Best Movies of the Decade

A few weeks ago I saw a video or article about the best movies of the last decade. Most of the choices were hipster indie choices, which is fine, but they definitely didn’t capture my favorites of the decade. It gave me the idea to make a video of my list but that felt boring. On a whim I decided to reach out to my fellow youtubers on twitter and see if anyone else wanted to contribute. I asked each person to make a 1-2 minute video about their favorite movie and to my shock the response was massive. I ended up with 14 contributors and it made for a video I really love. I love how different everyone’s picks are and how heartfelt their explanations behind their picks. It’s definitely one of my favorite videos I’ve ever done on my channel so check it out.

My favorite can be no surprise to all of you: 2016’s anime masterpiece Your Name. However, I thought I would give you the rest of my top 10 for here on the blog. I am not going to include a pick from this year because they haven’t had a chance to sit long enough but if I did I would probably pick Avengers: End Game, which is a film I love.

1. Your Name– beautiful in every facet with a layered story about what happens when we understand the humanity of the people around us

2. Wonder Woman– not just a superhero story but a story about why God loves us mortals despite us being pretty awful towards each other. I loved Diana. I loved the message. I loved everything about it

3. Perks of Being a Wallflower– my favorite coming of age movie. I love the message. I related strongly to the group of teens and its not about finding love but believing we deserve love in the first place

4. Inside Out– brilliant metaphysical film that has the guts to teach us all that sadness matters. It’s funny, sweet, with devastating yet effective endings for 3 of its characters- Joy, Riley and Bing Bong

5. Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse– I loved the animation. It still blows me away on each watch. I loved the character of Miles. I loved the meta story with the different Spider-man. I loved how funny it is. Perfection!

6. Tangled- Disney’s first romantic comedy and done so well. I love the witty banter between Flynn and Rapunzel. I love how indecisive she is and how he grows and changes. I love Mother Gothel as a true dishy villain and I love the songs.

7. Sing Street– Speaking of songs few films filled me with more musical-enhanced joy than Sing Street. What a lovely film about growing up, making music and finding love. The original songs are super catchy and the relationship between the brothers feels so authentic

8. Paddington 1 and 2Paddington and Paddington 2 are near perfect family films. They both have humor, huge hearts and characters that are so charming. I wish we could get one each year.

9. Song of the SeaSong of the Sea is the film I cried the most in the theater. What a touching film about grief and how little Ben can learn to forgive his Mother for dying and his sister for being the cause. The animation and music are stunning. So lovely.

10. Arthur Christmas– For my money the best holiday film of the last decade is Arthur Christmas. Such a sweet, heartfelt movie that captures the innocence and kindness of Christmas. Even the “villain” brother is just trying to run things well. It’s perfect to watch at Christmas

Honorable Mentions- Mary Poppins Returns, Crazy Rich Asians, STEP, Hacksaw Ridge, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Lean on Pete, Boyhood, Frozen, Moana, The Avengers, Paranorman, Mud, The Martian, Hidden Figures, The Lego Movie, Harry Potter 7 pt 2, Toy Story 3, Gravity, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok, XMen Days of Future Past, Interstellar, American Sniper, Pitch Perfect, Brooklyn, 45 Years, Creed, Cinderella, and many more.

What would be your favorites?

2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7wz447AgL4x2fxnrGhVdu-6ZZa8v18Vl

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will make you smile.

anomalisaAnomalisa-

A somewhat cynical yet thought provoking stop motion animated film from Charlie Kaufman for adults. The animation is fluid and smooth as it focuses on a man named Michael who has become disenfranchised with the people in his life.  Everyone looks, behaves and even sounds the same.  Then he meets Lisa who is different and this excites him.  Some of the adult content I felt was distracting from what really made Lisa special. We could have dug deeper but instead we get superficial differences like a scar or voice. Still, it will definitely make you think and if you can handle the content worth a watch.

inside out3Inside Out-

I don’t know how I could say more about this film.  It was my favorite film of 2015 and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animated films of all time.  I have found myself watching it most weeks since I got it on blu-ray.  There’s just something about the dual stories of Riley and Joy that doesn’t age for me.  It improves each time I see it.  I love the humor, visual splendor, and heart.  The end when Riley admits to her parents ‘I miss home’ is perfect.  Joy’s journey when she finally realizes that happiness requires sadness is equally strong.  Perfection from Pixar.

