Archive for the ‘reviews’ Tag

~killing it~   3 comments

So as few of you know (actually, probably none of you) I am a recovering television addict. I was hoping there was a more formal phrase, like “teleholic” or something, but alas, according to Wikipedia, no. It’s just Television Addiction.

Anyway, my poison in my teleholic days was crime shows. If they investigated murders, I was All About It. CSI (but only the Las Vegas one), Law & Order, Without a Trace, NCIS. There’s entire networks dedicated to investigative journalism. Real life crime! I probably babysat for way longer into adolescence than I intended to just so I could watch crime TV after the kids went to bed.

At some point I realized that all this television was no good for me. No good. I still struggle with it. I can’t ignore TV that’s playing in restaurants and if I’m at someone’s house and they turn the TV on, I have to go into another room or I’ll be sucked in. Internet addiction might have replaced Television Addiction. Might have. I’m not sure.

Some of the old TV shows are still on, but there’s new ones. Without a Trace went away. It seems to have been replaced by Criminal Minds. From what little I know, it’s about criminal investigators for the FBI who specialize in serial killers. They take the killer’s MO and guess what the killer’s mind is like, and use that information to find the killer. In real life, while there are criminal profilers who do federal investigations, they’re not a specialized team. They’re like consultants, who are brought in to assist in difficult cases sometimes. And honestly, experiments have proven that despite their training, they’re no better than the general population at profiling criminals.

So I was taking my lunch break at work, and Criminal Minds was on. I sat behind the TV and tried to focus on my word puzzle, but no. This show kept beating my ears. With its dramatic music and dramatic one-liners. They found out that one of the killers had bought a double soy latte and for some reason they magically knew that this double soy latte was relevant, so one of the women said, “You know, I suddenly have a craving for a double soy latte.”

Like this dude:

He kinda looks like a poor man’s Cillian Murphy. I thought I recognized him from something, but I looked on his IMDB profile and, like, he’s been in a Wes Anderson film and he was in 500 Days of Summer. He’s also the current voice of Simon from Alvin and the Chipmunks. And other than that, this is his big role. So he’s just…one of those dudes who’s mildly successful in Hollywood, I guess. Just another character actor.

Lord he’s skinny. You can’t tell from this particular picture, but he is a stick.

Anyway, part of the reason I knew this show was ridiculous was because they go to the coffee shop where this Plot Relevant Latte was purchased. They showed the owner(?) of the shop pictures of the victims, but none of their faces really stick out to him. Then they notice that one of the bulk travel boxes is actually a camera and asked if he was recording them. The owner(?) seemed ashamed of the camera. He stuttered that it was just to watch the cash drawer — okay fine it was to watch his coworkers…

Like?

Everyone knows that there’s cameras everywhere in a retail environment? Especially at the registers? Like it’s standard procedure? Has been for decades? The cameras are there to catch the criminals? If this man is really a coffeeshop owner or manager or whatever, this shouldn’t be an embarrassing fact, it should be something he’s always had to deal with. As criminal investigators, they should know this. They should have asked about the security footage. They had the date and time that the Plot Relevant Latte was purchased. After showing him the faces, their next question should have been something like, “So can we see your security footage from April 17th?”

And the writers should know this too! Looking at the security footage is practically cliche!

And the footage was in High Definition, and it was in color. They even did the thing where they zoomed in on the footage and it started out blurry, but then it suddenly snapped into clear focus to show the tiny detail needed to continue the plot. (here is a comic explaining what I’m talking about — it’s too big to post here, being 4250 pixels tall)

And then Discount Cillian Murphy was brought in, with giant nerd glasses and a sweatervest,


OH MY GOD I FOUND A PICTURE OF HOW STUPID IT WAS

And apparently this HD color security footage could be played at whatever speed you wanted, so he watched it at THE FASTEST SPEED.

The owner of the coffeeshop was like, “Are you sure? No mortal man can handle footage that fast!”

The black FBI investigator standing in the shadows laughed. “You don’t understand. Tell him. Tell him you read War and Peace!”

“Again!” said Discount Cillian Murphy. “In the original Russian!”

“This is relevant and a normal thing for nerds,” said the coffeeshop owner. Thus convinced, the coffeeshop owner played the entirety of April 17th for Discount Cillian Murphy.

There were many dramatic close-ups of his eye.

Discount Cillian Murphy babbled something about speed-reading while staring at the screen. Then he found the next plot nugget and the story continued.

