Friday, January 17, 2014


GET A HORSE (Walt Disney Animation Studios, USA - Hand-drawn and CGI in glorious black and white!)
The first Disney animated film
in 90 years ever to be conceived and directed solo by a woman: Lauren MacMullen. 
2D animation by Eric Goldberg, CGI animation by Adam Green.
FERAL 2013 Annecy winner – CGI
Directed, written and animated by Daniel Sousa, who teaches at the RISD
MR. HUBLOT (Zeilt Productions, Luxemburg - CGI)
Director: Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares
Animators: Mickaël Coedël, David Carrière 
- Oscar winner 2014

POSSESSIONS (Sunrise Inc., Japan) – Another mix of CGI and hand-drawn) 
POSSESSIONS is part of the film anthology SHORT PEACE.
Director: Shuhei Morita 
ROOM ON THE BROOM (Magic Light Pictures, UK) BAFTA winner – CGI
Directors: Max Lang, Jan Lachauer
Writer: Julia Donaldson

THE CROODS (DreamWorks, USA - CGI)
Director: Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco
Writers: Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco
Is it just me or are these characters too polished and shiny and inflated-looking to be charming? It's not as if Chris Sanders can't do beautiful and charming, just watch LILO & STITCH and LION KING. Why do DreamWorks animated features almost always lack charm, style and beauty? Iconoclasm doesn't have to be ugly, Jeffrey.
DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal/Illumination Entertainment, USA - CGI)
Directors: Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
These characters are beautifully designed and have oodles of wit and charm. The colors, backgrounds, animation, camera angles and acting are terrific. Good luck.
ERNEST ET CELESTINE (StudioCanal, France
– hand-drawn: see the Making Of)
Directors: Benjamin Renner, Stephane Abier, Vincent Patar.
Writer: Daniel Sennac
Soft watercolors, hand-drawn animation. Charming, cute, over-the-top acting, not bad Flash animation. Lovely for small children. Doesn't stand a chance.
FROZEN (Disney, USA - CGI)
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writers: Jennifer Lee
Was it that the “Frozen”soundtrack was No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart or was it the Polar Vortex that made this film so popular? Or was it the new snowy software "Matterhorn" and "Snow Batcher", or the beautiful design and animation, or the first female co-director/writer on a Disney feature?
If FROZEN wins, it will be the FIRST Best Animated Feature won by Disney since the category was created in 1992. Oscar winner 2014
THE WIND RISES (Studio Ghibli, Japan)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
This is Miyazaki's 11th and final film based on his manga of the same name. Exquisite design (except for those ghastly eyes and mouths), lovely colors, marvellous direction and hand-drawn animation. Could this manage a last-chance, sentimental win despite its controversial content?


Sunday, January 5, 2014


LOVE or RELATIONSHIP - Something that sounds like a medical emergency but is, by far, the best feeling in the world is not a "relationship".

WOULD YOU READ A NOVEL SET IN THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY? - take a look through the eyes of an animator at a wonderful, complex art. 

WHY WE LOVE STORIES - We need all the ideas we can get about life and survival and how other people do it so we can keep up, surpass or simply marvel at the ingenuity, inventiveness, idiocy or dirty rotten evil of our fellow humans.

THE POWER OF A PICTURE - Many readers and maybe agents/publishers too, seem to see any cartoon as puerile and gormless and anyone represented by one as a nitwit. So, goodbye avatar Lisa.

AUTHOR PHOTOS - Why do photographers pose writers with their hand(s) hovering awkwardly around their face? How often do we do this in real life? Almost never. 

LOVABLE LITERARY CHARACTERS - An unbold publisher is like a jailer, keeping unpublished characters prisoner in their pages, unable to entertain and enlighten readers.

THE POWER OF AN OUTLINE GRID - Being able to place plot points exactly where you want them makes writing faster and easier.

PIMPING LITERATURE - Why not have a book award show with witty presenters, famous writers reading scenes, a live orchestra and lavish dance numbers based on excerpts from best-sellers? 

WRITERS READ BY ACTORS - Two groups of professional actors who will read a writer’s text for her: SWEET in New York and LIARS’ LEAGUE in London, NY, Hong Kong, Leeds.

DISNEY ANIMATION 2013 - As Lasseter himself said, nobody wants to see BAD hand-drawn animation but they do still want to see hand-drawn animation.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


These subjective impressions should not be taken for proper reviews.         ↑ Mmm to ↓ Ugh.

↑ ↑ ↑ - Loved this book! Adam Johnson won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for this horrifying portrait of North Korean society and its grotesque political activities (despite recent events, one hopes they’re not real). The characters get under your skin and so does the ghastly place. You’re sorry to leave them at the end but glad to get away from the horrors.

A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU de Marcel Proust. ↑ ↑ ↑ Edition française complète, 10 tomes augmentée, illustrée et commentée (Commentary based on the first two & a half tomes.) Swann’s inner conflict caused by his obsession with Odette is a detailed marvel of how our thinking gets twisted by strong emotions.

The Amazing Adventures of KAVALIER & CLAY: A Novel by Michael Chabon 

↑ ↑ ↑ - Michael Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer prize for this book and it’s a wonderful, layered look at the development of comic books, the historical context, the art and the artists, with real famous people interwoven with the fictional characters (Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, others ).

THE GREAT GATSBY by Scott Fitzgerald ↑ ↑ ↑ - Jay Gatsby is a wonderfully created character, never sucessfully captured in the films. Daisy, the love of his life, is someone you’d like to strangle.

MISS LONELYHEARTS/ DAY OF THE LOCUST by Nathaniel West  ↑ ↑ ↑ - Lovely, heart-rending stuff. You feel the feelings, see the places.

TENDER IS THE NIGHT by Scott Fitzgerald  ↑ ↑ - An interesting story of two characters’ evolution and transition. I like the international settings but the theme is grand and a little cold, it lacks sweaty struggle and meaty detail.

THE WONDER BOYS by Michael Chabon ↑ ↑ - I love Michael Chabon’s writing but felt the stuff
he added to get a movie deal (pages blowing away, dead dog, transvestite, tuba) was a bit contrived but obviously effective because a movie did happen. While good, the movie was not as good as the book because of miscasting. Even though it’s what they know, I always feel that writers writing about writing are cheating somehow.

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman  ↑ ↑ -  Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for the work explained in this book. Sophisticated stuff, written deceptively simply, as the title would suggest. This will be read in small bites, like ALRDTP.

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julien Barnes, a Man Booker Prize winner
↑ ↑  - I know I liked this book, I like Julien Barnes’ work generally, but I just can’t remember what it was about. 
THE YELLOW BIRDS by Kevin Powers  ↑  - A flashback story of what caused a soldier’s  PTSD. The writing is a tad florid for such a stark subject.

LESS THAN ZERO by Bret Easton Ellis  ↑ ↓ ↓ - A wonderfully urgent voice that drives you bats after one chapter. I wanted it to stop.

INFINITE JEST by David Foster Wallace  ↑ ↓ ↓ - Another one of those Catcher-in-the-Rye-type voices of claustrophobic self-absorption and self- awareness. Didn’t finish.

PLATEFORME (French Edition) by Michel Houellebecq    ↓ ↓ ↓ This book created an uproar in France and I can see why. The characters and subject are repulsive and the writing isn’t skillful enough to make them palatable.

GONE GIRL by Gillian FlynnJust started this best-seller. A strong voice that grabs you from the start but more adult characters with childish self-obsession.