Current Mini Reviews

I, Tonya

The performances are very strong from Margot Robbie and Allison Janney and deserve nominations, but I had mixed feelings on I, Tonya. On one hand it is interesting to hear another side of such a famous story but the style of the movie felt a little too silly for the narrative it was telling. It was unique but felt unfair and superficial to all involved especially Nancy. You can’t humanize a somewhat notorious character by making her struggles a joke.

Grade- B-

Smile Worthy for the Performances

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

I don’t have much nostalgia for the original Jumanji film, so I was able to go into this sequel with an open mind. In the end, I was entertained by Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The movie gets a lot of material by mixing up the genders of the characters in the movie and it is pretty funny. The special effects are great and it was overall a fun family film. The middle dragged a bit for me and I got a little sleepy is my only complaint. It does have a few inappropriate jokes involving the gender swapping parents should be aware of.

Grade B+

Smile Worthy

Batman and Harley Quinn

This is an absolutely appalling movie where a man is raped as a joke and Harley Quinn proves to be one of the most annoying characters in recent memory. It is awful

Grade- F

Frown Worthy

Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Very sweet animated shorts that will make the entire family laugh. The animation is a sketchy style but very pleasant and it stays strictly G rated fun. I particularly liked the final short which is holiday themed

Grade- B+

Smile Worthy

Call Me By Your Name

This film has gotten a lot of Oscar buzz with good cause as it is very beautifully filmed. The Italian countryside never looked better! Call Me By Your Name tells the story of a young man who falls in love with an older man played by Armie Hammer. I think this movie suffered a bit for me in comparison to Moonlight, which I think was a lot stronger. Moonlight has something anyone can relate to in the different parts of Chiron’s life. Here I struggled to relate to the lifestyle of these rather pedantic expats living in Italy. However, Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer are great and have wonderful chemistry together. I enjoyed the leisurely pace and the great writing by James Ivory. It’s a good movie. Just not as good as Moonlight.

The sensuality is very strong in here so you’ve been warned.

Grade- B+

 

Smile WorthyBattle of the Sexes

I don’t have many complaints about Battle of the Sexes. It’s a perfectly fine true story sports movie with some good performances. It tells the story of Billie Jean King and Bobby Rigg’s iconic tennis match in a satisfying but by the numbers way. Nothing really stood out to me and I had the feeling I will quickly forget it, but it’s fine.

Some strong sensuality in here also

Grade- B-

Smile Worthy

Sword Art Online: The Movie

As someone who has never seen the anime show it was a little confusing at times but Sword Art Online was pretty entertaining. I really like the set up and the world-building. The animation was great and the action was awesome. The female characters were a little weak. The pacing in between action scenes could drag but it was a worthwhile anime to watch

Grade- B

Smile Worthy

Ferdinand

This latest offering from Blue Sky is a harmless sweet animated film. It is certainly worlds better than the trailers demonstrated. I liked Ferdinand and how there really was no villain just characters with different points of view. The humor, especially the calming goat, was mostly good and overall it is enjoyable. The main problem is it feeling very played out and generic. I loved the music by John Powell with songs by Nick Jonas

GRADE B-

Smile Worthy 

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children-

I reviewed this for rotoscopers.com and it was a challenging film to review. It’s worth seeing for the visuals but it is a very strange movie. The characters are uber-cute but the settings and events are very violent and disturbing. It was intriguing but the lack of narrative was challenging. I admire it more than I like it but I’m glad I saw it

Grade- C+

Barely Smile Worthy for the Artistry

Disaster Artist

A very heartfelt and sweet movie about the making of the worst movie ever made- The Room. James Franco becomes Tommy Wiseau in every way and Dave Franco is also good as Greg Sestero. It’s a funny and engaging look at the power of creating something even if it is terrible. It’s no Ed Wood as far as filmmaking but I was entertained.

There is some nudity and language in this film

Grade- A-

Smile Worthy

The Mountains Between Us

This is a very dopey romantic survival story. Good thing for this movie is I like dopey romantic survival stories. It was just silly and fun enough to be entertaining. It’s not a good movie but I enjoyed watching it. It does make you wonder how 2 such quality actors got stuck in this film?

