Now Streaming in Austin: It's Such a Beautiful Day

Don Hertzfeldt offers his incredible animated feature for free

It's Such a Beautiful Day," Austin-based animator Don Hertzfeldt's beautiful meditation on identity, memory, and story, available for free rental right now

Welcome to Now Streaming in Austin, highlighting locally made titles to watch while self-quarantining. As everyone is stuck at home, several local filmmakers have placed their movies online for free as their way of helping. Add the (in his words) two-time Oscar-losing Don Hertzfeldt to that list.

The animator tweeted, "while we're all locked indoors wondering how bad things will get, it's such a beautiful day will be available to stream around the world for free" – and he even included a link with a coupon for a 24-hour rental.

Originally released as three shorts (2006's Sundance award-winning "Everything Will Be OK," 2008's "I Am So Proud of You," and 2011's "It's Such a Beautiful Day"), the hourlong animated story dips into the inner monologue – as narrated by Hertzfeldt himself – of Bill. He's simply a man that has undergone a very Hertzfeldtian revelation: that we are all, as Bill sees it, just a "frightened, fragile brain stem, surrounded by meat and physics."

Bill has more to worry about than most: he's suffering with an unnamed affliction that sees him sporadically hospitalized and constantly delusional. All of this is caught in Hertzfeldt's signature stick-figure style that both disguises and clarifies the incredible emotional depth of his stories. In the wild tumbling of memories and moments in Bill's world – where a terminal diagnosis is given as much importance as changing your mind about having toast, and the shifting pitch of a man cleaning the sidewalk with a leaf blower is as artful as classical music. There are no diversions since everything adds together somehow, whether it's Bill's hallucinations or a long sequence of hidden family history.

For animation fans, it's a feast of style and innovation, his simplistic drawing style counterbalanced by complicated in-camera effects, and images composed of a series of juxtaposed images within clouds and bubbles. This was a turning point for Hertzfeldt, his last film shot on a 35mm rostrum camera before he shifted to CG for his 2016 Oscar-nominated short "World of Tomorrow." But for those of you who only know him from that wildly-lauded work (or his seminal absurdist wonder "Rejected"), it has the same combination of the ridiculous and the incisive, with a final twist into how we need stories.

You can find out more about Hertzfeldt, and discover more of his utterly unique work, at www.bitterfilms.com.

It's Such a Beautiful Day

• Vimeo (link)

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