Loaded with the information from the Plot Relevant Latte and the thing about the nurse’s nametag that Discount Cillian Murphy found, Our Hero Greg from Dharma and Greg called up the next magical nerd.

Her IMDB describes this character as “bespectacled-brainiac-tech-kitten” which is a weird bunch of a words, but certainly they are four words strung together, which is nice. Also, this character is played by an actress named Kirsten Vangsness, but the character’s name is Penelope Garcia.


To be fair, they did nail the tumblr-hipster look, but a) she’s like 40* and therefore wouldn’t dress like a college student b) actually that’s really my only problem with the way she looks c) wait I remember now — they’ve always had her dress this way for the 10 years this show has been on, which means that this look was meant to look stupid and nerdy and they failed completely, what the heck people

Greg calls up Tech Kitten and this is my other big issue with this show. You see, it was Tech Kitten who found the Plot Relevant Latte. She called up the main team, or they called her up, it doesn’t really matter. A phone call was made. She said, “[the victim] bought a Double Soy Latte at Not Starbucks on April 17th.”

-An FBI Hacker
-Has Easy Access
-To Financial Records

Except these can’t be financial records, because financial records wouldn’t say “Double Soy Latte”. Financial Records would say April 17th, Not Starbucks, $4.78. But remember the quip from the female FBI investigator above — Tech Kitten specifically said “Double Soy Latte”, causing the quip.

They ask, for some unknown reason, if this coffeeshop is near a university?

“It is,” says Tech Kitten.

Our Hero Greg says that the University isn’t relevant, because our killer lacks any academic thinking (?????)

Is the university near a hospital?

“There’s a hospital tied to the university,” says Tech Kitten.

Don’t…don’t they live in this city? Shouldn’t they know that there’s a hospital tied to the university? According to IMDB, this show takes place in Quantico, VA, which lacks a university, so maybe they’re telecommunicating with the local police. Except Black FBI Guy, Discount Cillian Murphy, and Brunette FBI Chick all went to the coffeeshop in person. So like, in a world where Magical FBI Hacker knows that you bought a Double Soy Latte, the FBI’s greatest criminal investigators don’t know that there’s a hospital tied to the local university?

And then

Then

Ho boy

then

They ask if there’s any patients at that hospital who have been declared terminal in the last month.

Tech Kitten presses some buttons. I will admit that the button-pressing was not button-mashing, which is how NCIS portrays hacking.

The typing depicted actually seemed to have some sort of purpose. She appeared to make the computer do some sort of task. She didn’t use her mouse, and there was surprisingly little actual typing. Perhaps she already had this list prepared. I don’t know why she would have this list prepared. I’m about 109% certain that having this sort of list is 64 kinds of illegal and violates doctor-patient privacy.

“There are 300 patients who have been declared terminal in the last month,” says Tech Kitten.

“Do any of them match the Other Plot Relevant List?”

The sixth one on the list did. She scrolled right over his name, bringing up a picture and little bio on him.

I wish I could remember what the other Plot Relevant List was. It didn’t bother me as much as the list of patients declared terminal, so it didn’t stick out in my mind. But it also seemed weird that the FBI would have that list on-hand. It also seemed weird that the data was so accessible. You would think it would take a while to compare the two lists. But she just had two windows open and magically scrolled to the correct one. You would think some of this information would require warrants to get. But no, Tech Kitten just c&pd and hacked her way through our privacy laws.

In case you’re wondering, the killer was Kevin from The Office.

Posted June 8, 2016 by agentksilver in animation

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2013 animated Oscar winners   Leave a comment

So, weird thing, right? I tried to update my blog on Sunday, and for some reason, it wouldn’t load. I’m convinced there was too much Oscar traffic. Do people liveblog on wordpress? Do they I thought that was what Twitter was for! So anyway I did my taxes so I can apply for FAFSA.

I'm not sure why I take so many pictures of myself eating.

I’m not sure why I take so many pictures of myself eating.

My philosophy about the whole of Sunday can probably be best summed up by this video:

Well not really. I was also paying attention to the Oscar results. Well, the Oscar results that mattered.

brave
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HELL YES BRAVE WON. I know, I know, I know Wreck-It Ralph won the Annies. Both movies feature sumptious scenery, and the characters both grow and change to find that their chosen place in society is where they actually belong. And they learn to find happiness and acceptance there. So I guess they’re kind of the same movie? But really, when has the Academy not voted for Pixar? Other than 2001 and 2006? (wait, seriously, Shrek beat Monsters, Inc.?)