Grade- C+

Smile Worthy but I admit it isn’t a great film

Man Who Invented Christmas-

This checked off a lot of boxes for me. I love Christmas Carol. I love Dickens. I love British stories. I love this whole cast. I love Christmas movies. So it didn’t have to do much to win me over so it succeeded in doing just that. I loved the performances of Dan Stevens as Dickens and Christopher Plummer as Scrouge. I loved seeing the process behind the writing of Christmas Carol with them diving into his past and father at points. This is totally a  film I plan on buying and watching each year for the holidays.

Grade- A

Smile Worthy

So overall a pretty successful month of movie going! What have you seen? How would you rank these films? Put in the comments section. If I have time I will do longer reviews for these and will definitely be reviewing Greatest Showman and Coco eventually on this blog. Some like Ferdinand and The Disaster Artist I’ve reviewed on my youtube channel. Check those reviews out and make sure you are subscribed to this blog and the channel.

Merry late Christmas!

My Life as a Zucchini (or Courgette) Review

my life as a zucchini posterI think I could have subtitled this review- Grown Ups Suck! In fairness there are some lovely adults in My Life as a Zucchini but boy the one’s that suck, REALLY SUCK! This is such a hard review to write but I just wanted to state that out-front and get it out of the way.

So let’s talk about the Oscar hopeful My Life as a Zucchini.  This is a stop motion animated film out of Switzerland that could receive 2 nominations come Tuesday (it is up for best foreign and animated film). On the whole I’d say those nominations will be deserved if they come.  This is a challenging, but rewarding film with amazing animation that draws you into the experience.

It’s very hard to talk about this film without giving out spoilers but I will do my best. Basically it is about a little boy nicknamed Zucchini who’s Mother dies in a shocking way to start out the movie. He then goes to live in a group home for troubled orphans. There he meets a mostly friendly group including a girl named Camille and a rebellious boy named Simon.

zucchini-main-imageThe plot is fairly simple from there. It’s about these kids and how they become a family and help each other overcome their traumatic upbringings.

Just as an example, one of the girls has a hideous aunt who wants to remove her so she can get the foster care money for caring for her. The kids must then figure out a way to protect their friend when the adults fail.

In a way, My Life as a Zucchini is kind of like Annie but there’s not just one Miss Hannigan. Each child seems to have their own Miss Hannigan nightmare, which is probably fairly accurate for the type of child in a group home like this.

That may sound like a real downer and it can be but the film also interjects comedic segments into the story that really work. It can be a quite joyous film and in a way the brutal sequences make the joy more sweet and precious for the kids.

There is also a nice chemistry between the kids.  They feel real and genuine with a terrific English dub cast. These are not the typecast kids you might get in a film like Hook where there is the rebel, fat kid, sweet kid etc. These children are unique and are all pretty well portrayed. The script takes time for small moments of character development  like when one orphan finds a pair of ski goggles on holiday. The owner accuses him of stealing them but he is so happy with them that her daughter gives them to the orphan in a lovely gesture. This isn’t even our lead character and yet it is such a touching moment of human empathy. courgette02When I got out of the theater I tweeted that My Life as a Zucchini was an unusual mixture of the brutal and adorable and that’s really true. It’s like  if Sesame Street had a ‘life kind of sucks’ episode. One of the ladies outside of the theater compared it to Bambi but I don’t agree with that. Bambi has a sad event take place where My Life as a Zucchini is more about pushing through when all of life seems to be out to get you. It’s about finding family, hope and joy in the midst of everyday struggles.