shaun the sheep posterShaun the Sheep-

A delight from the team at Aardman.  A spin off from the TV show (which is great and you can watch on Amazon Prime) Shaun is tired of his boring routine and wants a day off.  So him and his friends go to the big city and have an adventure.  It has the spirit of a silent comedy with minimal dialogue and some great visual jokes.  I loved when the Farmer becomes a barber to the stars.  It’s a sweet, simple, endearing film.  And of course, the animation is wonderful as is usually the case from Aardman.  I wish more people in US saw their great films.

when marnie9When Marnie was There-

This film really impacted me emotionally.  Seeing the journey of Anna as she struggles with deep depression and her family’s effort to save her is very beautiful.  The main message is that we all have love in our lives.  The key is recognizing that love, both here on earth and from those who have passed on.  We all have love, and that love has power to rescue.  The animation is stunning.  I particularly loved the sound mixing and how lush everything felt.  The ending may not work for everyone but I thought it was pure truth. Great way for Studio Ghibli to go out. The music and song by Priscilla Ahn is gorgeous.

————————————

So 5 wonderful films!  It’s funny looking over these 5 nominees I feel 2015 is a bit of a an underrated year.  It certainly was a diverse year especially when you consider 2 very strong films, Peanuts Movie and Good Dinosaur, that were not nominated.  And how amazing is it to have a year with only 1 CG film nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.  2014 only had 2. Take that 2D animation is dead crowd! 😉

Anyway, I think you guys know Inside Out is the clear winner in my books; although, I think all 5 are quality films.  As I said earlier, Inside Out is a game changer for me.  A film I will never forget.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominees and do you think the right film won?

Inside Out Spoiler Review

inside out3All right guys let’s get a little spoilery.  If you haven’t seen Inside Out stop reading now and come back when you have.  (No complainers about giving away details ok!!!).

Let’s talk about things that make Inside Out so special which I didn’t want to give away in my non-spoiler review.  For a quick recap the story of Inside Out takes place in the mind (not the brain) of a little girl named Riley.  And on an aside the idiots who are claiming ‘they stole Herman’s Head’ are wrong.  Herman’s Head is about personality traits not emotions.  It isn’t the same!  Herman’s Head has creatures like genius and animal that represent different sides of Herman’s personality just like Riley has the islands of personality.  Plus the show is super dated and not very funny.   Get over it!

Even if the idea of people inside a person’s head has been done Inside Out has an entirely different take on the matter.  It deals with memory and actually not that much time is spent directing Riley around or manipulating her.  Aside from one moment of waking her up it is all about memories and how they ‘make Riley, Riley’ as Joy tells us in the intro.

Up was so brilliant because it was about dealing with loss and how we can ‘move on’ from memories.  How we in a sense can function with those memories.  The main conflict in Inside Out starts because Riley is moving away from her childhood home.  This change has done two important things.  First Sadness is now compelled to turn Riley’s core memories from joyful to sad, which makes sense if you think about a little girl who is losing everything she knew and loved.  Suddenly a happy time with a friend feels sad because that friend is gone.  (Again just like with Up the dreams Carl had with Ellie are now paralyzing him and making him feel guilty for the memories he couldn’t give her).  Joy resists Sadness changing the memories creating the main conflict of the film.

inside out 15 Second, when Riley speaks before her class a new core memory is created and Joy tries to take it away and Sadness says “it’s a core memory. You can’t take it away”.  That’s what gets Joy and Sadness sucked into long-term memory and our entire story moving.  When you think about it, Pete Doctor and his team have really presented a rather bold concept.  They are saying that Riley at 11 is already having to do what Carl did at however old he is.  She is having to overcome the sadness of her memories and find a way to be happy just like Carl.  Perhaps this is a key to the human experience?  It certainly is for me and everyone I know.

