Search form

AWN Blogs


Blu-ray: PLEASE GIVE (2010)

Read my review of PLEASE GIVE.

This indie comedy was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm. This gives the picture a softer look overall. This quality carries over to this 1080p transfer. For a Blu-ray the detail is not robust. The color balance is natural and the film grain is consistent with the source material. When it comes to the soundtrack, this isn't a title to show off the sound system with. The soundscape is heavily weighted to the front speakers. Dialogue stands out from the nicely balanced music and sound effects. Presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless, the soundtrack is what might expect from an indie comedy.


Ottawa - And then things got ugly

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 11:01am

I met with Linda Simensky, the Vice-President for Children’s Programming at PBS. We had strawberries and tea as she graciously shared her 20-years experience on the international scene in public broadcasting, what produced locally stays local and what gets to go international. (More about that later). But things got ugly when I asked her to define “edutainment”. Here was her response:


Ottawa – Time for Moose and Animation

By Dan Sarto | Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 5:43am

It's a two hour train ride from Montreal, Canada's cosmopolitan capital to Ottawa, the national capital. Forget the stock images of the Parliament buildings, the Mounties, or the concrete barriers in front of the block long US embassy. What makes Ottawa unique are the furry critters. There are more beavers, squirrels, bunnies and ground hogs than in any urban capital on the planet. Not to mention the moose!

Special Blogs

Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 19

This week's eponymous episode retraces another retro return to the LA recordings featuring Alan inexplicably conversing through Skype and Joel inexpertly wrangling the pre-show mic check. Special guest and expert sperm whale impressionist Scott Aukerman then stops by to discuss the art of writing the sequel of an animated feature before the original is written, the power of star-powered voice-acting, Toy Story 4, why FFAF is his favorite podcast, and how to narrate a picture book.


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.