One character in particular, Simon, is particularly well written. Again, he could easily be the rebel kid we’ve seen in a million of these stories but he’s not. There’s a point where he is very envious of Zucchini and Camille but he still gives a loving response. He still tells them that they have to do what is best for them despite him wishing he could be so lucky. It was a beautifully written scene. zucchini-statueIt was really cool after the screening they showed us one of the puppets of Zucchini and told us about the making of the film. Stop motion always blows me away and this is no exception. They did a tremendous job making the characters come alive. The eyes were particularly expressive. It is a tremendous accomplishment and they deserve all the praise they are getting in the animation department.

courgette31There were some children in attendance at my screening but I have to say if I was a parent I would be a little reticent about showing them My Life as a Zucchini. Not that I think children should be sheltered but it’s a lot of bad behavior for a kid to absorb in just one movie. We would certainly have to do some major talking after about addiction, selfishness, wrong choices, poor parenting and the reality of evil. We would also have to talk about the power of friendship, family and love that does pull through in the end for the characters.

It’s a movie of contrasts I suppose, but in my opinion it’s not really a movie for small children, which is fine but perhaps the animation style would lead you to believe otherwise.

I feel like this review is a bit all over the place and that is because I kind of feel that way about this film. It’s shocking, sweet, beautiful, funny, upsetting and adorable all at the same time. A side of me wonders if on rewatch this could become one of my favorite animated films of the year. The writing and animation is strong enough but it’s just so different I’m not there yet.

I certainly recommend seeing it and participating in this unique experience on film. In a way it is kind of like the 400 Blows in animated form! It’s not every day you can use that in a review! If you do see it let me know what you think. I will definitely do a spoiler review in the future and dive into the plot in more detail than I can here, so keep an eye out for that.

For now I give My Life as a Zucchini…

Overall Grade- B+

Sausage Party Review (Guest Post)

[My twitter friend Travis Fazekas was kind enough to write up a review of the R rated animated film Sausage Party. Please follow him on twitter at @travisfazekas]

sausage party9

Sausage party is one of the most interesting animated movies in recent memory.  The movie starts off with a Disney style musical number called the Great Beyond, which is composed by Alan Menken (yes the same Alan Menken who did the music for many Disney classics) and it is just as catchy as his Disney classics.

sausage party3The animation is delicious and brought to life by co directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan who truly give the movie a very bright and colorful look with the supermarkets setup.

sausage party2The plot to the movie is very good, which we see what happens when food is brought home from the supermarket and what happens next well they discover that it ain’t sunshine and rainbows.

The person who believes this the most is Frank (voiced by Seth Rogen) a hot dog who is in love with Brenda (voiced by Kristen Wiig) a bun. Along the way we meet a various characters such as Sammy Bagel Jr (voiced by Edward Norton with a Woody Allen style voice), Tersea del Taco (voiced by Salma Hayek) who has feelings for Brenda and the villain of the movie Douche (voiced by nick kroll). He is upset at Frank and Brenda for what they did to him.

sausage party4The pacing is very nice and it truly does not stop with a third act that is very crazy which shows how far Rogen and co writers Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Schaffer will go for a laugh.

sausage party5The voice cast is perfect which also features Rogen usuals such as James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny Mcbride and others who truly make their characters unique in their own special way.  At 89 minute sausage party is one of the funniest movies of the year and is another hilarious effort from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that definitely earns its R rating, which is not for children

Overall Grade A-

[If any of you see Sausage Party put your comments below. Thanks again to Travis for the review]

Extraordinary Tales Review

extraordinary talesI feel like I try to have a good handle on the animated films coming out but it seems like every month there is a new one I wasn’t aware of.  In September it was Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos. This month it was Extraordinary Tales, an anthology film telling 5 of Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories.  It is available on demand and that’s how I saw it.

Before the review I must own to not being a hard core Poe fan.  I don’t mind his writing but am certainly not passionate about the stories.  I guess that makes me both more and less critical of this offering than Poe purists might be.

extraordinary tales4Extraordinary Tales is directed by Raul Garcia, a point we see reminded 7 times with each short getting their own introduction and credit section. We get it Raul directed the movie! We don’t need to see a full credits for each short!

In truth Extraordinary Tales isn’t really a movie in the modern sense.  It is 72 minutes but there are 6 minutes of  just closing credits and the transition segments with Poe as a Raven feel like they are on slow motion with voices not matching to the mouth movements of characters.  It all feels very slow.  I would honestly think when you get to just the 5 shorts it is around 45 minutes of actual story.

