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Blogs THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010) (***1/2)

This Sundance favorite is an interesting take on the modern family. A lesbian couple used the same sperm donor to each conceive one of their two children. When the children turn 18 they can request information about the donor. Their son is so eager to find out about the male side of his genetics he convinces his college-bound older sister to contact him. This is the set-up for this character-based dramedy about long-term relationships and raising kids.

Nic (Annette Bening, AMERICAN BEAUTY) and Jules (Julianne Moore, BOOGIE NIGHTS) have been together since Jules was an undergraduate and she went to the hospital where Nic was doing her residency. First they had Joni (Mia Wasikowska, ALICE IN WONDERLAND), followed by Laser (Josh Hutcherson, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA). Together, without the moms' knowledge, they go to meet Paul (Mark Ruffalo, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME), an easy-going restaurant owner who donated sperm when he was a struggling college student. Of course Nic and Jules find out and want to meet him as well, which begins the changing their family dynamic.

Blogs OUT OF THE BOX July 30 and 31st Zimbabwe’s First Animation Festival

ASIFA Egypt is happy to announce Zimbabwe’s first animation festival.  The Zimbabwe Festival of African Inspired Animation (ZIMFAIA) organized by the Joint Afrikan Animation Group (JAAG) with the support from the Alliance Francaise, and the partnership of ASIFA Egypt, will take place July 30th and 31st at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Festival Director Soloman Maramba invites both students and professionals from around the world to submit their work.  The theme of the festival is Out Of The Box with a focus on regional African content.   Work in an array of areas fields such as advertisements and architectural visualizations as well as animation will be presented as well as digital content, motion graphics, digital videos and special effects.

Blogs DESPICABLE ME (2010) (***)

In this animated world, villainy is a corporate venture. Master criminals live among the average citizens, clearly out in the open. The gothic mansion of baddie Gru sticks out in the same row of suburban family homes. To fund criminal ventures, the villains apply for loans from the Bank of Evil (formerly known as Lehman Brothers).

Blogs DESPICABLE ME (2010) (***)

In this animated world, villainy is a corporate venture. Master criminals live among the average citizens, clearly out in the open. The gothic mansion of baddie Gru sticks out in the same row of suburban family homes. To fund criminal ventures, the villains apply for loans from the Bank of Evil (formerly known as Lehman Brothers).

Gru (Steve Carell, GET SMART) wants to be the top criminal mastermind, but he has competition in the newcomer Vector (Jason Segal, I LOVE YOU, MAN), who just stole the Great Pyramid, which he has stowed in his backyard, painting it blue so that it blends in with the skyline. Gru; along with his mad scientist cohort Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand, GET HIM TO THE GREEK) and hundreds of his minions, yellow pill-shaped sidekicks who get giddy over troublemaking; go to the Bank of Evil to get the funding for his biggest caper yet — steal the Moon. But before he can get to the Moon, he has to build a rocketship and steal a newly created Chinese shrink ray. The key to getting the ray — three orphans named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, TV's ICARLY), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Kino + Keaton = Great Blu-Ray Release

I'm excited about this week's lineup of releases. Kino brings a classic Buster Keaton film to Blu-ray. In brand new releases, film fans get an Oscar-nominated performance from an actor long overdue for one, and a Swedish thriller that's on many critics' list for one of the best of the year. Moreover, there's a classic fantasy flick arriving on Blu-ray.

Pick of the Week
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The story goes Buster Keaton had access to a steamboat, so he made a movie about one. Even those who have never seen a Buster Keaton film have probably seen the famous shot from this one. The conclusion takes place during a violent windstorm and the side of a building is torn off with Keaton standing directly underneath. Lucky for him, he's standing right where an open window is. No one today, not even Jackie Chan or Tony Jaa, does stunts as crazy as that. As a daredevil or as a comedian, Keaton had impeccable timing. In this film, Keaton plays a prissy college boy who has fallen in love with the daughter of his father's riverboat rival. The tour de force ending makes everything worthwhile in this endearing comedy.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 13

Special Guest: J.J. Sedelmaier

The future is now on this week's episode of the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum as Computer plugs Joel and Alan into the 21st century with their first ever Skype interview! Skyperview! Special Guest J.J. Sedelmaier "phones it in" about such subjects as comic books, graphic novels, and how to build and maintain an independent animation production company. Then, in the first ever Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum sing-song-story-telling-open-microradiophonic-sound-experience, Joel shares his latest therapy ballad about some extra baggage that he's been carrying around. And make sure to stay tuned through the very end of the episode for a special FFAF out-take of Joel and Alan testing out their new technology with one of the biggest names in cinema history!

