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PLEASE GIVE (2010) (***1/2)

Nicole Holofcener, who made the wonderful WALKING & TALKING and LOVELY & AMAZING, is a writer who understands people and knows precisely how to show an audience these people. Particularly she knows how to write women characters. They act like women and more importantly they feel like women. And by that I mean they feel a range of emotions.

Kate (Catherine Keener, LOVELY & AMAZING) and her husband Alex (Oliver Platt, DIGGSTOWN) run a vintage furniture shop in New York City. They buy their product from the children of the recently deceased. Kate feels guilty for everything. She’s the kind of person who looks for homeless people to give money to. They have bought the apartment of the old woman Andra (Ann Morgan Guilbert, GRUMPIER OLD MEN) next door, giving her the right to stay there until she passes.


BE THERE! Corfu Animation Festival: 7-10 April 2011 - Corfu, Greece

Winter isn’t here yet but we all know that it’s on its way so a trip to the beautiful Ionian island of Corfu, Greece in April might just be what you will need in a few months to recover from the grey dulldrums.  My friend Vassilis Kroustallis e-mailed me that the BE THERE! Animation Festival has put out a call for animation for the inaugural festival 7 -10 April, 2011.

There are two main competition sections:

Short Films that have been completed after 1/1/09 regardless of their country of origin, and

Graduation Films made as a graduation project after 1/1/09.  This category is open to all students regardless of where you went to school.

There is no entrance fee for submission.  You can read all of the regulations and download the entry form at:



Living in Europe I feel so fortunate to be able to see the best of the best of the new animations and I often wonder why these films are not shown in the United States on a regular basis.  When I looked at the San Francisco Film Society's list of films for their upcoming animation festival, November 11 through 14 at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, I was delighted to see some top notch films on the list.

Theodore Usher's films are always complex and challenging and Lipsett Diaries is certainly no exception. The short film is in the form of a private journal evoking Canadian film maker Arthur Lipsett's tormented life, from a childhood marked by loneliness to his suicide in 1986 at the age of 49.  Theodore's haunting images are complemented by the script written by Chris Robinson, author of a number of books about animators and Director of the Ottawa International Film Festival.

Disney Blogs

Interesting Insights from Disney’s Chairman Ross

By Dan Sarto | Monday, October 18, 2010 at 10:19pm

Disney chairman Rich Ross’ first year at the helm has been a busy one. There’s a telling article by Michael Bodey in today’s online edition of The Australian that caught my attention. There are a couple comments Ross made during his recent trip to Australia that are of particular interest. One involves what he did say and one involves what he didn’t say.


None Of Us Were Drafted

By Dan Sarto | Monday, October 18, 2010 at 3:25pm

So here I am in Ottawa, and the film I submitted this year to the festival was rejected. Not only this year but none of my films have made competition here. Not only that, but I'm blogging on the festival and my blogs are really positive. So I'm thinking, maybe I should put in some heavy doses of criticism so the folks at the OIAF won't think I'm kissing their royal Canadian asses. But I don't care if they think that. Let them. I'll blog what I want.


Job Fear Factor

By Lisa Kaye | Monday, October 18, 2010 at 3:03pm

The fears you face whether you are currently employed or desperately seeking a new position, need to be embraced and you need to boldly stare down your enemy for who and what it is. Identifying and coping with your job fear factors are a way for you to kick fear in the teeth before it takes a bite out of your ambition and your self-confidence.


Idiots’ Diary #18: The Imperfect Storm

Call it “Crazy Week” or “The Imperfect Storm”. It seems like everything is happening at once. First of all, in my studio, I'm trying to finish a low-budget commercial for an accounting firm. Then I'm working on animation for John Leguizamo' new feature, “Fugly”. Plus, I'm right in the very critical last week of sending my new Rizzoli art book, “Independently Animated: Bill Plympton”, off to the printers in China.


SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD (2010) (**1/2)

Everyone knows that George A. Romeo is the creator of the modern day zombie. I have enjoyed all previous entries in this horror sub-genre he has made. Each in some way commented on the era in which they were made. Now with zombies more popular than ever, Romeo doesn't have to wait a decade to turn a new one out. I don't think that's a good thing.

