Posts Tagged ‘Amy Poehler’

March Madness 6: The Pixar Quarterfinals Pt. 2

August 4, 2018

Bracket

Ratatouille vs. Inside Out

Ratatouille is the story of a young, foodie rat who joins up with a human in order to realize both of their dreams of cooking and love. Fundamentally, it is a story about being out of place and then finding a new place that accepts you for who you are. I never felt that way with my family like Remy but I did feel like that in high school. I watched this movie after I had found a new tribe among the theater people in college. It was the first time I had felt somewhat accepted but even then I still felt a little out of sync. The highlight of the movie is Remy the Rat played by Patton Oswalt. Oswalt, like me, was born a geek and knows a lot about being out of place and then finding your tribe. He really embodies the ennui and frustration of dealing with a family that does not understand him. He also uses his well-honed skills to be as likable as possible which is difficult when you’re dealing with rats animated to actually look like rats. His main co-star is Lou Romano who is not only an actor but also a member of Pixar’s production art team. He is lovably awkward but unfortunately largely forgettable. As are many of the other supporting characters who are performed by great actors like Brad Garrett, Brian Dennehy, Janeane Garofalo, Peter O’Toole, Will Arnett, and Ian Holm. The animation was a great leap forward and the art style was stylized to be more French and different from the humans in the earlier Incredibles.

Inside Out is the story of a little girl and the swirling emotions inside of her. While we do get to know the little girl, the main characters are the embodiments of her Joy and Sadness. All of Riley’s emotions just want the best for her but Joy also wants her to be happy all of the time. At its heart, the movie is about finding emotional balance during the hard times. Joy and Sadness go on an adventure through Riley’s mind and begin to learn what their connection is. I watched this one in theaters early on a rainy Saturday morning and it was perfect for that. The animation is great as there are two different art styles. One is as we watch Riley and her parents interact and the other is inside Riley’s brain which is far more fluid and delightfully weird. Joy is played by Amy Poehler who brought happiness to the role but also determination. Phyllis Smith played Sadness and brought to the role a sadness it was hard not to feel sympathy for but also some intelligence. They are supported by Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling who play Anger, Fear, and Disgust respectively. Riley’s imaginary friend is played by Richard Kind and he is so engaging. Kaitlyn Dias, Kyle MacLachlan, and Diane Lane play Riley and her parents and I loved spending time with all three of them. Like most Pixar movies, there were so many grown-up moments among the fun silliness but this one especially was relatable.

Main Character: The creation of a true partnership between Joy and Sadness was fun and engaging to watch which topped Remy’s journey for a place in the world.

Supporting Characters: The supporting cast of Inside Out is more engaging and likable than Ratatouille. The humans in Inside Out are also way more interesting than the humans in Ratatouille.

Villain: Because Inside Out really did not have a villain, the villain of Ratatouille wins here.

Music: I thought that the French-styled music in Ratatouille was better than the respectable mood music from Inside Out.

Story: I felt like the story and experiences in Inside Out were more fundamental to the human experience and therefore had more impact. It was also just more fun.

Animation: The animation and dual art styles of Inside Out were naturally more superior as the technology and creative process had evolved.

Winner: Inside Out

Monsters Inc. vs. The Incredibles

Monsters Inc. is a story about monsters (of the under the bed or closet varieties) who discover that their world is not quite what they have been told it is. Mike and Sully are a partnership, a true friendship that must deal with the biggest crisis their world has ever seen. At its heart, the movie is about both overcoming prejudice and also corporate culture. The two heroes must rise above their blue-collar background and challenge the very system they have relied on for their entire lives. I saw this one four years after it was released while working for a summer camp and I felt sad that I had missed it for so long. Mike is played by Billy Crystal and he is the brains of the operation but also the more anxious character. Sully is played by John Goodman and he is the warm, generous one of the pair. They are opposed by James Coburn, Steve Buscemi, and Frank Oz with a slimy corporate air. They are supported by Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzenberger, and Bob Peterson (another memorable Pixar woman played by a man). The animation is very good and a lot of credit goes to the art team for creating such unique and varied monsters to populate their world. The worldbuilding is a lot of fun and they created a lot of interest in how that world worked (which is why they made the prequel).

