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Movie Reviews : Dazzling Animation From Ucla

September 25, 1987|Charles Solomon

"Premiere Animation," a program of new student films from the UCLA Animation Workshop that screens tonight, in Melnitz Hall, includes some dazzling work by talented young artists.

This collection is noticeably superior to the very mixed show of UCLA Workshop films that screened earlier this year at the Nuart Theater. Two or three of these shorts could easily compete in any of the the major international festivals.

Anthony Venezia combines motion control, slit-screen scanning and other techniques to weave veils of colored light into graceful arcs and kaleidoscopic patterns in "Passages." Although most of the visuals are pure abstractions, the images retain an organic quality that gives this lovely short an almost mystical feeling.

In contrast to the high-tech gloss of "Passages," Sara Petty's "Picture Window" captures the rich, sensual textures of the artist's drawings. As delicate, Cubist forms grow, metamorphose and blossom like abstract flowers, they draw the viewer into a highly personal world of visual beauty.

Phil Denslow's "Color Cantata" uses a photograph of the Grand Canyon as the basis of a study in color perception that recalls the psychedelic flicker films of the late '60s. The eroded hills quickly lose their identity and dissolve into non-objective patterns. Some of the brilliant colors are projected onto the screen, others are produced as after-images on the viewer's retina.

The remainder of the films feature more conventional techniques and subject matter. In "Artistic Vision," Richard Quade uses markers and colored pencils on paper to tell the story of a painter so impressed with his calling that he can't figure out how to begin a picture. Maria Rodriguez's "Regina Coeli" offers a familiar, bittersweet reminiscence about a Catholic elementary school. Y. Tom Yasumi explores the alternate realities of a lumpish little man in "Beyond the Z Quad," an ambitious short that doesn't quite come off. These films represent competent student work, but they pale in comparison to the more sophisticated abstract shorts.

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