Friday, June 27th, 2008
WALL-E was a really good movie, and I encourage you to go see it. (I'm not much of a movie reviewer so I'm not going to spend a lot of time explaining why I think you should see it -- just want to add my voice to the chorus of recommendations I think you're going to be seeing over the next few weeks.) This is head and shoulders above anything else Pixar has done.
It seemed to me like a really well-thought-out movie, very close to internally consistent -- the logic it adhered to was of course cartoon logic rather than real-world, but it was well-enough developed that I could really put myself in the movie's world, feel for its characters, feel the urgency of its problems and solutions.
In a bit of irony (an annoying bit of irony, it must be said), this movie about robots competently assuming human functions was screened by a robot projectionist who was not up to the task -- in a climactic moment he broke down and had to be serviced by human staff.
Seems like Sylvia is not yet ready to stay up late for a movie -- she did fine through the end of the film but once we got home it was like an hour past her bed time, and she had real trouble getting back into her routine.
There was a charming short cartoon before the feature, about a magician in a battle of wills with his rabbit. I'm confused about the credits, which included a "Lighting" credit -- I'm trying to figure out what that means in CGI animation.
Monday, June 16th, 2008
Sylvia did pretty well with watching Monsieur Verdoux last night, paying attention to the plot and the characters, giving indications she understood what was going on. She lost interest about a half hour before the end of the movie though. (It is 2 hours long.)
Before the feature there was a preview for Encounters at the End of the World; Sylvia asked if that was what I had seen the other night and said she wanted to see it, but at home, "So we could make it softer."
Friday, January 4th, 2008
So who remembered that at the beginning of Peter Pan, before Peter ever comes and takes the children to visit Never-Never Land, he existed as a story that Wendy told to her brothers? That part of the story had totally vanished from my memory and from Ellen's. (Other things I did not remember include the in-your-face racism and sexism, pretty hard to miss -- I guess it's been a long time since I watched this.)
Tuesday, December 25th, 2007
The rather silly Pied Piper of Hamelin video, with rhyming dialogue, was made worthwhile by the lovely actors and by Sylvia's observation that "If this were a play, Emma [the stage rat from Moominsummer Madness] would say 'It's all wrong.'"
Saturday, December 15th, 2007
Another evening, another movie -- tonight we watched the first act of The Magic Flute, and were pretty pleased with it all in all. My experience with Bergman has been pretty mixed; I liked this a lot. It had the beautiful photography and lacked the slowness and storyless-ness that has turned me off to some of his movies. And it presented the opera in a way that allowed me, who am not much good at enjoying opera, to really dig it -- I especially liked the reaction shots of the audience. Sylvia was into it too, except for the part with Papageno and Pamina singing about the wonderfulness of love, which she found boring.
...Idly wondering whether Bergman's films had much influence on the creative process of Monty Python. There were a number shots in this film that made me think of The Holy Grail. The dragon at the beginning could easily have been a Gilliam design. Both movies came out in the same year so I guess there isn't much of a possibility of direct influence one way or the other; but it seems to me like they could be coming from similar places stylistically. And if this were so I would tend to think of Bergman as the source and Python as the derivative since Bergman had been around for a lot longer at that point -- or I guess it's also possible that the source was some third party from which both The Magic Flute and The Holy Grail are derivatives -- but the similarities were striking enough to make me want to think there is a closer point of connection.
(Note: if you are watching this movie with young kids, there are one or two scenes in Act II that you will want to skip over.)
Thursday, December 13th, 2007
Tonight's family movie was Pippi Longstocking, poorly dubbed into English, a Hannukah gift from Sylvia's aunt Miriam, whose favorite movie it was in her youth.
It is a (mostly) beautiful film visually which looks like it was made on a shoestring budget. The colors were enough to blow my mind, and to make me think of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. (Also the candy-store scene helped bring that association to mind.) It was hard to tell how well anybody was acting (besides Nilsson, who very obviously stole the show) because of the horrendous dubbing -- I would be trying to focus on an actor's face and see what they were doing when all of a sudden somebody else would start speaking. I haven't watched a dubbed movie in a really long time,* I don't think I've ever noticed this kind of thing before; I wonder whether this particular dubbing is just done really poorly or if this is a common attribute of dubbed films which I have not been perceptive enough to pick up on in the past.
Here is a 7-minute clip of Pippi and her friends and her father, from near the end of the movie, in Swedish. One thing I get from that clip that I did not really get from the dubbed movie, is that the girl playing Annika seems to have a real gift for acting -- I see from IMDB that she did not play any other roles after this, which is a shame.
*Oh wait no, that's wrong; I watched Lamorisse's White Mane not long ago, dubbed into English, and did not have this complaint. But there was also very little dialog in that movie: most of the dubbing was of narration, where it's not a problem in this way.
Thursday, February 24th, 2005
Our latest movie is "The Muppet Movie". Sylvia had a cold this week so we rented it for her to watch with Ellen during the day on Wednesday; but they did not get to it, so Sylvia and I ended up watching it over the course of Wednesday evening and this evening. (Also I watched it in full Tuesday night after Sylvia was in bed -- did I mention this is one of my favorite films ever?) Great, great, great. Great soundtrack, great caricature, great cameos (the best IMO is Orson Welles but all are excellent), great plot! Sylvia said after the end of the movie, "Let's get this one again sometime." I could not agree more.
Saturday, February 5th, 2005
We watched the second half of Fantasia tonight, except for A Night on Bald Mountain which Sylvia found too scary. (And she was pretty tired anyway by that point.) Weird -- I was totally sure that Peter and the Wolf was one of the songs in Fantasia, but apparently not.
Friday, February 4th, 2005
Been a while since I posted about a family movie night and we have had a few more in the mean time. Tonight we watched the first half of Fantasia and that was a lot of fun. Sylvia was quite chatty throughout -- the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played against a background of Sylvia talking about how she had watched part of this movie in school after lunch and calling various images "funny", "good" or "sad"; The Nutcracker was accompanied by her memories of seeing it performed at NJPAC; The Rite of Spring had a lot of dinosaur-related commentary and (my personal favorite) during the first 30 seconds or so, when the screen is dark and there is no sound: "'s it over?..." "What's happening?..." "Maybe it's loading."
The commentary did not stem from being bored with the movie but from being engaged. She was particularly keyed-up about The Rite of Spring and busy naming all the dinosaurs that appeared on screen. She got that the large meat-eating dinosaur had to be an Allosaurus because it had three fingers and was attacking a Stegosaurus. (I think maybe there was some confusion at the studio though, and they intended Tyrannosaurus -- there were definitely some Cretaceous creatures in the crowd that looked up in alarm at the predator.)
Sunday, September 12th, 2004
Last night we watched "Duck Soup", which went over pretty well, I thought -- granted Sylvia was not much into it at all for the first hour or so, but when it hit the scene where Harpo is trying to convince Groucho that he is looking at his reflection in a mirror (instead of at Harpo), she was entranced. We watched that scene (Sylvia calling it "the Peek scene", as in "Peek-a-boo") about 3 times through, and once more this morning. Sylvia is a bit confused about why it is called "Duck Soup", when there were no ducks in the movie.
Update: Sylvia was talking last night about a movie called "Duck Soup", in which a man is eating soup and then a duck climbs in, "and then there's a peeking part." Then she said "But I was mistaken -- that's wrong!"...
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