But as with this years The Prophet the key to a film like this lies with the quality of the shorts. I’d say only 1 I liked, 2 are artistically interesting but flawed and 2 were amateurish and cheap with one being kind of disgusting. extraordinary tales1111. The Fall of the House of Usher-

This is a Poe story I was unfamiliar with and it is about a man who visits a friend of his in a grand house who has an illness that causes them to have visions including a sister of his who died and that the house may be haunted.

The highlight of this short is the narrator is voiced by the late Christopher Lee.  I believe this is his last performance and it is very immersive.

Unfortunately I felt the story wasn’t that engaging and the animation was amateurish and cheap. It looked like a video game from the 90s.

extraordinary tales72. The Tell-Tale Heart-

By far my favorite of the shorts and my favorite Poe short story.  It is done in black and white shadows and isn’t a style I’ve seen done very often so I enjoyed it.  The story is about murder and guilt and how it will eat you up inside.

Another neat touch in this short is the use of a 1940s recording of The Tell-Tale Heart by horror great Bela Lugosi.  The scratchiness and sound of his voice add to the crime noir feel.

extraordinary tales33. The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar-

This is another short worthy of praise for its artistry.  It is done using a comic book feel and it reminded me of old illustrations in Dickens or Alice in Wonderland from the turn of the century.

The story is fine about a man who see’s a hypnotist and goes into a kind of midway point between life and death.  It’s definitely confusing but I liked looking at it enough to recommend it.  Julian Sands narration is also very good in the segment.

extraordinary tales94.  Pit and the Pendulum-

This short I did not care for.  It tells the story of a man incarcerated who is tortured with various devices including a pit and a pendulum.

I know this is the Poe story but I found it unpleasant to watch and kind of gross.  It’s one thing for something to be gross or shocking but in this short they keep repeating the same disgusting imagery again and again until I was tempted to fast forward.

For example, there are probably 6 or 7 scenes with rats crawling all over the man, eating food off the man, eating from his bowl of porridge, crawling on his leg etc.  It was gross!  I also thought the CG in this short looked pretty amateurish.

extraordinary tales65. Masque of the Red Death-

Basically this story is about a house where they are hiding from a plague symbolized by a grim reaper type with a red cape.  They have a masquerade party where there is sex (strong nudity shown) and all kinds of mayhem going on in different rooms of the house. Eventually Red Death makes his way through the house claiming his victims as he goes.

This is a story I wasn’t familiar with but I liked the artistry in the short.  It looks like a gothic watercolor and it was effectively creepy yet beautiful.

However, the mature content I could have done without and with really no story but people being naughty and dying it didn’t hold my interest despite looking nice.

So overall it isn’t a total loss.  If you are curious and it sounds like your cup of tea then I would go for it.  However, for me The Tell-Tale Heart was really the only short I loved.  The rest had major flaws that took me away from the film.

And like I said the transitions and all the credits made it a bit of a slog to get through.

But that’s just me.  If you see it let me know what you think! It’s certainly a unique project and I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Overall Grade- C- and that is probably being generous.

Is Animation for Children?

Today I want to talk about a topic that is constantly at the forefront of the online animation fandom discussion.  Is animation for kids?  In fact, just last week I called in with a question to the Rotoscopers about why Hotel Transylvania 2 would have Mel Brooks, a star probably not familiar to children, for only 15 minutes of the film?  To me that makes no sense.  They had some insight but Mason said ‘animation isn’t for kids’.  So evidently Mel Brooks in his mind was brought into the film for the adults watching not the children.

Fair enough.  I can buy that but I do have a few things to say on this topic.

As far as I can see it you have 3 groupings of animated films. 

You have films made for just children.

movies for kids2
This collage is just 4 movies made primarily for children. Whether the are good movies is up for debate. The target demographic is why I picked them.

These are movies you drop the kids off and they have a great experience.  But they aren’t made for adults nor should they have to be.  There are even different ages of children films like say Sesame Street is made for kindergarten aged children and it won’t appeal to older kids.  Not everything should have to be everything to everyone.  That said it is not an excuse to be lazy just because ‘it is for kids’.

Then you have movies that are made for adults. 

