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lupercal

KF Animation Editor
Location: Tasmania
Birthday: August 27
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Tasmanian

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Reviews by animation type
TV Series (156)
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4 stars
11% of reviews had a rating of 4 stars
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3.5 stars
16% of reviews had a rating of 3.5 stars
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24% of reviews had a rating of 3 stars
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18% of reviews had a rating of 2.5 stars
(18%)
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14% of reviews had a rating of 2 stars
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11% of reviews had a rating of 1.5 stars
(11%)
1 stars
6% of reviews had a rating of 1 stars
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3.5 star reviews

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animated movie My Dog Tulip © Norman Twain Productions
My Dog Tulip
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Jul 23, 2013
God. I've had dental appointments which were easier than reviewing this movie. Nevermind that the original is one of my most beloved books (I'm not a lone nut: Truman Capote called it 'one of the greatest books ever written by anybody in the world'). It was also partly the subject of my honours thesis, so I know it back to front. So when someone makes a film of it, it's like fronting up to 'Bladerunner', 'A Scanner Darkly', or 'Minority Report' (just to list three books based on PKD books). I watched the thing three times and couldn't decide on a rating. Then I decided to get serious. I sat down and watched it with a notebook and pen, scribbling notes throughout til it occupied several pages of shorthand blather. To cap it off, I lost the damn thing. I think I put in the trash, thinking it was notes on a short story I'd been meaning to write.

Enough! I cannot think of anything approach I've not already tried, so time to bite the bullet and come up with a rating, and it's 3.5.

Perhaps what crystallised it for me in the end was watching the extras on the DVD. Specifically the scenes showing the couple who made the film (I read somewhere that it was the only animated feature to be entirely hand-drawn. I'm sure that's somehow incorrect, but it's certainly the most 'made by hand' feature I've seen in a long, long time). That, of course doesn't automatically make it good, so I'll 'un-pack' it a bit. Come to think of it, it's about time I started talking about what the film was about.

Not long after WW2. Joe Ackerley pretty much accidentally became the owner of a GSD bitch. She was formerly the property of a working class English family who mistreated her, and she took such an instant, possessive love of JA that he felt obliged to rescue her. Ackerley was a respected writer and a promiscuous homosexual in London at a time when such a thing was very literally unspeakable. For all his life he had been in search of the 'perfect mate', and had failed to find such. Though it's not mentioned in the novel or film, Ackerley found this mate in Tulip (real name 'Queenie') to the extent that, upon her death he wrote that he wished be believed in an afterlife, because he would commit suicide in an instant in order to be with her. He never recovered from her death, though he outlived her by many years (anyone interested should read his biography).

What has this to do with the film? Perhaps not much, except that the American couple which brought it to the screen were clearly awestruck by it, and had to walk that awful tightrope which confronts anyone who wishes to render a beloved text into film without ruining it (either by slavishly copying the original so that the result has no originality, or by rendering it so loosely that the original is obscured.)

Paul and Sandra Fierlinger achieve this miracle. The movie remains faithful in spirit to the book (much of this is due to its being heavily centred around extracts from the original, narrated by Christopher Plummer), yet it exceeds the limitation of a photocopy in its wildly eclectic and well chosen collage of animation forms - the very best and most memorable being raw, crudely hand-drawn sequences on lined notepaper where Tulip is shown as an anthropomorphic biped.

The original was very funny, and thankfully its humour - its savagely luscious attack on British propriety - is mostly preserved. That this is accomplished by Americans working half a century later almost beggars belief. I think the key is Christopher Plummer's wonderful narration. He is simply superb. Himself a rather elderly, very British gentleman, he is brilliantly believable as Ackerley (the extras show him so involved with voice acting that he seems utterly lost in the role, gesticulating physically as if he were quite lost in the character). It was a masterful choice. I can't think of another living actor who could have pulled it off.

If there is a blemish, it might be that the movie doesn't capture (doesn't, to its credit, perhaps, try to capture) the stunning final chapter of the book. 'The Turn of the Screw'. Over a decade ago I described it as 'one of the most beautiful and moving ruminations on mortality that I've read.' Maybe they should have tried it. They achieved so much else: the visceral and funny, factual and tongue-in-cheek sequences which manage to make the book controversial even today (chapter 2 is called 'Liquids and Solids'). Maybe they fell just short of the mark by not trying to match the extraordinary poignancy of that coda. Perhaps they wisely understood that it was beyond their grasp, or perhaps they simply decided not to attempt the same emotional U-turn of the orignal because it would be beyond their audience. I don't buy that, though. They achieved so much that it seems a let-down not to go the extra mile. OTTOH people who've not read the book would not miss it. Maybe it was a bridge too far, but that's mostly why I can't give it the maximum ranking.

That perhaps personal misgiving aside, 'My Dog Tulip' is an exceptional, adventerous and wonderfully refreshingly animated feature. You may be find it confronting or offensive, as some readers of the book did before I was born, but you won't find anything else quite like it.

Loop

That's all folks.

flash animation Homestar Runner © unknown
Homestar Runner
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Apr 12, 2013
Imagine a cross between 'Adventure Time' and 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force', then imagine it being done on the cheap in every regard (actually this isn't much different from the above in some regards) and you probably have something vaguely like the Homestar conglomaration of webeps. Please note; I expect web cartoons to be poorer than DTV which I expect to be poorer than feature films, and my reviews are rated accordingly. A 4 star web rating should not be compared with a 4 star cinema release.