inside out 17So Joy and Sadness end up in long-term memory.  What does this do to poor Riley?  It leaves her in a state of emotional emptiness.  She can feel neither joy nor sadness and that was an emotion I can certainly relate too.  There have been times in my life when there seemed to be a black cloud over everything and I felt incapable of feeling anything and nothing I did made it any better.  No wonder she gets desperate and has the bright idea to go back to where she was happy.   Again it is much like Carl in Up trying to go to the place of their dreams where they had so much joy.  In Riley’s case her mother even tells her that she needs to be happy to help her father.  What a bold idea for Pete Doctor and team to share with kids- that being happy can actually be the wrong advice.  (We’ll get to more of that in a little bit).

inside out 10The next section of the movie you have Joy and Sadness trying to find their way back to headquarters but as Riley starts to feel more empty the more challenges are put in their way.  The islands of personality are falling apart (which again makes sense when you think about depression and the dullness it gives to life) and it forces them into a couple parts of Riley’s brain- her imagination, dreams, subconscious and abstract thought.  These are all brilliantly done.

First we find Imaginationland. This is obviously Riley’s imagination or creative center.  It’s where she plays and fantasizes.  imaginationlandWhat is so brilliant about this world is it is so clearly 11.  Everything about it is changing from a little girl to a teenager. Nearly every building is either being built or taken down, which makes complete sense for Riley especially with a move going on.  For example, her gingerbread house she used to dream about (and is one of the possible options for the new house in San Francisco) is being taken apart when the duo arrive. We also see the Princess Castle evaporate into thin air.

imaginationland3This sense of change in Imanginationland not only creates an unpredictable world (as opposed to say Sugar Rush in Wreck-it Ralph which was pink and sugary and kind of predictable) but it also tells us so much about Riley.  It tells us that she is thinking about boys, and throwing off some of her more childish ideas.  At the end, she has whole new personality islands like Boy Band Island and Joy seems to finally be at a spot where she can allow for whatever Riley wants to happen.  Riley’s parents also seem to come to terms with their little monkey imagining a quite grown up thing of running away.  She is a new person an equal to them in many ways emotionally.

Riley’s changing imagination and personality is personified with the character Bing Bong her former imaginary friend.  He has been hanging out in long-term memory for some time but he still dreams of going to the moon in his rocket with Riley again someday.

imaginationland2He knows more than Joy about Riley’s changes and she in fact gives him a naive hope that Riley will revert back and play with him again.  It’s another example of the brilliant layers within the movie.  We see Joy change as Riley is changing and it impacts Bing Bong and Sadness and the whole story.  He knows the inner-workings of Riley’s mind because he has no doubt been hanging around for some time (she’s 11 figure 5 or 6 years?).  He knows the urgency so he suggests they take a shortcut to find the train of thought station.  Sadness warns about this I think knowing there are no shortcuts when it comes to emotional growth and change.  We can want some easy solution to the emptiness Riley is feeling, which is what Joy wants desperately, but that’s not the way things work.

inside out16If we think about who is left to rule Riley’s mind when she is feeling all of this emptiness it is mostly Anger and Fear with a little help from Disgust.  Isn’t that true?  When we are dealing with depression or these types of feelings do we feel joyful?  No we feel angry and at least for me especially anxious.  You will do almost anything to get rid of the emptiness and we can see Riley as she gives up hockey, gets frustrated with her parents and gets sent to her room.  Her father mistakenly tries to cheer her up with the old Riley making monkey noises.  That just reinforces what she has lost and the unknown lying in front of her.  And yet her Mother tells her she has to be happy?  That feels as impossible as if Joy was lost in a maze in her mind…oh wait she is!

So at this point Joy, Sadness and Bing Bong take the shortcut and just as Sadness predicted it ends up being a problem.  They are lost in Riley’s abstract thinking.  It is a brilliant sequence where they change from cubism (look like Picaso), to two dimensional objects, to lines and barely make it out alive. Again so is with shortcuts to real emotional growth.  They just leave us muddled in abstract concepts like wellness and wholeness and not any closer to fixing the problem.

abstract thoughtOnce they make it out of abstract thought they arrive at the Train of Thought.  All seems to be solved and Joy an Sadness are back on their way to headquarters with Bing Bong but Joy has still not accepted the need for Sadness in Riley’s life.  She has started too when she hears Sadness console Bing Bong over the loss of the rocketship.  (Sadness merely listens to him and he feels better.  That is very profound concept, sadness listens…Still pondering that one).  But if they made it back to headquarters Joy would still be resistant to Sadness and the sad core memory and Riley would probably still want to run away (remember it is Sadness that is able to remove the lightbulb to run away).

