The 2011 edition of the New York International Children’s Film Festival began early in March and wrapped on the 27th with its Awards ceremony, classy post-ceremony reception and traditional goodie-bag giveaway. If the fifteen-years and counting Big Apple fixture needed any more legitimacy, its newly won status as an Oscar-qualifying festival (NYCIFF prize winners now have a shot at the Academy’s golden statue) surely kicked it up a notch.
I’m here for DreamWorks’ press event promoting its 2011 releases Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. A sequel and a spin-off, hmmm…I walk in, keeping my fingers crossed; the first Panda is one of my favorite animated films of recent years – why mess with perfection? And a skeptic might uncharitably describe Antonio Banderas’ feline swashbuckler as a one-note character: can he carry an entire film on his furry shoulders?
As dependable as the vernal equinox and the return of Daylight Savings Time, the New York International Children’s Film Festival is back in town to help wrap up another winter. As usual, the Fest began with a high profile, mainstream movie for its opening night gala; this year, it was producer Robert Zemeckis’ latest mocap creation, Mars Needs Moms, courtesy of Disney. (A few notches up in the prestige dept. from 2001’s Recess: School’s Out, based on a Disney Saturday morning TV series.)
Does Rango work because of, or in spite of his ocular resemblance to a real-life chameleon? Frankly, I don’t think it matters one way or the other: it’s Johnny Depp’s vocal and his ‘emotion-captured’ physical performances that brings Rango to life.
Once upon a time animation art wasn't worth the celluloid it was painted on. Art that would now be worth tens of thousands of dollars was washed or thrown away – and what was saved often handled thoughtlessly or just forgotten about. Things have changed since then, changed a lot. People now realize that animation art is exactly that - a thing of beauty in its own right, and a cultural heritage to be cherished and preserved. Preservation is where Ron Barbagallo comes into the picture.
Joe Strike sits in on Stephen DeStefano's storyboarding class at MoCCA, part of the museum's ongoing educational program.
I haven’t been this disappointed by a Walt Disney sci-fi movie since The Black Hole. Maybe I walked in with unrealistic expectations of seeing something as groundbreaking, and visually thrilling as the 1982 original. The trailer looked tremendous and the idea of revisiting a ‘visionary’ film (the first Tron does indeed deserve that now-overused adjective) with 21st century effects – and with the same actors playing the same characters they did in the original, only middle-aged – seemed irresistible.
Every now and then Paramount Pictures puts out a nice spread (mini-sandwiches, sliders and open bar, not to mention those killer chocolate chip cookies – there goes my diet) in their overlooking-Times Square 3rd floor screening room. Tonight it’s in honor of Pirates of the Carribean-meister Gore Verbinski, in town to promote his premiering-in-March, Johnny Depp-starring, first animated feature Rango.
Ever wonder how Wile E. Coyote would feel if he ever caught the Road Runner? (Actually, Seth MacFarlane did more than wonder; in his Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy show, with the bird long digested, Wile E. turns to Jesus to fill the void in his heart.) The inept arch-villain Megamind has the same problem; now that he’s finally offed his nemesis, the smug ‘n smarmy superhero Metro Man… what’s left to do? Terrorizing Metro City and kidnapping feisty reporter Roxanne “Roxie” Ritchi doesn’t have the same zing without someone to oppose him. There’s only one option left – and it ain’t looking for Jesus…
Disney’s 1995 backup animated feature A Goofy Movie – and one of its songs in particular – struck a chord with a generation of school kids who are now in college. Fan videos and mash-ups are nothing new, but one student took it a step – or two – further…
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.
When Warner Bros. asked Matt O’Callaghan to return their yin-and-yang, would-be predator and hoped-for prey pair Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, to the big screen – only in CGI-shape and 3D-depth, O’Callaghan took a deep breath and delivered the goods – and fortunately for all involved with the production, without once resorting to Acme technology…
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.
Fathers and sons – both onscreen and off – figure in Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea. Onscreen, a teenage prince kills his royal dad and makes off with the man’s sword; offscreen, Goro Miyazaki, the son of Japan’s best-known animation director takes over a project his dad initiated but never found the time to direct. Wish fulfillment or mere coincidence? Does a sword equal a man’s career? You be the judge…
I really wish I could’ve, I wanted to like The Sorcerer's Apprentice more, but the movie tries way too hard, hitting you over the head with its fantasy premise instead of slowly drawing you in.
Despicable Me is a neat and snazzy treat. This time Universal has a definite contender for a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination.
John Lasseter’s always said Pixar wouldn’t make another Toy Story unless they could come up with a narrative that would do the characters justice. Guess what – they have.
Animation, Experimental, Narrative, Spec Commercials – and Stereoscopic 3D shorts; something for everyone at the Be Film Festival.
No marching brooms, cartoon mice, dragons or robotic tentacles: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel and Alfred Molina star in Jerry Bruckheimer’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Robots, superheroes, teen-age angst, the return of Bugs Bunny – and free lox; it’s Cartoon Network’s annual ‘up front’ unveiling of its new schedule.
Coprophilia, necrophilia, aroused onscreen genitalia, an endless supply of “fuck”s, “shit”s and language even less polite; it must be The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!
Disney artist hi-jinks… nasty caricatures of Eisner, Katzenberg and a host of others… not to mention how Walt’s animation studio was dragged, kicking and screaming from old school storytelling into hip ‘n edgy territory; it’s all in Waking Sleeping Beauty, Disney producer Don Hahn’s warts-and-all documentary of the studio’s 1980’s 2D rebirth.
The Miscweant plays with fire watching How to Train Your Dragon – and decides the movie is hot stuff.