For most of the '70s and '80's, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) was the center of international creativity in animation. Artists from all over the world came to experiment with new styles, media, techniques, and content. The results were not only intriguing and challenging but often very funny, as this exceptional collection demonstrates. Richard Condie's Oscar-nominated "The Big Snit" (1985) might well rank as the funniest short film of the '80s. The sort of offbeat logic that underlay Gary Larson's "Far Side" cartoons can be found in this freewheeling spoof of nuclear disaster. Some people might find the weird-looking couple who argue over a Scrabble game odd: the husband delights in sawing the furniture, the wife has the annoying habit of pulling out her eyeballs and shaking them; there's a DC-10 tire in their kitchen, a lawnmower in their bathroom, and a bugle hanging over their bed. But they're quite content, thank you very much. A deliciously macabre tone pervades "Special Delivery," (1978), a cautionary tale of good advice ignored. This Oscar-winning short was drawn in colored pencil on paper, including the transitions and camera movements. Cordell Barker's Oscar-nominated "The Cat Came Back" (1988) proves that cute little animals can be pestilential. His madcap short offers a welcome antidote to the saccharine kitties, puppies, and bunnies that blight children's entertainment. Brad Caslor uses old rock & roll songs to present tips to people applying for work in his frenetic "Get a Job" (1985), and John Weldon offers a mordant lesson in the importance of image over substance in politics in "The Lump" (1991). A disc to treasure. --Charles Solomon
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