IIdiots and Angels, animated feature, not rated, CCA Cinematheque, 4 chiles A searing beam of morning light cuts through the window of a sparsely decorated suburban bedroom. An alarm clock rings maniacally. A cute bird chirps with enthusiasm from the windowsill.
All are unwelcome signals — the universe’s instructions for an angry man to crawl from beneath his sheets and trudge toward another day in a dreary life populated by what he perceives as a cattle call of idiots. His bitterness is palpable as he grits his teeth and growls, hurls the clock at the bird, rises from his lonely bed, and climbs into the shower. The man will repeat this pattern many times. And then he’ll die. And then, either for redemption or for more earthly punishment, he’ll be reborn.
In independent animator Bill Plympton’s newest self-produced, self-penned, and self-directed film (his sixth feature), which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and is now hitting theaters in limited release, the protagonist is no angel. He’s a gun dealer, a drunkard, a thief, a chain smoker, a groper of women, and an unabashed celebrant of others people’s misfortunes. If you take his parking space, he’ll light you up like a Molotov cocktail after cutting off your necktie and using it as a fuse protruding from your car’s gas tank. Get used to it. There are plenty of people to burn in this film, in one fashion or another.
Most of the angry man’s life transpires on a barstool in a neighborhood watering hole called Bart’s. The barmaid has dreams of becoming a dancer. The bar owner, who is betrothed to the barmaid, is more concerned with money than marital bliss.