Read all the below for context. What is perhaps interesting is that, at least 5 years since the previous review, I'm still giving it 3.5 stars. If I never saw it again, I wouldn't care.
If all I could watch were web cartoons, I would be devestated.

It has great comic timing, a nice sense of the absurd, and other things which appeal to me. It's been done better by networks with a zillion bucks behind them, but frankly, not by all that much.

Loop

animated movie Up © Disney / Pixar
Up
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Feb 11, 2013
Hey, look – it’s Howl’s Floating Bungalow! Well not really, but there are moments in this film which seemed very Ghibli. Maybe that unforseen weirdness is what bumps it UP to 3.5 stars.

The first 10-15 minutes were nice, and for me the most tear-jerking, but at the same time I felt I was being set up; emotionally manipulated perhaps. This proved not to be the case for the most part, but it was when Carl in South America and started interacting with ‘the locals’ that the movie really came to life for me. Still it never quite achieved a level of emotional intensity which would otherwise have given it another half star.

Particularly in its opening stages ‘Up’ confronts some dark themes antithetical to trad Disney/Pixar. These don’t disappear, but are melded into the adventure theme of the later parts. Don’t get me wrong, though – it’s no ‘Mary and Max’. It’s just a touch more ‘honest’ than the usual Disney/Pixar offering.

The movie improves as it goes on. What largely impressed me was the esoteric, unexpected touches. Again, it felt Miazakian at many times. Frankly the end was a little disappointing, and there were times when I had wished it had gone for the emotional jugular rather than being merely sentimental. Still, in this age of unlimited CG banality, this one lifts its head high. Not a masterpiece, but way above average.

There are some loose ends: where did all this ‘collar technology’ come from (amongst other things)? How the hell is X still alive and about the same age as Y. Me, I’d have gone for magic realism, but the writers tried to stick to the tracks of logic.

BTW, did you notice that Dog was the only dog to have a tail? I have always held that dogs should not have docked tails (though one of my best friends was a Doberman). The tail gives enormous expressive possibilities, which is why dogs should have them, and why bad-guy dogs in animation rarely do.

Loop

animated movie Toy Story 3 © Disney / Pixar
Toy Story 3
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Dec 21, 2012
Paradoxically I find myself agreeing with almost everything which previous reviewers have written about this film, even when they are in conflict. Since Greykitty's is currently the most recent review I'll start by agreeing that something was missing from this third installment, and I'm not sure what it is either. Unlike her I regard TS2 as the peak, but nevertheless this is still a substantial and worthy piece of feature length CGA. I'm afraid I didn't find it quite as hilarious or tearjerking as others, but I did laugh once, and definately had a lump in my throat toward the end.

I won't go over the plot too much: previous reviews have covered that. Oddly, I rather liked this for the reason that Athena had reservations: I enjoyed the darker aspects. Lotso is a genuinely effective and complex villain for a Hollywood animated blockbuster (so is his ultimate fate). The film also taps into two nightmarish archetypes which must affect people other than myself (or why include them?): the cymbal-clashing monkey (who, in a rather Hitchcokian stroke never actually claps but seems always about to), and the evil baby doll.

More than the previous two installments in this series, this film is about the toys than their owners (at least in terms of screen time), and delves into various genres and tropes more satisfyingly than its predecessors. In most respects it's a superb 'animated' film.

So, why the half-star subtraction? In my case it's partly because for much of the early part of the film it seemed to follow the same general premise as TS2, and because I was hoping it would avoid the inevitable Hollywood Blockbuster emotionally manipulative ending.

I'll give it this, though: I didn't see the end coming (in fact I didn't see all sorts of parts of the film coming). If I were Pixar I would close the curtain on this venerable series now. I don't know where else they could take it. Prior to the final scenes I'd thought it's only hope was 'Toy Story 4: Andy becomes a plushophile'.

Loop

animated series Bob's Burgers © Fox
Bob's Burgers
Rated it: 3.5
posted: Mar 20, 2012
My original review, where I gave this show 1.5, finished with:

"I watched this one, hoping it would grow on me, but all that I grew was bored and frustrated."

Well, that was four seasons ago. It is generally critically thought that the first season was a dud, but then it went ballistic. I agree. At the moment I far prefer 'Bob's Burgers' to The Simpsons or Family Guy.

For one thing (and this is weird, I suppose, but I directed/produced radio stuff), the voice actors talk over each other. This is a maximum no-no in film in general, but I busted it when I did my radio serials, and I love hearing it here. The idea is someone stops talking and someone else starts. Therefore you can easily edit. But BB has characters talking over each other all the time, in a lovely way which I've not heard since early Ralph Bakshi.

The show is, I suppose, another Simpsons clone, but it is way fresher and it is occaisionally ridiculous in a lovely way. The characters are also different from the usual nuclear family unit. The wife is the extrovert, the husband is the introvert / responsible person; the three kids are each funny in ways wou wouldn't expect. There are a range of incident characters who work well.

As the years have passed the show has grown away from the burger shop to the family doing whatever. In some ways this is good; in others not, but what is indisputable is that a mediocre show grew into something unique and funny and tasy...

Chalk one up for quirky.

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