OneDrive24These movies are often rated R or a hard PG-13.  They are pretty rare but they can be a beautiful part of the animated landscape.  In these films typically there is little to no attempt to appeal to small children as the content is not appropriate for them.  Whether they are fine for older children and teenagers is up to parents, but the primary audience is mature adults. These films I treat like any live action film for adults. Some of them have content I can tolerate and others are too much.

Then we get to movies that are made for both children and adults.

adults and childrenI would say this is the majority of animated films.  It certainly includes all the Disney Canon films, all Pixar, Dreamworks and Studio Ghibli.  None of these studios have made films that are exclusively adult that I am aware of.

Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_gargoylesLet’s take a film like Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I got a lot of flack in my review for pointing out the marketing of the film.  I showed the Hunchback nursery rhyme tape and the Burger King kids meal tie-in.  Why did I do this?  Because it was to counter anyone who might claim ‘well that movie was made for adults’.   My response is ‘no it’s not’.  It was clearly made and marketed  to children; therefore, I have the right to call it out when I feel like the content is not appropriate for children.  If they wanted to make a movie like Akira or Chico and Rita that is for adults I would applaud them but that’s not what Disney did.  They added singing gargoyles to appeal to children so when I see disturbing violence and sexuality frankly discussed it is within my rights to say ‘wait a minute…’.

If you are fine with that content for your kids no judgement from me, but I at least think it is worth discussing the value of such content in a film aimed at children.  It was made with kids in mind therefore it should be judged as such.

return to ozReturn to Oz is another one people claim ‘it wasn’t made for kids’. Hogwash.  You don’t make a movie with a moose sled that sings if you aren’t trying to appeal to children. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask questions of whether the content is reasonable for kids.  Some say yes, I say no.   I guess that’s not animation but it scared the begeebees out of me as a kid. You’ve got a Dorothy tied down and given electro shock therapy and wheelies and a hallway of heads marketed and made for kids…Are you kidding me?

minions2Minions is another recent example.  It is a film clearly aimed at children.  They are the one’s who love the Minions most and yet we get boob, butt and torture jokes.  That’s not okay in a film for children in my book.  Perhaps I would have been less annoyed if the movie had been funny but it wasn’t so the inappropriate stuff bothered me even more.

But I feel like when I point these things out some are quick to say ‘but Rachel animation isn’t just for kids’.  I say some is, some isn’t and when something is made at least partially for them there are boundaries I don’t think should be crossed.  I just don’t.

Kids have a very limited time period to mold their intellects, moral centers and judgement, so the entertainment they see should be carefully chosen.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be challenged by a film like Wall-e or Fantasia that is artistically difficult or have an occasional joke that goes over their heads, but we should error on the side of caution.  It is also okay to introduce them to difficult topics like death, depression, or anxiety without it becoming unseemly.  Song of the Sea, Inside Out even Lion King are great examples of films for kids that helped them contemplate adult topics in an appropriate way.

over the garden wall5The other day a friend was asking me if I thought her kids would like Over the Garden Wall and as completely brilliant as I think the series is it was hard for me to answer.  It is pretty scary for a child under 6.  Scares are perhaps the area with the most leeway and variance depending on the kids.  Some kids would have no problem with Return to Oz but I did.  I hated The Rescuers because the idea of being abducted and forced down a cave was scary.  Other kids love that movie so that’s where careful parenting comes in.

The truth is I ask the same question of live action films like Marvel or Harry Potter but most of those films are made for teenagers over 13.  Most animated films are PG or lower and that means sometimes parents need guidance (Parental Guidance is what PG means after all!).  So as bloggers we can provide a service to parents to help them know what elements of a film are not appropriate for children.  I think that is a very good thing and I hope I help out my friends with kids in that department.

Regardless, I don’t think it is wrong to ask the question of an animated film ‘is this appropriate for kids’?  With the exception of the adults only films, most animated movies are made with kids at least tangentially in mind. I don’t know how that can even be argued.  As I see it, it is a fact and one the studios make billions of dollars on in merchandising and marketing.

