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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.

Blogs Medals and Marketing - Award Shows Provide Honors and Brand Boosting

Award shows are an important element of a company’s marketing plan; the top tier shows are judged by some of the highest ranking members of our industry and provide opportunity for ongoing peer and client recognition. As with film festivals, the selection process for any award show is subjective and secretive, so entering is a gamble. But for a few hundred dollars a year, your company and work could receive exposure easily worth tenfold.

Blogs DAY & NIGHT (2010) (****)

This endlessly clever short is one of the best produced by Pixar. Teddy Newton’s film features two 2D characters with a CG world alive in their bodies. One represents day and the other night. When Night sees the beautiful women sunbathing by the pool inside Day, a howl of jealousy bellows from him. He tries to take what day has, but every attempt shows that things that go on in the light are not the same in the dark.

Blogs DAY & NIGHT (2010) (****)

This endlessly clever short is one of the best produced by Pixar. Teddy Newton’s film features two 2D characters with a CG world alive in their bodies. One represents day and the other night. When Night sees the beautiful women sunbathing by the pool inside Day, a howl of jealousy bellows from him. He tries to take what day has, but every attempt shows that things that go on in the light are not the same in the dark.

For the most part, the short takes its setup and runs with it. The gags fly by at a clip. Just to get a taste, the short starts with a rooster crowing and Day waking. After a series of perfectly paced gags about his morning routine, the sequence ends with a stream appearing in a relieving place on Day’s body. What starts as an adversarial relationship between Day and Night turns toward the end as Night realizes that Day doesn’t have everything. The short ends up being a classic great short in the way it gets into its premise quick, keeps the pace fast and ends with a note of poignancy. At six minutes, it is driven by action, but the action reveals the personalities of the characters and even allows for growth.

Blogs TOY STORY 3 (2010) (****)

Director Lee Unkrich and the entire Pixar team have found a fitting conclusion to the TOY STORY trilogy. It is worthy to stand by the masterpieces that came before it. The story deals with many of the same issues the previous films did, but extends them organically. The first film was Woody dealing with the possibility of being replaced as owner Andy's favorite. The second film was about what it means to be a toy. Now the third film deals with the existential question of what does it mean to be the toy of a child who has outgrown toys.

Blogs TOY STORY 3 (2010) (****)

Director Lee Unkrich and the entire Pixar team have found a fitting conclusion to the TOY STORY trilogy. It is worthy to stand by the masterpieces that came before it. The story deals with many of the same issues the previous films did, but extends them organically. The first film was Woody dealing with the possibility of being replaced as owner Andy's favorite. The second film was about what it means to be a toy. Now the third film deals with the existential question of what does it mean to be the toy of a child who has outgrown toys.

After a rousing fantasy sequence that brings the tangent filled imagination of a child to life, Woody (Tom Hanks, FORREST GUMP) leads the other toys in one last ditch attempt to get Andy (John Morris) to play with them. It doesn't go so well and the endless optimist Woody prepares the toys for their new life in the attic. Naysayers fear they'll end up in the trash or on eBay. Through a series of misunderstandings, Woody ends up in Andy's box to college and the others in a trashbag at the curb. After a narrow escape, Buzz (Tim Allen, TV's HOME IMPROVEMENT), Jessie (Joan Cusack, WORKING GIRL) and the others make their way to the donation box, hoping daycare will allow them to be played with again.

Blogs Tired of Keeping Your Head Down? A Modest Proposal...

A call to arms for filmmakers to implement a large scale letter campaign to bring the work back to California. Business is controlling the economy (and the government) and is satisfied to let the American worker scramble on his way down to match the standards of living of our competitors. Letters to the governor, our senators and state assembly seem to be the most powerful tool in our arsenal. The greatest power we have is in awakening ourselves, then awakening our representatives to the missed opportunities that exist and giving them the incentive to make changes.

Blogs CYRUS (2010) (***1/2)

A film starring John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill about a mother who has an unusually close relationship with her son could have been vulgar. In the hands of writers/directors Jay and Mark Duplass, the story turns into a quirky mix between drama and comedy. Reilly shows why he’s an Oscar nominee and not just Will Ferrell’s sidekick and Hill has a chance to prove that he’s more than a cog in the Judd Apatow comedy machine. Oh, and Marisa Tomei gets to extend her current winning streak.

John (Reilly, CHICAGO) is a lonely guy. Since getting divorced from Jamie (Catherine Keener, CAPOTE) seven years ago, he hasn’t had a date. Now she’s getting remarried. They have remained good friends and colleagues and she forces him to go to a party. Awkward moments abound for the sad sack until to says something that attracts the beautiful Molly (Tomei, MY COUSIN VINNY). John goes all out to impress this new woman. But she’s keeping secrets. Turns out she lives with her 21-year-old son Cyrus (Hill, SUPERBAD). John thinks she’s a MILF, but the problem is Cyrus thinks so too.

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