrist in need of his own extreme form of therapy. The loopy plot otherwise involves the mob, the cop who's in pursuit of “The Collector”, and a shadowy CIA-man running Parallax View-style experiments on his own child. 

      But starting with the cubist-inspired design, the film’s heart lies in its reference-loaded celebration of (mostly) 20th century art. Brandt suffers from crippling nightmares that can only be remedied by the possession of 13 masterpieces, including Edwar Hopper’s Nighthawks, Frédéric Bazille’s portrait of Renoir, and Andy Warhol’s gun-toting Elvis Presley print—although the film buzzes with cameos by the works of Magritte, Duchamp, and Rauschenberg, among dozens of others. 

      The film's call-outs to cinema are substantially more eccentric, ranging from First Blood to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy, of all things. In any case, with its technical gusto, fleet pacing, and bang-up action sequences—a car chase at the very beginning deserves some sort of award all by itself—Ruben Brandt is no museum piece or filmmaker's in-joke.

      PIXL brings five of these more grown-up cartoons to the big screen, where they really belong. The Straight’s Ken Eisner has already gushed over the “rigorous madness” of Nina Paley’s Seder-Masochism, a “kaleidoscopic take on Judaism" coming to SFU on Wednesday (October 3) and International Village on Thursday (October 4). No less acclaimed on the festival circuit, Another Day in the Life takes us into the somewhat darker territory of the Angolan civil war when it arrives at the Rio Theatre next Sunday (October 10). 

      Somewhere between early David Lynch and Jan Švankmajer, The Wolf House is set inside Colonia Dignidad, a cult-like village of immigrant Nazis that was allowed to thrive in Chile during the Pinochet regime. (Vancity Theatre, October 4; International Village, October 10.) And if you’re reading this soon enough, there’s still time to make it to International Village for the final screening (4:15 p.m.) of Colombia’s Virus Tropical, a riotous adaptation of the graphic memoir by Powerpaola.