Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Lots of films and Spark Animation 2019 in Vancouver

Well, it's Oscar season again and I'm getting a lot of new Oscar-qualified films to see.  Some good, some bad, but way too many for me to watch.  So here are some quickie reviews of the ones I've managed to see.

Last week I rushed out to see "Parasite", Bong Joon Ho's new film, because everyone's been talking about it (that's the best kind of advertising there is...).  First of all, I'm a big fan of his earlier stuff, like "Okja" (which I loved), "Snowpiercer" and "The Host".  "The Parasite is about a scheming poverty-stricken family that gloms on to a wealthy Korean family.  And like a parasite, they bring a whole lot of damage to their host family.  It's quite twisted and graphic, but it could have used more humor - plus it's way too long.

Another film I liked was "Ford v Ferrari", directed by James Mangold.  I really wanted to see this film because in college I became really interested in sports cars (I wanted to buy an Alfa Romeo) and racing.  Then the Caroll Shelby AC Cobra came out and I was in love.  Even though I never rode in one, it became my obsession - and this film's story comes from exactly that era.  So I guess I liked it for nostalgia reasons, but it's also a really well-made film - great drama, characters, humor and racing!  I totally recommend "Ford v Ferrari".

Then last week, I took a 4-day visit to Vancouver, BC, Canada for the up and coming Spark Animation Festival.  I visited Vancouver 20 years ago to visit my animation heroes, Danny Antonucci (of "Lupo the Butcher" fame) and Marv Newland ("Bambi Meets Godzilla") - so it was wonderful to reunite with them and also Oscar winners David Fine and Alison Snowden.  We also competed for the Oscar way back in 1987 - but another Canuck won, Frederic Back for "The Man Who Planted Trees".
With Sylvia and Danny Antonucci
with David Fine and Alison Snowden
After the screening of the "Animation Outlaws" documentary
But the real buzz of the festival was for Sergio Pablos of Disney fame.  He was showing clips of his soon-to-be-released Christmas comedy "Klaus".  And the clips were friggin' amazing.  What talent!! And his storytelling was superb.  I haven't seen the whole film yet by it's definitely #1 on my watch-list.

with Sergio Pablos, director of "Klaus"
I also got to hang out with the great Bonnie Arnold, producer of "Toy Story" and the "How to Train Your Dragon" series, plus I had a long chat with Glen Keane, animator extraordinaire and Oscar-winner for "Dear Basketball", on the need for better draftsmanship and life-drawing among today's young animators.

And finally, on the last day, I watched Robert Valley talk about his short film for "Love, Death & Robots" called "Zima Blue".  Speaking of draftsmanship - his drawings of women blow every other artist out of the water.  Whew!  What a talent!

with Robert Valley

Fortunately,  I also had a few hours to walk around Vancouver and explore the beautiful city - what a joy!  Keep an eye on the Spark Animation Festival.  It's got everything, great artists, great films, great audiences, plus it's in a great city and it has a super director, Keith Blackmore.

See ya,

Bill P.

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