Blogs More from Bloomfield, New Jersey and the Incubator Studio with MIMI AND GACK and the Day to Day Grind

Life on the road can be challenging! As the Studio headed into the its last week a familiar cadence ensued. It began with me awakening each morning at 5:30 am

Blogs Annecy 2010: Celebrating 50 Years

By Dan Sarto | Friday, July 2, 2010 at 4:49pm

I took the train to Annecy full of excitement and great expectations for the 50th Anniversary of the festival. According to the festival press release, they were expecting 6,700 participants from 66 countries, 1,647 companies crowding into MIFA, 300 journalists and 230 international buyers. For a festival to pull off such a grand event with minimum problems would be a miracle indeed. When people tried to get tickets for events, however, it felt like there were twice as many people in attendance.

Blogs BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! (2007) (***1/2)

If you've ever seen a Guy Maddin film than you remember his style. If you don't remember his style than you're lying and have never seen a Guy Maddin film. For those who haven't seen his work he creates modern silent films with all their excesses and devices. More so than THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD (a very funny film) and DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN'S DIARY (a blood-sucking ballet), this film delves deep inside the filmmaker's own Id.

The main character is named Guy Maddin (Erik Steffen Maahs). At the start of the film, he heads back to his family orphanage inside a lighthouse to give it two fresh coats of paint. He wants to make it nice for his mother (Gretchen Krich, HENRY FOOL) who has had a pull over him ever since he was a boy (Sullivan Brown). As a youngster, he and his older sister (Maya Lawson) lived among the orphans, notably Savage Tom (Andrew Loviska), who gives all the younger kids lessens in primal urges. Guy and Sis' mother kept tabs on them with a strange telescope device that could find anyone you loved no matter where they were. This allows her to keep tabs on her blossoming daughter. Guy was a captive witness to the sexual hysteria his mother wields toward his teenage sister.

Blogs The educational value of getting your hands dirty

I have yet to properly introduce myself here, and I'm not sure what sort of impression I'm making with these somewhat impulsive posts. Today I introduce you to Veronica, the deceased ostrich, and Mike Taylor, the scientist who is getting to know her. Mike is a paleontologist, meaning he researches extinct animals. I introduce you to him here, because of a specific quote and a general energy that I feel is essential to learning

Blogs Neurons that fire together, wire together: why transformation is so important

By Robin King | Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:12pm

Every day we are exposed to a rapidly changing, moment-by-moment digital media environment that demands strategic filtering and immediate response to a multitude of visual and auditory stimuli and their underlying messages. Constant digital distractions, multitasking and task switching plague our ability to concentrate, our aptitude for sustained intellectual focus and they interfere with our capacity for deep, persistent engagement.No wonder students find it difficult to focus!

Blogs THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010) (*1/2)

M. Night Shyamalan can be a good filmmaker. For me, his last three films, including this one, have been disasters. Others would push that number higher. I'll defend THE VILLAGE and SIGNS — they had interesting characters and grand themes that drove their narratives. The same qualities that drove his most successful work, THE SIXTH SENSE. The director seems to have lost those skills. Even with quality source material to work with, he was unable to deliver a coherent, let alone a compelling, story.

Blogs THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010) (*1/2)

M. Night Shyamalan can be a good filmmaker. For me, his last three films, including this one, have been disasters. Others would push that number higher. I'll defend THE VILLAGE and SIGNS — they had interesting characters and grand themes that drove their narratives. The same qualities that drove his most successful work, THE SIXTH SENSE. The director seems to have lost those skills. Even with quality source material to work with, he was unable to deliver a coherent, let alone a compelling, story.

All the players from the anime-inspired Nickelodeon series are present. In a world where four tribes of people can control the elements of air, water, earth and fire, there is one Avatar who rises in each generation that can control them all and bring peace to the planet. Aang (Noah Ringer, upcoming COWBOYS & ALIENS) is the latest Avatar, but when he is told of his fate and that he will not be able to have a family as a result, he runs away and ends up trapped in ice. After a hundred years, he and his flying bison Appa are freed by Southern water tribe members Katara (Nicola Peltz, DECK THE HALLS) and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, TWILIGHT).

