The Secret of NIMH

The Secret of NIMH. I’d heard about it for ages, but this was the first time I’d seen it. Stumbled on a big-screen showing on a recent trip to San Francisco, and I figured why not? So much more funny and bizarre than I expected. I’m having a hard time imagining a similarly weird movie like this coming out any time soon. Refugee displacement, magic, biomedial ethics, eugenics, interspecies rivalry and cooperation, etc. I’ve been watching (slightly) more animated stuff lately, with good results.

The Secret of Kells

The Secret of Kells. Gorgeous, but a little thin, story-wise. It focuses on Brendan, and hints at so many possibilities about creativity, religion, fear, duty, and so on… but only hints, and left me wanting more. Not sure there’s enough in here for kids, either, now that I think about it. Beautiful, though. I love that it embraces the frame and uses big chunks of the screen borders just for mood/decoration when it feels like it.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6. It’s good, at times genius, but it’s a mixed experience. I am most disappointed (ugh, so deeply disappointed) that the most fun gimmick in the movie – that there’s this lovable squooshy vinyl robot – is soon wrapped up in armor that disguises what makes him interesting. There are a few great gags that come out of his body and presence. Shame to waste opportunities for more. (I still don’t know anything about the comic books that this movie is working from, by the way. Not sure how it compares.) I also like the parts where the movie was self-consciously “filmed” in big-budget action movie sort of style. I suppose I should also admit that I fell asleep for a few minutes.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie. I had heard that this was better than you’d think, but it was still so wildly beyond my expectations. (My first reaction might still hold. I’ll need to mull it over a it more.) The story is pretty straightforward, but they build in a lot of good meta-movie/genre tropes and the sense of humor was right up my alley (both the wit and the dumb gags). And it’s gorgeous. The verrrrry very end doesn’t quite work for me, but geez. What a treat.

Frans Masereel in Film

As I continue the Frans Masereel Appreciation Week Festival, here’s an animated film adaptation of L’Idee. Berthold Bartosch had Frans Masereel’s help on the film for some of the two years he spent working on it. The end result is almost a half-hour long, and though it starts a bit slowly, there are some legitimately cool effects considering the crude tools available in 1930.
A couple other bonus points: the movie was scored by Arthur Honegger (who’s best known for Pacific 231), and the soundtrack features an ondes martenot—possibly the first-ever use of an electronic instrument in film.

According to that first link, Bright Lights After Dark, Masereel’s work in Die Stadt (my brief review of Die Stadt) was also a big influence on Walter Ruttmann‘s hour-long silent film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Gro?üstadt. More about Die Sinfonie at Wikipedia and shorter clips available on YouTube.