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Entries in animated films (266)

Friday
Jul102015

Tim's Toons: The minions, then and now.

Tim here. This weekend, all of you with small children will be busy going to see Minions, and oh, how all of us without children will laugh at you, and mock you. The minions, of course, being the yellow lozenges with legs and arms from the Despicable Me movies as what speak using some kind of pan-European pidgin, concocted and delivered by co-director Pierre Coffin. I don't know why I'm bothering to explain this. If you know enough pop culture to read a movie site, you encounter the minions, probably multiple times per day. They have turned into an online meme, pitchmen for unrelated products, and if you have a sufficient imagination and enthusiasm for manufactured outrage, they're also teaching five-year-olds the F-word.

Frankly, the fact that there's a minions movie seems almost irrelevant, as pointless as making a movie out of Hello Kitty. Which they are doing, because the universe is cruel.

more...

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Thursday
Jul022015

Tim's Halfway Toons: The year so far in animation

½way mark - part 3 of ? 

Tim here. We're spending the first few days of July looking back at the first half of the movie year, and now it's time to glance over the animated features of 2015 so far - about half of the total number of wide releases we should get, including the immediate carved-in-stone frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar until further notice. Here are some of the noteworthy achievements in the year's cartoons so far.

Best Design
Inside Out
's horizonless world inside the mind, full of bright and soft physical depictions of complicated psychological notions, providing a space for the thematic concerns and the grandiose adventure alike to both play out. Bonus points for the unstressed way that, from a sufficient height, it resembles the folds of the brain.

Funniest & Most Accurate Joke
The cat in Inside Out. My fellow cat owners understand why.

Most Creative Animation
The abstract through sequence in Inside Out, a simple but elegant mixture of styles and textures and depth that shows off without distracting from the movie itself.

Best Proof That There Are Other Good Animated Movies Besides Inside Out
The current last ever Studio Ghibli film, When Marnie Was There, is a catalog of all the things that studio does so well: generosity towards all its characters, complex young women dealing with real life issues, lush backgrounds that more resemble fine art than a movie. If this is really the end, the studio left on a high note.

Best-Looking Film That's Ugly as Hell
Strange Magic
, the misbegotten George Lucas production whose striking, photorealistic images are in service to designs that look like somebody got bored halfway through making Dungeons & Dragons fanart. Please forgive me for reminding the universe that Strange Magic exists.

Worst Ad Campaign for a Good Movie
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
is, for almost all of its running time, a charming throwback to the beloved TV show. It uses the surrealist jokes strung along a dizzy, fantastic narrative, with proudly old-fashioned 2-D animation that's severely colorful and defiantly flat, powerfully reminding us of the elegant pleasures of hand-drawn animation instead of the ubiquitous rendered models of CGI. Then, for about 15 minutes at the end, it morphs its characters into CGI effects interacting with the real world in what feels as much of a parody of garbage like The Smurfs as an attempt to hop on the bandwagon. Naturally enough, the trailers and TV spots drew almost exclusively from that last 15 minutes.

Unlikeliest Sure-Fire Way to Make Everybody Bawl Like a Child
The goofy-ass lyrics "Who's your friend to likes to play? Bing Bong, Bing Bong!" sound like something a three-year-old made up on the spot, because that's exactly what they literally are in the world of Inside Out. But I'll bet half of the people reading up are already misting up just thinking about that song. Also, I'm done talking about Inside Out.

Most Surprising Hit
Pretty much every box office analyst out there was set to write-off Home as the film that would finally murder DreamWorks Animation. There was even a two-part history right here at the Film Experience based on that assumption (which I otherwise remain very proud of). Instead, the film broke out to become one of the studio's biggest hits in years, after several consecutive underperformers and bombs.

Most Disappointing Hit
Sadly, Home is also tepid junk.

Best Movie That Hasn't Come Out in America
In the United Kingdom, Aardman Animation's Shaun the Sheep Movie had an enormously successful winter release that gained critical raves and an enthusiastic audience for its humor, invention, and warmth, a top-notch kid's movie that's smart and energetic enough for anybody. It's already on DVD in that country, in fact, which is how I know what I'm talking about. Here in the States, we have another month to wait. On the other hands, the Brits still haven't seen Inside Out, so it all comes out in the wash.

Previously: Best Lead Performances & Oscar Chart Updates in Acting

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...

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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 ...