Tagged: animation

Love to Hate: Rock-a-Doodle

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Edmond the kitten and his animal friends. Copyright MGM

Author’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on my old site, The Ink and Pixel Club.

Back when I was blogging solo, I posted about a “How many of these animated movies have you seen” meme. Afterwards, I got an e-mail from my dad.  He mostly wanted to share his reactions to animated films he had enjoyed, such as The Incredibles, The Triplets of Belleville, and WALL-E – which Dad thinks should have won Best Picture.  (Have I mentioned that I love my dad?)  But it wasn’t all praise.  Dad also wanted to chide me for awakening his long dormant and thoroughly unpleasant memory of Don Bluth’s Rock-a-Doodle, a movie which he now remembers as being “god awful.”

After reading his e-mail, I decided that I had to rewatch Rock-a-Doodle and write about my impressions.  Despite Dad’s negative memories and my own vague recollections of it being less than stellar, I tried to watch it with an open mind. I hadn’t seen it in over fifteen years.  Had my father and I been unfair?  Was this movie actually a flawed gem like The Secret of NIMH?  Or was it really the cinematic disaster that my dad remembered?

The short answer?  Dad was right. Continue reading

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When Less is More: A Tale of Two Bats

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The animated and live action Flying Graysons. Copyright Warner Bros.

Author’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on my old site, The Ink and Pixel Club.

Comparing two works based on the same source material can lead to interesting discoveries.  Seeing how the same story is handled can reveal the differences in the filmmakers and their approaches to their craft.  If can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different media.  Or, as with the two works we’re going to look at today, it can reveal a much broader concept, like the positive side of limitations.

Batman is an ideal subject for this kind of comparison.  DC’s dark knight has been repeatedly reinterpreted for different media, different audiences, and different times.  Yet in nearly every new version, a few key elements remain the same, keeping the result recognizably Batman.  The part of the Batman mythos that we’ll be examining today is the death of the Graysons, a key moment in the origin of Batman’s sidekick, Robin.

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Movies and Books to Look Forward to in 2018

The new year has arrived, bringing with it the usual vows of self-improvement, opportunity for fresh starts, and hope that the coming twelve months will be better than the previous. It’s a traditional time for optimism.

Unfortunately, New Year’s Day 2018 doesn’t find me full of anticipation for the new year. Aside from the bigger problems of the world that haven’t disappeared with the 2017 calendars, my husband and I are both sick. We’re also still recovering from the emotional drain of the holidays. And temperatures aren’t venturing above 30 degrees. Don’t get me wrong; my life is good and I’m still grateful for what I do have.

Still, it can be tough to find enthusiasm for the new year when I’m more inclined to curl up in a blanket with my dogs to stay warm. However, I’d like to feel that sense of a fresh start and anticipating the new. So I am focusing on something I am definitely looking forward to in 2018. I’ve asked the other Ladies what they are looking forward to as well so click through to find out what we can’t wait for. Continue reading

Netflix Hidden Gem: April and the Extraordinary World

The weather has turned cold and many of us are preparing for the long winter – filled with hot cups of tea, ill-fated attempts to wear 6 sweaters at once, and spending snowy evenings with your dear friend, Netflix.

And that’s where I come in. I’m a firm believer that Netflix time should be quality time. Until their algorithm improves, I’m hoping to spare you some time searching through their catalog and point you right towards the good stuff. So in this edition of Netflix Hidden Gems, I present you with April and the Extraordinary World.

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Netflix Hidden Gem: Ernest and Celestine

French animation isn’t something that’s on a lot of radars in the US. With major houses like Disney, Pixar, Illumination, and Dreamworks (and even Ghibli for a bit) taking up the major real estate in theaters and awards shows, it can often seem surprising when a quiet French animated film starts to get even a little recognition. And when it gets nominated for an Oscar, chances are quite good that the film is going to be worth your time.

When I saw that the English dub of Ernest and Celestine was available on Netflix, it was a no-brainer. The only choice I needed to make was what type of tea to drink while watching.

