Up until last week I never heard of Adventure Time. (I will chalk this up to not having easy access to cable television, specifically Cartoon Network, rather than my utter lameness.) So, it was not until the announcement that Mondo Gallery was opening an Adventure Time themed art show — featuring 40 pieces of original art and posters from 31 artists (the show is on display through May 26) — that I first heard of Finn and Jake and the Land of Ooo.
Considering that Mondo’s tastes are typically in line with my own, their love for Adventure Time intrigued me. Luckily, the gallery opening was to be paired with an Adventure Time Marathon Screening and Feast — hosted by Mondo and featuring series creator Pendleton Ward and voice actor Tom Kenny (Ice King) — at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. What better way to get introduced to Adventure Time than with a two-hour immersion into nine episodes (including two world premiere episodes), served up with a three-course menu (including “Everything Burrito”, “Wizard Rainbow Dogs”, “Decorpsinator Puffs” and “Meatman Meat”) designed by Alamo Executive Chef John Bullington, and seated alongside a sold out audience of rabid Adventure Time fans?
Oh, yes, the fans! Seeing all of the fans decked out in Adventure Time costumes got me all the more excited to experience whatever it was I was about to see. I mean, how often do people dress up like characters from bad television shows? (Okay, don’t answer that.) I was becoming all the more confident that my mind was going to be significantly blown. And, it was…
If you’ve been following this column for a while, you are probably aware of my unabashed love for the films of Hayao Miyazaki (for example, check out my post about the Studio Ghibli retrospective). It is not very often that I compare anything to the Studio Ghibli cannon of work, but Ward’s series comes pretty darn close. (It made me incredibly happy when during the Q&A Ward cited My Neighbor Totoro as an influence.) The narratives of Adventure Time are intricate, complex and incredibly imaginative; but it is the surreal, acid-dipped Pixy Stix fantasy world in which the show takes place that really dilated my pupils. The Land of Ooo is one of those magical mystery worlds that kids (and some adults) dream of touring — very few post-apocalyptic landscapes have been as visually appealing. We experience this world by way of Finn — a human boy who wears an iconic white hat — and a talking dog named Jake, who is Finn’s adopted brother (and best friend). Together they live in a tree house — well, that is when they are not out on wild and crazy adventures of algebraic proportions. Finn and Jake’s arch nemesis is Ice King, though I have not quite figured out why. What is more important is that Ice King is voiced by one of my favorite Mr. Show alumni, the aforementioned Tom Kenny.
So now what? Well, I obviously need to see the 50 or so episodes. I feel like I have only seen the very tip of the iceberg; but even after the nine episodes that I saw on Saturday night, I sense that Adventure Time is destined to be one of my favorite animated television shows of all time.
Photo Credit: Annie Ray
On a totally different note (but conveniently also at the Alamo South Lamar), I spent the last five days covering the 15th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. This was my eighth straight year attending Austin’s only Latin American film festival and every year I have been increasingly impressed with the quality of the programming and frustrated by the lack of attendance. (This is where I hop on my proverbial soapbox and tell Austin’s cinephiles that I expect much more of them.)
Local premieres such as Cristian Jimenez’s Bonsái, Santiago Mitre’s El estudiante and Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari should have sold out their Cine Las Americas screenings, but instead the theaters were less than half full; and, sure, Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestre and Diego Rougier’s Sal both already premiered in Austin at Fantastic Fest 2011, but I expected much higher turnouts for their reprise screenings at Cine Las Americas as well. (Oh, and for those of you who love Fantastic Fest — you really missed out on Pablo Illanes’ slasher pic Baby Shower.)
Don’t get me wrong. I don’tt want to make it sound like Cine Las Americas was a total flop, because that is certainly not the case. From what I could tell, attendance was good; but there is always room for improvement, especially in a cinematic town such as Austin. In April 2013, I want to see more of you at Cine Las Americas. I want so many of you to attend the screenings next year that I have to write a post complaining about all of the films that I couldn’t get into because the screenings were sold out. ¿Tu entiendes?
Cinematic Things To Do in Austin This Week:
5/2 – Alamo Village - Austin Film Society presents SXSW favorite Natural Selection with filmmakers Robbie Pickering & Paul Jensen in attendance. (More info)
5/3 – Salvage Vanguard Theater - Cinema41 presents Clockwatchers with a Q&A afterwards with director Jill Sprecher. (More info)
5/5 – Alamo South Lamar - Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with The Action Pack’s Three Amigos Quote-Along plus all you can eat tacos. (More info)
5/6 – Alamo South Lamar - ZZANG!! presents Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Better Off Dead with actress Diane Franklin in attendance. (More info)