I will be reviewing Snowtime in the next couple of days on this blog, as I didn’t want to take anything away from the Rotoscopers review. I have previously reviewed Rocks in My Pockets on this blog (but I would still love it if you checked out the Rotoscopers review).
But I also posted 2 new videos on my youtube channel. I created a tag called The Little Mermaid tag and my fellow youtuber Aly did it with me. It ended up being really fun and if any of you want to do it I would love to hear your answers. (My cannon review of Little Mermaid is here)
Here are the questions if you want to do the tag.
Little Mermaid Tag
Favorite Ginger actress?
Have you ever had ginger hair?
What world from movie or book would you like to be a part of?
What teenage movie or book is your favorite?
If you could be a mermaid would you want to?
Best name- Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana or Ariel?
What would you wish for from Ursula?
What human device could you picture using in a new way?
Favorite Disney song?
Favorite Disney couple?
Favorite fish recipe?
Could you convince someone to love you without speaking?
What is your ideal date/proposal/kiss?
Best father/daughter combo in a movie?
Belle vs Ariel? Lumiere vs Sebastian?
Is Little Mermaid feminist or not?
Who should play Ariel in live action Little Mermaid?
Why do you love Little Mermaid?
I also posted my review of Dumbo in my Disney Canon Project on my channel this morning. I worked really hard on it and would love if you gave it a look.
So a bit of a jumbled post today but I hope you enjoy all the content. I had a blast making it!
This weekend should be very busy coming up as well with Kung fu Panda 3 and The Finest Hours, which I will review. Will look forward to your feedback.
A 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.
Eventually 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.
The artistry throughout is just beautiful. I mean look at this shot.
So 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.
With 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.
In 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.
The magician knows this is a mistake but she sneaks in and does it anyway.
Eventually Jake realizes the photo was a phony and that he was wrong about Ella but it is too late? We don’t know.
Cheatin 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.
One of my goals this year is to watch the hidden animated films of 2014. I have already reviewed Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, Wrinkles, Miniscule: the Valley of the Lost Ant, and Tale of Princess Kaguya. I am planning on seeing Song of the Sea this weekend so look for that review to be coming. All these smaller films have been beautifully animated with unique stories you won’t get from the major studio. I highly recommend taking a look at the reviews and finding the film that looks the most interesting to you.
Today we are going to talk about the adult animated film Rocks in My Pockets. This is an extremely challenging film and it is definitely not for everyone but I’m glad I saw it.
It is the work of Latvian artist Signe Baumane and it is practically a one woman show. She writes, directs, animates the entire film. She even provides the narration which is problematic as she is clearly not a native English speaker and it comes off very robotic. At first I actually thought it was a computer translator not a person.
Rocks in My Pockets is the tale of Signe’s family history of mental illness. It is done using hand drawn and paper mache stop motion. It is brutal, disturbing, vulgar and upsetting at times. That’s why I say it is definitely not for everyone but I also found it moving, raw, honest and beautiful in the way disturbing art can be.
She starts with the story of her Grandmother who tried to commit suicide in a river but did not have rocks in her pockets so she failed in her attempt. I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie that so accurately describes the panic, madness, and strange peace that happens inside the heads of those dealing with mental illness. I have never had that serious of an incident but I have had panic attacks so I related to all her descriptions.
In the former Soviet block nation of Latvia the psychiatrist hands out pills, mainly valium or puts the mentally ill in an insane asylum; thereby either trying to dull or hide the problem. We have come a long way in a sense but we still have a long way to go on the stigma and treatment of mental illness in America today.
Signe then tells the stories of 4 of her cousins and in the most painful segment her own story of battling schizophrenia. Like I said it is disturbing and brutal stuff but I was strangely moved by it. I guess it felt like someone sharing their soul through art and I appreciated that.
The section on post partum depression was interesting. Signe says it is the ‘legitimate’ mental illness. I never thought about it but that is really true even if it is still not treated with the weight and importance it should. There is a very disturbing section where her Grandmother see’s a rabbit eating her own babies and she looks at her 8 children and for a second is envious of the rabbit.
When Signe has her own baby and it is a transcendent experience for her but it doesn’t make the mania inside her go away it was a very poignant moment. Her cousins have the same problems wanting to love desperately but feeling unable to do so.
The animation is gorgeous and constantly daring and surprising the viewer. I loved how it moved and felt like a sketch from inside Signe’s mind. Since all the stories are about women the female bodies are intentionally drawn in a way so they look nude despite being fully clothed (except for one scene where a back is shown). You get a feeling Signe feels naked while drawing this story and that leads to her visuals.
With mental illness Hollywood tends to either make the sufferer scary and erratic or loveable and sweet. Signe does none of that. She tells their story in all its rawness yet still has great love and sympathy for the characters. It defies every cliché you could imagine and that moved me.
It is also unafraid to talk about self harm and other destructive techniques of ‘indulging your insanity not fighting it”. The end of the film she talks about her day to day life and how she has learned to cope with her illness finally summarizing her survival method beautifully.
“I am a working artist. This is my work in progress. I have to continue to live to complete it”
That’s not to say it is perfect because it’s not. Signe’s narration is a huge problem. Like I said it is robotic and very off-putting and since there is no other dialogue that is unfortunate. I don’t know if we needed to hear about every cousin and Signe and the Grandma. It’s a 126 minute movie, pretty long by animated film standards. I would have cut it down to 90 minutes. As it is you leave the experience exhausted. You are stimulated and maybe even inspired but exhausted.
Signe also doesn’t give us any answers. She just tells the story but maybe in a way that is the answer? “You will never be able to walk and talk again without the yellow green and pink pills” said the doctor without giving her a diagnosis. Her sister then says ‘Maybe it’s good to tell everybody so that they know what’s in their genes…It’s in the genes. You were designed to be crazy”
Maybe we just need to let people tell their stories?
Like I said not for everyone but I was moved by it.
The score by Kristian Sensini is also extremely strong and moving.
Overall Grade- B (mainly because the narration is a big stumbling block. If they changed that to a professional actor it would get an A).