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Monday, April 24, 2017

Ballerina (2016) Canada, France

Dreaming's easy, but chasing it needs all the effort.






Also known as:
Leap! (US)


Genre:
Animation (3D), Comedy, Family, Musical.


Length:
Approximately 4-minute read.


Review:
     Well, I praise a lot, particularly the European animations for preserving the 2D animation. That does not mean they lack behind in 3D format. The recent film 'The Little Prince' was the perfect example of a quality 3D animation outside Hollywood. Pars with Disney, Pixar standards. Technically, as well as the story contents. But the quantities are very less and also making it a bit expensive. So they usually prefer producing it in the English language for the wider/international market, keeping North America particularly in mind. This is a French English-language film that co-produced by Canada.

     This is a nice film, that particularly targets little kids and mostly the girl audience to inspire Ballerina. Cute characters and scenes, but very familiar story. Shares lots of similarities with 'August Rush', except the field of interest. I am not an expert or know all about Ballet, but some of the parts involving them were turned me off. I know the gravitation force is irrelevant in animation since they're not real world to comply with science, but maybe I'm being an adult and knowing that stuff might have influenced me to think that way. It reminds me I'm really an adult, though this film should be watched as a kid despite whatever you are. However, nothing affected me from enjoying it.

     It sets in the 80s of the 19th century France. At the time when Eiffel Tower and Statue of Libery were on the construction, a poor orphan girl named Felicie escapes orphanage with another boy to pursue her dream to be a ballerina. Then they arrive in Paris, and very soon they find their separate ways to achieve the goals. Not all smooth sail, especially for her. So she takes the opportunity that comes her way, even after knowing it was wrong to do.

 You have something that she can only dream of: passion! 

     From there, with all the complications tailing her, how far she could go to make her dream come true. Which also includes the amount of dedication put on her undertaking to meet the expectations of her trainer, rivals and many others. And to show the world the interest is not simply based on enthusiasm, but willingness to sacrifice anything for it. Her journey from nothing to the edge of something new to define her life is the film that briefs for just short of 90 minutes.

     This is not another 'Billy Elliot'. Animations are usually comedy, fantasy and musical, but recently the adventures and science fictions are surging. I don't remember I ever have seen an animated dance flick. Not the classical dance, not in the modern 3D animation format. The closest one was a decade old 'Happy Feet'. So that makes it is a unique product and comes under a must see for all the animation fans. But the storyline is predictable and many sequences were intentionally dragged to be cliche. Because it works, particularly if they're aiming for the younger generation who haven't seen many films in their lives. Only we the grownups whine.

     Most of the voice-over artists are well known Americans actors which boosted the film. The character combinations are good. It brought the variety, especially slightly to ride off the main theme in a few occasions. Like the boy's interest in inventing things which were other major parts of the twist and turns in the narration. It is not a great animation if it was from Hollywood, but coming from France and the theme it focused on, the effort must be appreciated. Overall a much better film than what the average reviews and ratings around the internet says. It is a ballet film means not those who love it should watch it, but those target audience should not miss it. That means generally worth a watch, but not for everyone.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Sing, Billy Elliot, Ballet Shoes, High Strung, August Rush, Step Up.


External link(s):



WCA geolocation:
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Friday, April 21, 2017

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Switzerland, France

Seeking a second chance for the normal life.






Original title:
Ma vie de Courgette (French)


Also known as:
My Life as a Zucchini (US)


Genre:
Stop-Motion Animation, Comedy, Drama.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     Whenever I review a Stop-motion animated film, I always start with by saying it is a dying art form that needs a bigger lift from us. It gave a new life for filmmaking when there were no technology like computers hundred years ago for the creation of giant creatures to all the fantasy and magical world. I am glad that every year someone coming forward to show the world how beautiful these are.

     I think there's a quota for it and 2D animation for the Oscars. Otherwise, these formats would die sooner than we expected, so that recognition in the big stage. Every year at least one film from these two categories makes out. This year it was a double jackpot for Stop-motion animation. Including this, 'Kubo and the Two Strings' was the other one to shine in the world's biggest film awards ceremony. But winning the trophy is almost impossible in this 3D animated film world. Anyway, I'm happy for this, that I enjoyed watching it.

     It was a short film, that ran for just one hour. First, we have to understand filmmaking in this form is a most challenging one than any other. It is a manual work. I mean people get in there and frame by frame do all the work. So for this one hour film, they had done the great hard work and it paid off well by got nominated for the Oscars. It was also Switzerland's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film, but failed to make progress in that race.

