Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine
While the last decade has been the era of the superhero movie, there has remained a clear distinction between the live action and animated entries in the genre. Live action superhero movies have become the biggest show in town, genuine four-quadrant blockbusters designed to appeal to an audience much larger than just comicbook fans. The animated superhero movie, on the other hand, has maintained more of a niche status, tending to be released straight to video and remaining the property of the devoted comicbook audience. Sony Pictures’ latest attempt at rebooting their Spider-Man franchise, the aesthetically original and undeniably cinematic Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is the first animated superhero movie to really challenge that distinction. Continue reading
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Fisher Stevens, Liev Schreiber, Courtney B. Vance.
In recent years, Wes Anderson has seemingly surpassed Tim Burton as cinema’s most popular and recognisable visual stylist. With every new film he only becomes more and more Wes Anderson. His latest offering, Isle of Dogs, is possibly his most imaginative film yet and sees him returning to the painstaking medium of stop-motion animation for the first time since Fantastic Mr. Fox.
While the title of the film may sound like ‘I love dogs,’ it takes us to a world which sadly does not. In the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, 20 years in the future, an outbreak of snout fever and dog flu has seen Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), the latest head of the cat-loving Kobayashi dynasty, banish all of the city’s dogs to Trash Island. In this exile colony sick and angry dogs search for food among the garbage, forming gangs and alliances in order to survive. Continue reading
Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy
Animation studio Pixar has produced more than its fair share of beloved movies but 2003’s Finding Nemo undoubtedly sits close to the top of their very impressive pile. So it was inevitable that we would return to the Pacific Ocean for another installment, and with Dory, the lovable blue tang with the five-second memory, being arguably their most popular character it made sense that she would play a starring role. The only surprise then is that it took 13 years for us to get there. But Pixar’s track record is not nearly as impressive when it comes to sequels. With the exception of Toy Story 2 and 3, none of the others have really hit the mark. Pixar is undoubtedly at their best when they are being original and thinking outside the box, but with a title that suggests much the same premise as the first film, can Finding Dory be more than just a simple retread?
“Hi, I’m Dory. I suffer from short term memory loss.” These are the first words we hear in Finding Dory and in an instant they simultaneously re-establish who this character is and entirely reinvent her for this new story. Continue reading
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito
Disney has always had a knack for squeezing every last dollar out of their intellectual property. Their most recent endeavour has been to recreate their classic animations as live action films for a new generation. We’ve had Maleficent (a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella and now The Jungle Book. But to call Jon Favreau’s film live action would seem a bit of a stretch when Mowgli himself is the only live element on screen.
Scripted by Justin Marks, this Jungle Book draws in equal parts from Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the 1967 Disney animation which is, for so many people, the definitive version. Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley) narrates the tale of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub raised by wolves in the jungles of India. While a much loved member of the pack, Mowgli develops slower than his brothers and sisters. Behaviours that are to them second nature need to be learned by him, and he is constantly being scolded for his tricks – using tools to solve problems rather than doing things the wolf way. Continue reading
Directors: Charlie Kauffman & Duke Johnson
Starring: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
With his screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation, and his directorial debut Synecdoche New York, Charlie Kauffman has shown himself to be one of the cinema’s truly unique voices. He thinks outside the box. But where his experimentation is usually at the narrative level, with Anomalisa, which he has written and co-directed with Duke Johnson, the experimentation is stylistic. This sombre tale of alienation and despair is told through stop motion puppetry.
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is a respected customer service expert and author of the bestselling book ‘How Can I Help You Help Them?’ He has flown into Cincinnati for one night to speak at a convention. While he has a wife and son back in Los Angeles he is desperately lonely and sad man, haunted by a relationship from a decade ago which ended badly, something which is particularly front of mind at the moment given she lives in Cincinnati. In the corridor of his hotel he meets Lisa, a customer service rep from Ohio in town for the convention, and is quite taken with her. There is something about her which makes her stand out from the sameness of everyone else. She is an anomaly, an Anomalisa. Continue reading
Director: Peter Sohn
Starring: Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Sam Elliot, Anna Paquin, Steve Zahn
2015 was a unique year for a number of reasons, one of them being that we got two Pixar films. Breaking their one film per year pattern, with the release of The Good Dinosaur, the studio’s 16th feature animation, 2015 became the first two-Pixar-film year. But rather than this being a bonus gift just in time for the holidays, it is the result of a troubled production that saw the film’s release pushed back from 2013, the original director replaced and a screenplay seemingly written by committee. As such, after the wonderfully imaginative Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur is in every way Pixar’s second film of 2015.
The Good Dinosaur starts with a simple premise: what if, 65 million years ago, the meteorite that was supposed to crash into the Earth and wipe out the dinosaurs had missed? Naturally, the dinosaurs would have remained Earth’s dominant creatures and, over the course of a few million years, evolved into a sophisticated agrarian society. Continue reading
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan
In the last twenty years, no Hollywood studio has been as consistently original and imaginative as Pixar. In an era when kid’s movies are so often dumbed down and seem guided primarily by merchandising departments, John Lasseter and his brains trust at Pixar allow themselves to be guided first and foremost by ideas. Their latest offering, Pete Docter (Up, Monsters Inc) and Ronaldo Del Carmen’s Inside Out, arguably represents the zenith of Pixar’s bold originality, taking us inside the mind of a young girl.
Inside Out tells a very small scale story. Eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) lives a happy life with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) in Minnesota, only to have it unsettled when her father’s work requires the family has to relocate to San Francisco. With no friends, a different house and a new school, Riley starts to feel terribly homesick but doesn’t feel that she can talk about it with her parents. That is all that happens in the movie. At least, that is all that happens on the outside. For the key action in Inside Out actually takes place inside Riley’s mind. In the control room of her mind we meet anthropomorphised emotions, Continue reading