Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Old Man – The Movie (Vanamehe film)

Directors – Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi – 2019 – Estonia – 88m

***

From Fantasia Film Festival 2020 virtual edition and Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival.

Estonia’s answer to Britain’s Shaun The Sheep, this feature spin off from long running, popular, puppet animation TV comedy series Vanamehe Multikas (Old Man Cartoon) shows Estonian sensibilities to be very different from those of the British. This is aimed at not as you might expect children but rather the young adult market – it’s stuffed full of sexual innuendo and toilet or other bodily function humour. Since I can imagine it being an uproarious experience with the right audience, it’s a shame to have seen this online rather than in a packed movie theatre owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bookended by black and white newsreel of Old Milker’s disastrous failure to stop a cow’s unmilked udders exploding into a lactopolypse complete with milk mushroom cloud, the plot has three kids sent to stay with their grandpa on his farm for the summer. Their family car back seat introduction shows us teenage boy Priidik and girl Aino constantly on their mobile phones while their pre-teen boy sibling Mart has built an incredible, fully functioning, miniature robot cow for grandpa.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Mosley

Director – Kirby Atkins – 2019 – China, New Zealand – 97m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Mosley (voiced by writer-director Kirby Atkins) is a thoriphant who lives on the small holdings farm of his owner Simon (Curt Cloniger) where he and Bera (Lucy Lawless) have a small boy Rue (voiced by director’s daughter Leah Atkins when little and Scarlett Sills in additional dialogue). The backbreaking work Mosley does for Simon is that of a plough horse. Simon is not a particularly bad man, but sees nothing wrong with pushing Mosley as far as he can with the result that Mosley is often completely exhausted by the end of the day.

He then has to contend with the hyperactive Rue leaping on him and demanding he come out and play. One evening, Rue wants dad to come and see his new hiding place and Bera insists it’s important. Rue talks about what he would do if he had hands, which takes Mosley back somewhat since thoriphants have hooved feet like horses or cows. A trip to Rue’s hideout reveals vast, underground cave paintings of thoriphants walking upright. And they have hands. There’s a long tunnel there too.

Mosley patiently explains that the uprights “are not real.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Nahuel And The Magic Book (Nahuel Y El Libro Mágico)

Director – Germán Acuña – 2019 – Chile, Brazil – 99m

****1/2

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Nahuel is afraid of the water. This is a problem since he lives in a coastal town and his single parent father – his mum died before he knew her – is a fisherman who’d like him to help him on the boat. Whatever his dad asks him to do, he can’t seem to get right. For example, he never gets to the boat in time. If sent to the market to buy eggs, they get broken on the way home. To make matters worse, a couple of local bullies pick on him too.

One day he’s exploring an abandoned house an discovers an old book of spells. The old, blind man who lives there and who possesses strange powers – including a walking stick that sports an eye – appears to be some sort of guardian for the tome. That doesn’t stop Nahuel sneaking out of the house with it. Soon, he’s being followed by crows in the service of a sorcerer who wants the book for his own evil purposes. And Nahuel has removed it from the protection of its guardian…

This is most effective as a horror movie, although there’s nothing in it I personally wouldn’t want an eight year old child to see.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

The Fox And The Pigeon

Director – Michelle Chua – 2019 – Canada – 6m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

This starts off opening a children’s book cover for a tale about, you’ve guessed it, a fox and a pigeon. In the time honoured tradition of such books, there are illustrations and words (in rhyming couplets) on the page. And like so many animated films, the characters move and come to life while the author acts as a narrator and reads the words.

What’s different about The Fox And The Pigeon is that while the characters want to live their own story – screenwriters often say that as they write they feel their characters talking to them and dictating the direction things should go – the narrator has other ideas and tries to impose his own narrative upon them. The fox finds a coin and buys an ice cream cone. Sitting on a park bench, he’s aware of the pigeon, who clearly wants to share the ice cream. But, intones the author reading his words, “why would a fox want to share with a pigeon?”

As the tale plays out, the author becomes increasingly vindictive, wanting the two characters to conflict with one another, to the point of one killing the other.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Zero Impunity

Directors – Nicolas Blies, Stéphane Hueber-Blies – 2019 – France, Luxembourg – 95m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Framed by live action sequences of serial expert, journalist and activist talking heads projected on the sides of urban buildings or rural landmarks, this skilfully uses minimal 2D animation to tell the stories of victims of sexual violence in contemporary war zones. It’s intended as part of a wider, ongoing media project designed to bring accountability to the perpetrators of such acts who at the present time face zero impunity.

Stories include, from Syria, the 11 year old daughter of an alleged terrorist who was imprisoned for 45 days towards the end of which she was unexpectedly injected with hormones before being raped by (at least) one man before passing out.

A Ukranian woman is held captive in a house and coerced into sleeping with her captor. In bed, she feels something cold and metal in her crotch. It’s a bullet. Much is made of her captor’s pistol. He puts it on a table in front of her, knowing she won’t take it because, if she were to shot him, where would she go?

