academy awards 2012

Puss In Boots (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Puss In Boots (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Chris Miller).
Watched January 29, 2013.

 

Puss In Boots had the potential to be the Zorro for kids and a great family movie that everyone could enjoy.  The classic character from the successful Shrek films was fabulous as a secondary character, but when placed in a leading role, his charms run thin and the depth of his character is questionable.

 

Puss borrows the theme of fairytale creatures from Shrek and puts its own spin on it.  Puss grew up in an orphanage where he was friends with Humpty Dumpty, an evil mastermind in the making.  They dream of one day finding the magic beans of legend and climbing the bean stalk to find a golden egg.  Things go awry, however, when Puss saves the Comandante‘s mother and suddenly becomes the town hero.  Friend turns on friend and once Humpty forces Puss to become a fugitive, things will never be the same.  Years later, Humpty finds Puss again and through some genius tactics and a gorgeous feline sidekick, he pulls him back into the dream of chasing those golden goose eggs.

 

Every character has the potential of being heroic, deep, and screen worthy.  Perhaps the writers held back because it was a kids movie, or perhaps their ideas did not translate well into reality, because every character and plot line fell short.  Humpty was the only character who came close to his full potential.  At the same time, the motivation seems forced, the circumstances unreal, and some scenes are so out of place it completely throws off the balance and pacing of the film.  For example, within the first few scenes, Puss and his feline counterpart Kitty Softpaws have a dance off in an underground cat bar.  The circumstances, dance off, and bar itself seemed so out of place and unreal that it was astonishing the script even got funded.

 

The rest of the movie is fairly entertaining and held my attention pretty well.  There was a bit of meandering and some unnecessary action, but all in all it went over well.  The ending was obvious, but perhaps this made it rewarding.  It seems as if the character of Puss was not able to maintain being the main character.  Unlike his compared human likeness, Zorro, his stereotypical Latin personality traits get old a little fast, but still tend to amuse.  The humor is definitely more childish than what one might find in Shrek.

 

The animation, was of course, lovely.  I am always a fan of an animator capturing the giant eyes of an animal and how we all fall under their spell.  There was a great use of lighting and texture, and again, I really enjoyed how they brought so many more fairytale creatures to life in a new and unique way.

 

All in all, it might be a good movie for the kiddos, but I’m not such a big fan.  I wouldn’t exactly seek out this film to see it again.

Sources: FanArt.TVIMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesEvery Oscar Ever

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Chico & Rita (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Chico & Rita (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal).
Watched January 19, 2013.

Chico y Rita opens on old Chico (Eman Xor Oña) is his native Cuba, shining shoes during the day and listening to old school radio at night.  One of the first songs that comes on is a classic by Chico and Rita.  Cue flashbacks to 1948 where Chico is a cocky young piano player out on the town with his best friend Ramón (Mario Guerra) and two yankee tourist girls.  Once Rita (Limara Meneses) enters and woos the whole room with her amazing, seductive voice, Chico is hooked and the rest of the film is preoccupied with their on-again-off-again relationship, fueled by passion and music and hindered by pride and fame.

 

The animation, for the most part, is exquisite.  The lights and city skylines are breathtaking and there is one sequence when Chico dreams of New York that makes the rest of the film look plain and boring in comparison.  Chico & Rita oozes culture.  From the history and the post World War II society, to the jazz numbers that take up much of the running time, it is an educational and enlightening feature.

 

If the story stood up to the animation and music, perhaps it wouldn’t have seemed like such a long 94 minutes.  Every reviewer I read had the wit to describe the story as a journey that follows a Latin ballad–the bolero.  Perhaps the relationship between Chico and Rita was very cultural, because certain reviewers loved it.  I, on the other hand, hated it.  Chico was a decent enough fellow with great talent, but when it came to women, he was a cheating, verbally abusive womanizer.  Although Rita also has her faults, her largest being a heaping dose of pride, she deserved much more than what he gave her.  Their careers take them all around the world–from New York, to Hollywood, to Vegas, and even to Paris–and somehow they always found each other again.  Perhaps it was because Chico reminded her of home, but the fact that Rita always went back to him baffled me.

 

Needless to say, I was not a fan of the story, and the story and characters are two aspects that make or break a film for me.  I am also not a fan of R rated animated films.  I might be blinded by my Disney and Pixar loves, but the use of sex, drugs, and profanity in an animated film is strange to me.

 

If it wasn’t for the animation, music, and incredible culture, I would have given this film one star instead of three.  If you are interested in these aspects I would definitely recommend it, but other than that I was not a fan.

Sources: FilmdbIMDBRotten TomatoesA.V. ClubJared Mobarak DesignTime OutUnseen Films

A Cat in Paris (2010) Review | Jamie Daily

A Cat in Paris (2010)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature Film (Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicioli).
Watched January 18, 2013.

A Cat in Paris is a short, sweet little French animated film about a cat who is a girl’s companion by day and a thief’s accomplice by night.  The creators combined a simple animation style with a clean story to entertain both kids and adults in their just hour long film.

 

Zoé (voiced by Oriane Zani in the French version), hasn’t spoken a word since her father was killed by one of the biggest crime lords in Paris–Victor Costa (Jean Benguigui).  Her mother Jeanne (Dominique Blanc) is a police detective and is all encompassed by finding Costa.  This leaves Zoé home with her outspoken nanny Claudine (Bernadette Lafont) and her cat, Dino.  Once it is bed time, however, Dino is let out through the window to climb rooflines and fences to the night time cat burglar‘s house.  Nico (Bruno Salomone), we will soon find, is an honorable thief who might just learn to care for Zoé as much as Dino before the film is up.

