Tag Archives: Pixar

The Good Dinosaur

I wasn’t overly excited about this latest Pixar offering. I’d seen the trailers and thought it was a little off-putting to have a cartoony dinosaur dancing around some very photo-real landscapes. Watching the movie, though, it was the furthest thing from my GD4mind. The animation is stunning. I particularly loved the bits with water, the reflective surfaces sparkling in the sun. It was gorgeous.

But there’s a great little story that goes along with it, about a boy and his dog, Spot. Except the boy is a longneck dinosaur named Arlo, and the dog is in fact a boy, named Spot. This movie is set in a make believe time when the dinosaurs never went extinct so they’re living at the same time as humans. Little Arlo is living peaceably on the family farm (I LOVED to see dinosaurs discover agriculture) with his parents and siblings when a “critter” starts raiding their food THE GOOD DINOSAURstores. Spot is a mangy, hungry, feral critter, and the two are at odds until the script conspires to cast them off on an adventure together.

The movie had me both belly-laughing and fat-tear crying within its first 20 minutes. Neither the tears nor the laughs let up, either. It’s a fairly simple story with a lot of Pixar heart. It’s quiet for long stretches (the dinosaurs talk; humans do not) but the characters are so facially expressive and nuanced, you don’t miss it. And every scene they walk through is a painting, with depth of field and detail enough to keep your hungry eyes constantly eating up the scenery (we saw it in 3D).

This movie is probably more relatable to  younger kids than Inside Out was, but there are some mature themes here as well. Arlo and maxresdefaultSpot live in nature, which is both cruel and kind. The potential for harm is more present in this movie than in other children’s fare, and they don’t shy away from death and grief either.

Sean was a little less moved by the film than I was (which, I suppose, is always the case) but I felt quite emotionally connected to it. Maybe it’s because Spot reminded me a lot of my little nephew Jack, both in looks and in temperament (Jack’s Papa calls him ‘Joe Pesci’, completely endearingly, for his wildman ways, though Jack is not yet 2). And maybe it’s because of the very simple but very moving and dignified way they deal with loss. At any rate, I’d say it’s a welcome addition to the Pixar family and a worthy way to spend your time and money at the cinema. I wish I could get in there and tweak the ending just a smidge (let me know how you felt about it), but overall I walked out with puffy eyes but a singing heart.

 

 

Love Pixar? Be sure to check out our contest – you could win a prize pack including a copy of Inside Out on DVD.

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Pixar Twofer

For the first time ever, Pixar is releasing two movies in a single year. You’ve already seen Inside Out (I hope) and today The Good Dinosaur is roaring into a theatre near you.

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To celebrate, we want to send someone a prize pack including a copy of Inside Out  on DVD.

To enter: pick an emotion – ANGER \ JOY \ FEAR \ SADNESS \ DISGUST – and leave us a comment telling us which one you’re feeling today.

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Gain additional entries by:

  1. Reading about why Jay thinks Inside Out is a bit racist, and leaving a comment.
  2. Tweeting a picture of your best angry\sad\happy\scared\ disgusted face @assholemovies #assholeemotions.
  3. Sharing an “emotional” story or picture on our Facebook page.
  4. Commenting on our review of The Good Dinosaur.

Multiple entries welcome as long as they’re all different.

And congratulations to Ashley at Syncopated Eyeball for winning our Assholes Reading Movies contest!

The Colour of Joy

Inside-OutSean and I got to see Inside Out again this past weekend (it was playing at the drive-in and yup, just as good the second time around). Pixar’s latest offers us a sweet and clever insight into the emotions ruling 11-year-old Riley’s brain – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These emotions are personified by colourful characters and truly wonderful voice talent (Amy Pohler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling). It was a real treat to see these emotions come to life, but between the laughter and tears, I also had some follow-up questions:

1. Why is Joy Caucasian?

Anger is a squat red guy, with matching red eyes and fire shooting out of his head. Disgust is Inside-Out-Marshmallowgreen, naturally, with green hair and eyes. Sadness: blue, of course, with blue hair and eyes. Fear is purple, with – guess what! – purple hair and eyes. But for some reason Joy is a race, not a colour. Think she’s yellow? Look again. She’s a glowing peachy colour, and her eyes are big and blue and she’s got a cute little pixie cut. Joy is a white girl. This makes me vaguely uncomfortable.