So I will continue to ask if these animated films are for kids, and if they aren’t, I’ll tell you.  That’s my commitment to all of you!

Did the Right Film Win? 2011 Animated Oscars

Hi guys!  Time for the next in my animated oscars series.  Today we are looking at 2011 which was an eclectic year for animation with no Pixar or Disney nominations.  I personally would have nominated Arthur Christmas and Winnie the Pooh but the 5 they went with are interesting in their own right.

This is a bit of a long one but I think you will enjoy it.

Basically I thought Puss in Boots may be my favorite film from the Shrek universe.  I like how they kept the parody elements down.  I also liked the 3D back when I first saw it and think the animation holds up very well.  The voice work by Antonio Banderas is good and I like the action which was a loving homage to Zorro and those kind of classic films.   On downside I didn’t love how they handled the Salma Hayek character.  She starts strong but isn’t treated with much respect and ends up having to be rescued and as an ordinary love interest.  I also think it can feel a little episodic and gets a little convoluted at moments.  But overall I enjoy Puss in Boots.

Kung fu Panda 2 I really enjoyed.  I know many readers don’t care for it, which is cool.  Always good to have a variety of opinions.  I think they toned down the humor and made a real kungfu movie with good fight scenes and battles.  I think they also majorly upgraded the villain with Shen voiced by Gary Oldman.  I like the adoption subplot and the development of the Furious Five is much better than in the first.  Overall, I think it is a good martial arts movie!

Then we have Cat in Paris which was a huge surprise for me.  I had never heard of it and I really liked.  I thought the animation was unique and beautiful.  I really liked the Mother character and felt she was well developed and interesting.  The story surprised me and didn’t go exactly as I thought it would.  The music is really strong and it’s both scary and funny.  Its a real hidden gem.

The fourth nominee is a foreign film called Chico and Rita.  This is a very adult animated film with a lot of nudity and I had to skip over sections.  That said, I liked the character of Rita and the music.  The animation I thought looked rotoscoped and generic; although, there are pretty moments.  I didn’t like the character of Chico and felt the movie was a little to easy on him.  He’s a real jerk and doesn’t deserve Rita.  The jazz music is really catchy and I can see why it was nominated even if it isn’t my cup of tea.

The final nominee is Rango.  If you have been a fan of the blog you might remember my review of Rango last year. I was pretty tough on it and I must admit I liked it a little bit more this time around.  The beginning has some interesting surrealist touches and towards the end the story picks up.  I appreciate they were trying to do something different but overall the pallet feels very beige to me so everything ends up looking bland and the same.  I also feel it takes way too long for the story to get going and don’t find Rango ambling around very funny.  Granted I haven’t seen many Westerns it is spoofing so that may be part of it.  I think the characters are underdeveloped and you go long stretches without characters which makes them even weaker.  Overall, I’m just not a fan of Rango but I see why others like it.

Of course, Rango won for the year and I think in this case the wrong film won.  There just isn’t enough story and the artistry is too bland for me to get behind Rango.  If I had to pick out of the 5 I would go with Cat in Paris.  I think it is visually inventive, the story surprised me and I really liked the characters.  Overall, it is a real delight.

What would you pick out of the 5 films?

Did the Right Film Win? 2007 Animated Oscars

Hi guys!  Happy labor day weekend!  I’ve been having a lot of fun with my sister in town, but I was able to rewatch Persepolis and watch Surf’s Up for the first time.   I just posted my video on the 2007 Oscars and I think all 3 films are very creative.

Ratatouille and Persepolis both made my Top 50 Animated Films Countdown and my Most Artistic Animated Films, so clearly I like both of them a lot.  It’s tough to pick which one deserved to win because they are both so different and I appreciate them for different things.  I went with Ratatouille because I love the ending so much but I can totally see going with Persepolis as well.  It’s a fantastic film that helped introduce many to a whole new ‘adult’ side of animation.

As I said, I had never seen Surf’s Up and I really liked it!  It’s very creative with the way it applies a documentary approach to an animated film.  The humor works.  The ocean and surfing scenes look gorgeous and I liked the message about winning and competition.  It’s a very strong film.