So the Train of Thought stops because Riley goes to sleep.  This means they have to enter the next land which is Rileys Dream Studios.  This is probably the funniest section of the movie as there is a production studio that looks alarmingly like the Warner Brothers lot (water tower and all) which I thought was funny.  I like that Riley is still a normal girl having fairly normal dreams  but just like our dreams the longer they go the nuttier they get.  There are some definite inside jokes in this segment about the illusion of movie making.  I especially like the reality distortion filter. Even in the best of movies that is the case.  It’s a story not reality.

dreams productionJoy wants to do something nice to wake Riley up so they can get back on the train.  She gives Bing Bong the core memories and tries acting like a dog.  Sadness says “this isn’t working…”  Joy will not listen and they end up getting kicked out of the studio with Bing Bong taken to the next land Riley’s subconscious. These characters of Joy and Sadness have a real dynamic character arc.  You see them grow and change which is remarkable when you think they are emotions.  Perhaps our emotions are also dynamic fluid things that change?  Particularly joy at 11 is different than joy at 70.

inside out18 Joy and Sadness have to follow Bing Bong into the subconscious because he has the core memories.  The subconscious is full of things that scare Riley.  Things like the basement stairs or her grandma’s vacuum cleaner (I’m assuming that one was a long forgotten fear).  And the largest fear is a giant clown that has trapped Bing Bong in a balloon cage.  This was interesting to me that Riley’s fears have trapped her imaginary friend from childhood.  I know for me when I was going through my empty time I was afraid to make a change and be happy.  My fears were holding me back.  All of Riley’s Imaginationland is changing and how ironic that her imaginary friend is in a cage in her subconscious?  This is the only part of the movie that might scare small children.  One little girl had to be taken out of the theater because the clown is pretty scary.

inside out 19But they are successful in waking up Riley so we think that the train of thought will start up again and the movie will be done but Joy has still not learned to accept Sadness like RILEY NEEDS her too.  By this point the plan to run away is in full swing and it really makes sense if you look at it from Riley’s perspective.  As anger says ‘Minnesota was the last place she was happy so we need to get back there’.  But the problem is she was a girl in Minnesota and certainly if she were to continue on the bus ride she would be even less of a little girl by the end of it.  In fact, her entire personality (all the islands) would have been destroyed.  This is what prevents Joy and Sadness from making it back to headquarters when Family Island starts to disintegrate.   Joy and Bing Bong end up in the memory dump.  (I tried to find a picture but I couldn’t).

Joy has finally reached the point of complete humility where she has stopped trying to be happy and she weeps, cries her eyes out.  She does what Riley should have been doing all along- expressing all this change and fear of the future.  It is then that she see’s the sad core memory from the beginning of Riley crying in class.  The one she had resisted at the beginning that had started all this mess.  She realizes Sadness was right and that Riley needs both of them in order to get through life (how brilliant is that!).  She learns that the happy core memories are often made memorable by the heartache that proceeded it.  In particular a hockey game that Joy had seen as being such a fun core memory.  Now she see’s the other side and how Riley had missed the winning shot and was sad.  Her friends and parents came to cheer her up which made the memory special worthy of a core memory.   It is a very moving moment for the audience as we think about our core memories which are also equally bittersweet.

inside out20It reminds me of the play Our Town.  In the play Emily tries to pick the most innocuous of events to revisit, her 12 year old birthday party,  (Riley is 11).  Surely that will be a perfectly happy care free time.  She ends up leaving in tears and asks the Stage Manager if anyone on earth “realizes  life while they live it”.   Perhaps we are too concerned with making the birthday party and not enough the people being celebrated?  We can certainly see this with Riley’s parents who are trying but dealing with a move, stresses at work and not wanting to acknowledge their daughters feelings.  She just needs to be ‘happy’.  Kind of like the birthday party in Our Town.

