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Blogs DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (2010) (***1/2)

Having been based on Jeff Kinney's young adult book, which was based on a collection of comic strips, I wondered how the film would work as a feature film. With its stream of consciousness style, the book doesn't have the narrative structure that a feature would need to sustain momentum. But with a few tweaks to the original text, the film finds a focus, giving Kinney's keen middle school observations even more punch.

Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon, THE BROTHERS BLOOM) is about to start middle school and his anxiety is growing by the minute. He believes it is the dumbest idea ever invented because it mixes kids who haven't hit their growth spurt like him with gorillas who have to shave their bodies twice daily. He worries about saying or doing the wrong thing. Making matters worse is his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron, THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE), who still plays with toys, listens to boy bands and is completely oblivious to the rules of tweendom. His older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick, LAND OF THE DEAD), a high schooler in a band called Löded Diper, puts the fear into him by saying he won't even survive his first day.

Blogs The 7th China International Computer Animation and Digital Arts Festival

Most of the juries I have served on have been in the States or Western Europe. Needless to say, there is a fairly regular overlap in content submitted to these geographic locations. I often found myself wondering how to get more Asian countries to submit their films to SIGGRAPH North America, (as it’s being called now that we have SIGGRAPH Asia and our 2011 Conference is being held in Vancouver, Canada.) So when I was at ANIMA this past winter and a very nice festival organizer from China asked if I would be able to sit on the jury of the 7th China International Computer Animation and Digital Art Festival (CICADAF 2010), how could I say no?

Blogs THE “MOVING PAINTING” OF GITTE LE BRUYN

I discovered a young Belgian animator this week quite by accident via a music video that a friend sent me.  Gitte Le Bruyn graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2008.  For one of her exhibitions she worked with the music of Brussels singer/songwriter Tino Biddeloo (aka Silver Junkie).  For the new music video Maria from Biddeloo’s debut full length CD, Streets and Boulevards, Gitte’s inspiration for the animation is based on the song.

I am always fascinated by animation created by painting on glass.  For one thing the animator has to have great confidence in their vision.  Since the glass is wiped clean after each shot there is no chance to go back.  Utilizing simple black ink and glass Le Bruyn has created haunting images that compliment the song rather than detract from it.

Blogs THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010) (****)

Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook business card read, "I'm the CEO, bitch." It sums up nicely the impression that one gets about the youngest billionaire on the planet from this film. David Fincher's drama, his best and most sophisticated film to date, presents in detail the creation of the social networking site and the legal issues that surrounded it. Zuckerberg had to simultaneously fight two lawsuits against him. As the film's tag line so aptly states — you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

In the film's opening conversation, Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, ZOMBIELAND) comes off as both arrogant and insecure to his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET). He's obsessed with making a name for himself at Harvard and after she breaks up with him that night, he goes home and does just that. He blogs terrible things about her and then hacks into the school network, steals the images of the female students and creates a website that randomly selects two pictures and allows the viewer to rank the hotness of each one. He did this while drunk.

Blogs DARCY PRENDERGAST’S "LUCKY" SHORT LISTED FOR GUGGENHEIN MUSEUM EXHIBITION

Australian animator Darcy Prendergast’s music video Lucky has been short listed for an opportunity to screen at the world famous Guggenhein Museum in New York City as part of a new exhibition run in conjunction with YouTube.

Whittled down from 23,000 entries, Lucky is among the 125 films in the running for a spot in the new exhibition.  Already earning 380,000 on-line hits, Darcy’s animated piece was produced in collaboration with the Melbourne band “All India Radio”.

Lucky was created using a long exposure technique where Prendergast and his team drew in the sky with glow sticks or colored torches, similar to writing your name in the sky with sparklers.  One 25 second exposure gives you one image.  The process was repeated hundreds of times to form a sequence.

