Archive for August, 2010

Toy Story 3 (2010)

“Toy Story 3” (2010)

IMDb

Totoro

The first 10 years of Pixar’s exploration of feature animations were the preparation for some great results. Ratatouille and Wall.E were a glossary of narrative and visual accomplishments by the studio. But Up was a failure, i think, some would speculate because of the 3D, preferred by money making Disney, others would argue that Disney itself its pulling the strings now, and the creative minds in Pixar are constrained now. Some applaud that turn to the codes of Disney reference, others remark on the loss of creative power. And those opinions fall positive or negative, over this Toy Story. And although i am concerned about the “disneyzation” of pixar, i think this specific film is a different case in their filmography, and it actually exceeds Up in many respects.

The 3D is a waste. Unless i feel they have something to say in these respect, i’m not sure whether i’ll try to see a Pixar film in 3d again. It’s a mere executive decision with no visual consequences other than the traditional loss of light. The short film that precedes the film, that is something well done here.

We don’t have a completely absorbing environment, like in Wall.E (although the garbage scene does report to that film), instead we live on the memory of the older Toy Story films. Indeed that nostalgic component of this film (specially for guys of my age) counts a great deal here, and indeed may cloud my own vision of this film. But i admit it’s nice to see Buzz and Woody live through to see our days. That’s why this film is a special case within Pixar (although i know that this Toy Story 3 was a pressure by Disney due to the value of the brand with the ticket buyers).

We do not have an enervative spatial exploration and camera moves, but i think they synthesize some of the lessons learned in Ratatouille, which was all about cranking virtual cameras under tables and between dishes. So this film, in those matters, works like a recap of previous episodes.

The story itself is a disappointment. The temptation to the self-reference of the previous TS was to great for them to deny it. What we get is the memory of old characters. I do like how we get into this film, the western episode of the train crash, it’s an efficient device, and it also tells us that we will have film references through out the film. Indeed we do, countless references to countless genres, as far as i could tell all of them audience friendly. Ken and Barbie work in their own acts, although they lack integration to a larger structure which, anyway, is not meaningful enough to make them stretch the script to include Ken and Barbie as important characters, instead of circus numbers.

What Pixar Has been getting via Dreamworks, is the rendering of characters facial expressions. But i which next time we have these guys back to the innovation trails.

P.S. a remarkable detail that i truly appreciated, which remarks on the proximity Pixar-Disney is the inclusion of a Miyazaki character with the other toys in the nursery. it’s well known the recent proximity between Disney and Ghibli, so i really smiled at this wink they were giving us.

My opinion: 3/5

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Day & Night (2010)

“Day & Night” (2010)

IMDb

mirrors

It’s a common procedure for Pixar, for a long time now. Everyone of their new films comes preceded by a short animated film. That short film is indicative of whatever issues concern the creative core of the company at those moments. That’s why the shorts that preceded Wall.E or Ratatouille dealt with power of the actions, power over creation, fundamentally narratives. The feature films always deepened this theme and added visual concerns. That’s why Pixar is important: they’ve been consistently delivering true cinema wrapped around box office hits. In the process they raised expectations towards animation films and put animation in recognized fields of true cinema.

So now we have this Day and Night. Let’s read the signs, let’s read the urges, let’s understand their concerns.

They deal with dualities of a great number of different levels, so every visual element in this film works as a metaphor and some of them work as well as a visual experiment.

Two characters, both incredibly flat and bi dimensional in a way Disney has been doing them for 80 years. These characters live in a flat black world as well. But within each of them, a 3D world exists. One character is night, the other one is day. At a certain point dawn meets twilight and they change their states. Each character has within them the beautiful things of day and of night, and each one craves the qualities of the other.

Can day live with night? Can flat animation meet the requirements of a 3D world. Can Pixar coexist as a surrogate of Disney? These are the questions. What makes me want to keep following whatever Pixar does is that they raise these questions. What frightens me a bit is that they made those questions so obvious here. Are they loosing it? Will they lower their level?

My opinion: 3/5

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