Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Animation for grown-ups. Not that much of a new concept I suppose as the Japanese have been creating animation for big people for a very long time now, but for the most part in the United States animation has largely been the domain of Saturday Morning Cartoons. You have the occasional ‘Heavy Metal’ or Ralph Bakshi joint that comes along every once in awhile but for reasons that I have nowhere near the knowledge of to discuss intelligently, American animation is mostly sterile. Now comes this movie ‘Film Noir’ which is from… Serbia. At least in large portion but the director, D. Jud Jones as he is calling himself in this film, as far as I know is from somewhere around these parts and he has delivered to us, along with his co-director and Risto Topalaski, an animated film that is 100% Americanized true-crime noir with ‘Film Noir’.

Our black-and-white feature opens with a man coming around to consciousness under the legendary ‘HOLLLYWOOD’ sign. He sees an L.A. cop dead from a gunshot wound to his head and this man assumes that he’s the one that done did it. He doesn’t know for sure because he has no recollection of the events that have just happened. As a matter of fact this guy has no recollection of who in the hell he is as amnesia has taken over in full effect. His cell phone rings and somebody addresses him as Sam Rueben so he assumes this is who he is. Turns out this Sam Rueben character is a private eye so he heads on over to his office, but Sam Rueben’s secretary doesn’t recognize him as Sam Rueben so this must not be his identity. One thing this dude does know is that he has Sam Reuben’s phone because this secretary calls the phone to let him know that David Hudson was just in the office. So now my man knows that he is actually David Hudson, though he obviously has no idea why he has Sam Rueben’s cell phone.

After a few more little clues it is becoming clearer that he is indeed David Hudson and he heads to David Hudson’s apartment where he is greeted by some naked woman at

his door. Well whoever the hell he may be he ain’t passing up no naked woman as the two engage in a spirited tryst in the shower. However the more my man learns, the more he realizes that David Hudson isn’t a very nice person. This becomes amazing clear after a helicopter flies by his apartment window and a opens fire Gatling gun style on his glass apartment and then unloads a battalion of commandos to finish the job. Again, despite this cats loss of memory, he obviously knows his way around a gun, he knows how to slip out trouble, he definitely knows his way around the ladies and he also has some investigative skills as he turns up numerous characters, including a heroin addicted dominatrix, the hard assed cop that is on his trail every step of the way, the scurrilous plastic surgeon, the big time Hollywood producer who seems to want him dead, the stripper with the secret key and most importantly the elusive Sam Rueben who seems to have all the secrets about why everybody on the planet hates David Hudson so damn much. Somebody cue that muted trumpet.

If nothing else ‘Film Noir’ has style to burn. Mark Keller who provided the voice of our hero David Hudson – or whoever the hell he happens to be – also did the score and though he did a decent job of voice acting, he did a much better job of music directing because you can’t have one of those Sam Spade / Mike Hammer type joints if you don’t have the right kind of music and the music captured the mood of this film just about perfectly. The animation in the film is okay, though it certainly isn’t of the level of a Pixar or Dreamworks collaboration but I’m pretty sure that directors D. Jud Jones and Risto Topalaski are working on a budget equal to what those studios use for lunch per diem. Nonetheless this film uses 3D animation with a cel shader or a toon shader to give it that animated look, this combined with some gritty live action backgrounds certainly give ‘Film Noir’ a unique look to it that works wonderfully in some spots and is extremely rough in other areas.

The story that drives this animation is a good one and it hooks you in immediately, though it tends to jump around wildly from point to point. Because of all the twists and turns we are introduced to, it seems to leave open more questions than it answers… either that or I have to watch it one more time and pay closer attention. But I can’t spoil anything for you because what good is a twisty noir thriller if you know from the get go that ‘The Butler did it’? It ain’t no good at all.

‘Film Noir’ is almost worth seeing simply because of the scope of the project and the ambition and effort that had to be put into this thing to make it a reality. It really is nothing short of remarkable to see what this small studio was able to do with a small budget and some dedication. The narrative is a little shaky at times and the animation isn’t exactly Madhouse, but there is enough here to easily entertain and like I said before, it has style to burn.

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