Monday, November 25, 2019

Recent Films

For me, one of the most anticipated new animated films is "Klaus" by Sergio Pablos.  (If you recall, I hung out with Sergio about a month ago in Vancouver at the Sparks Animation Festival - photo reposted here as a reminder.)  I've been seeing clips of this film for a while and I was knocked out by the beautiful 2-D animation - so I was excited to see this fantasy about the birth of the Santa Claus legend (perfect timing for Christmas, right?)

with Sergio Pablos in Vancouver at the Spark Animation Festival.
And sure enough, the animation throughout the film is extraordinary - the design, the movements, the personalities are all perfection.  Also, the story is very cool - little bits about where all the elements and details of the beginnings of the holiday story came from.  Plus there's a wonderful plot about a ne'er-do-well rich kid who finds meaning in life.

The only tiny problem I had - actually, there were two problems - I felt the script was a little second-rate, full of dialogue clichés and expressions that lacked wit and flair, and that extended to the voices.  There was no real personality in the voices, they were flat and unmemorable.  Yet, I still think "Klaus" ranks up there with "The Polar Express" as one of the great holiday films.  I rate it an "A-".

The other film I watched (a little late, though) was "Joker".  I'd heard all the gossip and reviews about what an outstanding film this was, and I must say I totally agree.  Even though I'm not a fan of overly gorey films, I have to say that "Joker" is a masterpiece!  Probably one of the best films I've seen in the last few years - the script is a knock-out, the camera work is visionary, the direction is experimentally wondrous and Joaquin Phoenix's acting is truly mesmerizing.  One of the most powerful images is when the lead character takes off his shirt and you can see his twisted and deformed back...I'm sure it's not CG because I remember in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line" you could tell that Joaquin's back was a little strange.  But for his role in "Joker" it seemed so appropriate to reveal the Joker's deformed body in order to reveal his anger against the world.  Because of his searing acting and bodily revelations, in my humble opinion, he's now the front runner for the Oscar.

with Todd Phillips after the "Joker" screening
After the screening I attended, Michael Moore was interviewing the director, Todd Phillips (of "The Hangover" fame).  It was a fascinating talk about how the Joker reflects the political state of our country right now. After the Q&A we all got to hang out with Todd and Michael - and Todd revealed the fact that this film with a "tiny" budget of $60 million has now grossed over a billion.  Surely one of the most profitable films since "Deep Throat".

with Michael Moore after the "Joker" screening
I'm off this week to Bilbao, Spain, for another master class and screening - I'll tell you all about it next time - but have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

--Bill P.

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