700 Subscribers Answers

Hi guys!  A week or so ago I requested my blog readers and youtubers  submit questions for me to answer in honor of my 700th youtube subscriber.  Here is the video.  You can jump right ahead to your question if you want using the time stamp in the description section.  Thanks for the great questions!

If you have comments on my answers feel free to put it in the comments section and let’s talk.  On to more vlogging and blogging fun!

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Boy and the World Review

boy and the world poster2If you guys read my response to the Oscar nominations you may recall my disappointment at The Peanuts Movie being snubbed for Best Animated Feature Film.   In it’s place was a film called Boy and the World or o Menino eo Mundo in Portuguese.  I had heard of this film but it had mostly fallen under my radar so the nomination was a big surprise.  Today I had the chance to see the film and I can see why it got nominated.  I don’t know if I would pick it over Peanuts Movie but a lot of that comes down to personal artistic taste.

Boy and the World is directed by Brazilian animator Ale Abreu and was released in that country back in 2013.  It is made using mostly sketch animation with some live action imagery and paper mache thrown in.  The film’s biggest strength is it’s wild imaginative artistry.  It’s a real joy to watch.

boy and the world9999It’s a simple story about a boy who is devastated when his father leaves the family to go and find work in the city.

boy and the world89They plant a tree on his departure but the boy is still very upset.

boy and the world 7He goes on a journey to find his father and bring him back to the family but in so doing he dives into the city and confronts all kinds of people, industry, conflict and more.

boy and the world6 boy and the world4boy and the world5At one point he ends up living at a trash dump.

boy and the world8boy and the world3 As you can see the animation is quite beautiful but what adds to the appeal of the film is the wonderful music. Written by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat it combines ‘pan-flute, samba and Brazilian hip hop’ into a delightful absorbing experience that made me smile.  Here’s one of the main themes:

The visuals combined with the music at times feel like a kaleidoscope and I never grew weary of the imagery. It is a bit self indulgent and has little to do with  the main plot of the boy looking for his Dad, but I liked it.  However, I can picture that bothering some people but not me.

boy and the world kaleidescopeThe ending of Boy and the World does try to say something about war, commerce, industry and waste but  that wasn’t as effective as the rest of the visuals.  It felt a little heavy handed where the rest of the film had spread the same message using joy and light. We didn’t really need the contrasting images.

There is little to no dialogue in Boy and the World so there are no cultural limitations or barriers.  I know films with no dialogue aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy them when done right and this is.

boy and the world2So is it better than The Peanuts Movie? Again, it just depends on what you like.  They both have simple stories at their centers with depressed little boys and great music.   Both are also visually innovative and beautiful.  If you like more earthy, surreal art you’ll like Boy and the World better.  If you like the more modern realistic pop art than you will like Peanuts Movie better.  I personally have an attachment to Charlie Brown so I enjoyed his story more but I also loved the newness and creativity of Boy and the World.

Either way I can see why the academy nominated it.  It’s a beautiful film and adds a strong artistic entry to 2015 that we really didn’t have outside of The Prophet.  If you get a chance to see it let me know what you think.

My youtube review

Top 10 Worst Animated Films

So Norm of the North inspired me to create a top 10 list of the worst animated films I’ve ever seen.  Here it is:

lorax22210. Lorax- This bright, messy film ruins Dr Seuss’ subtle message into a story of bland corporate greed.

mars needs moms9. Mars Needs Moms- Gray, drab, motion capture film with a strangely dark message for kids of Moms getting abducted by aliens.

legends of oz8. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return- Some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen.  It does not look finished.  The story is cluttered and I nodded off more than once. It is not worthy to bear the name of Oz.