 

The animation is simple in a lot of ways.  Just a few curved lines and a series of drawings pieced together to form a sort of cartoon.  Certain things are off kilter a bit–feet are too small and supposedly stationary objects have movement.  There is a brilliant bit when Nico turns off the lights in Costa’s hide out and all of a sudden people become inverted silhouettes, white on black.

 

I enjoyed the animation, but didn’t quite care for the story or the characters.  The story was very simplistic and predictable, for the most part.  There was very little mystery in it, and although the film was only an hour long, I got bored quickly.  Most of the characters are also very simple.  They are typecast a certain way and they do not change.  Nico was the only surprise in this area.  Once Zoé was in trouble, you forget almost instantly that Nico is a thief as he becomes the biggest hero of the film.  Dino himself is also a cute and mischievous character who helped tie the story together.

 

All in all, I would say it was a cute film with interesting animation.  If you are a cat lover, it might not be an hour wasted to seek out this film.  Otherwise, I would rather find something else to do with my time.

Sources: Movies CutIMDBRotten TomatoesNY Times

The Adventures of Tintin (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Musical Score–Original (John Williams).
Watched January 15, 2013.

 

You know when you can’t get a movie out of your head for days after you watched it?  Whether or not it was the most amazing movie ever created, or the most riveting and believable plot line, it was the kind of thing that entertained you enough that you wanted to share it with others.  When this happens to me I know that it will probably end up in my DVD/Blu-ray collection one day.  Although The Adventures of Tintin was no mind bending film, I really enjoyed it and will one day force it on my kids.

 

Tintin is an age old comic character.  He is a reporter with a propensity for getting himself into trouble, but also for solving giant mysteries.  He’s kind of like the comic strip/boy version of Nancy Drew, or a kid’s version of Indiana Jones.  It has taken a long time for him to come to the big screen, but who better to take him there than Steven Spielberg?

 

In this tale, Tintin and his faithful canine Snowy find a beautiful model ship at a flea market, but immediately after purchasing it they are doused in the mystery and adventure of the craft.  It seems several people are after this very ship, and they might even kill to keep its secret safe.  Not able to let it rest, Tintin and Snowy are off immediately!  Through high seas and deserts, accompanied by a drunk Captain Haddock, they pursue the clues and culprits through many dangers, but always pervail with Tintin’s uncanny ability to do anything he sets his mind to.

 

There have been a lot of negative reviews about the animation (motion capture) of this film, some even going to far as to say it should have just been live action if they weren’t going to stick with the same style as the comic.  I quite disagree.  I really thought that the animation was absolutely brilliant.  It brought a realness to it that I quite liked, and the comic qualities were definitely still present in the two comic reliefs, Thomson and Thompson.

 

The John Williams score was unforunately a bit forgetable, which is interesting as it was the film’s only nomination.  The plot line is rather simplistic, and at times Tintin’s motivation to continue the investigation seems a bit… unmotivated, for lack of a better word.  For the most part, I could see it being a great movie for boys.  In terms of editing there are some really top notch animated transitions.  My favourite was when Captain Haddock’s mirage came to life before our eyes–endless rolling sand dunes morph into a rough sea carrying a gorgeous tall ship.

 

With voices from Jamie BellAndy Serkis, Daniel Craig, and Simon Pegg–among others–you can be sure you are in for a classic Spielberg, feel good adventure story.  The only difference is that it is animated!

 

I would definitely recommend this one, especially if you have kids.

 

Sources: All Things FoeHD WallpapersIMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesJohn Likes Movies

W.E. (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

W.E. (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Costume Design (Arianne Phillips).
Watched January 13, 2013.

In no lifetime will you hear me say that the costume designing in W.E. was not divine, because it was.  That, and the performance of Andrea Riseborough, are the two qualities of this film that endeared it to me, but there were few others.  The story could have been intriguing and it could have been a creative, well made film.  Madonna, however, followed a rising trend of late by mixing past with present and that was W.E.‘s downfall.

 

The film is about the highly controversial romance between Wallis Simpson (Riseborough) and the heir to the throne, King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy).  He fell in love with Wallis, who was an American woman already married.  Wallis Simpson became the most hated woman in Britain and lived with it the rest of her life.  Once they were married, Edward was never allowed back in England, except for after he had died and he was buried there.  Wallis was allowed to accompany him for only the funeral, after which she returned to France.

 

On the modern day story side, we follow a woman named Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish) who was named after Wallis and who has an almost disturbing obsession with the afore mentioned romance, and most especially for her name sake.  She is married to an abusive Psychiatrist and finds solace filling her days exploring an exhibit of the Windsors’ possessions at Sothelby’s in New York.  It is here that she befriends a security guard (Oscar Isaac).  He finds her obsession endearing as well as troubling and eventually saves her from a desperate situation.

 

Except for the fact that Wally is completely obsessed with W.E. and occasionally sees Wallis come to her with advice, their stories have very little to do with one another.  Both want children desperately, and neither are able to conceive (while they still hold onto the past, at least).  The cinematography is a bit interesting and fresh–reminiscent of Madonna’s music videos.  There are a lot of extreme close ups of eyes or interesting bits that go around a tree and then up and away, but they lend very little to the story and are a bit out of place as such.  What is the motivation for the shot?

 

If Madonna had forgotten the present and merely focused on W.E., as I assume she really wanted to focus on Wallis’ side of the story, it could have been quite good.  To this day, there continues to be hatred for the woman who almost destroyed a nation.  Even after both she and Edward were gone, to see the effect on herself and their relationship depicted in this film was interesting.

 

Once again I must admit that the costumes were incredible and if I could only watch this film for the bits with Wallis and her impeccable style, I would.  Be that as it may, I would not recommend this film.

 

Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesThe TelegraphNY TimesThe Guardian