Zootopia (2016)

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May 222016
 

Zootopia is an adorable, well-written, well-executed piece of holy-shit-awesomeness.  Apparently Disney is back in that business now.  The story behind that is complicated, to say the least, and I’m way too drunk to do it justice, or even understand it myself.  Here’s a boozy overview based on 10 minutes of wikipedia…

John Lasseter was “Chief Creative Officer” and “Executive Producer” for Zootopia; however, it was a product of Walt Disney Animation Studios, not Pixar.   The reason this film isn’t a train-wreck is that he basically runs both of them now.  Disney’s first attempts at acquiring Pixar during the Isner period were rebuffed, but a happier marriage was arranged once Iger took the reins and offered to make Lasseter czar of all Disney animation.  The two animation houses operate separately under his freakishly-talented leadership.

Little Witch Academa

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Mar 042016
 

What a lovely little gem!  Little Witch Academa (2013) (Netflix) is a single-episode anime from Studio Trigger (wikipedia), an up-and-comer started in 2011 that promises great things.  The cel-animation is incredible – feels like Looney Tunes was a major inspiration (along with Disney and traditional anime of course).  There’s also a sequel (Netflix) that was kickstarter-funded.

Trigger’s first full-length series is Kill la Kill (2013) (Netflix), another breath of fresh air.  Decidedly more mature (but not direly-so), its artistic styling is pure 80’s anime, directed with the frenetic, absurd blatantcy of a twelve-year-old Quentin Tarantino on a three-day binge of Red Bull and Pop Rocks.

Chronicle (2012)

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Jan 022016
 

A grossly-underrated (or perhaps just unknown) movie, possibly the best comic-book film ever produced.

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It’s definitely in the top 5 along with Unbreakable – the only thing from M. Night Shyamalan that holds-up over-time (but man, is it a doozy).  If you make 10 movies and one of them is this, it’s absolutely ok if the other 9 suck.  You’re easily batting above .500 by Hollywood standards.  Your entire life is justified if you pull-off Unbreakable: we’re all lucky that you were born.  But I digress…

Let’s face it, comic-book movies generally suck.  Not because there weren’t a lot of talented, passionate people involved who were giving their best effort.  In most cases there were too many people were involved.  This sort of project usually requires a ton of capital and is based on a venerable franchise to boot, so there’s naturally going to be too many cooks in the kitchen.  Consider Marvel’s “Avengers”, for example: directed by Joss Whedon (whom I’ve adored for years) and totally decent, but not what you’d call a great movie.  I put a lot of the blame on the money: God knows how many committee meetings were required to decide what Captain America’s costume should look like.  Just imagine how many random assholes had input regarding plot and dialogue.  It’s a triumph that the thing was watchable at all.

Contrast that with what I consider to be Marvel’s crowning cinematic achievement thus far, Guardians of the Galaxy.  I’d never heard of it before seeing the movie, but the trailers blew my hair back, and the thing itself was so much fun it should be illegal.  It’s based on an old, shitty property from a ways back that was recently rejuvenated by a respected writer.  I tried reading this source material but didn’t get too far – it still seemed pretty shitty.  My point is, it wasn’t a household name, so the filmmakers weren’t under as much scrutiny.  They had some room to breathe, and created something wonderful.

That said, Chronicle has the same sort of thing going for it, only more-so.  Like Unbreakable, it’s not based on a comic book.  And like Unbreakable, if you only watched the first 10 minutes, you wouldn’t know it was a comic-book movie at all.  But it is, and it’s the best.  I won’t belabor the point with a synopsis, because I’m not a reviewer and this isn’t a review – it’s just one of those things I do when I’m drunk.  But Chronicle is better-written and better-executed than anything Marvel or DC has ever brought to theaters, and if you don’t watch it, it’s your loss.

David Foster Wallace – Kenyon Commencement Speech (2005)

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Dec 262015
 

Randomly found this while google-fishing for information about David Bowie’s “Quicksand” (from “Hunky Dory”, 1971).  What I was looking for isn’t relevant (though it’s worth noting that the above link actually points to the acoustic “demo” version, which is way better than the album version).

What I found was a college commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, some author I’ve never heard of and none of whose work I’ve ever read.  Going to have to correct that in the near-future however.  Always feel a little embarrassed in a hippy-dippy sort of way when some random shit on the internet knocks me on my ass, but there it is: it happened.  Check it out – well worth reading.

Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane

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Nov 152015
 

Living in Nashville is pretty-much the pits. I mean, it could be worse: Detroit still exists (at least on paper anyway). At least there’s plenty of bars.
But occasionally we do get a brief glimpse of civilization. There’s a lovely art museum downtown, the Frist Center, a beautiful building that once housed the post office (which now occupies a smaller space downstairs). Through January 6th they’re exhibiting a collection of drawings by Michelangelo. A majority of them are architectural sketches – not my bailiwick but nonetheless interesting. However the few preparatory drawings for things like “Madonna and Child” are well-worth your 12 bucks. If nothing else, how often do you get to eyeball 500-year-old drawings by possibly the greatest artist that ever lived from 10 inches away? Officially you’re supposed to keep an 18-inch distance, but in my limited experience at different galleries around the country, I’ve found if you clasp your hands behind your back and lean-in with a studious look on your face, nobody really gives you any shit.

I don’t know anything about art, but even for a hopeless philistine such as myself, there’s a definite “Holy Shit” factor when you take a close look at this stuff.
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Maybe in Your World There’s a Little Tree…

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Aug 172015
 

Amazon Prime has a few seasons of Bob Ross’s “The Joy of Painting.” There’s also a ton on YouTube (see below). For those of you not familiar with this old PBS gem, Bob Ross paints a different oil landscape every episode, 30 minutes flat, with few or no time-lapses. His voice is hypnotic – it’s the best stress-relief you can get short of hardcore pharmaceuticals.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting (Amazon Prime Video)
Bob Ross (Wikipedia)