This is your brain on anime

19 04 2008

In the last decade, Pixar has all but taken over the animated movie scene with their state of the art graphics and captivating stories. Leave in some room for Dreamworks and their couple successes, and there’s not much for anyone else. However, the surge in popularity of anime in America over the last decade has helped to detract some attention from the CGI studios.

The two biggest names to start becoming more familiar with are Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. Both are masters at showing why 2D animation still remains, in many ways superior to 3D. If we examine all 3D movies every released, we’ll notice something very peculiar. Nearly every movie is light-hearted, comedic, and directed primarily at children. That isn’t to say they’re bad; Pixar has all but mastered their genre. It just means that any attempts at serious CGI movies will be incredibly awkward to watch.

The only way to alleviate the problem is to make the quality of graphics so amazing that the audience can’t tell if it’s real or not. At that point, the movie may as well be live action anyway.

2D animation, however, has proven once and again that it can succeed in any genre. In this year’s Academy Awards, there were two light-hearted CGI films, Ratatouille and Surf’s Up, and an extremely serious 2D film, Persepolis. However, there is one other 2D film that should have been nominated had the Academy not continued to be so stuck-up. That movie is Paprika.

It’s innovative, enjoyable, mind-blowing, captivating, and beautiful in every way. The 3D effects are also seamlessly combined into the animation unlike any movie I’ve ever seen.  While this movie didn’t get to enjoy a wide-release – R-rated animated foreign films usually don’t – I recommend that everyone see it. Keep an open mind and let the anime flood your brain as it was meant to.

The character Paprika also reminded me of Amelie from the movie of the same name. Their likeness is uncanny considering one is a real person and one is animated. The two movies share a certain weirdness, but it’s that weirdness that sets them apart from the hundreds of other films released each year.





Marketa Irglova: When dreams come true

25 02 2008

NewsAs has been previously stated in this blog, I am a big fan of the “little movie that could,” Once. Accordingly, I was absolutely ecstatic when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly.” I also sat balking at the TV through the entire commercial break after the microphone was cut off right as Irglova stepped up to make her acceptance speech. Glen Hansard had already made his speech, but the nineteen-year-old Irglova (her birthday is in three days) was immediately interrupted by the orchestra and whisked off-stage.

Irglova

It turns out that, once in a blue moon, Oscar recipients do get a chance to finish their speeches. After the commercial break, she was allowed back on stage to give her speech. Thank goodness she got the chance, because it was easily the most stirring speech of the night:

“I just want to thank you so much.  This is such a big deal not only for us but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of the time struggling.  The fact that we’re standing here tonight, the fact that we’re able to hold this is just to prove that no matter how far out your dreams are, it’s possible.  And, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream and don’t give up.  This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope, at the end of the day, connects us all no matter how different we are.  So thank you so much who helped us along the way.  Thank you.”

She received one of the most resounding applauses of the entire night for her chance to say those words.





Once in a blue moon

28 01 2008

Plugs“Once” in a blue moon a movie is released that reminds us (the viewers) that good movies don’t have to be made of million dollar budgets, superstar celebrities, and intricate plots. If you have not heard of the movie, Once, then you may be missing out on one of the best films of 2007. The movie was shot for on $160,000 (about 1/1000 of the cost of the recent films, I Am Legend, Shrek the Third, and Evan Almighty) and yet has rated in the Top Ten for 2007 of twenty professional critics (Top Five for eleven of them). These are the same level of critics whose reviews are compiled on RottenTomatoes.com and MetaCritic.com.

Even more impressive is the fact that the lead actor, Glen Hansard, and the director, John Carney, both come from the Irish rock band, The Frames. The lead actress, Marketa Irglova, worked with Glen Hansard on a CD titled The Swell Season, but neither had ever acted before. If the movie itself isn’t inspirational enough, the story behind the movie shows that certainly shows that you can do almost anything you put your mind to. Unfortunately, Once was more or less skipped over for the Academy Awards. They have one nomination for Best Original Song, “Falling Slowly,” one I hope they can win.

Once