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The US independent, experimental film Glitch In The Grid uses the stop-motion animation technique to guide through current age worries.

The story line of the docu-fiction fiim is the one that Hollywood producers might even be proud to embrace. Jay Masonek is a talented artist, but no one knows him in Sebastopol, CA. His days are spent with his family until his cousins (and artists of their own), Eric and Jeffrey Leiser (the film director and composer respectively) invite him to Hollywood, the land of opportunity.

Except for the fact that Hollywood in Glitch In The Grid is a cold, arch-devil. A place only to look at, animated as a freak show, represents the grid (and the whole world) from which the 3 young artists are trying to escape. It does not come as a surprise that words and themes like "merry-go-round" and "show" repeat themselves with the frequency of a metronome.

Glitch In The Grid uses animation as a form of internal monologue. The live-action scenes have the artists wandering and encountering the economic and existential crisis. The stop-motion and time-lapse scenes juxtapose their thoughts, dreams and nightmares to carefully unadorned (and sometimes even cynical) animated images.

Animation does not imply visual beauty in Glitch In The Grid, only a rough road to be traveled (instead of staying still and locked in the grid).

Early animated sequences have a dove (a central symbol in the film) travelling through greens and rivers, and bring to mind the Czech Jiri Barta and his A Ballad About Green Wood. (Eric Leiser has been mentored by another stop-motion Czech artist, Jan Svankmajer).

The menagerie of natural elements is broad: stars and the sky, NY city lights, energetic reptilians and black-and-white sea monsters all parade to get their place in the grid.

The success of the film does not lie in its final, religious solution, which will leave infidels unaffected. Animation also seems too anxious to serve the main storyline; stop-motion sequences reflect reality, they never become surreal enough.

What registers in Glitch In The Grid is a feeling of 21st century numbness. A jobless creative person living in the US in the middle of economic recession may have all the energy in the world. Still, inability to act only transforms his or her wishes into an internal world.

Is that another Glitch In The Grid? If so, the almost catatonic soundtrack by Jeffrey Leiser superbly helps this purpose.

 

Vassilis Kroustallis

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