     The screenplay was based on the book. A simple story with a strong message. This is the tale of a boy with full of dreams and after his alcoholic mother died, he is taken to the orphanage. That is the last place he wanted to be where he meets a mean boy and soon becomes his close friend. Being young kids, they tend to play some pranks with officials, visitors and themselves. That's one of the ways to cope with for where they have ended. So the remaining is to tell us would they get a second chance in their lives.

 I don't know why I'm crying. Sometimes people cry because they're happy. 

     When some take up a project like this, they are not offered to make mistakes in choosing a weak screenplay. Because there are thousands of films in production around the world and in those, a handful of animated films, but probably he's only one up for a Stop-motion animated feature. Which means everyone with the knowledge of his commitment will be looking forward to it. So the filmmakers have opted to adapt a novel, which is always a best option in filmmaking.

     The next is the characters. Making them come alive, particularly initial stage, the creation of models. Yep, they have done that job as well so well. Gooding looking ones, especially among the kids for having similarity with their vision. The frame rate was good. Very smoother for viewing. So technically it was a flawless for the normal watch. An impressive storyline, which might serve as a tearjerker for a few.

     There's a little romance, but from the children's perspective of having a crush. Since the girl character was introduced, the narration takes a fresh look. The following event becomes even more adventurous and fun filled till the end. The voice-over was excellent. From the dialogues to the film scenes very impressive. It marks the directional debut for a short filmmaker. An appreciable work and I hope he makes more like them with new technics than migrating to computer animations.

     One of the advantages is it is a short and sweet film, but those who love such films might feel it is too short. Most importantly, there're not cliches like what we've seen films that takes place in the orphanages. The opening was shocking. If it was a real life, the boy would have ended in a different place. Still the emotional parts were less explored, yet very convincing for not leaning too much on that facet.

     The film is one of the best in its kind, but I agree it's not a masterpiece. Not if you have seen plenty of Stop-motion animations in your life. Yet it can't be neglected that easily and surely it is for everyone. I know there are folks who thinks this format of films are for little ones, but the truth is they are still in the pre 90s mindset. This is good, give it a try and you might love it. Anyway, for its rareness itself highly recommended, then you decided how do you liked it or not.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
A Cat in Paris, The Red Turtle, Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline, The Boxtrolls.


External link(s):



WCA geolocation:
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Unforgettable (2016) South Korea

A summer holiday to remember forever.






Original title:
Soonjung (Korean)


Also known as:
Pure Love


Genre:
Drama, Romance.


Length:
Approximately 5-minute read.


Review:
     'Tearjerker' is not a genre, but it has a special status in Korean films. Normally I like this kind of themes, though in some films they are excessive which spoils the watch. Not understanding that from the cultural point of view might be one of the reasons. Anyway, this film has a strong emotional conclusion that you will know from the first scene itself. Because of briefing the relationship between the friends were intentionally done.

     It is also known as 'Pure Love'. From a new director with mostly fresh faces in the lead. Well, the narration has to two timelines. It opened in the present world and the remaining tale was a flashback that went back to around 25 years ago in the 90s. If you are a 90s kid, you will feel closer to it than anybody else. Especially for the setting of the tale, just like watching a straight 90s released film. It also feels like a rural version of 'Sunny', mainly because of the friendship, but not comparable in any other way.

     It's about the five friends and four of them returns to their island village for the school summer break. The other one is a handicapped, so she's not following dreams like her friends. That's where the problem begins. She presses hard to get normal like everybody else, so she can fly like a free bird anywhere she wants. On the side of the tale, two of her best friends has a strong feeling for her. But realsing that and whom she's going to choose comes with a twist before the film enters its final stage.

 Love is like marathon. You might feel behind now, but if you keep running you'll reach the goal. 

     The trends of the 90s, particularly in the rural, how kids responded was briefed so nicely. Like similar timeline films, the audio cassettes are among the popular things. But in the remaining film, everything else were shared without focusing on any particular thing. So you won't know what way it is heading. That's a good thing, but slightly goes off the track. Maybe you can call it a stretch to fill the screenplay. Still you won't feel any lagness in any part of the narration. Overall, everything looked at its places, so the film easily accomplishes its goal which is obviously a bit cliche.

     Yes, the end is not something you are seeing it for the first time, though it worked. I think that's how it should be. In some films while trying to avoid it, they mess it up. But still my upset with this film is the crucial twist did not make much of sense. I could have written about it in detail, but that's a big spoiler. So I indirectly mention it that the boy easily accomplishes while the experts couldn't. But overall, that part needed a little more in detail to explain how it all happened. In another way, the shortness helped the pace to keep up and also avoiding too muchness usually work and it did.

