26 September 2010

I freaking love this movie.

I'm not familiar with the Shaw Brothers catalog, yet. "Fists of the White Lotus" is the first of theirs I've seen. But what I've seen, I love(note: Remember, I love some odd films.): wonderful fight choreography, stunning grace and beauty in the movements of the performers, acupuncture, slapstick, a serious fixation on male genitalia and several earfuls worth of kung-foley sound effects.

A great deal of action movies and old-time musicals share a lot in common: plot usually is simply a venue to showcase the fighting/singing, and usually, the better the fights/songs are, the higher esteem the product attains within it's genre.

Which would mean that, inside my brain, "Die Hard" equals the "Wizard of Oz". (hey, deja-vu)

Personally, I'd prefer more movies and shows with fighting AND singing! But you might not, and there is no singing in "Fists of White Lotus" which might be taken as a reason to watch it.

19 September 2010

1 Month, Flat

... That's how long it took me to finish this midsize moleskine sketchbook I revived for my birthday. I started it this August and finished the sucker two days ago.

I went and got a Zoo membership, so I've been doing stuff like this 2-3 times a week to bone up on my animal-drawing skills.

Drawing in china marker is like drawing with rocks tied to your fingers. You can't focus on those lovely, tiny little details and are forced to think in terms of shape and gesture. Like pen, it doesn't erase, so I find it suitable for quick-sketching.

...And here's a little modeling ("shading") practice for those of you who think I'm all gesture and mouth.

Plus I've started studying anatomy. By "Study" I mean "copying stuff out of books", by "books" I mean the anatomy chapters in "Figure Drawing for All it's Worth" by the incomparable Andrew Loomis(and that's just for starters).

I've been doing a bit more sketching from TV. I've complained before about the difficulties in getting a gesture from television. But, to paraphrase the great philosophical Brain Trust of our time, Devo(well, maybe my parent's time): When a challenge comes a long...

... Whip it, whip it good.

12 September 2010

Wearing my Silver Nerd-Slippers with pride.

I was gonna post about the recent New York Times article which claims animation is currently the top "genre" at the box office ( animation is a medium), but the nice guys at cartoon brew have said pretty much all I'd want to say, and a great deal more succinctly.

So instead I'm gonna talk about why Return to Oz is one of the Best Movies Ever.
And here's where I lose all of my readers...
What is it?

Short Answer: Return to Oz is a poorly received, rarely remembered 1985 sequel to the Wizard of Oz.
"A what now?"

Long Answer: Return to Oz is
a film, Directed by Walter Murch, based off of the books "The Land of Oz" and "Ozma of Oz"; L Frank Baum's second and third installments in the Oz series.
Yes, "based off a book" Yes, "more than one".

As well as including elements from the books, the movie functions as a sequel of sorts to the MGM musical, notably through the use of the Ruby Slippers as a plot device.
These were actually silver in the book. Yeah, I know you don't give a damn.

This being one of those cult movie things that inspires frightening enthusiasts or "fans", I'll just try to keep it simple, and give three big reasons you should watch and enjoy this film.

1. Scary Moments

Return to Oz is often remembered for being unusually freaky: with headless witches, Dorothy locked in a metal asylum and Wheelers, who.... well they wheel.

Of course that's outrageous for children because there's never ever, Ever been a children's film with notoriously frightening...
Oh, well at least there aren't any equally notoriously scary moments in the old-

Oh, never mind.

I hear people blather on about movies that are too "scary" for children. Know what?I'm not a child. Chances are you aren't, either. And I happen to like "scary moments" in my movies. I'm weird that way.

2. Nerd-Points.
Fans tend to hate motion pictures based on their favorite books/tv shows/other movies/comics for this reason: they aren't enough like the original.
Singing Dolphins?

What happened to, like , the chorus?

No, Just...no.

Return to Oz is very much like the books. Please remember that the Judy Garland version, based off of a book, is not "the original".
"Say what?"

All of the "new" characters in Return, such as the flying sofa, talking chicken, gnomes and lost princess are taken from the books, in many cases closely replicating John R. Neil's illustrations.

As opposed to other, more famous,"Wizard" spinoffs that just made stuff up.
"Psst. None of the audience
ever heard of the damn book.

3. The Brand
Let's look at this poster.

See which studio made this?
Possibly the most "anti-Disney" movie ever to bear the Disney label: no songs, decidedly dark, and respectful to the source material in ways that only, anal-retentive blogger book-nerds appreciate.

As a bonus, if you ever have to babysit a rather unpleasant child, you can show 'em a happy Disney-Oz movie and simply SCARE them into submission.
Like so.

06 September 2010

Starlog Interviews Frank and Ollie

In Starlog #122, from 1987, there are all sort of NEW things, like the cast from the upcoming NEW TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, profiles of the NEW movies Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Monster Squad.
...and an interview with Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston about making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released nearly fifty years earlier.
You'll notice the interviewer makes note of Snow White as the very first animated feature, whereas it's safer to call Snow White the first synch-sound, full color, cell-animated American animated feature. (but I'm splitting hairs, here)