2. Why is Sadness fat?

They made Sadness into a chubster in a turtleneck. They may as well have given her cats too, just to give her the complete Depressed Lady makeover. Her glasses cover almost her entire face and though we never see the emotions eating, we can imagine that she must eat the heck out of hers. Mint chocolate chip? No. Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough.

3. What gender are YOUR emotioInside-Out-Father-Headquartersns?

Riley’s emotions are mixed-gender. Anxiety is a dude, Disgust is a dudette. But her father’s emotions are all mustachioed men while her mother’s are all bespectacled ladies. Now, why might this be? Sean thought it might just be for simplicity’s sake. Her mother’s brain is instantly identifiable since all her emotions have the same drab haircut. Her father’s brain is even worse shape: it’s being run by a bunch of hockey-obsessed jerks (or soccer-obsessed, for international audiences). This felt uncomfortably stereotypical but got a big laugh from the jam-packed theatre because – haha – men never listen!

4. Why is Joy lone-wolfing it?

As a counsellor, I often find myself telling people that no emotion is necessarily good or bad because all might be helpful or have purpose. Certainly this movie does a good job of justifying Sadness, but I still feel like the balance is a little off-kilter. Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust: all couldmomemotions be said to be on one side of the positive-negative spectrum of emotions, while Joy is lonely on the other. It may be true that Amy Pohler is worth at least 3 Bill Haders but I still felt a little sad that she was representing positivity and light all by her lonesome. And when Joy went missing, everything went to hell, so it would seem that a little Hope or Excitement might have been a good pack up plan (though admittedly I understand why 5 characters were a manageable number from an engaging, story-telling point of view). Still, there are many emotions left out – which would you have liked to see?

5. What is your primary emotion?

It is clear from birth that Joy is running the show. She leads the other emotions and guides Riley’s experience, always striving for the perfect, happy day. Not so for Riley’s parents. Anger seems to helm the control console in her father’s brain. He does not seem to be an outwardly angry person, but maybe we’re once again short-hand stereotyping anger as somehow masculine. Worse still, Riley’s mom’s primary emotion appears to be Sadness. She doesn’t seem depressed to us, but it made me feel blue to think of her every move being tinged by a pall of unhappiness. Who do you think is the captain of your ship? I think I might have Joy and Anger as co-pilots; I’m at my best when I’m in full-on snarky bitch mode.

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Anyway, today my primary emotion is Anticipation! Just like Riley and her family, we’re about to embark on a San Francisco adventure (well, it’s our first stop, anyway) and I can’t wait to land there and be filled with Joy and Excitement and Wonder and Dread of Eventually Going Back to Work, which is too a legit emotion as I have it ALL THE TIME. While the Assholes are in California we’ll be posting about our favourite movies as they relate to our sight-seeing adventures, so please keep checking in to see what we’re up to next – and if you’re feeling brave, follow us on Twitter ( @assholemovies ) to see things like Jay’s contemptuous travel face, Sean’s hungry frown, an orange blur that might be the Golden Gate Bridge, 13 pictures of Jack Nicholson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame obscured by half of Jay’s fat finger, Matt riding a train off into the sunset like he’s in some kind of goddamned movie. It’ll be good times, I promise!

 

Inside Out

Inside Out is a return to form for Pixar, a brand that hasn’t been quite as synonymous with quality and originality over the last five years as it used to be.

The general story, of five walking talking emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) controlliinsdie out 2ng a young girl’s emotional life and decision-making from inside her head seemed just plain silly to me when the trailers for Inside Out were first released. What I couldn’t have possibly anticipated was how much insight we’ get through what seems to be such a simplistic concept into the way these five emotions interact as we grow up.