Also I feel like that’s a really awkward shot. Mostly because Angus is so gigantic and That Triplet There is so tiny.

Hosting pictures is like free hits to your site!

Hosting pictures is like free hits to your site!


Same Source really

The real drama, to me, is in the animated shorts. Some people might disagree with that. Also, some people probably disagree with me in general about who should have won.

I’ve actually seen all the Oscar nominated shorts — all of them. On Sunday 10 my twin sister, her boyfriend, and I went to go see them. It was in celebration of my twin and my’s twenty-sixth birthday.

The nominated shorts were, in order that we were shown them- (all pictures are courtesty of Oscar.com)

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare- which had the feeling of an also-ran.

nothingspecial

Although it featured classic Simpsons characters, it didn’t have classic Simpsons gags. Instead, it was just trying to save a butterfly from the Unibrow Baby. It had a few cute gags, but the 3D CGI was really awkward (especially in crowd shots, such as when Maggie was trying desperately to get to the window). The Simpsons has occasional shorts in the Ayn Rand Daycare Center, but they tend to be parodies. This one has a nod towards its Objectionist-mocking roots in its establishing shots (see the picture above), but then a dull plot.

Fresh Guacamole- which also has the feeling of an also-ran.

fresh guacamole

This one is just so creative, featuring visual puns and a zesty plot. It felt worth a nomination, but not a win, you know? It was short and adorable and it made me laugh. It just didn’t feel like an Oscar winner, I guess.

Adam and Dog- which I thought was going to win

adamanddog

I thought this was a surefire win. It was so obvious that I thought it couldn’t, because that would be too easy. The art is gorgeous. It has the feel of a series of paintings with just a few pieces of animation in there. The dog really moves like a dog. You can feel the dog’s energy. There’s a certain feel to this movie, and the dog moves too fast for it, and the man moves too slow for it. You can feel the connection there.

justwantedsomeonetoplaywith

Head Over Heels- I thought was going to be a come-from-behind winner.

headoverheels

“If Adam and Dog isn’t going to win,” I thought, “Then surely Head Over Heels will.” Maybe it’s just because I have a soft spot for claymation, or maybe because this is such an unusual story, about such an unusual period in life. It’s a visual metaphor for a married couple late in life, where they’re so settled into their routine and each other that they take each other for granted. They have their own space and they’re really comfortable, but there’s a separation, you know? And you have to reach out to that person — but they might not even know you’re doing it.

Or it’s about a couple whose gravity is completely whacky and the silly/depressing reality of that situation. In either case, a really good story with nice visuals.

Paperman- it’s not that I hate it, but…

paperman

This movie is actually really cute. It does deserve love. Did it deserve to win? It doesn’t cover the same interesting ground that Adam and Dog or Head Over Heels does. There is something very really about the characters. The 3D is much more ground and real than in The Longest Daycare. It tells its story simply and visually. It makes you laugh in the right places, gasp in the right places. You want George and Meg to get together. You can immediately feel the world it shows. It is a very animation short. It’s just that Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels were better! That’s all it is, really. Paperman was interesting to look at; Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels more so. Head Over Heels had a deeper and more ambiguous love story. They were just better, that’s all.

The Mediocre Mouse Detective (ahaha I’m so clever)   4 comments

The Great Mouse Detective was released by Walt Disney Productions in 1986, a year before I was born. Fortunately my childhood was spent in the heyday of VHS, so before every movie I watched at home, I got to see this trailer. So growing up, I saw this trailer and thought that I wanted to see it. But I never have. For 25 (almost 26!) years now, I have been wanting to see this film, and I finally got a chance to watch it.

Here is what I learned: all the good parts of this movie are in this trailer. I had already seen the good parts. Over. And over. And over again.

Basil, the Sherlockian mouse, isn’t really a detective so much as a forensic scientist. Well, that didn’t really disappoint me. It was cute. They tried to make it cute. And…I think that’s where they failed? They tried so, so hard to make this a good movie, a movie anything other than mediocre.


“This is Art,” they 1980s animators are desperately trying to say. “Animation is good and can be taken seriously by anyone!” I’m not hating on the animation. Did you see that bit where they’re running from the giant wheel…bell…thing? It’s from that scene where Our Heroes are hunting for clues in the toy store. Certainly the issues aren’t with the animation — the animation is bouncy, fun, and tip-top. Characters are put in dynamic poses, always moving, always suited for their characters. The actors do a good job with the material they’re given. The problem, I think, is with the scriptwriters.


