Mind blowing is not hyperbole: Soul

You’re reading a review by an adult cynic…like animation!? Poppycock. Except….”I Lost My Body” and “Up”. So small group of exceptions. But add and in fact, move “Soul” to the number one position…in fact call me Kanye storming the stage if it doesn’t win the best Oscar animated film.

And it makes perfect sense, since Peter Docter also wrote both Soul and Up. Mike Jones added his own flair to the story as well. And Kemp Powers did double duty helping Docter with direction and both Docter and Jones with the screenplay. Not to mention Powers working on the masterpiece One Night in Miami. A talented trio to be sure.

The prime voices of note were Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, and special praise also goes to Rachel House as the New Zealand accented accountant.

I assumed the music (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) would be paramount and although it was good, the moving story and off the charts animation clearly overpower any other facets.

Much Needed Downshift: I Lost My Body

I haven’t teared up from an animated flick since “Up” (ok maybe Despicable Me) though mostly because I don’t watch them. I always think of them as lesser preferring truly human forms, but I Lost My Body, an Oscar nominated animated film from France created by Jeremy Clapin has changed my way of thinking.

First, the haunting score by Dan Levy, reminiscent of my favorite Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise”, an apt comparison considering the end of the film ends in a wintery scene, helped put me in the meditative trance for optimal viewing.

Second, my emotional roller coaster of a week opened me up wider to appreciate this; Kobe’s shocking death, my best friend’s Dad dying the very next day and with it my hopes of seeing him* (spoiler alert, happy ending coming), the coldest winter I’ve experienced in Florida (I know ‘don’t cry for me Argentina’)which also diminished my usual tenacity especially when my 1980’s condo’s heating element decided to malfunction, and last but not least, back to back unnecessary drama from two other areas of my life. For the record: I never seek out drama, but like the disembodied hand in I Lost My Body, it seems to track me down.

Third, the amazing animation which I am truly humbled by as I know zippo about 2d and 3d animation. I love to draw, but animation is an entirely different animal. The story, (no big spoilers) is about a disembodied hand’s mission to find its original owner, quite the novel concept written by the director with the help of Guillaume Laurant, Oscar winner for best original screenplay for Amelie (2001, wow how time flies!).

Ok, here’s where I find the foible; an aspect of the story. If you’ve read any of my blogs or had many conversations with me (and if not, welcome!), you know that one of my pet peeves is mean, insensitive women and men who self-destruct when jilted rather than pick themselves up, brush themselves off and hey, Fred Astaire wrote that song! At any rate, THAT happens in this story which annoyed me. I know women aren’t kind to themselves sometimes, but I’m remiss at naming a film off the top of my head. If you think of one, shoot me a note.

Still I appreciated the complexity of the plot and like a good lover, wouldn’t kick this one out of bed for eating crackers/or that small quibble.

Available on Netflix and an easy way to get you film fix before the Oscar Awards.

*Tim’s mom gave her blessing for him to complete his much deserved break, proving she should be Mom of the Year.

Wes Anderson’s genius: “Isle of Dogs”, Eye’ll Grab Ya

I’m no artist, but a few times when I’ve attempted to draw or paint a person’s face, I’ve noticed, even in my lame limited effort how striking you create eyes to be. Wes Anderson surely knows and it’s the eyes of all the characters in Isle of Dogs that are so riveting.

In addition to not being an artist, I’m also not a dog person. HOWEVER, at my grandma’s 95th birthday party (Go Florence, Go Florence!), I fed a visiting dog a carrot (after being encouraged by its owner that he liked such food) and out of a circle of 8 folks, my lap was then chosen for the pup’s nap. Guess I should write a parody book, “If You Feed a Dog a Carrot” (rip off of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”). My point is, if a dog is sweet and calm, I could be convinced to own one.

My second point is, due to the eyes of the dogs in Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola‘s (yes, son of that Coppola), I could have teared up, that’s how good this movie was.

But as Wes Anderson (and perhaps Roman, too) is want to do, he often goes one step too far in making his plot so darn intricate, that I lose the wonder and awe of his creativity to say, ‘ok, enough’. It could be a gender thing, sorry men. Often men go one step too far, one too many text messages, one too many comments to impress, tickling a minute too long where I want to scream, “OK, enough!” I always think of the Billy Joel song, “Leave a Tender Moment Alone,” (aside: am listening to a live version on YouTube right now and damn, can I just say I love Billy Joel) or as a tried to tell someone recently, just stay on the boat, stay on the boat (aka don’t go overboard).

I can forgive Wes Anderson though, the guy (AND Roman) are true geniuses and while if you looked at the basic story structure of Moonrise Kingdom and Isle of Dogs and would find the same basic core story, because he dresses it in such a new funky outfit, it’s fantastically novel at the same time.

I should mention some of the stand out voices in this stop motion animation: Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum, and Bryan Cranston, all of whom I’ve had a crush on at one time or another. And for the gents, you have Scar Jo’s sultry voice as the show dog named Nutmeg. So how can you go wrong? Go See Isle of Dogs, it’ll warm your pet loving, or even loathing, heart.

Anomalisa: Marc Maron Podcast Recommended as a Preview

Definitely go see “Anomalisa”, but first, listen to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast with directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. Then, you’ll have more appreciation of the stop animation craft. Every minute of the film took one week to shoot which breaks the record for difficult actresses (AND actors, step down ladies).

Was it “A Masterpiece” as one of the poster quotes foretold? Ah, no, BUT it was a contender. What’s missing is the following: As stated previously, unless you precede the film with a 10 minute documentary about the process, no normal American is going to understand the art work needed to achieve this film. (I really should have been in marketing and P.R. My other big tip of the week would have been a shoe to Trump’s groin when he said he wanted Sarah Palin to endorse him, “What are you crazy?”)

The other difficulty with Anomalisa is that there’s got to be a scene left out between Michael Stone’s re-connection with his old girlfriend and his shower scene. My guess is he called an escort service OR assumed his old girlfriend had second thoughts and come up to his room. Without either of those scenarios, the film lacks a continuous thread. If a character is suddenly mentally ill, his or her untrustworthiness is a significant flaw.

So maybe ‘Masterpiece’ should be changed to “Highly Admirable” because even though the film lacks story, there is something incredibly human about the eyes and skin of the claymation figures. Or perhaps that’s more of a depressing statement of how plastic real humans have become. Certainly the message is spot on since many men (or women) can spend countless Saturday evenings together (or even one special one) and discard the other human interacted with like a disposable tissue. The character Michael Stone wasn’t able to communicate, like so many humans who prefer to be mum, resulting in a passive aggressive expiration of human connection.