Realizing what she needs to do Joy is desperate for a way to get back to Riley and make everything right.  It’s such a humbling moment for a character. I thought in a movie where a character is Joy it would be so one note and predictable.  Never in a million years did I think she would come to herself and realize she was wrong.  I never expected a repentant Joy!  That’s how deep and emotionally rich this movie is.  But they are stuck in the dump and Bing Bong is starting to evaporate.

inside out11That’s when they get the idea to use Bing Bong’s rocket to get back up to Sadness.  Unfortunately after 3 tries it becomes clear to Bing Bong that it cannot make it back with his weight in the ship.  He decides to sacrifice himself in order for Riley to get Joy back again.  It is really a lovely moment of cinema. Joy doesn’t realize it until she is back safely up and there is just time to say goodbye to Bing Bong.  (Again going back to that theme of saying goodbye to Riley’s childhood).  I thought they might pull some kind of stop and not make Bing Bong die. That there would be some way to make everything work out but no they stick with it and it is beautiful, and touching and perfect. It made me think about all the people in my life who sacrificed to help me become the woman I am and gave up much so that I would feel joy (teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, the list goes on).

Eventually Joy and Sadness make it back to headquarters just as Riley is executing her plan and boarding the bus to Minnesota.  They did such a great job in these sequences of making the happy little girl we see at the beginning look  kind of dead inside.  It isn’t really her.  But Joy tells Sadness that Riley needs her and she takes the control board and wakes Riley up and she gets off the bus.  Then she goes home and tells her parents ‘I miss home…I know you need me to be happy but I feel sad and need to be sad”.  Her parents admit they also miss home and are also sad.  Like I said this is the moment where she is no longer their goofy child but an equal emotionally and it is so beautiful.  I’m tearing up just writing about it.  There is such a sense of peace and comfort with the 3 of them embracing on the floor at Riley’s level.   As great as the opening scene in Up is, this is a nearly equally strong closing scene.  I love it soooo much.

inside out 14We then understand that Riley is back to being who she is and is ready to embrace San Francisco and all the changes in her life.  She is finally able to recognize and express all her emotions including sadness and is a terrific teen, even if she does like boy bands. 😉 Joy is also happy in a new way.  She loves all of Riley not just the ‘fun’ parts she appreciated before.

It’s interesting because I did all of that and didn’t mention any of the funny parts and there are tons of them!  There are so many good jokes thrown in at every juncture.  There are dialogue based jokes that kids may not get such as when Bing Bong introduces deja vu over and over again.  And then there are slapstick jokes the kids will love especially with Fear and Anger and their mannerisms and expressions.  Everyone will laugh at things like Angers disgust at broccoli on pizza (or broccoli in general!).  The dream sequence is especially funny aside from the clown that may be a little too scary for small kids but it is short. I loved the gag with the gum commercial that is constantly stuck in Riley’s head!  Another good joke was when the facts and opinions get spilled and mixed up.  Bing Bong says ‘that happens all the time…”. So funny.  They also did just enough of the control boards inside other people (really just one scene) which shows Riley’s frustration while getting good laughs (although it is strange that she is the only one who has both male and female emotions and why is Sadness the leader in Moms brain?).  Anyway, it’s funny and the ending inside the minds is very funny.   The entire family will find things to laugh at in Inside Out.

All the vocal performances are perfect and  it looks beautiful.  I love the way the characters are kind of fluffy on the edges.  They sort of look like faerie muppets in a way.  I also thought the human characters looked great.  The maze of long term memory is great and I thought the sound design was brilliant.  The way the globes sounded like pool balls clanging against each other was just what I would have imagined.  But then when they get to the dump it sounds like charcoal, empty and hollow.

There is so much but it is a beautiful film. I was moved by it.  It made me think about my life.  (In fact, I wrote a blog called Core Memories over on my personal blog).  It made me laugh.  It was visually interesting and new.  I feel inspired in every way you can be inspired by film.  One of the great movie going experiences of my life.

Do you have any response to anything I have said?  Did I elaborate on any points you had been feeling or open up something new you might not have realized?  I’d love to discuss in the comments section.  Thanks!

Pixar Review 18: Inside Out

inside out6Feeling a little emotional guys?  I am because I’m so happy at the amazing movie I just saw!  I LOVED Pixar’s latest movie- Inside Out.  I know it sounds like hyperbole but it may be my favorite Pixar movie.  Yes, it may even be better than my beloved Up.  I really believe that is true.

