Monday, February 26, 2007

February 26th Log

2006, David Bowers / Sam Fell, United Kingdom / United States
1st Viewing, DVD

DreamWorks animation teamed up with the brilliant creators of the claymation series Wallace & Gromit (Aardman Features) to produce Flush Away, a hilariously clever and endlessly entertaining computer-animated film. With a title that seems to be a humorous twist on Hayao Miyazaki’s imaginative masterpiece Spirited Away, Flushed Away is very British, while it also seems to match just the right pitch of American flavor to make it a truly universal comedy. The delightful wit of Aardman is evident throughout as Flushed Away is a wonderful film from start to finish. There are so many little moments of clever wit, which will only improve with repeat viewings. This is Aardman’s first work with computer animation and with the help of DreamWorks they have created a beautiful underworld of visuals. The depth and specific detail of every single area of the shot is incredible, and again can only truly be appreciated through repeat viewings. Flushed Away is the kind of film you want to watch again and again be it for the visual complexity, the hidden little moments of humor, or simply just the pure fun of the entire film and these amusing characters. The voice –over work is as good as you can possibly get in animation. Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman play off each perfectly and the supporting voiceover performances are equally terrific (Ian McKellen as the villain toad; Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis as his guards; and especially funny is Jean Reno as the leader of a group of frog ninjas). Of course not to go without mention are the little slugs with eyes who have no dialogue but can be seen and heard singing tunes or sound effects throughout the film. Flushed Away has a little bit of everything: comedy, adventure, action, and romance. I don’t know if audiences will embrace this with the same joy they have for the beloved claymation series Wallace & Gromit, Flushed Away is a film that shares it spirit of clever humor, witty characters, and completely endearing filmmaking. A great film!

1927, Sam Taylor, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

I had a craving to rewatch a silent film and I wanted it to be either one starring Mary Pickford or the great Lillian Gish. Since it has been longer since I’ve last seen a Pickford film, I choose My Best Girl from 1927- the peak (and ultimately the end) of the silent era. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but this film deeply intrigues me. There's nothing new, or inventive about this simple film. Is it the lovely performance of Mary Pickford? Is it the beautifully shot photography? Or is it simply the charming and warmhearted comedy and romance that's so irresistible? Actually, it's all the above! My Best Girl is just such a lovable film. Lead by the screen presence of the legendary "American Sweetheart" Mary Pickford. Pickford is among the greatest actress of the silent era, and this is her final silent film. It's also a (very) rare performance as an adult. Ultimately this is a satire on middle American lifestyle of the 1920s. Pickford absolutely lights up screen throughout, but particularly the moment in which she discovers who Joe really is. Her reaction is classic! Heartbreaking yet loving and deeply funny. Really there are many memorable moments and supporting characters, but the ending on the boat is truly memorable and wonderfully romantic. Don't miss this undeniable silent gem! "I'll go as far as you.”


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