This entry in his zombie canon is the first direct sequel to any of his zombie films. It follows characters that appeared in the faux-doc DIARY OF THE DEAD. Nicotine Crocket (Alan Van Spring, LAND OF THE DEAD) is a National Guard sergeant who along with his troops has gone rogue since the zombie outbreak. It's a zombie eat zombie world out there. Along with Kenny (Eric Woolfe, NEW YORK MINUTE), Francisco (Stefano Colacitti, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY) and Tomboy (Athena Karkanis, SAW IV), they rob a RV full of film students (featured in DIARY). The military deserters run into a solo teen called Boy (Devon Bostick, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID), who tells them of an island off the coast of Delaware that is inviting strangers over to live in a zombie-free zone.


DATE NIGHT (2010) (***1/2)

Marriage and life sometimes seem to get in the way of each other. You meet the right woman, fall in love, get hitched, have kids and end up wondering how you got stuck in some routine. The routine tests marriages. The one's that last are often the ones that can take a moment to break free from the routine and remember what sparked it all in the beginning. For the Fosters, blackmailers, gangsters, corrupt cops and a deviant DA really do put a spark in their relationship.

Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell, THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN & Tina Fey, TV's 30 ROCK) are in that kind of rut. Their best friends the Sullivans (Kristen Wiig, TV's SNL & Mark Ruffalo, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT) are getting a divorce, because they got in a rut. This scares Phil, because he loves Claire, but he can see their light fizzling out. He tries to make their date night special by taking her to a trendy new restaurant in NYC on Friday night without a reservation. No luck getting a table. So Phil acts spontaneously and takes the reservation of the Tripplehorns, who don't seem to be there. Not a great call.


An Evening with Disney: A look at 'Tron Legacy' and 'Tangled'

By Joe Strike | Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 2:10pm

On a rainy October Monday we media types, invited by the Disney folks, gathered at a midtown NYC arts center. The lure: a peek at the studio’s two big holiday events: Tron Legacy and Tangled, their CGI-animated de/reconstruction of the Rapunzel story. I’ll go out on a bit of a limb here and call Tangled Disney’s liveliest animated feature in a long time and their best fairy tale updating ever.



­­“Fantoche, It’s Fantastic” is what I saw  when I first went to the website  for the Fantoche International Festival of Animated Film, and happily the festival  certainly does live up to this claim.  The historic spa town of Baden is a perfect setting for a festival; ruins of Roman baths were just down the street from our festival hotel but the films in the multiple screening rooms were fresh and up to date.

There were four International Competition programs which screened some of the most popular films from 2010, such as Olga and Pritt Parn’s Divers in the Rain and Anita Killi’s Angry Man, both of which have already won an array of awards at festivals all over Europe as well as in Japan, at Hiroshima.


HEREAFTER (2010) (***1/2)

For this film, 80-year-old Clint Eastwood looks at death. Based on a script from Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON), the film weaves together three different experiences with death — a near death experience, the loss of a loved one and a metaphysical look at the issue. Each is told on a haunting emotional level. No matter what your own personal beliefs are about the afterlife, this film actually reinforces the most important part of life.


HEREAFTER (2010) (***1/2)

For this film, 80-year-old Clint Eastwood looks at death. Based on a script from Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON), the film weaves together three different experiences with death — a near death experience, the loss of a loved one and a metaphysical look at the issue. Each is told on a haunting emotional level. No matter what your own personal beliefs are about the afterlife, this film actually reinforces the most important part of life.

Marie LeLay (Cecile De France, HIGH TENSION) is a famous French newscaster. On vacation with her boyfriend/producer Didier (Thierry Neuvic, TELL NO ONE), she goes out to a street market to buy gifts and is swept away as a sudden tsunami strikes. She is pulled from the water, but not before experiencing the classic near death experience of the bright white light and sense of weightlessness.

Toy Story 3 Blogs

10 Till 6 #1: Crying Through Toy Story 3, A Stick Figure Action Hero Returns & Animated Politicos

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 12:22pm

Time Magazine asks why parents cry during animated kids movies, Alan Becker's newest installment of Animator vs. Animation hits the web and Ray Grigg's political documentary I Want Your Money, highlighted by animated US Presidents past and present, hits selected theaters.

Game Blogs

Who’s Really Up In Arms Over EA’s New Medal of Honor?

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 7:46pm

With today’s release of EA’s controversial new version of Medal of Honor, set in Afghanistan, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about, who’s upset at what and why did this story get so much traction in the months leading up the product launch. At a casual glance, you might think “guns, violence and mayhem in video games” are once again being used as easy media fodder. Been there, done that, if you don’t like it don’t buy it. Get a life. But let’s not let ourselves off so easily.