Inside Out is great in every way.  I loved the characters, world, humor, story, everything.  There is nothing I would change.  If you are expecting criticism in this review you will be sorely disappointed.

I am going to do my best to keep this review spoiler free.  My thought is to then go back in a couple of weeks, once most you have seen it, and post a spoiler review about the small details and goings-on of the plot.

Basically the story of Inside Out is about a girl named Riley (love that Pixar picked a girl).  She is a happy 11 year old who is still a little girl and hasn’t grown out of making monkey sounds with her Dad and being goofy.

inside out12Unfortunately Riley’s parents are moving her from her hometown of Minnesota to San Francisco, California.   This naturally brings up a lot of emotions for a young girl and in this movie those emotions look like…

inside out5In the world of the story our minds (not brains) are made up of a mission control of sorts that are run by our 5 emotions:

Joy voiced by Amy Poehler

Sadness voiced by Phyllis Smith

Fear voiced by Bill Hader

Anger voiced by Lewis Black

Disgust voiced by Mindy Kaling

All the voicework in Inside Out is first rate.  What I found so remarkable is these characters should be very one-note.  They are after all emotions.  This should make things very predictable, even grating, but they aren’t at all.  Sadness is an especially dynamic character and you come to realize that great relationship between joy and sadness in our lives. It’s brilliant.

inside out 17The world of the mind is not only staffed by emotions but also is the receptacle for all different kinds of memories.  The memories are little glass balls that glow with whatever emotion the memory entails (a happy memory being yellow for joy, fearful memory purple for fear etc).    There are also memories for data, long-term, short-term, even a hilarious joke of a song that you can’t get out of your head!

inside out8There are also core memories that are the most important for forming Riley.  Those core memories are then the supports for the personality islands.

inside out9Riley’s personality islands are goofball, honesty, family, friendship and hockey.  (I know this sounds complex but it really isn’t).

The 5 emotions are responsible for keeping all the memories in check, the islands floating, and making sure Riley is ok.  Unfortunately things go awry when the core memories are lost along with Joy and Sadness.  This creates a delightful parallel story between Riley who is all the sudden without the emotions to cope with this huge change and the journey of Joy and Sadness getting home and helping Riley.  Plus, Disgust, Anger and Fear have to try and manage Riley as best they can without Joy.

inside out 15
Riley speaking before her new class
inside out 10
Joy and Sadness lost in the department of long-term memory
inside out16
Anger, fear and disgust trying to keep things together.

Joy and Sadness end up going through imaginationland, as well as several other parts of Riley’s psyche and subconscious that I won’t spoil.  But along the way they meet an old imaginary friend of Riley’s called Bing Bong voiced by Richard Kind.  This was an unexpected, unpredictable and wonderfully dynamic character.

inside out11I’ll leave the rest of the plot for you to uncover on your own.  Let’s just say all the plot strands end up in an ending that is as good as the beginning of Up.  For real….

I cried, it made me think about my own emotions and feelings, and it made me laugh really hard.  Everything has layers in Inside Out including the jokes.  For example,  there may be a joke about the subconscious that may go over a kids head but anger getting red, fiery and steamed up will make them laugh- so something for everyone in nearly every scene.

One thing that Pixar does so well (and old school Disney did also) is take kids seriously and this movie does not ‘cutify’ Riley at all.  She is a real person with feelings and emotions that affect her family.  Seeing into her mind is the equivalent of seeing into her heart and it is a lovely place.  She is creative, different, normal and vulnerable.  We also get little peeks into the command centers of other characters.  They aren’t that different from Riley (again that respect for kids.  I love that).

inside out 14And like I said the ending is perfection.

From an animation standpoint it is stunning.  I loved the way the emotions were drawn so that they looked a little fuzzy at the edges, a little ephemeral. I think Riley and her parents are some of the best humans Pixar has done and the world with the memory globes is gorgeous.  There are scenes where we get into dimensions where the animation is astonishing and surprising and I loved the way they did the ‘memory dump’ and the almost charcoal like globes down there.

inside out4 The music by Michael Giacchino does the job but isn’t quite as good as the score for Up which is one of my favorites of all time.  It didn’t make me think of my Grandpa like Up did but I am thinking about what my core memories are.  We all have them.