The Incredibles is a story about a man looking back at his youth and being somewhat dissatisfied with where his life has gone. He took joy in his life with his kids and his wife but something is missing. That thing that is missing is his superhero career. At its core, the movie is about figuring out that the future can be better than the past if you work to make it that way. I watched this one on DVD well after it came out. Arguably the main character, Bob Parr, is played by Craig T. Nelson who had experience playing a dad and brought a real middle-aged gravity to the role. His wife is played by Holly Hunter and she is so good that many wanted her to be the main character. They are supported by Wallace Shawn, Spencer Fox, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, and Elizabeth Pena. Brad Bird is particularly hilarious and charismatic as the fashion maven Edna Mode. The villainous Syndrome is played by Jason Lee and he is so hatable. The animation is absolutely beautiful and much of it styled like what live-action superhero movies would soon look like when Marvel really got going. One of my favorite things about the movie is the way the characters move and this is the first 3D animated movie that really nailed human beings in a way that kept away from the uncanny valley.

Main Character: The Parr Family are much like most families I have met and are a little more relatable than working stiffs Mike and Sully.

Supporting Characters: The supporting characters of Monsters Inc. are a little forgettable while the supporting characters in The Incredibles are given some of the best lines and more personality.

Villain: The toxic masculinity and toxic fanboy nature of Syndrome is so relevant to our world and is way better than the fairly bland corporate villains of Monsters, Inc.

Music: I prefer the dramatic full orchestral score of The Incredibles over the simpler Monsters, Inc.

Story: I feel like the story of a family learning to be on the same page while literally defeating the ghosts of the past is better than uncovering corporate lies.

Animation: These two are actually pretty comparable but the slight edge goes to the cinematic camera angles and composition of The Incredibles.

Winner: The Incredibles

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Media Update 8/10/2017

August 10, 2017


Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later

Anybody who has read this blog in the last year or so knows that I am a fan of Wet Hot American Summer and I will be forever. The original movie was a funny, sweet and nonsensical movie about the last day at a Jewish Sleepover Camp in 1981. A while ago, they released a miniseries detailing the first day of that summer which was even crazier but awesome. At the end of the movie, there is a quick scene where the main characters promise to have a reunion in 10 years. So instead of the eighties, we get to see the characters’ adventures at camp as twenty-somethings in 1991. This series saw the closing of story lines raised in the prior two adventures and what appeared to be a wrapping up of the series. This one had a lot of zany things happening but, as usual, it also spent plenty of time focusing on relationships. The main cast from the last two returns with the exception of Bradley Cooper who is replaced by Adam Scott due to scheduling problems. We also see the addition of Mark Feuerstein and Marlo Thomas as two counselors who were apparently just off screen during the prior two adventures. There are also great performances by Alyssa Milano and Jai Courtney to add a little more conflict into the picture. I definitely recommend watching this and all the Wet Hot American Summer pieces.


Ghost in the Shell

I used to hate anime but at some point, it grew on me. The same actually goes for Science Fiction as I usually gravitated towards Science Fantasy and regular Fantasy. Of course, in the Venn diagram of those two things is the Ghost in the Shell series which I liked. I watched quite a bit of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as it felt like a cyberpunk/film noir/police mash up. This movie felt very much like a pretty solid adaptation of some episodes I remember. Much has been said about how Scarlet Johannson should not have been cast in the lead in an anime adaptation but she is a good actress. She did a good job of portraying a machine finding her humanity again. The movie was kind of slow but it picked up speed as it went along. It is a mystery and most mysteries start slow. There is plenty of technobabble and plenty of philosophical questions similar to those posed in Blade Runner and I, Robot. If you have seen the anime series then this will feel kind of nostalgic but if not, it is a pretty good movie on its own merits. This movie was pretty middle-of-the-road and inoffensive. I recommend it but frankly, I was working on other stuff while I watched it.


