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Archive for August 7th, 2014

wall-e

by Brandie Ashe

Animation—when it’s done well—has its own special sense of lyricism. That is due in large part to the form itself, for animation can do a myriad of things that we mere mortals cannot physically recreate. There is a magic to the movement of a cartoon, a fluidity that can feel almost otherworldly, yet comfortably grounded, as you watch the characters slide across the screen. Combine that with an effective and engaging story, and you have not only a great cartoon, but a great film, period. And few in the animation field today understand this as much as Pixar.

Now, you could argue that because Pixar’s output is computer-generated, it could be considered a sort of cheat, that it stands apart from traditional hand-drawn animation, that perhaps it’s somehow “easier” for computer animation to capture realistic yet fantastical movement. But that argument belies the brilliance of the animators who so lovingly craft these films. Even a cursory look at the Pixar canon demonstrates how these films excel at movement down to the finest details; something as seemingly negligible as hair is so finely crafted that it waves with a stunning realism as the characters shift across the screen. With a breathtaking precision that only grows more impressive over the years, Pixar has mastered the poetic melding of motion and story. It’s in the undulating, beautifully-rendered fish who swim their way through an emotional quest in Finding Nemo (2003); the realistic motivations and dynamic action of the heroic playthings in the Toy Story series and the superheroes of The Incredibles (2004); and the creatively creepy yet relatable creatures who populate the worlds of Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Monsters University (2013). (more…)

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birth-1

 © 2014 by James Clark

 We’re at a prenuptial event in a large drawing room on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, possibly at that very coveted address, Park Avenue. A string trio in concert-hall-orthodox tuxedos proceeds through a rather precious prelude by way of coming to clarity for the melody of Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” (a composition implicated in the mad, incongruous love pairings of the Shakespeare comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Incongruous energies had certainly been lighted up in the preceding narrative; but, despite dismissive raillery, no one there would be betting on a comedic outcome. A precocious ten-year-old boy (whom no one would call a child prodigy in the mold of bright but conservative Mendelssohn) had invaded the impeccably (if very conservatively) designed Parkside residence of bride-to-be Anna, claiming to be the reincarnated presence of her former husband who died ten years before. This lad (named Sean, the same name as Anna’s sorely missed partner—a name the Celtic lilt of which had been clogging schoolrooms for many a year), certainly stuffed with virtuoso self-confidence and aggressive daring, has lighted upon that somewhat effete precinct, extending to the current reception, to press the case of not merely being a metaphysical eccentric but also being an eminence lodging a demand that Anna break off her engagement (to a man named Joseph, with patrician, longish hair style and well-bred visage). That coterie of front-runners, used to being kind to inferiors, and certainly not wanting to offend any Hindus amidst their uninterrupted, cosmopolitan victory lap, beholds the rather grim, pint-sized challenger with board-room caution and cordiality (including him in the enjoyment of a birthday cake) and the occasional hunt-club lapse into yeomanry at the expense of someone down the food-chain taking himself far too seriously. (more…)

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