Inside Out works for two reasons. First, the voice-casting couldn’t have been better, especially for Riley’s emotions. Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, and Bill Hader- all very funny people- are the perfect companions for this wild ride through Core Memories, The Train of Thought, The Subconscious, and Abstract Thought (look out for that last one). There’s a lot of fun to be had with this idea and the good people at Pixar don’t miss a chinside outance.

Second, with all the insanity and cartoony visuals in Riley’s inner life, the creative team never forget the importance of keeping her real life believable. It doesn’t hurt that the animation of Riley, her parents, and her surroundings are so real they’re scary. It’s more than that though. Her memories and the mini-crisis she faces when she moves to San Francisco are handled just right, making this Pixars’ most moving film since Toy Story 3.

Animated movies!

TMP

Well, it’s Thursday again. It’s not even 8 am yet and I’m at work when I’d much rather still be sleeping and I’ve already had to resolve one office IT issue and I don’t even work in IT. So I’m feeling a little uninspired this morning. Normally I strive for a little more variety in my picks and try to avoid the obvious choices whenever possible but I love these three films so much that I just can’t help but choose them.

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo (2003)- When I was 18, my dad chased me down on a road trip for over an hour just because I’d forgot my Lactaid pills. Once we’d made the exchange and my dad drove away, my driver watched him leave and remarked “Now THAT’S a father”. I think of that comment every time I watch Finding Nemo and, since Father’s Day is just three days away, I might as well dedicate this entry to mine. I cry pretty much through this whole movie and am always filled with gratitude for my own family every time I watch this desperate father conquer his own fears of pretty much everything to take on the entire ocean in search of his son, prompting Nigel to remark “What a father!”

Wall-E

Wall-E (2008)- “Computer, define “dancing” made my list of 10 Movie Moments That Took My Breath Away. What I neglected to mention at the time was that this whole movie takes my breath away. Pixar has pushed the envelope so many times and in so many ways but Wall-E, I think, reamins their most ambitious work to date, trusting its audience to stay engaged through the first forty minutes or so where there is virtually no dialogue. Wall-E is entertaining from start to finish while managing to say a lot about how many of us treat our bodies and our planet, even more effectively than those annoying e-mails from Green Peace that I’m always getting.

Fantastic Mr Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)- Now let’s take a moment to be thankful for Wes Anderson. Anderson is clearly having fun with the stop-motion animation and the family movie format (“Clustercuss”!!!!). Like everything he does, Fantastic Mr. Fox is quirky, outrageous, hilarious, sweet, unmistakeably Anderson. It remains one of my favourites in the Wes canon. Besidies, this is the only film to date to feature the inspired collaboration of Wes Anderson and George Clooney.

Ten Perfect Cinematic Moments

Fisti has put forth this brilliant challenge of telling what, for us, are our absolute favourite moments in film. Matt has already risen to the challenge and wrote beautifully and vividly about his own favourites, and if you’d like to read others’, then do check out the blogathon at A Fistful of Films. If you’re sticking around to read mine, please be warned that these inevitably include spoilers.

I wanted to pick that scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon, having previously asked a dude if he liked apples, pounds on the window, presses the phone number against it, and asks tumblr_mjhsd2PMYS1qfh4plo6_250“How do you like them apples?” because that’s a great scene. Great movie moment. But there’s another nugget in this movie that overshadows it, for me. It’s at the end, when Ben Affleck pulls up to Matt’s house, knocks on the door, and no one answers. We already know that Ben has always secretly hoped for this very thing: that one day his brilliant friend will disappear from his desultory life and chase the stars. So we know that Ben is happy, but we also know that he will inevitably also be sad, having just lost his best friend, and having no such escape route himself. It’s a very bittersweet moment where not a single word is spoken, but so much is said. All of this is communicated with just a slight grin, but the script and the director have set this moment up so perfectly that it plays on the audience’s emotions for all it’s worth. Love it.

