Thursday, August 25, 2005
Monday, August 15, 2005
Suzy and I have seen several animated films lately, with very limited results. First, we rented Millennium Actress, which had some very good buzz. This had some interesting ideas and visuals, but like so much anime, just ran out of steam early on, and become rambling and chaotic.
So, next up was Howl's Moving Castle. Again, a good start that went nowhere. This film was dissapointing on many levels; the story line had nothing to do with the book upon which the film was based (by Dianna Wynne Jones, a favorite of Suzy's). In fact, it liberated a couple of names and a few strands of plot from the book, then immediately undercut them. The animation was decidely sub-par for Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The characters were quite bland, the villains, politics, and entire world were arbitrary. But mostly, the plot made no sense. Why was Howl so scared of the Witch of the Waste (the movie recasts him from the book's shifty layabout into sometihng more like Neo in the Matrix); and once the Witch's power is broken, why do they take her in as a guest? Why does Sofi destroy the castle, just to rebuild a smaller version with Calcifer? Why does Suliman let them go at the end? Isn't having the scarecrow turn into a prince, and then announce "I'll go stop the war" in the last two minutes a bit arbitrary? Did we really need a translation of the lyrics of the syrupy J-Pop song over the credits?
But our animation misery was not quite over; last saturday night, we ventured out to the Coolige Corner theater to see their animation festival. This was a competition event ... but not the way I thought. You see, this was not like the animation festivals of the past; it did not contain Acadamy Award winners and hopefuls. It was a local competition, and an open one. These weren't finalists, they were ugly, pointless films by talentless, depressed, pretentious, angst-ridden, teenage artist-wannabees. There were one or two minor gems ("Crazy Eyes Dolphin vs. Mad Cow" was a charming visualization of a twisted story as told by three six year olds), but the majority of the short films were to be endured, not watched (and certainly not enjoyed).
Sunday, August 14, 2005
No, really, this movie was excruciatingly bad. It was Tim Burton at his worst; imagery without story. Johnny Depp got Willie Wonka so completely wrong (and of course, Gene Wilder got him so right), but even that wasn't what sunk the movie. The music was terrible and unintelligible, plot lines from the original movie were dropped (and whether Slugworth was an invention of Mel Stuart or Roald Dahl, I don't know or care) taking with them all motivation for the characters, and all warmth and charm was surgically extracted from this film.
Don't be fooled by the first few minutes, which are playful and fun. Once we get to the factory itself, there's no movie, just a tedious wait for the end credits. Don't even rent this film.