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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?

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 12

It's the Alan Foreman Show!!! Alan briefly takes over the Forum with his one-man off-off-off-off-off Broadway Production of the Bobby McFerrin story. And guess what folks? It's Summetime! And that can mean only one thing... time to talk about the big summer blockbusters and predictions for future summer movies. Then Daphne Knouse-Frenzer and Rex Knouse-Frenzer drop by to give the kids' perspective on Hayao Miyazaki, Monsters, Monsters vs. Miyazaki, Miyazaki vs. Michel Gondy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Foot-Spokespersons, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. And later, Joel and Alan get a special surprise from two globe-trotting pals of theirs.

Blogs Welcome to Ed Hooks – Acting for Animators

By Ed Hooks | Friday, June 25, 2010 at 5:27pm

Ed Hooks kicks off his expert blog on AWN by talking a bit about the genesis of his work teaching acting to animators as well as inviting readers to pose questions or comment about their experiences dealing with subjects like the connections between thinking, emotion and physical action.

Blogs HUNGER (2009) (***1/2)

This bleak tale of the IRA's protest strikes in British prisons is like three short films in one. Various characters float in and out of the three sections, making the film more of an experience of a place and time than a traditional narrative. This compels the audience because director Steve McQueen has quiet patience that draws us in and then grabs the viewer by the eyeballs with harsh realism.

The film begins with Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan, THE BOXER) introduced to prison life. He refuses to wear the prison uniform, because he believes he is not a criminal. Stripped naked, given only a blanket, he is put in a cell with Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon, SNATCH), who too only wears a blanket. Campbell has smeared feces all over the walls as part of the Irish no wash protest. With little to no dialogue, the film watches as their loved ones smuggle items to them and the British guards beat them and even subject some to forceful rectal searches.

Blogs KNIGHT AND DAY (2010) (**1/2)

This action comedy attempts to recreate the globetrotting thrillers like CHARADE and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Innocent people are wrapped up in international espionage. The plot tries to keep us guessing. Romance grows as the leads run from a host of nefarious characters. Casting was a big part of those previous film's successes and this film gets that element right, but the others less so.

The film begins with Roy Miller (Tom Cruise, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) watching June Havens (Cameron Diaz, MY SISTER'S KEEPER) at the airport. They have a funny way of bumping into each other. But something seems odd when they end up on the same flight and June gets bumped, than given a seat anyway on a nearly empty plane. During the flight, she flirts with Roy and they seem to have a connection going. But when she goes to the bathroom, all hell breaks loose. Roy is attacked by everyone on the plane, which ends up in a nosedive. Roy informs June that people will come for her and say that he is crazy, but that she should not believe them. The evidence up to this point doesn't support his case.

Blogs KNIGHT AND DAY (2010) (**1/2)

This action comedy attempts to recreate the globetrotting thrillers like CHARADE and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Innocent people are wrapped up in international espionage. The plot tries to keep us guessing. Romance grows as the leads run from a host of nefarious characters. Casting was a big part of those previous film's successes and this film gets that element right, but the others less so.

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Blu-ray Turns Green This Week

One of the best films of the 2010 comes to DVD and Blu-ray this week. Additionally, there three internationally acclaimed films that I've been eager to see for the first time, as well as a classic American film. Another Buzzed About film is one that features two Oscar nominated performances. Great post Father's Day treats here.

Pick of the Week
Green Zone
Paul Greengrass' Iraq War thriller uses real life events and fictionalizes them for a thought -provoking look at the motivations for getting into the war and the motivations for continuing to fight it. Matt Damon stars as a dedicated soldier who wants to get to the bottom of WMD intelligence. Co-stars include Brendan Gleeson, Oscar-nominee Greg Kinnear, Khalid Abdalla, Oscar nominee Amy Ryan and Jason Isaacs. While it plays fast and loose with some facts, the film conjures the feelings many Americans feel about the war and the mistakes that were made.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 11

This week on the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum, Alan experiments with the fine art of circular breathing and Joel achieves a record-setting number of "nows" while both puzzle over the continuing misappearance of the FFAF computer. Then, after some hard-battled man-powered guest-summoning, screen writer and Troma film starlet Adeline Colangelo enters the Forum to dish about writing for animation, how one stumbles into being a professional writer, and the finer points of like, ya know, mumble-core.

Blogs Movie Review: 'Toy Story 3'

Toy Story 3 is the best of the series with few flaws. It is about the connection between toys, their owners, and each other. It is also about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and moving on with one’s life. One lesson learned is that the past can affect the future in a major way. The film is rated G. I urge everyone to see this “Perrific” movie!

Blogs JONAH HEX (2010) (*1/2)

I went into this film knowing only the basics about the title character. Jonah Hex is a severely scarred bounty hunter with some supernatural abilities. His family was murdered. The film didn’t really expand my knowledge and in some ways confused me even more. At 80 some minutes, there were times I thought I was watching a reel of the cut scenes from the JONAH HEX videogame.

Blogs JONAH HEX (2010) (*1/2)

I went into this film knowing only the basics about the title character. Jonah Hex is a severely scarred bounty hunter with some supernatural abilities. His family was murdered. The film didn’t really expand my knowledge and in some ways confused me even more. At 80 some minutes, there were times I thought I was watching a reel of the cut scenes from the JONAH HEX videogame.

The film begins with Hex (Josh Brolin, MILK) voicing a montage of his time fighting for the Confederacy. He explains why war suited him and why that changed. Then the story jarringly cuts to Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich, BURN AFTER READING) burning Hex's family alive and branding his former soldier as he explains that he's doing so because Hex betrayed him and murdered his son, who was Hex's best friend. Then we jarringly cut to what seems like an excerpt from the JONAH HEX motion comic filling us in on how Hex nearly died, gained some powers, has something to do with crows and that Turnbull presumably died in a fire. For all intents and purposes, the first act of the film is simply told to the viewer instead of shown.

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