TIFF15 REVIEW: The Ballad of Immortal Joe [2015]

“If you want my story I will proceed” Written in memory of a family member, Pazit Cahlon‘s Western poem The Ballad of Immortal Joe sounds like a nursery rhyme but plays like a bittersweet romance of cursed love. Directed and animated by Hector Herrera, the short has an eye-catching aesthetic with dark palette and deep gradients atop playful characters straight out of the opening credits to Monsters Inc. Some figures have six eyeballs, others four legs, and all are a little left of center in an imaginative way to engage…

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REVIEW: Inside Out [2015]

“I call it the Happy Core Memory Development Program” The simplest ideas really are the greatest and Pixar’s made a legacy built on just such an ideal. They brought toys to life as living companions caring for our children. They humanized the monsters in our closets, conjured a spark of love in the circuitry of a tiny robot, and gave an old curmudgeon tired of too much loss the opportunity to rediscover the joy of living. So it wasn’t a surprise when the germination of Inside Out was announced on…

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REVIEW: Party Central [2014]

“Operation Party Central is a go” Turning to frat house humor for Monsters University was to me the largest misstep in Pixar Animation’s history. It took one of the studio’s most original worlds and made it into a gag to be blindly consumed by fans of Monsters Inc.‘s heart only to scratch their heads wondering how anyone could think this would be a viable avenue for children’s fare. Even so, I’m hardly surprised they decided to continue this line of thinking for their newest short film Party Central despite its…

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REVIEW: Monsters University [2013]

“Technically I caught the pig” I entered the theatre with low expectations and a willingness to be surprised, curious towards Monsters University’s trailers lacking plot description besides a generalized notion of witnessing Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and Jimmy “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman) becoming best friends. What would first-time Pixar feature-film director Dan Scanlon and co-writers Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson have up their sleeves? How would they fill the inevitable gaping hole of not bringing back the adorable Boo from Monsters, Inc. due to their newest installment’s status as…

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REVIEW: Monsters, Inc. [2001]

“Kitty!” If there is one film type where a laundry list of screenwriters can actually help the finished product, it’s the animated feature. Sparked by the simple idea of “Let’s make a movie about monsters”, Pete Doctor’s directorial debut evolved immensely from its brainstorming lunch origins in 1994. What would ultimately become Pixar Studios’ second most inspired fantasy world piggybacked on the shoulders of a child’s imagination—the first being Toy Story’s brilliant concept of toys living full lives when humans weren’t looking—Monsters, Inc. took us inside the dark, scary closets…

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Posterized Propaganda June 2013: The Apocalypse is Nigh With ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘World War Z,’ ‘This is the End’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Summer continues chugging along with the America and/or Earth threatened by destruction at every turn. Whether comic book adaptations, zombie wars, terrorist assaults or a giant pit opening up to…

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REVIEW: Rise of the Guardians [2012]

“Merry Christmas! Happy Easter! Don’t forget to floss!” It was only a matter of time before someone turned our favorite holiday-bound mythical creatures into superheroes. Unsurprisingly it’s William Joyce who did. By no means a household name, he isn’t a stranger to the world of youthful fantasy with credited work as a conceptual artist (Toy Story and A Bug’s Life), television show creator (“Rolie Polie Olie”), and author of cinematic adaptations earning box office success (Meet the Robinsons inspiration A Day with Wilbur Robinson). His latest project coined The Guardians…

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REVIEW: Madagascar [2005]

“Just smile and wave boys. Smile and wave.” Made as though in opposition to Pixar’s brand of magical storytelling, Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar ushered in the studio’s want for broader comedy and adolescent appeal. With Shrek, they found a franchise that subverted Disney’s use of fairy tales for cinematic fodder and created a nice hybrid of laughs and story with an underdog hero inside an ugly duckling tale. But after a steady stream of Pixar work including Monsters Inc. and the previous year’s The Incredibles, you have to believe that Dreamworks…

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REVIEW: Despicable Me [2010]

“Oh yes, I have pins and needles I’m sitting on” Yet another hat is thrown into the ring. Illumination Entertainment joins the stiff competition of Hollywood animators, bringing along with it a stellar voice cast and the ever-present 3D format. Christopher Meledandri—the man behind Fox’s steady rise into becoming one of the top three studios of the medium alongside Pixar and DreamWorks—left his executive job to head up this new company, pilfering artist Chris Renaud to co-direct the firm’s debut Despicable Me with Pierre Coffin. Let’s just say that it’s…

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REVIEW: Toy Story 2 [1999]

“I can’t look. Can someone cover my eyes?” The stigma associated with sequels is that they always attempt to either go bigger or rehash what was already done. Both variations are usually set-ups for failure, sacrificing story for more bells and whistles or boring the audience with a slightly reworked alternate version, a watered down facsimile of the brilliant original. So, after Pixar produced just one other film post-Toy Story—the charmingly entertaining A Bug’s Life—the news that number three would be Toy Story 2 became an opportunity for everyone to…

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REVIEW: Toy Story [1995]

“Ages three and up! It’s on my box!” It’s hard to believe that, with Toy Story 3 coming out soon, it has been fifteen years since the original film. Back in 1995, Toy Story ushered in an animation renaissance for not only Disney, but also the medium as a whole. Pixar Studios had created something that changed the game forever, spawning countless other computer-graphic studios to follow suit and never fully reach the potential consistently exceeded by the Mouse House’s little buddy. Starting as a small-scale studio inside the Lucasfilm…

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