Blogs 18TH INTERNATIONAL TRICKFILM FESTIVAL - STUTTGART, GERMANY SUBMISSION DEADLINES

The TRICKFILM FESTIVAL in Stuttgart has become the biggest and most important animation festival in Germany.  This year it will take place May 3 through the 8th, with cash awards for the International Competition, Young  Animation, Tricks For Kids, AniMovie and Under Commission.

Their call for animation is below.

DECEMBER 1, 2010 - Closing Date For the International Competition, Young Animation , Tricks For Kids, and AniMovie.

JANUARY 15, 2011 - Closing Date for Under Commission Films.

All registration forms and preview DVD’s must be presented to Medienfestival  gGmbH by the closing date.

Blogs No Job Offer? So what...

By Lisa Kaye | Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 2:31pm

Sometimes you feel like no matter what you do you just can’t seem to get it right. All the resume rewrites, networking parties, email requests, introductions and you still can’t get a job offer. When the going gets tough you don’t necessarily need to get going-in the other direction. When the jobs fall through, you...

Blogs Idiots’ Diary #12: Ramping up the Guerilla Marketing

Now, whether posters and postcards all over the city will drive huge numbers to the theatre, that's a different and interesting question - We hope so, because without the money for a full-out publicity blitz, I'm forced to use more street guerilla tactics. Eager student volunteers seem to be the most efficient way.

Blogs Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Call for Entries for the competition program of the feature edition of Animafest is now open.
Feature edition of the 21st World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb will be held from 31 May – 05 June 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Animated feature films completed in 2009, 2010 or 2011 with a running time of 60 minutes or longer are eligible to apply.

For more information visit Animafest web site at www.animafest.hr.

Submission deadline is 01 March 2011.

Blogs Blu-ray: COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (2010)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 10:32pm

Some of the best elements of Jan Kounen's real-life love affair tale are the cinematography, production design and costumes. They are exquisitely represented in this Blu-ray. Coco Chanel's monochromatic style is rich with deep blacks and pearly whites. In 1080p, the picture is crisp and detailed, while retaining the original film grain feel. When splashes of color are introduced, the picture quality remains firm and rich within the cool ascetic the film is trying to create.

As for the soundtrack, the disc is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless. Even though this is a quiet drama, the soundscape is filled with the noises of the environments. Claps and jeers fill the room during Stravinsky's disastrous first performance of "The Rites of Spring." The sounds of the woods fill the outdoor scenes at the estate. Stravinsky's bombastic music moves the LFE track. All the elements from dialogue to sound effects to music are perfectly balanced.

Blogs COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY (2010) (***)

This drama might have not been planned as a sequel to the Audrey Tautou film, COCO BEFORE CHANEL, but it works as one. The story of this film picks up pretty much where the other film left off. This film doesn't have the same ambition or storytelling sophistication, but it does tell a compelling story of a sexual affair where the woman holds all the cards.

The film begins in detail with the disastrous first performance of Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring." A producer tells Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen, CASINO ROYALE) that the work is too modern for those use to "Swan Lake." The famed fashion designer Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis, THE CAPTIVE) was one of the few in the audience who saw it as a new masterpiece. The work stuck with her so strongly that years later when she meet the composer again, she offered to be his sponsor. So Stravinsky, his sick wife Katarina (Yelena Morozova) and their brood of children moved into Chanel's country estate with her. Right from the start, Mrs. Stravinsky knew that their benefactor had more than just an interest in music.

Blogs If You’re Happy & Unemployed, Clap Your Hands….

By Lisa Kaye | Monday, September 27, 2010 at 4:36pm

Seems these days it’s not such a bad thing to be sitting on your bum, getting a tan, catching up on your reading or any other activity you were meaning to get to and couldn’t because you were over-worked and well, very employed. It’s not that your lazy by any means. So next time someone gives you a dirty look or rolls their eyes because you are still looking for your next job, just smile and clap your hands.