So, all 3 are great but in the end I think the right film won.  What about you?  Which would you pick?

Cheatin Review

cheatin10A few days ago I posted my belief that “whether 2D, 3D, stop motion or live action it all comes down to the story“.  I genuinely believe that to be true for 99% of films but like any rule there are exceptions. Some films are obviously an excuse  for art and the story takes a back seat.  Usually to work these types of films have to give us something new.  They have to be over-the-top and challenge us artistically otherwise the movie doesn’t work.  Fantasia, for instance, gave us something new.  Something that has never been topped artistically to date. Another example, last years Rocks in My Pockets did have a disturbing and profound story but it still took a back seat to the imagery presented.

This years Cheatin’ is another example of such an artistically bold film. It is not a film for everyone.  It is challenging and like most new things a little tough to digest but I’m glad I saw it.

Created by animator Bill Plympton, Cheatin’ tells the story of a beautiful woman named Ella who is tired of superficial men. To her chagrin she gets wrangled into attending a carnival when she wants to just read her book.

cheatin21Eventually she is convinced to ride the bumper cars but there is an accident and she is trapped. Fortunately, she is rescued by a jock type named Jake and they instantly fall in love.  None of this is done through any real dialogue but through music, opera, grunts, screams, yells, sighs and other expressions.

cheatin19The artistry throughout is just beautiful.  I mean look at this shot.

cheatin18So they get married and Jake is completely loyal to Ella.  However, a woman who is in love with him stages a photo to make it look like Ella isn’t faithful to him.  This breaks Jake’s heart.

cheatin16With his broken heart he falls prey to temptation and becomes a serial adulterer.  These scenes are fairly graphic for an animated movie.  But they are so non-realistic that I wasn’t really offended but I can see that others would be.  The music is amazing throughout in mixing opera, jazz and the score by Nicole Renaud.

Meanwhile Ella is devastated at her husbands cheatin ways and fantasizes what she wants to do to him.

cheatin14In her remorse she stumbles upon a magician who has a special machine that will allow her to enter the bodies of the women her husband is seducing.

cheatin11The magician knows this is a mistake but she sneaks in and does it anyway.

cheatin13Eventually Jake realizes the photo was a phony and that he was wrong about Ella but it is too late? We don’t know.

cheatin15Cheatin has an interesting back story.  Bill Plympton raised over 100k on Kickstarter to make the movie and backers received the film in August of last year.  This is why it was submitted to the Academy and Annies for 2014. (I guess that means it is out of the running for 2015?).

All the animation was drawn by Plympton himself which is kind of amazing (40,000 drawings all done by him!).  What an artist! A staff of 10 people then did the colorization and compositing.  It’s hard to believe so few people and such a tiny budget could make a film like this.

If 2D proponents are looking for signs of hope the Cheatin’ Kickstarter success and the quality of this movie should give it to them.  Hullabaloo animated project got over 400k in only 1 month of fundraising with a goal of 80k so there’s that as well.  Not half bad!

But back to the movie.  It is challenging.  It is different but I like films like that.  The story isn’t much but it is audacious and bold enough in the visuals to not need it.

I think if you watch the trailer and it looks like you’d hate it you probably will.  If it looks like the type of art you like and something interesting then give it a shot.  You’d be supporting a small animator trying to do something in a big pond. I was more than happy to throw $10 his way to buy it on demand. $4.99 to rent.

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cheatin

Overall Grade- B+, Content Grade- C

Animation Lookback 2014 Videos

I had one of the worst nights of insomnia in my life so I’ve spent most of last night and today working on a new series on my youtube channel.  It is a look-back on animation in 2014- the highs, mediums and lows.  It is basically my Rachie’s post in video form.  I thought you might enjoy them and I would love if you gave them a watch.  I would also appreciate it if you subscribed to my channel.  I do box reviews and movie reviews of which you will probably be more interested in the latter but I try to post good thoughtful content and am improving every day.

This series I think turned out very good.  I hope it will help the public at large become aware of some of the smaller special animated movies, as well as maybe seeing ‘the big 6’ in a new light.  Thanks again for watching the videos and for all your support.