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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in animated films (261)

Thursday
Mar192015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation, Part 1: Rise

Tim here. It's not often that we come upon a movie which could be even semi-plausibly described as holding the fate of a studio in its hands, but next week we'll have just such a release, as DreamWorks Animation release its 28th feature (31 if you count their collaborations with Aardman), the sci-fi comedy Home. This comes at a perilous time for Dreamworks: after two and a half years of underperformers and outright flops, the company has been forced to slash its staff, write-off costly upcoming projects, and shutter the PDI DreamWorks studio, one of its main production hubs.

What brings a formerly prosperous studio, the biggest name in animation for a little while, just a decade ago, to such a precarious state? This week and next, we're going to try to answer that question with a little history of DreamWorks Animation, its greatest successes and its most sobering failures.

The company began when Steven Spielberg, newly-ousted Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen joined forces in 1994 to form DreamWorks SKG, an ambitious attempt to create a major movie studio right out of the gate. Katzenberg had been instrumental in overseeing the Disney Renaissance, which had just seen its biggest success in the form of The Lion King, and with animation riding high at the box office, it made sense for this new Hollywood megaforce to have a cartoon studio all its own. With Spielberg's Amblimation and the newly-acquired PDI forming the spine of DreamWorks's 2-D and CGI animation divisions, respectively, the company immediately threw itself into competing directly with Disney.

Directly with Disney.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar122015

Tim's Toons: Animated features to watch for in 2015

Tim here. Team Experience is in the midst of unrolling our We Can’t Wait list, and Nathaniel has already devoted some attention to some of the more intriguing potential blockbusters that missed out on our top 15. And so now it falls to me as the Film Experience’s resident animation guy to draw your attention to some of the animated features set to show up in 2015. None of the big names here - I assume you’ll be able to find the new Pixar films without my help - this is all about some of the little titles that might otherwise slip between the cracks.

When Marnie Was There

The 20th, and perhaps the last theatrical film produced by Studio Ghibli, is about a lonely young woman sent to the country for her health, who befriends one of the locals, Marnie. But as the two spend time together, it becomes clear that something slightly paranormal is going on.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar052015

Cinderella Week: Disney's Animated Cinderella (1950)

With Disney's new live-action Cinderella nearly upon us, Team Experience is taking a look at some of the screen adaptations of Charles Perrault's classic fairy tale. Here's Tim to kick it off (the glass slipper et al.) - Editor

What better place to start Cinderella week, than with Disney's own version of the story? I give you the 2007 direct-to-video masterwork Cinderella III: A Twist in Time !


Wait, no, that's absolutely not right at all.

I give you Cinderella (1950)! The classic that saved Walt Disney Productions from extinction, birthed the studio's Silver Age Renaissance, and created the most princessy of all the characters in the Disney Princess marketing line-up, the one who will lead them into battle if they ever team up, Avengers-style, to save the world.

And it is kind of baffling to me that Disney has never apparently thought to go that route. [More...]

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Tuesday
Mar032015

Top Ten: Horny For Horned Creatures 

This top ten list is devoted to Madonna & her minotaurs since "Rebel Heart," the Queen of Pop's 13th studio album arrives in full this Friday.

The minotaurs in particular serve as horny inspiration for this week's top ten. What are the best horned villains, horned beauties or horny creatures from the movies? I was surprised to realize that we don't get that many. It was hard to find enough good characters. The movies haven't been big on the succubus, for example, as mythological fetishes go. TV has far more horned characters but that's thanks in most part to the demon happy and expansive Buffyverse. But we're talking movies. Sorry Hellmouth!

We'll make do with what we have. But please do shout out a favorite if you don't see it here. 

TOP TEN HORNED MOVIE CHARACTERS
after the jump...

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Tuesday
Mar032015

Curio: Introduction to Pinocchio

Alexa here with your weekly film curios. After I read Tim's post celebrating Pinocchio on its 75th anniversary, I wondered how I'd ever missed it, and more importantly, how I'd missed showing it to my 5-year-old, now a budding film buff. After all, we had read the Little Golden Book together many times, and it was even one of her favorite cartridges to watch on our vintage Fisher Price Movie Viewer.  She likes to play the short sequence of Pinocchio coming to life backwards and forwards and study each frame. (If you aren't familiar with this fantastic toy, read more here.  Any toy that involves hand-cranking a small Super 8 film is irresistible to me.)  