And like I said all the voice performances are perfect.  The emotions should be one note and predictable but they aren’t.  Just like most emotions they are layered and complicated.

But again also very funny.  I laughed my head off.  I loved a scene where they found tiles of opinions and facts.  They get spilled and the conductor tells them ‘they often get mixed up”.  That’s the kind of humor we get all over the place (or pizza being on broccoli!).

Very rarely do I see a movie more than once in a theater.  The last time I did was Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is a top 10 movie for me (I saw it 3 times in a week…).  I guarantee you I will see Inside Out at least 4 times in the theater and will pre-order it on blu-ray as soon as I can.  I LOVED it.  I couldn’t wait to see it and now I can’t wait to see it again.

Your kids will love it.  You will love it.  It’s one of the greats.   This will definitely be my favorite movie of the year.  I can promise you that.

Overall Grade- A+

Here is my youtube review

Pixar Review 17: Lava

lava2Today I got the chance to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out and I was not in the least disappointed.  You’ll hear more about that in the next post.  But let’s not let my enthusiasm for Inside Out allow me to forget the delightful little short they had before the feature film called Lava.

Directed by James Ford Murphy Lava is a simple short that is a love letter to Hawaii and Hawaiian music (you know I will love that!).   The artwork in Lava is gorgeous.  We get wide swooping shots of both the Hawaiian mountains and the beautiful ocean.  We see whales jumping up out of the water and everything sounds so peaceful and serene.

lava3As we dive in closer we see that the volcano has a face and we learn he is singing a  Hawaiian song.  The volcano named Uku is voiced by Kuana Torres Kahele and the song he sings is a sweet plea to the Island Gods to allow him to find the love he see’s all around him.  I love Hawaiian music so that was great!

lavaI like that the volcano looks like a jolly old soul but he kind of reminds me of Jabba from Return of the Jedi!

Luckily his song is heard by another volcano but it is buried deep in the ocean. The female volcano is named Lele and she begins singing her own song to Uku. It’s a peaceful lovely duet.

lava4Like I said this isn’t one of their more groundbreaking shorts but I did enjoy it.  Anytime I can look at Hawaii, hear Hawaii, think about Hawaii I’m a fan.  It’s a sweet little love story.  Can’t go wrong with that.

Overall Grade- B

Big Disney News and Response at Cannes

Disney should be speaking in French from now on because they just had an amazing response at the Cannes Film Festival. For us Disney fangirls (and boys) we got a lot to be excited about!

This is going to be a very nerdy post with tons of little details that might not interest the average movie fan but for us Disney geeks you’ll love every last little crumb!

The response from Cannes surprised me because it is known for its tough crowds.  This year two films, Michael Caine’s Youth and Matthew McConaughey’s Sea of Trees, were both booed by festival goers.  So for Disney to get such a strong response says a lot.

inside out

The good things started with the premiere of Pixar’s new film Inside Out.  It was greeted with a standing ovation and one critic said it was “probably double the loudest applause of any other film at the festival.  It went down like gangbusters”

Needless to say such sentiments have heightened my own excitement to the tilts!  I can’t wait!   Even hoity-toity NPR critic Kenneth Turan said:

“It’s very funny.  It’s very inventive.  And really moving, kind of in the way Up was”

Sold! I’m so jealous of everyone at Cannes who got to see it!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

Disney had a 25 minute showcase of their upcoming slate starting with more details about Thanksgiving release of Good Dinosaur. We have heard so little about this movie that I was so curious for these details.

Here is the new synopsis from Deadline article.
“The Good Dinosaur follows teenager Arlo, who is separated from his family when he falls into a raging river and is swept hundreds of miles away. He comes across Spot, a human cave-boy orphan with whom he forms a bond as he attempts to get home.

Lasseter said, “Our films ask ‘What if?’ questions. What if monsters really did live in your closet? What if a rat wanted to be the finest chef in the most beautiful city in the world? I think our next movie asks the biggest ‘What if?’ of all. What if the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs actually missed Earth?”

