Borrowed Time

Oh Pixar. I thought The Good Dinosaur had amazing cinematography and aesthetics but this short has so much reality in its story and image, it took my breath away.

For the longest time, we all thought we would never see a Disney studio going anywhere near adult territory, and yet here we are. I’m all in for Pixar trying adult themes.

Ok I’m more than in, I would pay good money to see that happen.

Looking around on the net, I found some very interesting videos. It seems I’m not the only one going crazy over this little film. “Why We Made Borrowed Time” is the creators explaining why they wanted to try a more adult story. After such positive feedback I am really hoping they will take that experiment a step further.

To be honest, with the way animation has invaded moving pictures in general, with technology making computer generated images more real, it’s only a matter of time for reality to invade even the most children-friendly of companies and mix things up. The line between live action and animation is already blurry, European studios and advertising companies have made the blend already; it’s only a question of if the Disney/Pixar directors want to take the marketing risk.

Unfortunately, given the shaky times we are living (and taking Marvel as an example), I’d say the Walt Disney Company is not into risk-taking at present. Which is sad, because difficult times call for some daring moves, but if the big boys want to leave those for the independent filmmakers, who am I to judge? Small companies and even individual creators have after all been greatly liberated with the recent technological advancements and the next few decades will probably be the most productive in cinematic history.

To conclude, it’s nice to see how far we can take really take things, even if it’s only through a 6 minute film. Enjoy!

 

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Paths of Hate

This excellent short film comes from the Polish studio Platige Image that brought to us Fallen Art. Its a story about the wrongness of war, told through the fight between two WWII pilots.

It is with no dialogue, but with very telling music that will bring you chills. The technique of 3D graphics turned into 2D aesthetics is unique (but with elements that will remind you of the studio’s identity) and for anyone interested there is a video with a presentation by one of the creators of the film explaining how it was achieved. I found it very interesting and extremely helpful for my own 3D-turned-2D project. Enjoy!

Box Office numbers, Marvel, and cinematic stories

                                                                           -May contain spoilers-

Any story can be a good story. Any story can convey powerful messages and touch human hearts. Be it a story about a boy growing up in the streets without guidance, constantly on the run, or a story about a super hero in tights, fighting crime. What I have come to understand though, is that the creator’s motivation in telling a story, ends up defining the story itself.

With Captain America: Civil War making over a billion US dollars in less than 20 days we can all pretty much guess what motivates those guys in making movies. If we take into consideration all the other Marvel films that have broken Box Office records in the last 5 years, plus the tons of money made by superhero paraphernalia and the rest, Marvel makes billions of dollars each year. And Marvel is affiliated with Disney, which -we know- is a money factory. I sincerely hope none of you are under the misguided impression that all that money goes to productions or -heaven forbid- the creators of those works. Not that these guys don’t make tons of money but please, let’s be real. It’s all about the marketing. Shareholders and CEOs, marketers, business associates and advisors, people who care about the numbers -any and all forms of them-, before anything else. Where is the story in all this, one would wonder.

Well, after these guys have worked out a plan, they hire people to make the product. Under strict guidelines and with specific needs. And somewhere inside the labyrinth of introducing future products and reacquainting the audience with said other products and connecting present product with previous ones, a story is written. Let’s not forget that marketers generally think of audiences (and the much talked of general public) as a troop of baboons, with the attention span of a fruit fly and the cognitive abilities of a cabbage. Which means everything should be written in a level that will be understandable to us and with enough action that we will not grow bored and leave the theatre.

And now I bring the question to you, what kind of stories can one tell under such conditions?

It’s painfully apparent, that these guys -the creators- not only know what they are doing, but they also like it. They like writing about these heroes, they like making these movies and -from what I’m reading in their interviews- they like and know their characters. Which makes me wonder, what stories would they write if they were able to roam free with them?

Take Captain America for example. I was never a big superhero fan (although as a kid and a teenager I read enough comics about them to know a bit on the subject) and certainly never a Captain America fan, but even I can see the greatness in the character. The poor sick boy (from an immigrant family no less) with the golden heart, who allows himself to become a lab rat, because he wanted to be of use to the world. Poster boy for integrity and loyalty and honorable to a fault, he finds himself challenged by having to choose between loyalties in a world foreign to him (was in the ice for 70 years) and dealing with issues that bring countries to wars in the actual world. Free will and individual freedom in today’s highly terrorized societies. How much is too much meddling in another country’s affairs when it comes to global organizations? What do we protect, freedom or security? Where is the line drawn? The tales one could tell with such material.

