Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Midnight Confessions

Miranda Nell, who I went to college with, suggested the editor of this website ask me to contribute.

It's an interesting idea. Simple and literary. Reminiscent of a good literary 'zine from the mid-90s heyday.

My piece was published yesterday. It's "confessional", so those of you who have been dying to get the People Magazine backstage exclusive will be thrilled.

Go comment on it, and tell me to stick with drafting schedules and charting up shot lists.


In other, non-animation news, on Monday night I decided to hang out at the studio and watch one these few dozen DVDs we have but never look at.

At first I wanted to go for Dumbo. We're doing a lot of elephant animation. The approach is very different from Disney, probably more akin to UPA in many respects although the design stylings are far afield from any work of theirs I've seen.

I couldn't do it. Watching Disney films has always felt like a chore to me. As an adult I can appreciate them in many ways and am ceaselessly awed by the craft, but, man -they're hard to sit through. Honestly, I prefer the books. "Illusion of Life" and John Canemaker's remarkable tomes appeal to me more.

Instead I put in side one of the "Midnight Movies" DVD double feature "Panic in Year Zero" and Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth".

"Panic in Year Zero"

I won't recount the plot or the cast (Frankie Avalon, though!). You know how to use the internet. If not: click (imdb listing).

Two things I'd like to bring up.

1) A movie like this would never get made today.

Clarification. A movie today would never get made like this.

Ray Milland, the director as well as the "hero", often responses to a situation with a gruff silence. In a contemporary script, would a character say anything as human as "Ah, it's pretty good" after hiding their car in the bush. Mostly likely, the writers would see it as an opportunity to flash their Ivy League wit, to drop a fantastic one-liner in hopes of coming up with the next "I'll beeee baaack".

Secondly -and again discussing the form -it's got an emotionally driving and effective soundtrack without being cliché or saccharine. Les Baxter.

2) A perfect serviceable, standard movie -an animated movie like this would be considered amongst the greatest.

Thinking further on that -a live action version of say, "My Neighbor Totoro" shot by shot the same but live action -would probably be considered amongst the greatest live action films.

It would be easy to flippantly dismiss the animated oeuvre at first thought as kiddie stuff that can't handle the depths of a genre potboiler. But thinking that one step further, the vital strengths of the medium become evident.

In animation, emotional realism is a struggle but the fantastic is the lingua franca.

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