316 UCB, 80309-0316
ATLAS Center 329 303-492-7574 303-492-1362
The recent demise of American animator Suzan Pitt reminded many that there had been nothing quite like her relatively few screen works — particularly 1979's "Asparagus." That 20-minute riot of ominously surreal, sexualized imagery found considerable fame being paired with David Lynch's "Eraserhead" at the height of its midnight-movie popularity.
But actually now there is something startlingly reminiscent of Pitt's sensibility, coming from the unlikely source of a male mainland Chinese stop-motion animator. Purportedly in production for more than six years (the primarily line-drawn "Asparagus" took four), Shengwei Zhou's debut feature "SHe" is also a wordless, spectral nightmare of anthropomorphized gender conflict and implicitly feminist commentary whose visual invention will impress even those put off by its cryptic, frequently unpleasant narrative content.
If the midnight movie circuit still existed, this would be a natural addition to its repertory. As is, "SHe" will have to find cult-kickstarting champions among adventuresome viewers at international festivals, and any other venue open to appreciation for adult animation — within which subgenre, this accomplished curiosity constitutes a major event.
Even if it weren't as superbly crafted as it is, "SHe" would still command a certain fascination simply for being such an out-there conceptual oddity that managed to surmount myriad challenges to be fully realized. It's rare for something this conceptually bizarre (not to mention commercially dubious) to also be so skillful — a thought that no doubt also occurred to the first viewers of "Asparagus," and for that matter "Eraserhead."— Dennis Harvey, Variety