In the end, the movie has excellent effects and is filled with amazing action scenes. Unfortunately it only scratches the surface of what could be and is found wanting in lots of ways, story-wise. Even more character-wise, considering the potential.

At this point I will seize this opportunity to complain -as many have done before me- about the lack of female presence in the film and -let’s be honest- generally the Marvel cinematic franchise.

I find the reasoning “female leads don’t fill theatres” disgusting. When the female with enough dialogue to be considered a main character is as awesome as Black Widow is, that reasoning is also idiotic. Hunger Games made more money than Iron Man and evened out Captain America so that argument is invalid as well as disgusting and idiotic. Especially when the Black Widow is a spy with more back story and development than James Bond could ever hope to be.

And since we’re talking about character development, I for one would be interested in finding out how an orphaned girl from Russia, who was taken by an organization to be raised and trained as an assassin, who was tortured and brainwashed and used as a puppet all her life, finds herself fighting the good fight of her own free will. Chooses to continue fighting, to subject her will and freedom to others for the good of the people, in spite of being considered a dangerous individual instead of a beloved hero and in spite of the fact that she had only recently become her own person, and not somebody’s asset. And, if that was not enough awesomeness for you, she chooses to become a fugitive of the world once again, to protect a friend. Now that’s what I call a good story. It was given about 8 minutes of screen time.

A piece of advice to productions everywhere: People are people, not fruit flies. We can take a good story whenever you choose to tell it. We’ll even pay for it (even though we shouldn’t at least not as much, but that’s another story). So go ahead and use that potential!

P.S. I’m a good girl and I will try to leave this in a more positive note. You can find making of videos below that will make you go “how do they make these films?!”. I’ll just say it involves much less cgi than I originally thought, which is shocking and fun to watch. They break things a lot.

 

The fountain

I should really be more cautious when I decide to rewatch something….

This masterpiece of a movie came out when I was 14, I think. I remember crying a lot about it but its core, its meaning, didn’t really get through to me, obviously. So, after a long talk on cinematography with a colleague of mine, I decided it deserved another go.

I am of the opinion that the script is the most important part of a film. A film tells a story, the better the story, the better the film. Also, good material can highlight the beauty of the film as a whole, its cinematography, music etc. Everything becomes more meaningful when there is a strong message supporting it. This movie had such an excellent script. Such beauty, romanticism, reality and meaning all combined in this wondrous piece of work. The idealism behind the novel (written by both characters) gives us such strong imagery, it speaks strongly about the meaning of love and life and death, about how we wish we could keep somethings forever. And then we have our protagonist above his wife’s grave, grieving, but in the end moving on. Because that’s life.

It’s painful to know that with all our ideas and dreams of that something more, of meaning and eternity in our existence and deeds, we lead mortal lives and as our lives go forth and change even if we don’t want them to, so does everything else.

I find myself weeping once more because of this film. I know that like my colleague, lots of people are going to argue that it’s the one film by Aronofsky that didn’t quite hit the mark. I say it’s probably one of the most underrated films I have seen. Its subject is so theoretical and elusive that it demands vagueness. One cannot speak with certainty about life and death and human nature. And Aronofsky, excellent director and writer that he is, caught that and left us hanging.

I started writing this post wanting to speak about the beautiful cinematography and I ended up talking about why it was so beautiful. You can see and learn about the science behind it in these videos. Enjoy!

Disney Week Day 5: Beauty and the Beast

Ok, I might have lied a bit on the title. This is for Glen Keane once again as much as it is for Beauty and the Beast. What can I say, I love the man. This is a sequence made with production material and the actual artwork made by Glen Keane. It is also a small documentary about how this magnificent scene was made. But mainly, you should watch the transofrmation, it’s beyond awesome. The way this man draws is unbelievable. I saw a video the other day where he was drawing Tarzan, and you could actually see the character after he drew like, 2 lines. There isn’t enough space on the internet to describe how truly difficult it is to reach that level of mastery in drawing. It needs extreme training of the mind and the eye and the hand and the connection between them and a vast knowledge of human nature and movement and… I’m gonna stop right here. Enjoy!

Disney Week Day 2: Draaaaaawing

This is why I love these people, honestly. These small documentaries are awesome, not only because we get a glimpse out of how they make all those wonderful films,, but I think because we can see the face of the artists, the people who actually make the films. And we can realise that it’s them making it all absolutely perfect. That not all we see on screen is a multi billion dollar corporation who brought Hanna Montana into the world. So watch this one, which I think is beautiful, and if you have time go to youtube and watch the rest of them too! They only last for a couple of minutes each.