Pound_Puppies_Big_Paw_poster7. Pound Puppies Movie- The worst of the corporate toy movies from the 80s with no creativity or cleverness.  We get the origins of Puppy Power and that’s as lame as you might guess.

fly me to moon6. Fly Me to the Moon- Basically a script of unending fly puns and toilet humor.  Poor animation, annoying characters, stupid story.

hero of color city5. Hero of Color City- Terrible Toy Story rip-off about crayons who come to life.  The animation is awful, the story is boring, humor falls flat.

hunchback44. Hunchback of Notre Dame 2- Takes the subtle dark message of the original and turns it into a maudlin atrocity. Terrible animation, horrible villain and a bell with jewels on the inside is stupid.  The worst of the Disney sequels in my opinion.

norm1113. Norm of the North- Call it recency bias but this may be the worst animated film I’ve seen in a theater.  The story makes no sense, animation is sloppy, villain super lame. Not one good thing to say about it

crazy nights2. Eight Crazy Nights- Disgusting animated film from Adam Sandler featuring jokes in poor taste to put it mildly.  His vocal performances are insulting and annoying.  The songs wouldn’t even work in a bad SNL skit. Terrible film in every way.

dogs christmas1. All Dogs Go to Heaven Christmas Carol- You guys know how dear Christmas Carol is to me and this film adds hypnotized dogs and a she-devil spirit called Belladonna who wants to destroy Christmas.  Making Carface Scrooge doesn’t work because he isn’t the primary villain trying to ruin Christmas.  The Tiny Tim dog is the worst and  The animation is terrible and the songs unoriginal.

Norm of the North Review

All right 2016 I issue you a challenge- I dare you to produce a movie worse than Norm of the North.  Yes my friends, the new animated film Norm of the North is one of the worst animated (or otherwise) films I’ve ever seen.  Please do not waste time and money seeing this total and complete garbage.  Literally the best thing in the movie is Rob Schneider and when you can utter that statement about a film you know you are in trouble…

norm8Schneider voices a bear who can talk to humans (a gift never explained).  He’s a prince of the iceberg and they like to put on shows for the tourists who take cruises to the arctic (I know they go to Alaska but aortic I don’t think is a thing for cruises?).

Of course, Norm doesn’t fit in with everyone else and misses his Grandfather bear who disappeared years ago.  But things are thrown into chaos when a model home lands on the iceberg (you read right).  Evidently a developer has decided to build a housing development on the glacier (because that makes so much sense…).

norm3Of course that means heading off to New York City where we get the evil corporate executive who is swindling the Arctic Conservation Board and shipping out the homes.

norm-of-the-north-trailer-Norm also has these little lemmings that are obvious minions copy-cats.

norm5Movies like this make you appreciate more movies like Elf and Enchanted that get this type of story right.  In Norm of the North they settle for potty humor and pratfalls.  Norm’s character is also kind of inconsistent.  One moment he is nerdy.  Another moment he is the coolest guy in town appearing on talk shows and the like.

The animation looks like something made 15 years ago not today and it’s not even so bad it’s good.  I actually nodded off for a few minutes it was all so dull and stupid.

I’m normally not a harsh person but this movie is awful.  I really don’t have anything good to say about it.  I guess congrats for getting a movie made.  I know how hard that is but please work on the script a little bit more next time.  I know they had a small budget but a lot is forgiven if the story and script are decent and there’s nothing expensive about writing a good script!

It’s disheartening when this type of film gets a wide release because I think it adds to the stereotype that animation is only for kids and that the medium is on the decline.  In my eyes it is just a momentary glitch and every medium has those.  Let’s just smile and move on.

At least I think the bar has been set very low for me to enjoy Kung fu Panda 3 this month!  That’s for sure!

Overall Grade- F

Remembering Alan Rickman

My brother joined me today to talk about some of the most memorable roles of Alan Rickman who passed away today.  From Hans Gruber in Die Hard to Severus Snape in Harry Potter he gave us some memorable characters and great performances.  I don’t normally do this for all celebrities that pass but I just felt like doing it for Rickman so I did.

What is your favorite Alan Rickman performance?  Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, Sense and Sensibility, Sweeney Todd, Harry Potter etc.  Put in the comments section and let’s talk about it.

Thanks

RIP  Alan Rickman.

