Cybernetic Grandma

Cybernetic Grandma ★★★★½

I wrote a piece on Jiri Trnka's animation for Eat Drink Films; you can read it HERE! It's to mark the Trnka retrospective that's touring North America; its latest stop is the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive for the month of December.

"THE CYBERNETIC GRANDMA shows what happens when a little girl is left to the Devices. Her grandmother sends her off into space to be babysat by the titular guardian, who proceeds to frighten the poor child with fussy Rube Goldberg-ization (the process of bathing takes eight robo-arms to hold her) and barked rules arbitrarily made up on the spot (“Looking out of the window is forbidden!”—because, of course, the powers-that-be don’t want you to acknowledge the outside world). In its most disturbing sequence, the robo-grandma straps her poor young charge down in a chair and forces her to watch, Clockwork Orange-style, a nightmarish “fairy-tale” in which three UPA eggs hack each other up with axes and feed each other’s pieces to a sentient bonfire. Tati, this ain’t (there is little optimism in Trnka’s dreary modernist vision), and the short is only a harbinger of Don Hertzfeldt in the sense of its absurdist vivacity (I don’t know what’s happening or where I’m going); otherwise, Trnka is by far the most jaded of these three tech-obsessed sad clowns."