Friday, October 21, 2011

A Very Short Rango Review

Rango is the best, most daring animated film since The Incredibles. Unlike so many animated productions of the last twenty years,  this film will last.

I frequently use the word "last" when referring to films. By this, I mean productions that become part of one's own narrative. Seeing the film nestles into one's mind, and the experience, the film, the emotions, the initial reactions, all of the elements of witnessing the film become frequently accessed memories.

Films that do not last are those without daring aspects. They hew closely to formula and desperately avoid insulting people. For example, The Fifth Element. It has lasted. It gets shown on TV at least once per week, variations on the movie are released on disc at least once per year, and the movie is famous enough to have been the first movie Sony released on Blu-Ray.

Compare this to another Bruce Willis movie from the same time: Mercury Rising. NO ONE remembers this movie. I only remember it because I wanted to write this paragraph.

Or perhaps more apt for this writing, look back on the animated films of yore that are remembered. They are dark, daring, and exciting. The Secret of NIMH, The Last Unicorn, or The Plague Dogs. compare these truly great works to a work that is masquerading as daring, but is actually just Disney formula wrapped up in darker paper, The Black Cauldron. Why do you think anime absolutely conquered the young male market in the United States? Because anime was dark and exciting. It wasn't stupid musicals filled with cute side kicks and happy endings.

Rango, more than any animated movie out of the US that I have seen in decades, captures that darkness. It captures a sense of danger, juxtaposed with comedy and color. There are moments of beautifully abstract, philosophical ideas combined with near-grotesque images. Rattlesnake Jake, a late-in-the-film bad guy, apparently had young children crying in theaters. Great! That's what you want! If the movie does not have an emotional impact on children, it will never be remembered. It will never become part of a child's personal narrative. They will take no lessons into adulthood. It is as though the movie never existed.

Rango exists and will exist for some time. It is that good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

John Lasseter Defends Cars 2

John Lasseter has given an interview discussing Cars 2 to the New York Times. First, he denies that Cars 2 was a money grab. I think anyone who argued that it was knows nothing about the rise and operations of Pixar.

That's not to say the Cars 2 was good. Quite the opposite. I thought it was not just Pixar's worst film, but a bad film in most repsects. But because of Pixar's, and Lasseter's, history, I don't think that any judgments can be drawn from the film and extrapolated out into the corpus of the Disney Company.

The comment of Lasseter's that had me worried was his declaration that “This is not an executive-led studio." Perhaps this applies to Pixar itself, but as I argued in my post Why Tangled Reveals That Poison That's Still Inside Disney, there is no evidence to support that this applies to the rest of the company. Truly, Disney appears to be one of the most executive-led companies on Earth.

Lasseter further defended Cars 2 by saying that he makes films for "that little boy who loves the characters so much that he wants to pack his clothes in a Lightning McQueen suitcase.”He succeeded insofar as he made a movie that only a little boy could enjoy.

The reason why this is a disappointment for me is that their earlier films did just that, but also transcended the "kid-flick" mentality and construction to become something lasting, something great. Cars 2 will not last. Even if you think that it is a good film, I can't imagine anyone arguing that it will last. Wall-E will last. Toy Story will last. Cars 2 will not.

Finally, the article refers to Cars 2 as being the frontrunner for Best Animated Film and the Oscars. This is absurd. If Rango doesn't win, I'm going to have a fit. Granted, the Oscar's are certainly known for absolute stupidity. Hello, Shakespeare In Love.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My New Design House

I'm starting a new design house. I specialize in web design, brand design, and brand management. My prices are very competitive and I work incredibly quickly. If you want a solid brand, and a website that is mostly devoid of fluffy Flash and Javascript, thus concentrating on the actual, I dunno', content, hit me up. Check it out at