Oscar Nomination Reactions

Hey guys!  Today the Academy released it’s Oscar nominations and here are my reactions:

If you don’t want to watch the video basically I will sum it up.  I don’t get the love for Bridge of Spies.  It was dull, conventional and average.  Particularly the nomination for best screenplay I find baffling but as I seem to be one of the only people I know who feels that way I can’t say I am surprised. At least it isn’t offensive like last year’s baffling nominee and winner Birdman.

I was surprised to see no nomination for Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs– especially with how much the liberal Hollywood love his writing. Steve Jobs was way better written than Bridge of Spies.  Come on?  Nice to see Adam McKay get nominated for Best Director for Big Short and was surprised he took Ridley Scott’s spot for The Martian.  There was little love for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and that surprised me a little bit.

I’ve actually seen all 8 of the best picture nominations and aside from Bridge of Spies they are fine.  I would have subbed out Creed or Inside Out for Bridge of Spies but again in minority on that one.

I was glad to see Inside Out get a nomination for best original screenplay and Brooklyn for adapted screenplay.

I think the documentary Amy is overrated and uses too much home video.  I didn’t find out anything I didn’t already know.  To me it was kind of shallow but again in minority on that one.

The most absurd nomination of the night is The Revenant for production design.  The whole thing is basically set in the snow!  Are we giving the team credit for designing the snow, forest and river?  Ridiculous.  Brooklyn, Carol, Cinderella, Star Wars: The Force Awakens all had much better production design than The Revenant.

But expect The Revenant and Spotlight to take home big awards come February.  Sylvester Stallone in Creed and Kate Winslet will win supporting actor trophies.

I was glad to see A Bear’s Story, World of Tomorrow and Sanjay’s Super Team all get nominated for Animated Short.  They are all excellent.  World of Tomorrow should win if enough voters have seen.  I don’t even understand it completely but it should win.

And now for the big snub….

No nomination for the Peanuts Movie.  It is ridiculous.  To me it was exactly what a Peanuts movie should be.  If you think about the specials they are about Charlie Brown trying to gain confidence.  The Great Pumpkin is really the only one that has a complex plot.  Think about the Christmas special it is about Charlie Brown worrying about the holidays.  The Thanksgiving special is about him trying to make a meal for his friends.  What were people expecting storywise? I don’t get it!

I at least got exactly what I wanted.  A story about Charlie Brown gaining confidence to talk to the Red Haired Girl.  It was sweet.  It was emotional, and it was funny.  And even if you don’t love the plot the animation was so great.  The use of the hybrid animation with a flat 2D style combined with CG was brilliant and groundbreaking and deserved a nomination.  It really did.

All I know is Boy and the World better be really great.  That came out of nowhere but maybe it will be 2015’s Song of the Sea and it will all make sense after I see it.

For now I’m sad for Peanuts but in the end it’s the Oscars.  They usually get it wrong (Birdman winning over Boyhood…) so I don’t really care.

And we have to listen to Chris Rock host.  Groan.  But I’m sure there will be a few nice moments and at least this year I’ve seen all 8 nominees, so there’s that.

What did you think of the nominations?  Put in the comments section.  Thanks!

Blindspot 1: Blade Runner Review

blade runnerToday I got to see the first in my Blindspot series where each month I will review a well regarded film I’ve never seen before.  To see the full list click here.  This month’s selection is the 1982 Ridley Scott science fiction classic Blade Runner.

With this film I had the special opportunity to see it on the big screen as part of the Cinemark Classic Series (good timing!), and I ended up having a unique experience.

First of all, the movie is extremely immersive.  Set in a dystopian Los Angeles Ridley Scott creates a rainy city landscape that is textured and layered unlike I have seen in many other movies.  It was beautiful and almost overwhelming to take it all in.

bladerunnerThe plot is based on a Phillip K.  Dick story and it stars Harrison Ford as Deckard, a cop (or blade runner) who is assigned to hunt down creatures called ‘replicants’.

