Archive for the ‘Cartoons’ Category

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NYICFF 2014: Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart

March 24, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart hails from France. It was created as a “rock opera” based on the concept album, La Mécanique du Cœur.

The film begins with a sequence of the “coldest day ever” where we see the town go from snowy to frozen over in stunning fashion. The gothic spires, twisty streets, and angular architecture evoke just the type of macabre visual style that I love. The style becomes ever more realized as the movie goes on introducing things like an accordion stream train (seriously, this was so cool) and a sideshow filled to the brim with odd characters.

Additionally, a couple of scenes which melt into one another and back again are a dizzying delight. And the dream sequences of Jack and Acacia have a lot of charm.

The combination of imagination and technical detail was incredible in Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart.

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NYICFF 2014: Foosball

March 19, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 Foosball broke all box offices records in its native country Argentina and lucky for us New York International Children’s Film Fest had a chance to show us what the fuss was about.

Big personalities are the star of this fast and funny foosball (and soccer) story. The movie’s CG animation alone is reason to see it, easily on par with what we have seen come out of a big studios in the U.S.

 

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NYICFF 2014: Anina

March 17, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 And the winner for Best Hair at the New York International Film Festival goes to . . . Anina!

Anina is a charming film from Uruguay. And happened to be on my most wanted list from last year’s international animated film releases.

The style in Anina will strike you first as you can plainly see. It has a cut paper-quality complete with angular and somewhat awkward motion. The layers of a scene as well as the colors and washes bring a folksy simplicity to the movie which is carried through in the narrative.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #235

February 17, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 I think is was easy to dismiss The LEGO Movie as utter trash cinema based on a toy like Battleship or the Bayformers movies. It did seem like something that had the distinct potential to be horribly mediocre. But a careful look at the pedigree of the movie was far more encouraging. Phil Lord and Chris Miller worked on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs which was another animated movie that was easy to dismiss but got a good amount of praise. The duo’s major involvement with the first Cloudy movie and then the lackluster reviews of the second movie (which they were largely uninvolved with) shows that their touch can really make a movie. So the almost universal praise for The LEGO Movie makes far more sense when you know that fact.

The movies signature song Everything is Awesome says everything you need to know. It just sums up the infectious joy that permeates the movie. It goes out of its way to try to make everything just plain fun. At the same time if you think about a lot of the little pieces of the movie are brick jokes that point the way to big events later on in the movie. In fact this is totally a movie that rewards you for paying attention. There is always two or three things happening in the background begging for a re-watch on video with a pause button. Just watching the main character go to work is an Easter egg hunt in of itself. The posters, billboards, and characters in the background are always doing something that will reward another viewing.

In many way the 80′s Space Man sums up the movie for me. As a kid who grew up with LEGO in the 80′s the figure was just something you had. You had to get a space set and you had to get the 80′s Space Man. So him showing up is not totally surprising. But when you see that he has that crack in his helmet that almost every 80′s Space Man got when you removed his helmet wrong struck such a cord in me. That part of the darn helmet always broke because its plastic was so much thinner (especially if you try to take it off with you teeth.) The character totally works if you never had that figure as a kid BUT if you did it is an immediately says with wink and a nod that, “We know” without saying a word.

There are also some interesting meta-contextual themes running through the course of the movie. Like the Toy Story movies it has a simple story that extremely entertaining but there are some deep cogs moving in the background if you wish to explore their mechanisms. I don’t want to give them all away but the loving critique of big budget summer movies it fairly obvious but at the same time never mean-spirited. It reminds me of Hot Fuzz in the respect.

I assume that like 80% of the people who read this part of the blog have already seen the movie and are just nodding at what they are reading. Another 1% just never wanted to like movie and all the hype around it only makes it worse. This really for the last 19% who keep saying, “I know it keeps getting good reviews but it is a film about LEGO. How good could that be?” I’m telling you take that leap you might fall into that 1% but I’m firmly convinced you will be part of the greater 99%. If nothing else, the sooner you see the movie the more likely the movies little final act reveal will not be ruined for you. It is a nice perk to be able to go into the movie and for it to be a surprise.

Also this.

narutaki_icon_4040 As per the entire Internet’s suggestion, we saw The LEGO Movie from Warner Bros. Animation. And it came as no surprise when everyone was right, especially considering some of the team is behind the unremembered, but awesome, Clone High series. The LEGO Movie a really high-spirited film with amazing animation. I want to see it again already!

The way LEGO is used in the film is exactly how it should always be done. Much like the many small productions we’ve seen online, the film uses LEGO for everything including all of the effects. Little details stood out to me during the movie. Like how paint on the LEGO pieces was imperfect, fuzzy at the edges, scratched or chipped; you could see smudges and cracks. It was great to see the movie trying to evoke the actual toys rather than working on making everything super slick. Nevertheless the animation is impressive on a ton of levels.

The humor is a blast as they skewer popular culture, mass media, and grown-ups. They tackle the mythos of being average, showing that being “normal” doesn’t mean being useless. And of course there are plenty of cameos.

I was surprised about the twists the film took near the end and ended up appreciating it all the more for those decisions.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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