Passengers

This one got bad reviews but I decided to watch it anyway as I am a big fan of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. This was kind of a stripped down science fiction adventure without a lot of the adventure part. In it, Chris Pratt plays a man who gets woken up 90 years too early from suspended animation in a spaceship headed to colonize a planet. A lot of the movie is more about the psychological effects of loneliness, forgiveness, and what you would do with your life if you were effectively stranded. There are pretty much only four actors in the movie and it makes the movie feel lonely which I believe was the intended effect. The special effects were really good, I believed they were on a futuristic space ship. I found it interesting that the actors actually had working tablets programmed with a UI designed in UNITY as consoles throughout filming. There were a lot of good yet uncomfortable themes explored in the movie. The love story was definitely problematic and there is not much room to argue that point. It is definitely not a ‘nice’ movie to watch. I would recommend it but it is a little soul-crushing in its bleakness.

Music of the Week:
The Tarantulas – Bullrushes

Kings Of Leon – Reverend

Alyson Stoner – Sweet

Motionless In White – LOUD (F**k It)

Nadia Rose – Skwod

Weekly Update:
– This Week’s Theme is “The Future”
– I finished NCIS Season 13
– I started watching Criminal Minds Season 12
– I continued Supergirl Season 2
– I watched more of Little Witch Academia
– I started watching Rick and Morty Season 3
– It is awesome. Go watch all of it.
– Dan Harmon was on Game Grumps
– I want to go to the movie theater again

Media Update 3/17/2016

March 17, 2016


An Honest Liar

I have had my eye on this documentary for a long, long time and my anticipation really paid off in a big way. If you look back through my blog, you will realize that I am a huge advocate for skepticism. There are a lot of flim flammers and woo woo practitioners out there that will just as soon steal your money as look at you. This documentary was about The Amazing Randi, a young magician who decided to devote his life to debunking the supernatural. He especially targets those who would prey on those desperate enough to believe anything. The documentary follows his career in magic up to his retirement. It then follows two of his most notable feuds (Peter Poppoff and Uri Gellar) and how he has debunked them both over the years. It then gets personal as it explores a very personal untruth that permeated his life that shows even more how dedicated he is to helping people. Check it out and see what I’m raving about.


Parks and Recreation

This is a show that I keep saying ‘Oh I’ll get around to watching that’ or ‘Yeah it’s on my list’. I had heard it was really good and it is the project that brought Chris Pratt to the level where he could be cast in a brilliant Marvel movie. The show was always there and I would eventually get to it. Eventually came this week as I finally decided to just sit down and watch this show. I had gotten into Amy Poehler through Tina Fey so I was curious whether I would like this one. The show is made in a documentary style like The Office before it. However, the characters feel like they are a lot more down to Earth. Amy Poehler is great as Leslie, a government employee who tries too hard but often fails at her job. Chris Pratt plays that guy who you know is a total loser but you can’t help but really like him. My favorite is Nick Offerman who plays grumpy Ron Swanson, a government supervisor who hates the government. I have only watched four episodes but I’m itching for more.


Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau

Another documentary this week, a genre I have neglected for a little while but I love watching them. I especially love watching documentaries about the art of film. This one is about a truly disastrous movie and the even more horrible events behind the scenes. The Island of Dr. Moreau was a book by HG Wells that attracted the attention of Richard Stanley, a young but rising writer/director. He had a vision for a movie version and pushed hard for the studio system to fund it. They got funding by adding big Hollywood names who were uninterested in doing a good job on the movie. After four days on location, Richard Stanley was fired from his own movie. I don’t want to spoil anything but that is where the behind the scenes events got even darker. The end result was a mess and the documentary really gets deep into what happened and how it all went wrong. It is definitely worth a watch.

Links of the Week:
Harry Nilsson – Everything’s Got ‘Em
She – Headshot
Miles Davis – So What
Pun Fiction
He Had One Job

Weekly Updates:
– American Crime Story is still an engaging show
– I’ve loved Legends of Tomorrow lately
– I really want to see 10 Cloverfield Lane
– I still have not seen Zootopia
– I am listening to so many podcasts lately
– I may have to talk about Serial on here soon

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!


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