Based on the book by Gabrielle Vincent and made on a shoestring budget, Ernest and Celestine tells the familiar story of two unlikely friends who manage to create a home and family together. It’s familiar, yes, but it’s also warm, sweet, and perfectly crafted.

Celestine is a young mouse living beneath the streets of a city inhabited by bears. Each night she sneaks into town to steal the teeth that young bears leave under their pillows for the Mouse Fairy.  These teeth are then used by other mice to repair their own damaged and missing teeth. Sadly, she’s not great at her job and the dentist she works for threatens to fire her if she doesn’t improve. Desperate to make her quota, Celestine gets caught in the city above and finds herself in the paws of Ernest the bear.

First things first, the animation is gorgeous. With hand painted watercolor backgrounds and matching Flash animation, the soft tones result in a visual style that is extremely enjoyable to look at. Everything feels soft, cozy, and dreamy. It’s a children’s book come to life with mice scurrying across pages and bears quite literally lumbering around. Yes, it’s very cute, but it’s never cutesy or sickeningly sweet. The tone and the stylistic animation complement each other, and it works just as well during the darker moments as it does during the lighter ones.

Additionally, this movie is funny. It’s hard to explain why, but there is something about the slapstick and physicality of the characters that made me smile a lot. The timing and pace never feel heavy, so when a character trips or runs into a wall, the audience is given just enough time chuckle without feeling as though the movie is waiting for you to congratulate it on how clever and funny it is.

Lastly, the voice acting in this film is great.  The cast is filled with distinguished, talented, and familiar names like Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, and Paul Giamatti. Celestine herself is voiced by Mackenzie Foy, who does a charming job of making Celestine both empathetic and brave.

So, go ahead and add Ernest and Celestine to your Netflix queue and maybe someone other than me will start gushing over it to her friends and online. Hey, it could happen!

Already seen Ernest and Celestine and looking to expand your horizons when it comes to animation? Specifically French films?  Here are a few recommendations (many of which can be found on Netflix):

Triplets of Belleville
A Cat in Paris
Tales of the Night
The Rabbi’s Cat
Secret of Kells (French-Belgian-Irish)
The Little Prince (2015)

Understanding The Uncanny Valley

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Copyright NBC

Modern pop culture is filled with terms that try to describe the media we consume. With new phrases and new definitions emerging all the time, it can be difficult to know what the new terminology actually means, even when you hear it frequently. We Ladies like to provide some clarity by defining some of these commonly heard terms that people may not fully understand. We did it with “Mary Sue” and now we’re tackling the “uncanny valley.”

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Prime Viewing: Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter

Much in the vein of our Netflix Hidden Gem series, this week I’m branching out to include Amazon Prime. Why you may ask? Simple. I want to talk about Studio Ghibli!

Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter (Netflix Original, Studio Ghibli)

Based on Astrid Lindgren’s novel, this series tells the coming of age of Ronja, the only daughter of a robber chief growing up in medieval Scandinavia. When Ronja becomes old enough to explore the forest on her own, she discovers that a rival robber clan and their young son are living quite close by. The two strike up a friendship, regardless of their parents’ wishes.

Photo: Amazon, Studio Ghibli

I was very excited when I heard that Ghibli was going to be releasing this series on Amazon and I started watching it not long after it was available. But here it is almost 2 months later and I’m only just getting around to talking about it. This is because it took me a long time to both finish watching it and even longer to decide how I felt about it. So, for the sake of this review, I’m going to simplify things. For better or worse, here’s what I thought. Spoiler alert: it’s kinda a mixed bag.
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Burning Questions (and Answers) about “Beauty and the Beast”

 

This is probably the last post I’ll write before I go to see Disney’s new live action Beauty and the Beast, which comes out on March 17th. As a huge fan of the original film, I look forward to the remake with a mix of excitement (Emma Watson is perfect casting), worry (still not loving the computer animated enchanted objects), and the knowledge that the quality of the new film does nothing to change the first one and the way I feel about it. The impending premiere also has me revisiting some of the interesting details I’ve learned about the original movie and its creation. This includes a few answers (or near answers) to some of the Internet’s burning questions, which is what I’m going to share with you today.

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