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Here are our Heroes. I normally start out by introducing these guys, don’t I? The movie is based on a children’s book series, Basil of Baker Street, which is about the Sherlock Holmes of Victorian London. In that vein, these characters fit the Sherlockian tropes just fine. Basil (Holmes), Olivia (client), and Dawson (Watson). Notice that Basil is long and lean, and leaning back on his knees, bent forward slightly, in a dynamic pose. You can almost imagine that he is shifting his weight back and forth, full of energy. Dawson, by contrast, is short and round. His stomach takes up most of his body. His limbs are shortened severely. He has hardly anything in the way of a snout, resembling more of a friendly, kindly human face. He has little in the way of body posture, and yet he oozes geniality. Olivia in the middle is the archetypal child character, a central character entirely to pull children into the movie (she spends much of the movie playing with a big friendly dog). She, too, has reduced mouse features; her eyes are even larger than the adult’s, and she’s in the middle of a turn. Clearly meant to be adorable. (By the way, Dawson for Watson? Really?)

Olivia’s father is kidnapped, and she wants Basil to help find her father. To make a long story short, this leads Basil and Dawson to uncover a plot where Professor Ratigan is going to replace the Queen of Mouse England with an automaton. And here’s my first issue: two-thirds of the movie is taken up with trying to hide this plot, as if this plot would be a shocking twist. And it kind of is, because the announcement of this plan is the first time we hear about the existence of Queen Mousetoria (yes, really). This can be pretty fitting. The audience’s surprise can match the character’s surprise, and help the audience feel more involved with the story.


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Actually my issue with the plot is this: that is not a big enough plot. The idea of the plot is well-executed, with the stealing of uniforms and the need for gears for an automaton. The foundation is there. The idea has just been done dozens of times before. And it’s done on such a small scale — Ratigan switches out two guards with his own. Only two! What happened to the other uniforms the weird bat-dude stole? You could say that the other guards were switched out, too, but how come we don’t see them when the guard turns on Ratigan? Certainly Ratigan would have been more impressive with an army of guards backing him up, rather than just looking like this:


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And just expecting everyone to just go by the Queen announcing that he’s in charge. Ratigan walks in with the authority of only a single person’s single statement, then announces that he will get rid of every old, sick, and child person in the country (“Item 96: A heavy tax shall be levied against all parasites and spongers, such as the elderly, the infirm, and especially little children”). Which doesn’t work: the crowd is ready to throttle him before Basil shows up to save the day.

Moriarty, Ratigan’s inspiration, is scary because he works behind the scenes, orchestrating small schemes to work out his larger, better scheme. There’s no series of small schemes leading to a bigger one. Olivia’s case leads straight to Ratigan, which leads straight to the Queen of Mouse England. The scale of Ratigan’s operations are more on par with a small-time thug.

I had hopes for this plan, I really did. The plot really takes off when Fidget the bat-minion:


Source

loses his errand list, revealing that Ratigan’s plan and also Ratigan’s location (through forensic magic).


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At first Ratigan intends to feed the bat to his cat as punishment for losing the list, but changes his mind when he realizes he can use this opportunity. The wording of this scene leads one to believe that he is going to trick Basil into somehow helping him take over England, but no. He instead locks Basil and Dawson into an easily-escapable death machine that takes a while to go off, then says “tootles!” and scoots out the door.


Seriously, Basil, you can just scootch your butt a bit and you’re free.
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So we wandered away from the plot for no reason other than to buy time for the whole of England to against Ratigan?

The whole villainous plot is thoroughly disappointing. The final climax, in the Tower of Big Ben, is fantastic and worth the price of a monthly subscription to Netflix Instant. The problem is, that scene has very little dialogue. It allows the animators to go nuts on the story-telling, really involving the audience as you become scared for the characters. Ratigan loses any resemblance to Moriarty and instead becomes a pseudo-Gaston.


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In that way, I can see how this movie helped spur the Animation Renaissance that has lead to the assortment of available features today. The animation did it though. Not the writing, not the characterization.


Let the art do the talking
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Posted December 31, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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Blog Post 3: Oscar Nominees (animated short subject)   Leave a comment

Like a true nerd, I spent my birthday at the movie theater, watching the animated short subject nominees for Best Animated Film Short Subject. Also, we totally played Lord of the Rings Monopoly and Klingon Monopoly at the same time.


INSTANT NERD CRED.