Blade RunnerThere are  4 on earth and a giant corporation called Tyrell has set them up to only live for 4 years.  The movie is basically a cat and mouse chase between the humans and the replicants but it is so much more than that.

blade runner2I’ll be honest with you guys about 30 minutes into Blade Runner I was feeling extremely frustrated.  I had no idea what was going on and didn’t understand who was hunting who and what all the characters were doing.  It was so much new and different I found it overwhelming and confusing.

Finally in frustration I did something unorthodox.  I went into the hallway and read the Wikipedia synopsis.  This helped me have some kind of framework to understand all the characters and world being thrown at me.  I know most people would bristle at reading a plot synopsis giving away the ending and other details but for me it helped to enjoy the film much more.

And like I said there is so much going on that knowing the basic framework really doesn’t spoil much in Blade Runner, so I’m glad I did it.  It might be unconventional but it worked for me!

blade runner5The acting is all fine in Blade Runner.  The characters and performances take a back seat to the story and setting but they work with what they’ve got. In major roles we see Edward James Olmos, M Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, Joanna Cassidy and more.

I particularly liked Sean Young as Rachael, an ‘experimental replicant’ who becomes entangled with Deckard. William Sanderson is also good as JF Sebastian, a strange man who collects replicants and robots.

blade runner3Daryl Hannah is very good as Pris, one of the 4 replicants.

blade runner4Harrison Ford is a little bit bland here compared to his charisma in films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark but it works. Contrary to some popular opinion not every character in a movie has to be dynamic- especially in a world and plot so dazzlingly complex as this one!

blade runner7Once I wasn’t confused any more I started to pick up on the main message of Blade Runner (all good scifi should have a metaphor IMO).

The theme I took from it was the replicants know they have a limited time period to live and they want life so much.  They will even go to violent methods to preserve it and lengthen it.  On the other hand, the humans who have a plethora of days are kind of faceless and bland, without any passion.

St_bladerunner_fThis robotic human existence is exemplified by the billboards we see projected onto the cityscape of women mindlessly taking pills.   The emotional climax of the film for me at least was when Rachel and Deckard admit they love each other. It’s like both realize the value of time and decide to stop wasting it.

It might sound strange but in many ways it is a similar theme we see in Wall-e.  If you think of Wall-e as a replicant and not a robot doesn’t he teach the humans to value their time instead of mindlessly absorbing entertainment?  Wall-e’s time is limited by his battery power, where the humans just need to wake up and live a full life.

Even with a plot synopsis not everyone is going to like this movie.  It’s just too out there and different to appeal to everyone.  Plus, it can be deliberately paced, confusing, and rather drab.

However, I am certainly glad I saw it and will look forward to seeing it more times and gaining further insight into the story and characters.  At the very least, it was a good reminder to me that sometimes I have to make the moviegoing experience work for ME, even if that means stepping out into the hallway and reading a synopsis!  If it helps me enjoy the movie more than isn’t that a good thing?

It’s at least worth seeing for the amazing visuals and world building.  The music by Vangelis is a little heavy on the saxophone at times but I did really like it.  The whole film is very well crafted and a wonderful sci-fi dystopian movie.

What do you think of Blade Runner?  Too weird for you or a favorite?

As far as content goes there is some sensuality and violence especially a scene where a characters eyes are stabbed.  The over all feel can also be dark and depressing like most dystopian settings.

Overall Grade- A-

The Mystery of My Movie Taste

thinking

I usually try to go to a movie on Monday night and today there wasn’t’ anything new I wanted to see so I saw The Good Dinosaur for the third time.  I watched it cognizant of the many of the complaints I’ve heard over the last few months and you know what?  I freakin loved it! None of the things that bother other people bother me, and it’s got me pondering.

As a writer I hope to be able to quantify why something works and why it doesn’t work, but sometimes that can be easier said than done.  Sometimes it is confusing even for me why the same problem in one film drives me crazy, while in another I don’t care the slightest.

