Had James Thurber worked in animation, the waggish result might look and sound a bit like “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” indie cartoonist Don Hertzfeldt’s alternately poignant and absurdist triptych, which seamlessly joins three long-gestating short films into an hourlong rumination on the nature of existence as seen through the eyes of a stick figure named Bill. Rounding out its yearlong tour of sprocket operas and outer-limits screening venues, the eccentric program should have generated sufficient interest to earn Hertzfeldt a pretty kitty through direct-sales DVD orders.
Settling in for a twisted magic-lantern show, audiences meet Bill — a round head and oval body, garnished with two dots and 11 gangly lines, distinguishable only by his hat — through a blurrily framed hole, a motif that carries through the entire film, as vignettes from his life (and afterlife) are viewed as spotlights in a dark void. Though dialogue is delivered in handwritten talk bubbles, Hertzfeldt supplies off-kilter wall-to-wall narration as his rudimentarily sketched hero goes about his unexceptional life, dwelling mostly on his rapidly degenerating mental state and awkwardness around strangers. Pixel-motion photography and abstract images enliven the elegantly lo-fi proceedings.