I ended up attending the 3:45 show with some of my nearest and dearest:

Kerstin, one of my best friends since middle school, a true fangirl
Andrew, one of my best friends for about six years now, a true intellectual
Lacey, my twin sister (therefore best friend since before birth), a perceptive woman who almost went to film school
Matt, her boyfriend

Together, we experienced…THE 2012 OSCAR NOMINEES (or are they 2011 I’m confused)

Dimanche/Sunday
Patrick Doyon

Only Kerstin and Andrew saw this the whole way through, because Lacey and Matt were running late, so I stayed in the lobby with Lacey’s ticket. I came in about halfway through the film. I saw that it had simple line animation with graytones, and appeared to be about a family reunion where the little boy was very bored, ran around playing his own games, involving a bear on the wall and the train and a coin, and then everyone went home. The animation didn’t impress me, although I did like the ending scene, when it was getting dark, so you saw the light of the headlights and the windows on the ground, and the cars pull onto the street to drive home.

Lacey, Matt, and I asked Kerstin and Andrew what it was about.

“It was called Sunday,” Andrew reported.
“It looked to be about a family reunion,” I ventured a guess.
“Yeah,” Kerstin said. “The family all got together.”

We really didn’t have a whole lot to say about it.

“What was the next story?” Lacey asked.
“It was…”

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

“This one is going to win,” I said, even before the show actually began. “It has the best distribution. It’s going to win.”
“I have to agree with Kelsey,” Andrew said after the show was over. “I think the books one is going to win.”
“I liked it,” everyone reported. They commented on how smooth the animation was, especially compared to some of the others; it had a good story, and the colors were good too.

A Morning Stroll
Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe

“Why was that one nominated?” I asked.
“It was based on a true story,” Andrew said.
“It was based on an article,” I said, “That as published in 1989.”
“Really?”

Apparently I was the only one who remembered that title card. We tried to figure out what the original article was about, given that the story showed us 1959, 2009, and 2059. Perhaps someone had written a small human piece on seeing a chicken treated like a pet?

I had hated the animation, and said so. At first I had found the 1959 animation charming in its simplicity. But the 2009 animation seemed like it was based in the 1990s, all neon colors and awkward proportions, kind of reminiscent of Logorama, actually, which came out in 2009, so I guess it makes sense.

In any case, we decided that while it was definitely different and that was good, the story seemed sparse, the animation didn’t fit with the rest of the nominees, and the 2059 was kind of gross (the entire audience had shouted in disgust at it).

Wild Life
Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

“I liked this one,” Matt ventured, “It was my favorite, besides the book one. I liked the brush strokes.”
“I liked how they used the brush strokes to show movement,” I said.
“Which one was that?” Kerstin asked.
“It was the one about the English guy who moved to the Canadian wilderness and then committed suicide by wandering into the cold,” I said.
Lacey disagreed. “They didn’t say why he died. They just show how he died.”
“He left that letter saying how he was looking forward to seeing everyone,” Matt pointed out.
“And he had his suitcase,” Lacey pointed out.
“So he wandered out to go stargazing and then froze to death?”
“He wasn’t prepared for the cold,” Lacey said. “In fact, I think that was the point of the movie. He wasn’t prepared for anything. He never made anything of himself.”
“Was it based on a true story?” Matt asked. “I kind of wondered, with the photograph at the end.”

La Luna
Enrico Casarosa

“I loved this one,” Kerstin said, “It was my favorite, that and the book one.”
“It was adorable,” Lacey said.
“It was very cute,” I said.

We had nothing else to say on the subject.

Honorable Mentions — they also showed some other notable animations of the year, we supposed to fill out the hour-and-a-half requirement.

Nullarbor– We weren’t quite sure what to make of it. It was entertaining, certainly, but at the end, who triumphed, the old man or the young man? Did anyone triumph?
Hybrid– Actually we didn’t have anything to say about this one either, except that it was “political”, but how was it political? Was it global warming? Was it oil? We mentioned these options, and then moved on to other topics, being more interested in raving about the Fantastic Flying Books instead.
Amazonia– The very last show. We almost didn’t mention it, but Andrew mentioned that he didn’t like the art — specifically, he didn’t like the faces. I pointed out that I didn’t really like the cutesy animals either, but they served well to contrast the absolutely horrible things that happen in the course of the short, and then, at the end, it turns out they were just performing a show? What was that all about? Andrew pointed out that it was probably about human perceptions about animals then. We think they’re cute and innocent and putting on a show, but their lives are on the line, after all.

Posted February 14, 2012 by agentksilver in animation, Personal

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