As a little girl, I was fascinated by this movie I kept hearing about, E.T. I got the movie (VHS, baby!) one year for Christmas, probably a few years after its initial release, when it was age-e.t.appropriate. Almost the entire movie holds magic for me. This was the first movie that I remember wanting to watch and rewatch, and wanting to own so I could do just that. How do I pick just one moment? The Reese’s pieces, the glowing finger, “I’ll be right here”…and yet, for me, it was the moment Elliot’s bike first detaches from Earth. I can still almost feel the gulp in the pit of my stomach. One minute they’re riding along, etjust like I did around my own neighbourhood, both wheels kissing the ground, but then the next they’re gently pulling away, with wonder in their eyes, and in mine. That was the moment I realized that movies could tell stories. Made up, magical stories – that there was an infinite sea of possibility out there, not just in my own imagination, but in others’ as well (no, the alien hadn’t tipped me off, it was definitely the flying bikes).

There are a thousand movie lines that have become classic quotes and catch phrases, but I don’t think any have affected me quite as much as “Fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a bumpy night!” This is of course uttered by Queen Davis and it wouldn’t have spit forth from any tumblr_mkqpmybgVR1qgvdf9o1_500one else’s lips nearly so well. Bette Davis’s Margo in All About Eve was probably her crowning role, one she was born to play. It was released in 1950 so I missed seeing it in theatres. That famous line was part of our cultural lexicon by the time I was born. There was a time when I hadn’t yet seen All About Eve, but there was never a moment in my lifetime when that line didn’t mean something. Though I’ve seen the movie several times by now, no viewing will ever compare to the first time I heard that line out of Bette’s lips. The timing is perfect, the delivery classic. It darn near knocked my socks off.

I’m not sure if there’s one moment in Up that I can point to, rather it’s a point in myself, that moment when I’m sobbing uncontrollably, reaching for my 3rd or 4th tissue, and we’re not even tumblr_lmgeu8259I1qbbqf3o1_5005 minutes in. Very quickly into the film, there’s a fantastic montage that basically outlines a couple’s life together. Carl and Ellie meet as kids and have a life full of adventure, but also heartbreak. I love the scene of their wedding, where her side is cheering raucously, and his is sedate (remind you of anyone, Sean?). I love the painted hand prints on the mailbox. And I am totally in awe of what must be the first miscarriage hinted at in a Disney movie. It’s done with such tenderness and sensitivity that I always end up bawling. This montage is only a few minutes long but gives you such a sense of who they were (even though they’re fictional cartoons!) that you can’t help but be touched. Thistumblr_n83e5teqZc1tx9vazo1_500 movie obviously found its way into my heart, and at a time when I found myself falling in love, so I guess it’s no surprise that there’s an adventure book in my own home, and a soda bottle cap pin on my lapel, and a drawing of little Carl and Ellie on our wall, and that same drawing tattooed on my back. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I am always bowled over by the sweetness that goes along with the hilarious saltiness. I just love knowing that this is possible, that you can tell a story so purely that makes so many feel all the feelings.

I’m starting to feel like there’s a certain theme to my favourites here. Christopher Guest is one of my favourite directors, I love everything he’s ever done and I’m angry at him for not doing more. anigif_original-grid-image-17238-1417560457-14I might not be able to pick a favourite among his movies, but I can talk about this one scene from A Mighty Wind. Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, two Guest regulars, are playing a folk duo who had a relationship and a successful career but watched both implode. Many years later, there’s still a lot of pain there, but they agree to perform together at a special show as the guests of honour. During their greatest hit, once a testament to their love, they pause to give each other a kiss, just like old times. Again, I have to say that this moment works so well because the director has paid his dues. The whole movie points to this very moment. I hate movies that grab cheaply for tears and admire those that earn them. This moment is played quietly but the emotional payoff is epic.