Blogs Last call for entries Holland Animation Film Festival 2010

This is an excellent festival that I whole heartedly endorse and encourage you to send your film to.
Submit your film now at www.haff.nl!

Holland Animation Film Festival is proud to introduce 2 brand new competitions; the international competition for features and the competition for European student films.

HAFF launches the international competition for feature-length animation films.

This new competition is open for all European films produced at art and film academies, or comparable studies.

We also invite you to submit films for the following competitions:

Blogs THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (2010) (**1/2)

The third in the TWILIGHT film series is the best. That said, it's nothing groundbreaking, but at least it doesn't take itself too seriously. The original TWILIGHT was made for teenagers who watch soaps. NEW MOON was made for teenagers who never smile. ECLIPSE was made for teenagers with a sense of humor.

Blogs THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (2010) (**1/2)

The third in the TWILIGHT film series is the best. That said, it's nothing groundbreaking, but at least it doesn't take itself too seriously. The original TWILIGHT was made for teenagers who watch soaps. NEW MOON was made for teenagers who never smile. ECLIPSE was made for teenagers with a sense of humor.

In this edition, we begin and end in a field of purple flowers. Edward (Robert Pattinson) tries to convince his love Bella (Kristen Stewart) to marry him, but not insist that he turn her into a vampire if they wed. She doesn't want to bear growing old while he stays young forever. At school, they run into shirtless werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who warns Bella that Edward and his vampire family are hiding things from her. The vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, SPIDER-MAN 3) is back and looking to kill Bella as revenge on Edward for killing her love. And then there is also the army of young vampires, led by Riley (Xavier Samuel, ROAD KILL), headed right for their small town as well.

Blogs Crossing the divide that separates soccer from football.

Sports form a window to the soul of.... erm, okay. That's a bit thick. Football is only peripherally relevant to animation and yes - I'm stretching that relevance pretty thin here. But somebody has to - its the World Cup after all. And it's truly interesting how a sport can reveal a country's mentality - or perhaps form it.

Blogs Transforming Animation Education for the Conceptual Age

Today’s educational institutions are past their “best before” dates, having failed to adjust to the characteristics of today’s “digital natives” and industry’s best practices. They are incapable of modifying their methods to facilitate truly meaningful and comprehensive learning and expertise that will adequately prepare today’s graduates for tomorrow’s professional demands in an unpredictable future.

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – One of the Premiere 2009 Films Arrives

One of the premiere films of 2009 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week. It's also a big week for films I'm curious about and want to hear from those that have seen what they think. It's a jammed-packed edition of Blu-ray Buzz this week.

Pick of the Week
The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke's German thriller was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. I put it at #4 on my top 25 films of 2009 list. The unconventional black & white film is a mystery up until the very end. It's a truly challenging film in its sometimes harsh subject matter, as well as its open-ended conclusion. Set in Northern Germany right before the start of World War I, the story takes place in a farming village where a series of violent events have the townsfolk in a panic. The young schoolteacher tries to get to the bottom of the events and finds a sadistic power structure not interested in the truth, but only in petty revenge and holding onto control. The themes delve into the dark side of the human condition — the side that would allow the atrocities of WWII to occur. Truly original and 100% uncompromised in its vision. A must see for any series film fan.

Blogs SUICIDE GIRLS MUST DIE! (2010) (**)

In the time-honored tradition of Ed Wood's ORGY OF THE DEAD, the Suicide Girls have combined horror with nudity. Now in no way I'm I comparing the quality of this film to that of the master of shlock's hour and a half long striptease, but only the lack of pretense in its main motive. Wood's film's mission was to show pretty women take their clothes off. That's pretty much the same here.

Directed by Suicide Girls founder Sawa Suicide (the one with the pink hair), the production is billed as the first reality show horror film. I've seen episodes of JERSEY SHORE so that might not be a completely true claim, but I digress. Sixteen Suicide Girls are taken to a remote cabin in Maine for a calendar photo shoot. Their phones and laptops are confiscated to insure that no images of the week3 are released to the public. Then Bailey Suicide goes into the woods and messes with some ancient graves and ends up missing. Soon one by one, different girls start disappearing. Who is picking them off?

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