Animated Transgender Odyssey "Torrey Pines" Is The Year's Best Film!

10/28/2016 01:07 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2016
<em>Torrey Pines</em> directed by Clyde Petersen
"Torrey Pines" directed by Clyde Petersen
Torrey Pines directed by Clyde Petersen

There are good movies and then there are singular works of art. Torrey Pines - a stop-motion animation coming-of-age odyssey by trans filmmaker and musician Clyde Petersen – is the latter. Based on Petersen’s childhood, the film which took 3 years to complete follows a 12-year-old girl and her schizophrenic mother on a cross country car trip from San Diego to Upstate New York. Meticulously composed from hand-painted paper sets and puppets, every frame of Torrey Pines is pure joy to behold. There is real authenticity and warmth in the way all the textures and colors are lovingly arranged on the screen, capturing the tactile charm of classic animation era untainted by CGI. Petersen’s narrative sensibility is equally impressive. Whether discovering comedy in every day ennui or delving into darker subject matter, Torrey Pines flows effortlessly and knowingly, never feeling too heavy-handed or didactic. The film alternates seamlessly between the whimsy of physical comedy (where the technique of animation itself becomes a character) and the steady disarming breaths of heartbreaking wistfulness. All great coming of age films succeed at conveying the indescribable wonders and mysteries of growing up. In doing so they tap into our own inner kid. Torrey Pines is by far one of the best examples of that. Aided by its ingenious DIY aesthetic, the soundtrack that consists entirely of music and quirky foley effects (no dialogue) and Petersen’s keen talent for storytelling, the film really captures the uneasy metamorphosis of childhood with all its surprises, joys and occasional spookiness.

<em>Torrey Pines</em> Animators Clyde Petersen and Chris Looney
Photo credit Joseph P. Traina
Torrey Pines Animators Clyde Petersen and Chris Looney

When I saw Torrey Pines in Seattle at the packed Egyptian theater, the experience was one of the most special and memorable I’ve had in a movie house. I left the show giddy and overjoyed at being reminded of how truly magical, pure and touching cinema can be. The soundtrack was performed live by an eclectic band of musicians and foley artists. Petersen is taking the film and a smaller version of a band on the road, so you will have an opportunity to view this gem the way it was meant to be seen – larger than life and accompanied by a live score! “My goal is to get the film to queer teenagers, weirdos, art kids, nerds and film geeks,” says Petersen, “I’ve been touring in bands and with short films around the world since 2001, so it seemed natural to release the film in the same manner.”

I highly recommend catching Torrey Pines on the big screen. It is as gorgeous and epic in its own way as any blockbuster you’ll see this year. And its silent brand of humor brings to mind the masterpieces of Jacques Tati and all the lush playfulness (but none of the occasional pretentiousness) of Wes Anderson. You can look up the upcoming dates and hopefully find your city on the list HERE:

10/28 PITTSBURGH, PA // Babyland

10/29 COLUMBUS, OH // Aspire

10/31 BLOOMINGTON, IN // The Void

11/1 DAYTON, OH // The Neon

11/2 BUFFALO, NY // Sugar City Collective

11/3 TORONTO // Double Double Land

11/4 BURLINGTON, VT // Champlain College *

11/5 WHITE RIVER JNCT, VT // Main Street Museum *

11/6 PORTLAND, ME // Apohadion Theater *

11/7 BENNINGTON, VT // Bennington College *

11/08 ELECTION DAY // VOTE

11/9 PROVIDENCE, RI // AS220 *

11/10 NYC, NY // Silent Barn *

11/12 PHILADELPHIA, PA // PhilaMoCA EARLY SHOW *

11/13 DC // The Black Cat 11/14 DC // 16th Street House

11/15 BALTIMORE, MD // 2640 Space

11/16 CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA // Second Street Gallery

11/17 RICHMOND, VA // Black Iris

11/18 DURHAM, NC // The Pinhook

11/19 PIGEON FORGE, TN // Dollywood

11/20 ATLANTA, GA // Mammal Gallery

11/21 ATHENS, GA // Cine

11/22 JACKSONVILLE, FL // The SunRay Theater

11/23 PENSACOLA, FL // Sluggos

11/25 NEW ORLEANS, LA // Zeitgeist

11/27 HOUSTON, TX // Super Happy Fun Land

11/30 MARFA, TX // The Lumberyard

11/2 PHOENIX, AZ // Trunk Space

12/3 SAN DIEGO, CA // Che Cafe

12/4 LOS ANGELES, CA // Last Projects

12/5 LOS ANGELES, CA // Junior High with Kimya Dawson

12/6 LOS ANGELES, CA // Gal Palace with Kimya Dawson

12/7 EMERYVILLE, CA // Scandinavia with Kimya Dawson

12/8 SAN FRANCISCO, CA // ATA

12/9 ARCATA, CA // TBA

12/10 WILLIAMS, OR // Williams Grange

12/11 CORVALLIS, OR // TBA

12/12 PORTLAND, OR // NW Film Center

12/13 TACOMA, WA // Real Art Tacoma with Kimya Dawson

12/14 BELLINGHAM, WA // Pickford Film Center

12/15 SEATTLE, WA // Henry Art Gallery

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