For example, everyone it seems went ga-ga for Bridge of Spies and I was left a little puzzled.  To me I nodded off and thought it was fine but thoroughly conventional.  It was a part courtroom drama I’ve seen before and part diplomatic film I’ve seen before.

But then in contrast look at Good Dinosaur which is also conventional in some ways, and some also think it is slow, and yet I loved it.  How do I explain the differing reactions? Both are well made movies and yet one’s conventionality or lack of originality bothered me and another it didn’t?

There are other examples I could use.  Like I thought Spectre was a disappointment because it went back to the old school Bond I don’t really like.  I didn’t like Terminator Genisys and was lukewarm about Jurassic World.   I loved The Peanuts Movie, which pulls a lot from existing source material.  Why does one work and another not?

Many have criticized Star Wars: Force Awakens for a lack of originality and I loved that movie. I’ve seen it 4 times and like it more each time I see it.   Hmmmm…

Is it all just random?

I’ve always said that most movies are like giving the director a movie kit.  This kit can be an action movie kit, or a comedy kit and a good director will take that kit and do something clever, charming, startling whatever with said kit.

Star Wars was definitely a ‘star wars kit’ but it did new and different things with it.  For example, having a storm trooper defecting was new.  Rey’s vision was something new (we’ve never had a flashback of any kind in Star Wars).  All the new characters were just that new. Also the look and feel of it was something we haven’t seen in a long time so in many ways it felt like a combination of new and old.

The Good Dinosaur is kind of the same way.  They took a hero journey dinosaur movie we’ve seen before and added an emotional complexity I wasn’t expecting that moved me.  There were characters that are mean and scary and that surprised me.  There’s humor and I loved Arlo and Spot.  Then you add the new visuals which blew me away you have something that dazzled me.

The Peanuts Movie may be familiar to some but it kept things simple and sweet and the core of who Charlie Brown is.  I loved the animation and it was a funny, lovely movie.  I think I didn’t mind it was unoriginal because I don’t want original thinking when it comes to Peanuts for goodness sakes!

There are so many movies I loved this year which you could say come from kits.  Cinderella, I loved and does it really do anything that revolutionary?  No, it tells it’s story well and that’s all it had to do.

I still maintain that Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man both executed a comic book movie kit well.  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivered the Mission Impossible kit well.  Brooklyn gave me the old fashioned romantic drama kit perfectly.  I didn’t any of these films to reinvent the wheel- just execute the movie kit you are given well and they did.

I guess after all one of my favorite writers (not just movies) of all time is Nora Ephron and her movies definitely use kits but she does it so well.  I love You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally despite the formula.  I love the characters, writing, commentary on life, romance and stories.

In fact, if you go down my favorite movies of all-time many of them aren’t all that ‘original’.  Let’s look at them:

  1.  Up
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  3. Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast
  4. Wizard of Oz
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird
  6. It’s a Wonderful Life
  7. Sound of Music/Singing in the Rain
  8. When Harry Met Sally/You’ve Got Mail
  9. Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars
  10.  Perks of Being a Wallflower
  11. The Apartment
  12. Spirited Away
  13. Back to the Future
  14. All About Eve
  15. Raiders of the Lost Arc
  16. Boyhood
  17. Inception
  18. Where the Wild Things Are
  19. Lord of the Rings
  20. Gravity

They all have original elements to them but most of them are based on previously existing novels. I love these movies so much and yet people bring up negative things about them all the time.  I shrug and say ‘doesn’t bother me’.  Because it is true!

Maybe it is foolish of me to try to explain my opinion at all when it is so random? All I know is what I like and don’t like, and I enjoy sharing it with all of you.

When it comes down to it, I don’t mind kit movies.  I don’t mind stock characters.  I don’t even mind a Mary Sue from time to time (there I said it) but it all has to be within the picture as whole working and having enough good pieces for me to enjoy it.

There it is.  The answer- Does the good outweigh the bad?  Indeed does it make me forget, not even notice the bad? Good Dinosaur, Peanuts Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: Force Awakens, all did that for me this year.  Terminator Genisys, Spectre, Jurassic World, Bridge of Spies did not.

