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Entries in animated films (252)

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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Thursday
Jan222015

Tim's Toons: World of Hertzfeldt

Tim here. It's such a beautiful day to be animator Don Hertzfeldt, whose newest short, World of Tomorrow, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival tonight - his seventh film to play there, a record. It's an even better day to be a fan of Don Hertzfeldt, for in addition to WoT (which has been popping up on "most anticipated" Sundance lists all over, as well it should), news has come down today that Hertzfeldt is about to beginning working on his second feature, Antarctica. It's going to be the first project of his career made with an actual team of animators, owing to its unprecedented complexity compared to everything he's ever made (besides which, his last feature took over six years to complete, dribbling out in the form of three short films released as they were ready). And let me tell you, the notion of a Hertzfeldt film of unprecedented complexity is exciting on a deep, primal level. The kind of exciting where all movies released between now and then will be disappointing just by virtue of not being Antarctica.

Since I, for one, am not prepared to think of anything but Hertzfeldt today, I've taken the liberty of putting together this little primer of some of his work. For those of you who haven't seen any of it, I can't imagine how you could have gone on this long without your life being complete, and for those of you who have, it's never the wrong time to re-watch his stuff, right?

Billy's Balloon (1998)
Hertzfeldt's fourth short, completed when he was a 21-year-old UCSB student, was his big breakthrough. It bears all the hallmarks of an early work - the limitations of his hand-hewn aesthetic feel more like limitations, and not the secret strengths he'd make them in later projects - but the groundwork for all of his later films can be spotted here. To wit, we live in a universe of capricious cruelty, where everything that seems nice will turn on you, and there's no such thing as finding a human connection to make that cruelty easier to take. All done with surprising, absurd, morbid humor. There's a reason his production company is called Bitter Films.

Hertzfeldt's Oscar nominee, and his first feature below the jump

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