Tag Archives: animation


A Town Called Panic / Panique au village
d.  Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar / 2009 / Belgium-Luxembourg-France / 85 mins
Downstairs @ Prince Charles Cinema (London, UK)

Still from A Town Called Panic

Ahhh…the surreal silliness that is A Town Called Panic!

I love the television series – hell, I even love Aubier and Patar’s Cravendale milk ads. And I’d been waiting to see the film since it premiered at Cannes in 2009, but I couldn’t help but think that there was a distinct possibility that what worked for short-format television wouldn’t necessarily translate to a feature film, even one as fleeting as Horse, Indian and Cowboy’s first, brief foray onto the big screen. After all, I couldn’t shake the notion that such relentless surreality is vastly better experienced in short, tempered bursts, particularly when it is delivered via intentionally jerky stop-motion animation.

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The Illusionist / L’Illusionniste
d. Sylvain Chomet / 2010 / France-UK / 89 mins
Cinema 1 @ Barbican (London, UK)

Still from The Illusionist

Beautifully animated, brilliantly related tale of a past-his-prime French magician, traipsing his way around mid-century Britain performing in music halls, variety theatres and pubs. Based on a story by Jacques Tati – who made his name playing the quintessential French caricature Monsieur Hulot – The Illusionist is shot through with his unmistakable brand of sublime, subtle, absurdist whimsy: from the gentle slapstick aloofness of Tatischeff the Magician to his maniacal white rabbit and the relentlessly glum London rain.

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Toy Story 3 (in 3D)
d. Lee Unkrich / 2010 / USA /
Cinema 1 @ Barbican (London, UK)

Still from Toy Story 3

The third installment in the wildly successful Toy Story franchise, yawn! ‘Greatest film trilogy of all time‘, yawn! It apparently makes grown men cry, yawn! Don’t get me wrong, Toy Story 3 is great – entertaining, engaging and full of giggles – but I just don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as pretty much everyone would have us believe.

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Ponyo / Gake no Ue no Ponyo
d. Hayao Miyazaki / Japan / 2008 / 100 mins
Viewed at: Screen 2 @ Cinema City (Norwich, UK)

Still from Ponyo

Okay, I know Ponyo is a kids film (and the most child-orientated Ghibli film for some time) but I just can’t get past the symbolism. And rather than discuss the environmental themes that underpin the film, I thought it might be worth picking up on a rather odd interpretation that wafted into my skull about half an hour into my viewing.

Now, I think it’s fairly clear that the whole thing is pretty primordial, with specific references to birth, creation and reproduction which tie into the environmental themes; from the Cambrian sea creatures, to the Biblical references (Ponyo walking on water, the ‘great flood’, et. al.) and the young couple with breastfeeding infant whom Sesuko and Ponyo meet during the flood.

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d. Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava / USA / 2007 / 111 mins
Viewed on: Region 2 DVD (UK)

Ordinarily, I tend to go and see Pixar films at the cinema and, on the whole, they tend to be pretty good. That said, I seem to remember being distinctly uninterested in seeing Ratatouille when it was released theatrically, and it seems as though my instincts were correct.

Ratatouille just didn’t fly for me, it’s very light on laughs and, all in all, it’s just a bit boring. I suppose it maintained its pace well enough, but there just wasn’t enough here to like and in that sense, it felt very un-Pixar-like. I found all of the characters a little irritating, and the gastropod jokes went completely over my head. I fail to see how it could possibly have sustained the attentions of a younger audience.

In fact, there is a distinct sense that Pixar has been getting all too serious and worldy of late, their usual youthfulness relegated to their consistently excellent short films. And whilst Wall*E managed to combine these more serious subjects with the ingenuity and whimsy of Pixar’s gone by – as did last year’s Up, although to a lesser extent – Ratatouille just isn’t up to the game.

So there you go, a very average review of a very average Pixar. I’ll try harder next time, as long as Pixar promise to do the same!

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