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Entries in animated films (252)

Thursday
Apr232015

Tim's Toons: The new short "The Alchemist's Letter"

Tim here. It's been a good few weeks for animated short films about the fluctuating nature of memories and the complex relationship we have with the past: the warm glow has hardly faded from the online premiere of World of Tomorrow, and this week has seen the premiere on Vimeo of The Alchemist's Letter, written and directed by Carlos Andre Stevens, a Student Academy Award nominee for his 2008 debut, Toumai.

It's transparently a calling card for Stevens, an employee of commercial animation studio HouseSpecial -- that's a former division of Laika, some of whose designers and effects animators have hopped over to help guide the uncommonly lush and appropriately fussy look of the short -- but what a calling card! It's a brilliant little jeweled egg of a short, evocatively sketching out a whole human life in less than five and a half minutes, and doing it through some utterly beautiful design and animation.

more...

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Thursday
Apr232015

A.I. "WALL•E"

Dancin' Dan here to continue TFE's Artificial Intelligence Week with a little something on my favorite dancing robots.

If there’s a common thread in stories of artificial intelligence, it’s that we can think that we, the programmers/creators, can control it all we like, but if we’re truly successful - if we succeed in creating actual artificial intelligence - we can’t do a damn thing to control it. It will grow and learn and eventually decide things for itself.

In Pixar’s masterpiece WALL•E, we don’t know exactly how our hero gained what for lack of a better word we have to call a “personality,” but we can imagine. Human ingenuity can do a lot of things, but one thing it is notoriously terrible at, on the whole, is predicting the future correctly. Which, coincidentally, is one of the ideas at the heart of Pixar’s masterpiece. [More...]

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Saturday
Apr182015

Tim's Toons: Star Wars - the Animated Misadventures

Tim here. A good cinephile would be able to look around the world and think about the whole range of possible movies in all their splendid variety. Me, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Star Wars ever since the new Episode VII trailer dropped yesterday. That's the poisonous fever bog of nostalgia for you.

So, as long as I'm not going to get my head right anyway, how about we take a little wander through the corridors of Star Wars and animation? Because, golly, talk about being gripped by a dubious affection for a brand name...

At some point, people subjected themselves to all of these things just to get a little tiny bit more of a Star Wars fix. And even if The Force Awakens can't live up to the awesome pileup of top-shelf fanservice in that trailer, there's not any chance in hell that it can be as bad as some of these:

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1979)
Two and a half years after the original film redefined what blockbuster box office could look like, the very first expansion of the universe came in the form of this legendarily wretched variety show that starts with ten damn minutes of people in terrible shaggy suits barking at each other in unsubtitled Wookiee-ese. After which it proceeds to get worse. The solitary highlight, and that's almost solely because of the lowlights surrounding it on all sides, is a short animated sequence by Nelvana in which Luke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca fall for the most transparent con job in the universe and future fan-favorite Boba Fett is introduced. He rides a dinosaur. [More...]

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Thursday
Apr162015

The High Cost of Angry Birds

Tim here. News came out this week that the upcoming feature adaptation of the handheld video game Angry Birds, a Finnish-American co-production set to be animated by Sony Picture Imageworks, has the eyebrow-raising price tag of €180 million, or a bit more than $190 million. That's not quite as dumbfounding a total as it sounds: it includes the marketing budget, something virtually never reported in advance, and the total production budget is a much lowlier €80 million. Which still makes it the most expensive movie ever made in Finland by a factor of almost ten.

No matter how you subdivide it, though, that's a huge pile of money that Sony and Rovio Entertainment are throwing at a 90-minute video game commercial. My current suspicion: most of that money is earmarked for building a time machine that transports audience members back to 2011, the last time that making an Angry Birds feature film made any sense whatsoever.

Wednesday
Apr082015

April Foolish Oscar Discussion: Animated Features

These two specialized categories can be perplexing from the outside, documentaries moreso, as to what is eligible, why it's eligible, and what motivates people to vote as they do. The official eligibility lists don't arrive until later in the year but for now on the new charts we'll add documentary titles as they make some kind of mark and we'll dive right into animated features, which apart from the foreign produced entries, are much easier to track.

Pixar vs Pixar this year?

This upcoming Oscar season, Walt Disney Studios Animation will be out of the mix after two consecutive wins. Their next features Zootopia and Moana, which both look quite promising, aren't due until March and November of 2016. To fill that giant vacuum, Pixar will likely come roaring back after an uncharacteristic absence last year with two titles Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur

But the contest that's most curious might not be a contest... at least in terms of Oscar. We have two features that are trading on collective international nostalgia for 2D classic properties: The Little Prince and Peanuts Movie. But they're both getting the CG or mixed media approach. That's not so odd since contemporary cinema loves to regurgitate and "update" (shudder) but what's unusual is that both films are clearly trying to mix the endearing flat linework and visual style of these beloved gems into newly three dimensional worlds. A safe bet: these films, particularly The Little Prince which looks "schizophrenic", will be divisive. 

Check out the charts! Which of these films are you most curious about and do you agree with the April Foolish guesswork? 

 

Thursday
Apr022015

Another look at "World of Tomorrow", now available online

Tim here. First things first: you won't spend a more worthwhile $3.99 or use up a more gratifying 16 minutes and 29 seconds this week than you could by watching World of Tomorrow, the newest short by animator Don Hertzfeldt. You perhaps recall it as one of the most rapturously received films of any length coming out of this year's Sundance Film Festival, including a rave from the Film Experience's own Michael Cusumano (a rave that popped up in the short's official trailer), which traditionally means a long crawl through the festivals until eventually most people get a chance to see it a year or more after the hype has worn off. But on March 31, Hertzfeldt made it available on Vimeo, in a continuation of the filmmaker's first experiment in an all-digital environment. So now the rest of us get to see what made so many critics lose their minds.

The answer is genius. Pure, uncut genius is what made those critics lose their minds.

 

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