Wes Anderson is another favourite director of mine. I get absolutely giddy when I watch his creations. My favourite, and I do have one – it’s that good – is The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Its ending is maybe Anderson’s finest work- the scene when the whole damn cast is crammed tumblr_na3habeFfy1r5c2fso1_500into a tiny submarine, and they finally, finally find the elusive jaguar shark. It’s great, no STUPENDOUS, because 1. Bill Murray cries 2. for a movie called The Life Aquatic, this is pretty much the only aquatic life we see c) Sigur Rós’ song “Starálfur” plays, and its beauty and melancholy are just perfection 4. the shark is a metaphor, but for what? In the end, Steve doesn’t kill the shark, because it’s too beautiful, and also for lack of dynamite. It could be no other way, but only the mind of Wes Anderson would know this. Gets me every time.

I think a few of our fellow bloggers already have Inception on their lists, rightfully I think, for the hallway scene. It’s pretty crazy. But I’m thinking more of the last shot of the movie- the fucking top. Do you remember watching that on the big screen for the first time? How it spun and spun, but will it fall? We have already been told what it means: as long as it continues to spin, he is inceptiondreaming. If it eventually topples over, he’s awake. In that famous last scene, we hope he’s awake, and yet the stupid think won’t fall. It keeps going, but – oh, is it about to fall? No. But surely it must be close. Isn’t it faltering? Not quite. But it’s slowing down, right? It’s a simple top, but it manages to create a thick, greasy layer of tension is a theatre that’s already exhausted. And then, brilliantly, director Christopher Nolan cuts to black, so we are left to wonder, or perhaps to make our own judgement call, given the other facts of the movie. Is he or isn’t he? It was a perfect way to end the movie, and it was THE water-cooler topic for weeks. It made us question the nature of reality, and whether ‘reality’ was really the important thing anyway – maybe happiness and emotional connection are reality enough. Christ. I’m twitterpated all over again just writing about it!

The Broken Circle Breakdown is a film out of Belgium that shows the growth of a relationship between two bluegrass singers. The film goes back and forth, with sporadic scenes of courtship, brokencirclelove, marriage, babies, and breakdown. We know that their beloved daughter falls ill (cancer) and we know that the couple ends up in a very dark place, but glimpses of the kid are elusive. It feels like a real game of cat and mouse, trying to piece together what has happened to this family, but you’ve come to love them and you root for them like mad, so the scene where we finally know for sure that the kid is dead JUST FUCKING SLAYS ME.

Almost the whole of Big Fish could make this list, but I’m going to focus on the part where Billy tumblr_nj2bmiq8xQ1roe2pqo2_r2_250Crudup is carrying his dying father in his arms down tho the water, and I’m going to try (and fail) to write this without tears. His whole life, his father has told him tall tales, which has bred distance and resentment between father and son. Only as his father lies dying does he come to understand that these stories are a legacy, a version of immortality, never so important as when death is knocking on one’s door. When father istumblr_nj2bmiq8xQ1roe2pqo8_r2_250 incapacitated, son tells the final story: how he brings him down to the river to be bid adieu by all the fantastic characters that he’s known along the way, to finally pass into the arms of his beloved wife, and to finally become what he always was – a very big fish. I find it very moving and inspiring. Isn’t this what death should look like? Fuck heaven. Tim Burton knows how to do death right.

I read the book, pilfered from my grandfather’s collection, when I was far too young, but The Godfather is so goddamned good that it impressed me even then. The movies offer a whole godfatherplethora of perfect moments, but I’m taking mine from the second one, where Al Pacino delivers the kiss of death. As Michael leans in to kiss his brother Fredo’s cheek, he whispers “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!” Fredo doesn’t die in that scene, but we all know he’s as good as – he’s marked. He’s always been the Corleone family’s weakest link, but now we know for sure that Michael is the strongest. There’s something a little Judas-y about being betrayed by a kiss, something halfway between forgiveness and vengeance that really paints Michael as a complex man and leader. This kiss gives me chills.

10 Movie Moments That Took My Breath Away

Andrew’s Fistful of Moments blogathon stumped me at first. He has challenged us to name some movie scenes and moments that took our breath away. I have seen a lot of movies and have had many kinds of emotional reactions but here are 10 that come to mind almost immediately. The rest of this post will be filled with spoilers so read on at your own risk.

jurassic park

Jurassic Park- (1993) I think this is where I started to love movies. I was 11. I’d like to think I would know if a Tyrannosaurus was getting close but Steven Spielberg was generous enough to give us a hint: a close-up of a puddle in the mud as the ground shakes. Despite lacking the gift of stealth, this dinosaur scared the shit out of me. It was the first time I remember being stressed at a movie and liking how it felt. My mom told me later that I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the last half of the movie.