Blogs Idiots’ Diary #11: Team Idiots Descend on Lower Manhattan

Today's a big day—we've been scouting the local schools for volunteers to help spread the word about Idiots and Angels opening up in NYC on October 6th. We've built a group of 15 or so eager volunteers called "Team Idiots". Their bold mission is to go around midtown and the lower Manhattan area putting up posters and placing stacks of our postcards, so hopefully everyone will be aware of our film opening. It's called guerilla marketing.

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – The King Comes to Blu-ray

The king of all movie monsters comes to Blu-ray this week. Superheroes, real life artists, war and other indie fare grace this week’s column as well.

Pick of the Week
King Kong
The original giant ape comes to Blu-ray for the first time. Now I haven’t seen a film from the 1930s presented in 1080p, but what could be a better title to start with? The epic adventure has stop-motion animation and special effects that are still impressive today. How did they make the spears thrown at Kong seem so fluid? Fray Wray as Ann Darrow the woman who charms the savage beast is an iconic figure in cinema do to this one film. Even those who haven’t seen the picture know the imagery of her being carried up the Empire State Building. While Peter Jackson did an amazing job re-imagining the film, nothing can replace the original, which made us care about the monster more than the humans he terrorized.

Blogs WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (2010) (***)

Rest assured, WALL STREET fans have nothing to fear, this film does not taint the original. Oliver Stone does what successful sequels all do — build on the chapters that came before. While this critique of Wall Street is not as cutting as the 1987 film, it does have something to say about the current U.S. financial environment.

Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, ROMANCING THE STONE), the ruthless trader from the original, has been released from jail after serving eight years for insider trading. It's 2008 and he has written a book that reveals the precarious footing the financial system is on. Wall Street big wigs just ignore him. But he does draw the attention of young hotshot broker Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf, TRANSFORMERS), who just happens to be engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION). Jake wants Gekko's help digging up info on billionaire broker Bretton James (Josh Brolin, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), who both have an ax to grind with.

Blogs LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE (2010) (***)

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 3:38pm

Zack Snyder puts his unique stamp on this animated adventure. Based on Kathryn Lasky's young adult book series, the film is like LORD OF THE RINGS performed by owls via photoreal animation. The straightforward narrative is made more compelling simply through the visual originality.

Blogs LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE (2010) (***)

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 3:37pm

Zack Snyder puts his unique stamp on this animated adventure. Based on Kathryn Lasky's young adult book series, the film is like LORD OF THE RINGS performed by owls via photoreal animation. The straightforward narrative is made more compelling simply through the visual originality.

The story begins with the young owl Soren (Jim Sturgess, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE) telling his little sister Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) the tales about the great battles of the Guardians. His brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten, TV's TRUE BLOOD) is tried of hearing about these old myths. Excited following their first flying lessons, the two brothers sneak out of the nest to practice without parental supervision. By accident they fall to the forest floor where they are kidnapped by agents of St. Aegolius, an orphanage that brainwashes its young owlets into being soldiers for the Pure Ones, led by Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton, THE SQUARE) and his bride Nyra (Helen Mirren, THE QUEEN). If the owlets are not the right breed or refuse to conform, they are hypnotized by the moon and forced to pick out metal flecks from the pellets owl cough up.

Blogs Movie Review: 'Legend of the Guardians': '300' with Feathers

By Joe Strike | Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 8:51am

You’ve probably heard about the Uncanny Valley: not a geographical location, but the precipitous drop in peoples’ comfort level when they come across something that’s almost human… but not quite (like the replicants in Zemeckis’ mocap movies). Well, in Zack Snyder’s Legend of the Guardians you’ve got owls – dozens and hundreds of owls who look almost like real life owls… but not quite. It’s that quest for the absolutely perfect replication of wind rippling the tiniest hairs in their feathers or the way light glints and reflects off their wide eyes: Guardians achieves it – at the expense of the audience they’ve just tossed into the Valley.

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