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Entries in animated films (244)

Thursday
Feb122015

Tim's Toons: Sex and Animation

Tim here. Two things are happening this weekend: one is Valentine's Day, when one's mind naturally turns to talk of romantic movies. The other, infinitely more exciting thing is the release of Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie about sex. Not a movie that contains sex; a movie in which sex is the sole facet of the plot. It's exciting to think of a high-profile wide-release blockbuster basing its whole identity on something adult and mature instead of yet another damn pre-pubescent techno-fantasy, even if FSOG is, by all accounts, not very good. At any rate, with cinematic sex at the forefront of everybody's minds, and since this is our weekly space for talking about the broad world of animation, how could I pass up a chance to talk about sexy cartoons?

The link between sex and animation goes way back – I've seen some silent animated pornography that would probably get me drummed out of Team Experience if I linked to it directly, but if you want to see the absolute weirdest damn thing you have encountered all week, Google "Eveready Harton" and make sure there aren't children around. But it reached its first pinnacle in the form of flapper Betty Boop. [More...]

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Wednesday
Feb112015

Black History Month: Song of the South's Forgotten Oscar

Tim here to kick off a daily miniseries for the team. It might seem disingenuous, if not outright perverse, to begin The Film Experience's rough chronological celebration of Black History Month by taking at peek at one of the most infamously racist movies ever made, but for good or bad, Song of the South (1946) is an important milestone in the all-too-thin history of African-Americans and the Oscars. Seven years after Hattie McDaniel's groundbreaking Best Supporting Actress win for Gone with the Wind (we recently dove deep into that film else we'd start with her) James Baskett became the very first black man to receive an Academy Award, and the last for 16 years.

Not, mind you, a competitive Academy Award. Baskett was the last adult actor to receive an Honorary Oscar for a single performance (rather than for a career), with the inscription:

For his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney's Song of the South".

[More...]

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Tuesday
Feb102015

50½ Thoughts on 101 Dalmatians

Woof! To celebrate the first time release of Disney's beloved One Hundred and One Dalmatians on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack today (it's also available on Disney Movies Anywhere and On-Demand starting now) here's a classic from the Film Experience Vaults. It was first published for the beloved classic's 50th anniversary in 2011. But it'll be new to many of you! We suspect that 101 thoughts would have tried your patience too much but perhaps you could share the article with 3½ friends if you enjoy it, or leave 1½ comments behind before you go. The more the merrier, you know. And doesn't this wonderful movie wag its plentiful tail at that very motto?!

01 The first charming thing is its sketchy, spotty, doggy opening credit sequence. It's a prime candidate for "Art of the Title Sequence" ... I wonder if they've ever done it?

02 The movie was released in the early 60s and takes place in London. I can't think of another animated Disney feature off the top of my head that's this British but then,  "The British Invasion" was just around the corner so maybe America's Anglophilimaniac phase was already in the air in the late 50s when Disney started storyboarding this feature?

03 If you've been keeping up with your animation the past several years you probably see an immediate resemblance to the palette and cityscapes for Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist.

(Read the full post - that Devil woman is coming right up)

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Saturday
Feb072015

75th Anniversary: Pinocchio

Tim here. Today marks the 75th anniversary of Pinocchio, the second feature film released by Walt Disney Studios, and in this animation buff’s eyes, the high water mark in that company’s history (I’m hedging in the interest of good taste. In fact, it’s my pick for the greatest achievement in all of narrative animation). Along with Fantasia, later in 1940, it’s the bright, shining example of what the Disney animators could achieve when given the most resources, support, and artistic freedom that they would ever enjoy.

Lots more after the jump...

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Thursday
Feb052015

Best Animated Short - The Nominees

Tim here, with a look at one of those Oscar categories that always screws up everybody's office pool. It's time for the Best Animated Short Film nominees, now playing in a theater... maybe not "near" you, depending on where you live. But they're supposedly hitting VOD in the next couple of weeks, along with the live-action and documentary shorts. Anyway, let's dive right in!

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Tuesday
Feb032015

Sundance: Don Hertzfeldt Peers Into The "World of Tomorrow"

Michael C. here. I couldn't wrap up my Sundance coverage without writing about this gem from one of my favorite filmmakers.

Fans of Don Hertzfeldt know there is little point in describing the plot of one of his films.  His animated shorts operate on the director's unique blend of absurdist humor, philosophical wonderings, and sophisticated visuals masquerading as crude scribblings, not on traditional story beats. So when I say his new short, World of Tomorrow, is spectacular, right up there with his best work, you just have to take my word for it, so difficult is it to capture its odd appeal in words.

Hertzfeldt took on World of Tomorrow as a quick project between two massively ambitious undertakings, the upcoming Antarctica, his first full length feature, and It's Such a Beautiful Day, his recent triptych of shorts which combined represent one of the new century's indisputable masterpieces. It's a testament to Hertzfeldt's artistry that a project the filmmaker dashed off, relatively speaking, is still such a marvel.

World of Tomorrow represents two notable firsts for Hertzfeldt. It is the first foray into computer animation for a filmmaker that has spent his career as a champion of practical in-camera effects, and fittingly, this expansion into digital also marks his first attempt at science fiction. This new short is of a piece with Hertzfeldt's It Such a Beautiful Day trilogy and before that his The Meaning of Life, all films fascinated by the idea of what it is to be human. World of Tomorrow focuses on four year old Emily (voiced adorably by the director's own niece) who is contacted by a clone of herself from the future that proceeds to whisk her away for a tour of the universe many centuries down the road. It's a dark picture the film paints, but as usual, Hertzfeldt maintains boundless amusement at what a strange species we are, with our refusal to acknowledge our smallness in the universe, and the way we deliberately create technology which robs us of our humanity. All of it is delivered with Hertzfeldt's distinct carnival of non-sequiturs, surreal tangents, and odd beauty that can make you laugh one second and bring you to the edge of tears the next.

Don Hertzfeldt. Image via Criterion CollectionWorld of Tomorrow defies its classification as short, packing in several feature length films worth of ideas into its trim twenty minutes, covering everything from the perils of discount time travel to the benefits of programming robots to fear death. It is a film that once seen is not easily forgotten. It is a must-watch for fans of Hertzfeldt's. It is also a must-watch for non-fans, so they can get on board with one of the most exciting voices in film.

Grade: A

 

Monday
Feb022015

How to Train Your Dragon dominates the 2014 Annie awards

Tim here.Over the weekend the International Animated Film Society announced the winners of the Annie Awards for the movie year just ended. DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a huge night, taking six total awards - one of only two feature films with more than one award to its name. This clearly solidifies that film's position as the frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar later this month, and hopefully provides some small measure of comfort to what remains of the beleaguered staff at DWA, which was gutted by layoffs a couple of weeks ago.

Here's the complete list of winners....

Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation)

Directing in an Animated Feature Production: Dean DeBlois, How to Train Your Dragon 2

Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production: Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Archibald Snatcher, The Boxtrolls

21 more categories after the jump...

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