 

 Unsurprisingly, since investing in the DVD the film has been in heavy rotation around our house.  After the jump, some Pinocchio curios, vintage and handmade, to continue the film's 75th Anniversary celebration...

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Thursday
Feb192015

Tim's Toons: Animated also-rans

Tim here. In his official Oscar predictions today, Nathaniel left out Best Animated Feature, but no matter. By this point, you'd have to hunt a while to find anybody predicting a winner other than How to Train Your Dragon 2, with a few Big Hero 6 holdouts just trying to pretend that things will be interesting. (Me, I'm thinking that we're about to see an unexpected explosion of write-in votes to make sure that Mr. Peabody & Sherman can finally get its due).

That level of predictability almost always ends up settling into this particular race (last year was an exception), which can make it hard, sometimes, to recall that the category has had a purpose beyond annually recognizing that yep, Pixar sure does make some pretty fine movies. So instead of prepping for Oscar weekend by celebrating winners, I want to pay tribute to some losers. The beautiful likes of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea are (probably) about the join the 36 films to have so far been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar and lost out, and that's some fine company to be in. Here are some of my personal favorites.

The Triplets of Belleville (2003; lost to Finding Nemo)
Even after 11 years, the jazzy "Bellville Rendez-vous" remains one of the most memorable original songs in 21st Century filmmaking (it also lost a competitive Oscar). It's a brilliant component of a movie that I'm generally inclined to regard with fetishistic adoration, and will start recommending to people on even the slightest pretext. Like this one, for example. It's one of the most essential animated features of the last 15 years, easily, combining warped slapstick humor with an elegiac sense of melancholy, expressed in a scratchy graphic style that turns everyone into a grotesque caricature while given all of them full, vibrant personalities. Not bad for a film with less than a dozen spoken words in its entire running time.

Persepolis (2007; lost to Ratatouille)
Marjane Satrapi's adaptation of her own graphic novel memoir is a little redundant, perhaps. But taken on its own terms, this story of life during the Iranian Revolution, told in soft lines and crisp black-and-white, is terrific animated cinema both aesthetically and politically. Overtly feminist stories and animation for an appreciative adult audience are both rare, combining them is rarer, and using it all in the service of putting a human face to life in Iran that doesn't pander or beg for special pleading makes this one as bold as any animated film I can ever name. And yet it's so sardonic and brisk that it never feels capital-I Important in a boring way. A total success that deserves infinitely more attention than it's ever received in the U.S.

Kung Fu Panda (2008; lost to WALL·E)
When the first How to Train Your Dragon came out in 2010, it was greeted with critical hosannas as the movie that finally proved that DreamWorks Animation could make a movie that as every bit as good as its best competition. But then, the studio had already proven that with this brightly-colored, poppy tribute to Asian landscape paintings and schlocky '70s kung-fu movies. It's silly as hell, and the jokes have all the smirking anachronism of DreamWorks at its worst. But it's also funny and disarmingly sweet, and the company's fixation on all-celebrity voice casting never worked out as well as it did here, with Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, and Ian McShane among the many familiar faces we don't see.

The Princess and the Frog (2009; lost to Up)
The financial success of the following year's Tangled immediately swallowed up the small splash made by Disney's first-ever animated feature centered on an African-American protagonist. And then the behemoth of 2013's Frozen left it almost totally forgotten as the first attempt in a generation to make a classic Disney Princess musical. Neither of which is at all a fair fate for an earnest attempt at correcting the company's long history of representational yuckiness with a warm suite of Randy Newman songs, top-notch voice acting, and beautifully old-school 2-D animation. It's a sop to the studio's fans, sure, but as a fan, I am greatly pleased to have it in my life even now, far more than either of its bigger successors.

What are your favorite nominees to have missed on on the Best Animated Feature Oscar?

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