Face/Off- (1997)  I was 16. I’ve been excited about movie my whole life but this was the first time I ever thought about how they were made and the first time I became a fan of a director. The face offwhole movie worked for me but the scene that did it was a mostly slow-motion shootout with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” playing on a young boy’s headphones. The ironic use of the song, the lighting, the cinematography of Nicolas Cage flying through the air firing two automatic weapons. Nobody but nobody could film mayhem like John Woo did. It was violent but nice.

American Beauty- (1999) I was 18 and couldn’t believe what I was watching. “And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea wamerican beautyhat I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry, you will”. Cue an Elliott Smith cover of The Beatles’ Because. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie where somebody doesn’t join in reciting along with Kevin Spacey’s final monologue. It’s usually me that chimes in but not always.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1947)- I wasn’t born yet. When I was just finishing high school though I it's a wonderful lifewent through a mad rush of trying to catch up on all the classics that I had missed out on account of not existing yet. It’s a Wonderful Life may to this day still be my sentimental favourite. George Bailey really did have a wonderful life and he finally comes to appreciate it on Christmas Eve, stumbling home through the snow yelling “Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!”. I watch it every Christmas and start crying every time at some point in the last five minutes. If I’ve managed to stay strong though the part that gets me is “Attaboy, Clarence”.

The Sixth Sense (1999)-  Someone had already ruined the ending for me but my favourite part sixth senseisn’t the twist anyway. Haley Joel Osment has seen dead people all along but finally comes clean to his mom at the end while stuck in traffic.At first, she’s furious with him for wasting her time with such a story but she’s won over by his intimate knowledge of her conversation’s with her mother’s grave. “She said you asked her a question and the answer is: ‘Every day’. What did you ask her?” Toni Collette cries as she struggles to say “I asked if I made her proud” and I always cry along with her. Her performance is far better than the film’s notoriously hammy writer-director deserved.

one flew over the cookoo's nestOne Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest- (1975)- Billy (Brad Dourif) is so pleased with himself about last night’s partying that he can finally stand up to Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and isn’t even stuttering anymore. He resists her attempts to burst his bubble until she hits a nerve. “What would your mother have to say about this?”. And the stutter’s back. Nurse Ratched makes me so mad.

Vertigo- (1958)- I spent a long time trying to get Kim Nvertigoovak’s scream in the final scene out of my head and I will not go through it again. I’ve rewatched the movie several times but stop it before the end.

wall-eWall-E- (2008) Three words: “Computer: Define “dancing”.

Memento- (2000) My friends and I watched it on DVD and enjoyed the experience so much we kept pausing it so we could work together trying to piece the whole thing together. Then comes the ending. We had never considered that maybe our trusted mementonarrator was lying to us and to himself. How many lies have I cleverly planted in my own memory and how many lies have we left behind in our writings for future generations to believe. Christopher Nolan’s best film.

eternal sunshine of the spotless mindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- (2004) After spending so much time reliving painful and ugly moments between Clementine and Joel, I was quite disarmament when we stumbled upon a beautiful and tender one. It seems to catch Joel off guard too as he finds himself pleading with the guys erasing his memory to just let him keep this one. Now I often call this my favourite movie but the first time I saw it, I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. This scene is the exact moment where I realized I was loving it.

Grapes of Wrath- (1940)  This is probably my favourite book adaptation of all time. It’s made grapes of wrath 2of so many tragic and hopeful moments, most of them almost directly from the novel. Director John Ford knew better than to mess with Steinbeck. If I had to pick just one scene,it would be the Joad family piling into a truck leaving the only hope they know after Ma Joad burns the family souvenirs they didn’t have room for.