Title: Blinky & Me
Director: Tomasz Magierski
An intensely earnest and subjective documentary look at the career and life story of Australian animator Yoram Gross, “Blinky & Me” casts a look back at the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust through the eyes of a then-child.
The Polish-born Gross, who sort of resembles Philip Baker Hall if you catch him at the right angle, is the creator of “Blinky Bill,” an animated film series (and TV show?) that has achieved significant success in Australia, where he’s for the past several decades lived with his family. In fact, director Tomasz Magierski sort of frames his film as an extended home movie, charting his subject’s life and many terrible experiences during World War II through stories to his unusually rapt grandchildren, and a visit they pay to his homeland, in Krakow.
This is didactic story, and certainly deeply felt, but it would have benefited greatly from a wider perspective, drawing in other voices to frame Gross’ professional work, and its popularity within Australia. The juxtaposition of “Blinky” clips alongside Gross’ stories make quite clear the degree to which his art is drawn directly from his life. And reminiscences of how his skill with a harmonica probably saved his life are undeniably arresting. Still, “Blinky & Me” feels stuffy and claustrophobic. Apart from a few imaginative flourishes of animation spinning off from newsreel footage, there’s little to elevate this cinematically, past the point of reward one would get from a book or public lecture of the same type of story.
NOTE: “Blinky & Me” opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. For more information on the movie, visit www.TomaszMagierski.com.
Written by: Brent Simon