Maybe it’s not so complicated after all?…

Ranking 2015 Animated Films

Hi guys!  I hope you are having a good start to 2016, but let’s look back at the animated films of 2015.  Over all, I’d say it was a pretty good year.  Having not seen Anomalisa I’d say we had 5 films that were excellent, 2, maybe 3, that will make my top 50 animated countdown.  As a point of contrast last year 4 films made the countdown.   I’d also say the bad movies of 2015 weren’t as bad as 2014 so that’s good!

Yesterday I posted my ranking of the animated films of 2015 on my channel and I’m really proud of the how the video turned out.  I was able to use clips and hopefully introduce people to the smaller animated films they may not have heard of.  I have reviewed all of these films on this blog so you are all probably familiar with them but it will hopefully be a good reminder.  I would really appreciate it if you gave this a thumbs up if you like it.  Thanks!

So here’s my ranking of the 2015 animated films (like I said minus Anomalisa which isn’t released yet in my area and I will wait till blu-ray to see)

home-poster14. Home- a muddled story with inconsistent characters hurts a well animated entry from Dreamworks.

strange magic13. Strange Magic- a jukebox musical take on Midsummer’s Night Dream is sunk by a dopey script with uncreative song choices.

minions12. Minions- a side character getting the starring role doesn’t work here.  All over the place story-wise and didn’t make me laugh.

maya the bee1011. Maya the Bee- cute, well animated movie for toddlers with a nice message about being yourself.  A stock Saturday morning cartoon villain without much grown-up appeal but I thought it was cute.

un gallo10. Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos- an animated film with subtitles out of Mexico.  Not perfect but for the $5 million budget I thought it was pretty creative and funny.  A pleasant surprise.

hotel trans29. Hotel Transylvania 2- a pleasant family comedy sequel to the original Hotel Transylvania.  It kind of wimps out on the ending and I miss the ensemble feel of the original but innocuous and fine. The animation is pretty good.

prophet poster8. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet- the strongest part of this film is the animated shorts that describe the poems of Kahlil Gibran.  They are beautiful but the framing device is very preachy and felt like a Sunday School lesson.

The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out of Water 3D7. Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water- a wacky, somewhat insane movie but I enjoyed it.  The only bone I have to pick with the film is the marketing was deceptive as the ‘out of water’ portion was very brief.  Still, if you want something weird and different give it a watch.

shaun the sheep poster6. Shaun the Sheep- honestly probably my favorite comedy, not just animated comedy, of 2015.  It’s an adorable film that made me laugh with impeccable animation from Aardman.

cheatin poster5. Cheatin’– an adult animated film from Bill Plympton that isn’t for everyone but I found it beautiful and moving.  The artistry alone in the hand drawn sketchy animation should be seen by animation fans.

when marnie94. When Marnie was There- an emotional final film from Studio Ghibli about a family rescuing a girl from deep depression.  The animation is gorgeous and lush and the sound design, music perfection.  I loved it’s bold take on mental illness and it’s a film that really made me think.

good dino233. The Good Dinosaur– an underappreciated entry from Pixar in my opinion.  I loved the relationship between Arlo and Spot and the journey they go on.  I thought it was surprising and sometimes funny, sometimes scary.  And the animation is stunning.

peanuts2. The Peanuts Movie– one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.  It was everything I could want in a Peanuts Movie.  It kept it simple and focused on Charlie Brown trying to gain confidence.  I love that.  I loved Snoopy and the Red Baron and all the choices from the music to the amazing hybrid animation.

inside out61.Inside Out– a stunning achievement from Pixar.  I loved this movie and I love it more each time I see it.  I love the dual character arcs with Riley and Joy.  I love Bing Bong and Sadness and the message of the film.  I love the animation and the music and everything else.  It’s perfection!

So there you have it.  My ranking of the 2015 animated films! What would be your ranking?  Put in the comments section and let’s talk about it! And if you see any of these smaller films I’d love to hear what you think.