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Entries in animated films (257)

Thursday
Jun252015

Tim's Toons: The state of animation in 1948

Tim here. We're talking about 1948 this week at the Film Experience, and it's my turn to take you back to the world of American animation in the aftermath of World War II. It was a fertile period: of the three studios that had dominated the medium prior to the war, Fleischer had been absorbed into Paramount and disappeared, while Disney had been badly damaged by an animators strike in 1941 and the loss of overseas markets, and spent the second half of the decade in desperate survival mode. That left a vacuum, which was filled by a sprawling variety of competitors that thrived even after Disney managed to find its footing again.

Pictured: Disney in 1948. Literally: it's from their film Melody Time.

In tribute to this unusually diverse marketplace, arguably not matched again in theatrical animation until the early 2000s, may I present three of the most unique and important animated milestones of 1948 after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun172015

Tim's Toons: The Many Tears of Pixar

Tim here. We're just a couple of days from the release of Inside Out, the 15th feature produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and by virtually unanimous consent, a return to the glory days of a company that has spent the last few years in search of its artistic mojo.

It’s a movie about emotions, the personification of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear present in the mind of an 11-year-old girl. As befits its topic, virtually unanimous consent is also that it will make you feel lots. And it will make you cry. Lots.

more...

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Thursday
Jun112015

Tim's Toons: A century of dinosaur movies

Tim here. Jurassic World opens this weekend, tapping into our unflagging cultural love of dinosaurs. How unflagging? In 2015, we celebrate the 101st anniversary of the first dinosaurs in the movies, in the form of Winsor McKay's animated Gertie the Dinosaur and D.W. Griffith's live-action Brute Force. The enormous prehistoric creatures have had a grip on filmmakers' imaginations ever since.

To celebrate that history, I present this short tour of four different animated movies about dinosaurs from across the ages, bearing witness to all the scientific and artistic evolution that went by in the course of dino-cinema’s first century. The tour is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun042015

Review: When Marnie Was There

Tim here. No one movie should have to deal with the pressure of being "The Last (Probably) Studio Ghibli Film", but that's inevitably the aura that surrounds When Marnie Was There, the company's 20th theatrical feature, and the second movie directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. It's no accident that there's such a big gap in those numbers: one of the biggest problems Ghibli has faced for nearly all of its existence has been cultivating a new generation of directors to take over after Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata finally retired, which is exactly how they found themselves in their current situation.

Even granting all that, and while it's obviously true that When Marnie Was There is rather quiet and small for a farewell gesture from one of the world's premiere movie studios, I find myself entirely satisfied by it anyway. Ghibli has not been, historically, all that concerned with grand narratives and high-stakes storytelling; in fact, one of the best things about the studio for most of its history has been the simplicity and humanity of its films, with their characteristic lack of villains and relative domesticity. With its concerns set no broader than the depression and loneliness of a 12-year-old girl named Anna (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld in the English dub), When Marnie Was There fits right into the tradition of low-key dramas about the inner lives of young women that has included some of Ghibli's best work, from the fantasy My Neighbor Totoro to the more sober realism oft the underappreciated Whisper of the Heart and the unavailable-in-English Only Yesterday.

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Thursday
May282015

Tim's Toons: Sex in clay

For The Lusty Month of May, we're looking at a few sex scenes. Here's Tim...

Say "animated sex", and two things immediately leap to mind. If you’'e hung up on American cinema, it's the self-consciously edgy and smutty underground animation of the '70s - Fritz the Cat and its heirs. Or, God help you, maybe it's the legendary (and, to be fair, very much exaggerated) cult of anime tentacle porn out of Japan. We are not going to talk about either one of those things.

Though in fairness, the particular animated sex scene I have in mind isn't much less disturbing than mythological Japanese fetish porn. It's the second segment of Jan Švankmajer's 1982 short Dimensions of Dialogue, one of the most important works of Czechoslovakian animation. I promise that Czechoslovakian animation is definitely a thing.

The whole movie is available online, and it’s pretty NSFW even for totally non-sexual reasons. If you have a reasonably strong stomach for grotesque manipulations of synthetic bodies in stop-motion animation, I'd beg you to watch the whole thing, but the sex is only in the second part starting at 5:02, "Passionate Dialogue". Or "Dialog vášnivý" to the Czech speakers in the crowd.

And boy, if that still doesn't promise a totally appealing and pleasant film below the jump, I don't know what...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May222015

Tim's Toons: Animated Features at Cannes

This week, the Cannes Film Festival was home to the premiere of Inside Out, the new film by Pixar Animation Studios, and one of its best-reviewed pictures. The film is playing out of competition, as has been the recent tendency of most Hollywood products, and animation in particular. It has been a special habit of films made by DreamWorks Animation in the 21st Century, with all sorts of things from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron in 2002 up to How to Train Your Dragon 2 last year muscling their way onto the Croisette.

There has, however, been a small but meaningful history of animated movies to have been given slightly more honorable treatment, and allowed to play in the big kids’ sandbox. Since the festival’s first edition in 1946, there have been seven animated features entered into the main competition, if my count is right, and they make for a fascinating cross-section of how the international cinema scene regarded the state of that particular art across the years. Here, in order, are those seven films.

Make Mine Music (1946)
The eighth feature made by the Disney studio, and the third of that company’s dubious “package films”, attempts to make entire features by jamming a bunch of short films into one vague thematic frame. Like any anthology, it has peaks and valleys, though the latter dominate, and the film is infinitely less impressive than its quasi-sequel Melody Time. Let us not be baffled by its Cannes slot; this was the fest’s first year & they were figuring it out, everybody loves Disney, and it’s a nice post-war feel-good effort. It won Best Animation Design, a discontinued award.

six more after the jump including Persepolis and... Shrek 2 (!?)

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