     So it could be easily a film for all ages. Particularly keeping in mind many things like the 90s kids who are in their adulthood now would anyway attracted to it and revolving around teenagers, brings them as well into the same coverage. Being sentimentally filled tale, the family audience won't feel they are left out. From the performances to the production, including the direction was appreciable. It is no masterpiece nor guaranteed that it would emotionally appeal everybody. Just a simple fine looking film, so watching it for once's worth. So now you know whom I'm going to suggest it.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
Echoes of the Rainbow, Sunny, Baaria, Cinema Paradiso, Magnifico.


External link(s):



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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Your Name. (2016) Japan

They're no strangers, yet they've never met.






Original title:
Kimi No Na Wa (Japanese)


Genre:
Anime, Drama, Fantasy, Romance.


Length:
Approximately 6-minute read.


Review:
     Probably the most anticipated anime since the final film of Mr. Miyazaki. Because people know what these guys are capable of. This is one per cent sci-fi and 99 per cent fantasy. The concept is not new for us. From 'Freaky Friday' to 'The Lake House', even the recent American television film 'The Swap', you will remember a handful of names once you read this film's synopsis. Yet the film was so good, because of how well the theme was utilised.

     We all know the technical brilliance of '5 Centimeters Per Second' and the beautiful romance from 'The Garden of Words'. This is an excellent mix of those two. If love either of them, or both, then you will love it as well. But if you ask me, my favourite is still 'The Garden of Words' from this director. I liked this film, enjoyed thoroughly, so liking it less than that means not a bad flick. Surely a film to recommend for anime fans, as well as for animation's (western audience).

     The story of two teenagers, one from the rural Japan mountain region and the other one from Tokyo. The plot revolves around a comet that is to pass by very close to the earth. But before that event, the girl is bored with her life, so she dreams of living in a big city and that too as a boy. One day her wish comes true when she wakes up as she swapped bodies, including most of the memories with a boy from Tokyo.

     For her, it is to live as she wanted and make use of the opportunity. But for him, it is like a curse, hence becomes rebellious. This thing keeps happening frequently for days and weeks. After some times, realising the phenomena is between two, they make a deal and strict order of Dos and Don'ts while away. All this until the day of comet and everything changes forever. Searching for the truth and the result of it leads to the end of the tale.

 Treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up. 

     Unlike Miyazaki, Makot Shinkai's storytelling is quite for the matured audience. It targets adults more than the children. Particularly for not shying away to include naturally occurring events in such situation as the story develops, despite/even though the film revolves around the teens/kids. As for this flick, the concern is not big, but it depends on the nation and its culture you belong to. It is very much acceptable and as the story progress, the best things keep replacing another till the finale. So hooked to it is assured.

     The film length was good and so the pace of the narration. Well written screenplay, which was based on the book of the same name. But the director admits the inspiration from the previous flicks with similar themes. They have used the real places of the anime version with fictional names, but most of the Tokyo remains same and they all were awesome.

     In many scenes, the camera panning was a treat. Especially the framerate was high, so no jerks, hence very pleasurable visual experience. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a unique film, despite not a original idea. The film proved the Japan is not overshadowed by Hollywood, particularly after the decline of animes in the recent years. It's up to the quality of the product, if so, then those glory days can be brought back for animes. Anyway, now this film holds the record for highest grossed anime.

     Apart from technical dominance, the story is also enchanting. If you like romance theme, this will serve you well. A good film for date night. But usually people would skip animation for such occasion and one should not mix up that with anime. Because why I always put apart the anime and animation is, the animes are good at beautiful romance, while its counterpart from the west focus more on comedy and adventure. But the common thing from them is the well explored fantasy theme.

     Usually the ends are guessable for a film like this and the same case for this in here. Only as a result of the story, you would know what's coming, but not the frame by frame scenes of it. Yeah, I liked this conclusion, the final lines said might bring you tears in your eyes, romantically, if you are an emotional person. One of the best endings, even though it was cliched. And the credits start to roll up, while you begin to recall everything you just saw in the last 100 minutes. A must see film, so highly recommended by my side. Now I've to wait for another couple of years for such film.



Suitable for:
Tween, Teen, Adult, All


Final verdict:
Ignore, Bad, Average, Good, Excellent


Similar movies:
The Garden of Words, The Girl Who Leapt Through the Time, 5 Centimeters per Second.


External link(s):



WCA geolocation:
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