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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in animated films (163)

Tuesday
Mar182014

New Pixar sequels announced, one more incredible than the other

Disney announced today that Pixar has more sequels in the pipeline after Finding Dory in 2016. For our sins, one of them is Cars 3, because as long as the company can make the GDP of several small nations by selling Lightning McQueen lunchboxes, there's no compelling reason to stop making Cars films, apparently. The good news is that Cars 2 probably sets the bar low enough that the next film in the franchise ought to be able to blast right over it without much trouble.

By far the better news, though, is that the studio is also gearing up for The Incredibles 2, a sequel to the one Pixar film that seems rich with possibilites to have its plot expanded upon. And Brad Bird is on hand to write the screenplay, at least, which is pretty much the only thing they had to say to keep me, for one, more than a little optimistic.

No dates are announced, but the studio has a full slate through Thanksgiving, 2016, so we likely have a solid three years of alternating hopefulness with troubling stories about last-minute director replacements or more.

Anyone besides me genuinely excited for The Incredibles 2? Can anyone muster up something even a little nice to say about Cars 3?

Thursday
Mar132014

Women's History Month: On the master animator Lotte Reiniger

Tim here, contributing to our ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month with a look at one of the truly pioneering artists in the history of animation. And Lotte Reiniger isn’t important simply because she was a woman in a medium that has done such a good job over the years at remaining a boys club. The work she did, silhouette animation based on the shadow puppet theater of East Asia, remains as unique in the 2010s as when she created it over 40-year career beginning in Germany in the 20s, and she created, largely by herself, the first entirely animated feature that still exists (at least two Argentinean films from the 1910s are now lost), eleven years before Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Puts a little bit of added context to that company’s half-proud attempt to declare themselves progressive because, in 2013, they finally hired a female co-director for one of their projects with Frozen.

That film was The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which remains one of the easiest of Reiniger’s projects to see, thanks to a full restoration in the late 1990s. It’s a basic riff on themes from the Arabian Nights – a wicked magician, a brave prince with a flying horse, a couple of helpless women to be rescued – almost hopelessly square and hokey in its embrace of every fantasy adventure cliché you could dream up. But then, the point was never really about the story. The point was things like this:

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Friday
Mar072014

Going way back with Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Tim here. This week, the latest attempt to kick off a new franchise through the magic of misplaced brand recognition finds DreamWorks Animation hoping to reverse their crawling economic slump of the past couple of years with Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Seriously, what nightmarishly mis-aimed board meeting thought that one up? Giving a coat of CGI paint to a ‘60s TV cartoon beloved in such a way that nobody within the target audience has ever heard of it, and nobody with pre-existing affection for it is going to have anything but open contempt for the basic idea.  If they were that hell-bent on “talking animal and kid travel through time”, they could have just, I don’t know, made it about a supercilious iguana and a little girl, and saved themselves the cost of getting the rights.

But here we are, with the latest in a long line of remakes that simultaneously gloss up, flatten, and embalm an old classic that needs none of those thing. I assume nobody can afford to still be upset over that sort of thing, or else how would you be able to get up in the morning?

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Thursday
Feb272014

A sampler platter of Best Animated Short Oscar winners

Tim here. With the Oscars just a couple of days away, I assume we’re all much too keyed up with anticipation to want to think about anything else. I am, certainly. But to live up to my mission as the resident animation guy at the Film Experience, I thought I might offer up a quick break in the action without heading too far afield from the Oscars. To wit, I’d like to offer up a quick sampling of some of my personal favorite winners of the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film from across the 81 years that the prize has been given out. With a twist: seeking to keep clear of the major studio dominance of that category for much of its early life (and, as last year’s Paperman and probably this year’s Get a Horse! demonstrate, its later life as well), I’ve tried to pick only films which are at least at little bit more obscure than others. Enjoy!

Squeaky children, sex-starved triangles, and Polish apartment dwellers below the jump

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Thursday
Feb202014

Celebrating Black History Month: A brief tour of African-American animation

Tim here. With Black History Month still in full swing, I thought it would be worth spending some time diving into the history of African-American animation and reporting back to everyone with what I found, which turns out to be easier said than done. Despite a history of animation as an independent and avant-garde form welcoming any and all groups trapped without a voice in the mainstream reaching into the silent era, there has been shockingly little overlap between black cinema and animation down through the years. Which isn’t the same as saying that there’s none, and I am certain that there’s probably more than I was able to scrounge up over a couple of days of researching.

Pioneering animators Frank Braxton (L) and Floyd Norman (R)

By and large, though African-American animators have been associated primarily with big studios, beginning in the 1950s, when Frank Braxton signed up with Warner Bros. By the end of that decade, Floyd Norman had become the first African-American employee of the Walt Disney Company, and his association with that studio continued well into the 2000s (and may continue yet – he’s still actively working, with a credit on a non-Disney production as recent as last fall’s dire Free Birds). The first significant branching out happened in the ‘60s, when Norman left Disney after its namesake and founder died, to join forces with new artist Leo Sullivan to create Vignette Films, a studio focused on making short animated explorations of African-American history (of any of these films still exist, the internet doesn’t seem interested in sharing them).

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