The US doesn’t come off well. Dick Cheney and the Bush administration know the difference between right and wrong but facilitated sexual humiliation techniques on male prisoners held in prisons such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay at home.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Fanny Lye Deliver’d

The new normal?

Fanny Lye Deliver’d
Directed by Thomas Clay
Certificate 18, 110 minutes
Released digitally on 26 June

Shropshire, 1657. The aftermath of the English Civil War and a time when ideas about politics, relationships, religion and society are up for grabs. Fanny (Maxine Peake) is the young wife of Captain John Lye (Charles Dance) who fought under Cromwell and has been given a farmhouse by way of thanks. The puritan couple have a son, Arthur, who is too young to have lived through the war. The God-fearing and articulate John takes the family to chapel weekly (we never see them there, just going and returning) and keeps his son and, particularly, his wife in order using a mixture of Scripture reading, prayer and corporal punishment.

I review Fanny Lye Deliver’d for Reform.

Here’s the trailer:

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

The End

Director – Wiebe Bonnema – 2019 – Netherlands – 4m 36s

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

I had to blink while I was watching this. Its opening two minutes play out like the animated title sequence of a spaghetti Western, and if you’ve seen a few of those you’ll know that a number sport superb 2D animation titles which this little short so brilliantly pastiches. This goes further in a way, simultaneously playing with genre clichés while depicting a gunfighter saving a town from despots. As he passes through, white squares standing for people’s windows wipe onto the screen.

This opening cleverly gets around one of the inherent problems with the short animated (or for that matter non-animated) film, the necessity for credits. Usually, these are boringly placed at the end as white titles creeping up the screen over a black background. But having got all that out of the way in his opening, which incidentally functions as the perfect calling card for selling himself as a maker of amazing titles sequences, Wiebe has space to explore what happens after the generic story is over. What happens after the hero rides off into the sunset?

The graphic genius already exhibited continues in what follows: a long, slow, single shot horse ride away from camera into the distance.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Hot Flash

Director – Thea Hollatz – 2019 – Canada – 10m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Suffering from a hot flash just before she’s due to go on air, weatherwoman Ace Naismith (voice: Christine Horne) desperately employs the cooling fan in her dressing room to blow cool air on her face, under her boobs and up her dress in a desperate attempt to cool down. A moment of embarrassment ensues as she’s interrupted by P.A. Natalie Van Damme (Grace Glowicki) who tells her, Don wants you to talk about paragliders.

In the studio, under the lights against greenscreen, Ace is visibly suffering. Don (Tony Nappo) enters, but she can’t talk to him about the paraglider thing because he’s jugging three conversations on three different devices, one of which could be with his wife. So she delivers the report to camera on the incoming ice storm and then, paragliders, a reminder of warmer weather which she, in her current hot state, could well do without.

Her quest to cool down continues – sitting in the car park with the car door open while a male colleague walks past, warmly wrapped against the freezing cold. She drives home, rushes upstairs, rips of her clothes opens the window, cools down.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

True North

Director – Eiji Han Shimizu – 2020 – Japan, Indonesia – 93m

****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

The life of an ordinary family living in Pyongyang is interrupted when their father disappears and their mother is unable to tell their infant son Yo-han and his younger sister Mi-hee exactly what has happened to him, although she reassures them that everything will be fine. A few days later, in the middle of the night, there’s a knock at the door of their apartment. Officials come in and search the place, make the family pack a few belongings then put them into a truck.

On the ensuing journey, there are no stops for the lavatory. The truck takes them to a political camp where they will be imprisoned although it’s never quite clear what offence they have committed. Father is apparently an enemy of the state, even though he appears to have an exemplary record. Despite promises that the family will see him soon, he’s not in the camp to which they’ve been taken. They are going to have to fend for themselves there.

Mother does her best to keep her kids’ spirits up – no mean task when you’re living on meagre rations and forced to do backbreaking work shifts harvesting crops in the fields (woman and girls) or working in the mines (men and boys).… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

My Favorite War

Director – Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen – 2020 – Latvia, Norway – 77m

****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

In World War Two. Latvia was caught between the Nazis and the Russians. After the Nazis capitulated, the country was absorbed into the Soviet Union. Ilze’s grandfather, a small farmer, was declared an Enemy of the State and sent to Siberia because he owned a small piece of land. Her Communist Party member father became a City Manager but he was killed in a car crash leaving her mother to bring up her and her brother alone.

At age three, Ilze’s parents risk everything by taking her to a forbidden beach a few miles from their home just so their young daughter can see the sea. This is the self-proclaimed “happiest country in the world” where party officials can queue jump and take the last pack of butter, where peace is paramount but shooting lessons are mandatory at school. As Ilze grows, she must keep quiet about all sorts of things or her mother will lose her job.

This is made using 2D cut-out animation in a highly unobtrusive manner. It’s so effective in fact that most of the time you don’t feel as if you’ve watching animation at all, just that the medium here is the best it could possibly be to tell the story.… Read the rest