REVIEW: Piper [2016]

It’s really quite amazing how consistent Disney/Pixar is at telling six-minute long, vibrantly rich stories without words. Each year passes with a new one arriving to build upon the last, sometimes embracing the “fun” side of things and sometimes as an expression of love. I’d put Alan Barillaro‘s Piper in the former category as its […]

REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon [1977]

“I didn’t think I’d ever be happy til I met you” If memory serves, I loved Pete’s Dragon. It was on the same VHS tape as Sword In the Stone in my family, two Disney films I don’t think anyone else enjoyed. As such I watched Robin Hood a lot to keep the peace—a superior […]

REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

“Liberated forever, domesticated never” Illumination Entertainment’s latest film The Secret Life of Pets has an amazing hook: what do our pets do while we’re gone? We could obviously pay Comcast Xfinity to supply cameras and discover the answer to that question—why use product placement when you can show a commercial before the film that uses […]

REVIEW: Mower Minions [2016]

“Chop-ah chop-ah” The Minions used to be adorable little sidekicks—hilarious creatures ripe for slapstick in a secondary role to the film they were in (Despicable Me). And then they became bigger than the franchise that spawned them. Toys were made, companies recruited them to sell products, and their own feature length film was inevitably released […]

REVIEW: Finding Nemo [2003]

“You mean the swirling vortex of terror?” There’s a lot happening in Finding Nemo, a fact that hindered my appreciation for it back in 2003. At its core is a story about an over-protective clownfish father and his adventurous boy yearning to break free of the constant fear that’s ruled their lives for too long. […]

REVIEW: The Jungle Book [1967]

“No one explains anything to Shere Khan” It’s without a shred of nostalgia that I declare Disney’s animated The Jungle Book an entertaining romp. Having never seen it due to its absence from my stable of “classics” growing up, my affinity to the characters hailed from “TaleSpin” instead. So it was fun meeting them in […]

REVIEW: The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga [2014]

“It was always the middle of the night when They came” Writer/director Jessica Oreck admitting how the best part of the filmmaking process on her document of memory and fable The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga was when audiences in the countries she filmed told her they assumed she’d be an old Eastern European […]

REVIEW: Avril et le monde truqué [April and the Extraordinary World] [2015]

“All scientists must serve the empire!” Most writing on Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci‘s Avril et le monde truqué [April and the Extraordinary World] speaks as though they’ve adapted one of revered Frenchman Jacques Tardi‘s graphic novels. This isn’t quite the case. What they’ve actually done is bring his unique “universe” to life with help […]

REVIEW: Zootopia [2016]

“Where anyone can be anything” In the tradition of Happy Feet (climate change) and Monsters University (fraternity life), Disney’s Zootopia has transposed adult themes onto PG-rated family fare again. Whereas those previous two were misguided—the former shoving a political agenda down kids’ throats without warning and the latter proving a weird stamp of approval on […]

REVIEW: バケモノの子 [Bakemono no ko] [The Boy and the Beast] [2015]

“Find the meaning on your own” Two worlds collide once young Kyuta (Shôta Sometani) and warrior Kumatetsu (Kôji Yakusho) meet in Mamoru Hosoda‘s バケモノの子 [Bakemono no ko] [The Boy and the Beast]. The former was recently orphaned after his mother’s death (she had divorced his father years ago and her family refuses to get in […]

REVIEW: O Menino e o Mundo [Boy & the World] [2014]

Writer/director Alê Abreu‘s O Menino e o Mundo [Boy & the World] is nothing if not a breath of fresh air against the animation medium’s otherwise stagnant aesthetic of glossy computerized fare. Not only does he dive back into a traditional hand-drawn style, he does so with an un-polished rough-edged crayon texture to make it […]