I think that sounds pretty amazing! People have been saying for a long time Pixar needs to get back to original storytelling and the way I see it is Pixar has two types of storytelling- the what if stories (Toy’s come to life, Monsters in the closet, rats cooking etc) and more traditional journey narratives (father finding his son, nostalgic cars teaching new lesson, bugs facing their captors, last robot finding love, a family of superheroes, a man and his flying house pays homage to his wife).

With Inside Out I feel they are giving us a What if story- what if inside our head there is an entire world going on.  And with Good Dinosaur there is a what if but it seems like it is mostly going to be a journey of Arlo and Spot.  It sounds a lot like Finding Nemo to me and that is great!!

Deadline says the Good Dinosaur footage “captivated international audience members…Two french women sitting near me alternately gasped and whispered “extraordinaire” and “incroyable” when amazingly lifelike closeups of CGI foiage were shown. The environment, Lasseter said, is a “living breathing character” in the film”.

Again that sounds very Finding Nemoish to me where the environment of the  ocean played such a role in the story (think the jellyfish sequence, the turtles in the EAC etc).  This sounds great!!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

finding dory2

Next they talked about Finding Dory the sequel to Finding Nemo.  I didn’t know if they needed a sequel but Andrew Stanton is directing which is awesome and the synopsis sounds neat:

“Dory’s memory of her childhood is triggered while she’s at school on the Coral Reef one day with Nemo. She makes her way to an institute that cares for undersea creatures and teams up there with Hank The Octopus who becomes her guide.

finding dorryDiane Keaton and Eugene Levy will play Dory’s parents and “folks were treated to some of their banter and there was also footage of a kelp forest on California’s northern coastline (“a new look for us” said Lasseter) and a glimpse of the Loons, to whom Lasseter referred as “the Seagulls of the new movie. They’re so startlingly dumb it’s hilarious.”

That sounds amazing!! I can’t wait!

But the good news didn’t stop there…

We got some new details on Toy Story 4.  Lasseter said “brand new chapter that’s very personal”.  Evidently it is going to be a love story and not be a continuation of the events of Toy Story 3 or involve human characters.  It is entirely within the toy world which sounds pretty great to me! Lasseter said “”We’re in the early stages of the film, but it’s shaping up nicely. It’s funny. The story is not as much a continuation of the past films, but a brand new chapter in the ‘Toy Story’ world.”

But the good news didn’t stop there…

Next they moved on to the Walt Disney Animated Studio WDAS which has marked 10 years since the Lasseter/Ed Catmull take over.  What a great 10 years it has been! (I know 2D fans might disagree but I’ve loved it).   Lasseter said

“Walt Disney Animation Studios is back.  Ed and I always believed what would heal this studio- because it was quite broken when we came in, the morale was really low- what would really heal it is if we can make a movie to be a really big hit.  These guys are on fire now”.

They certainly are!

zootopia2

Next up for WDAS is Zootopia which looks really cool.  Lasseter said it will be ‘classically Disney” and the images look very 2D although it is CG.  I wonder if it will have the feel of their Paperman short which blended 2D and CG techniques?

Either way it is an anthropomorphized fox in a ‘modern civilized world’ of animals. ”  Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin star as a kind of buddy cop duo. Again from Deadline article

” Eliciting huge laughs was a scene in which the unlikely partners are rushing to get a run on a license plate, only to find the DMV is fully staffed by sloths.”

That sounds really great!

But the good news doesn’t stop there (only 1 more)…

moana2We learned more about the new princess movie Moana.  Directed by Disney legends Ron Clements and John Musker it is a musical set in the South Pacific and was “inspired by the group’s own experience on a research trip to Oceana”

“The story follows a talented young navigator whose father forbids her to sail beyond their island reef. When she sets out anyway and ends up stranded on another island, she meets the fallen demi-god Maui and they set off on an adventure” .

Deadline says “a song montage was shown to Cannes attendees who showered it with applause” (what I would have given to be at that meeting!).

Anyone who knows me knows I love Hawaii, musicals and the ocean.  Moana seems like it was designed just for me so of course I am so excited!

—————————-

So I know that was a lot of info but each and every part makes me so giddy I just had to share it with all of you!

What excites you? Did any of this information and the Cannes response assuage any concerns or give you a new enthusiasm for the projects? Which of the upcoming films are you looking forward too most?  Or are you like me and excited for all of them!