Monthly ArchiveDecember 2012
- We’ve come to the end of another year. I face the new year without my trusted computer. You work for a number of years on one particular machine, and you get to know what to expect. Photoshop has its own kinks on each different machine as does AfterEffects or the Wacom tablet. With each machine the same pen and the same tablet gives me wholly different lines no matter how I try to focus the brushes that the computer offers. Finally, finally I get the lines and the shapes that I want on a specific screen with just the right pressure I want to exert, and wallah!
No computer. Yesterday morning, Sunday, the computer just wouldn’t turn on. I found a really trusty place to bring my sick machine to be examined, but, it being New Year’s weekend, this is the one Sunday they’re not opening. So I wait till today, Monday, New Year’s eve (when they’ll close early) and will carry my computer there at 9am to get a check out. No doubt they’ll tell me something before they close at 1pm.
Of course, I suspect the worst, the motherboard (what a name) is probably damaged, though I hope not. I hope I just haven’t been properly putting the cord in place, and it’s not getting the electricity it needs. But, as I said, I expect the worst. I expect to have to buy a new machine and hire the computer repair place to dig out all my files and reconstruct them for me on the new computer. Then I’ll have all those programs like Photoshop and AfterEffects and the Wacom tablet that I’ll have to buy new software (since I don’t have the outdated disks I once used to install them onto the dead machine. If I do have them, they’re n storage somewhere in New Jersey or the Bronx or whereve that particular lot of things is stored.) Money just seems to grow on trees when you don’t have any. I’ll figure it out.
I’m more worried about my files. I’ve been working months on the opening of POE and have about 40 secs of finished animation sitting dormant on a possibly dead disk. I have animatics I’ve been doing for presentation – not one piece of art outside that machine – for HBO that I’d hoped to finish this weekend. Forget that. Just hope you don’t have to do them yet again. Files and files and files. Many of them are saved on an external drive, but not the last two months worth of work. I’ve been remiss in saving back up. You can be sure I’ll visit “justcloud” or “backupGenie” or some-such in the future and will become a regular habitué.
Life’s so full of precarious options, and you can’t let them get you down when they don’t seem positive. Everything happens for a reason, and I’m sure there’s a reason for this, too. Maybe I should be shifting completely over to Mac. I’ve been a PC supporter all along, but have a powerful Mac sitting at my brother’s loft for protection. All my other studio computers are in storage in some other state. No, the key studio computer – the one we used for all our editing – is safely ensconced in my brother’s loft. When you can’t trust a storage unit, trust the most reliable person you know. And I have been working Mac at Buzzco all these months (working mornings on Mac and afternoons on PC on the very same scenes can drive you schizo quickly. Something as simple as using “Ctrl” is one place on PC and another on Mac. How many times, after the fact, have I had to do an operation a second time because my fingers went to the wrong place. All niggling complaints, I know. Especially when I have a real complaint/worry. Hopefully, I’ll have all those files back. I’m sure I will.
My brother also has all of Tissa David’s artwork for POE. I’ll need to get that soon, too. I want to inbetween what she’s done to see how it moves as anmation rather than animatic. After all she posed at the animatic on sixes or twelves as her whim carried her. We both agreed that it would ultimately have to be redrawn and reanimated for the final, but now I’d like to keep it as is (except for the opening sequences so that we can get her younger version of “Eddie” to look more like the older version. Bo, I have that logo on there. I just remembered that. It took months for me to satisfy myself with logo-looking portrait of Edgar Allan Poe to use for the Tee-Shirts and postcards, etcetera to send out for the Indiegogo souvenirs. I’m pretty sure that’s also on the computer I use at Buzzco. It’ll wait till Wednesday to find out. When I go back to Buzzco.
Thinking back to the time we worked on that animatic of POE. Tissa never touched a computer. Her drawings were done on punched letter sized paper – 8 ½ x 11. She animated (“animaticed”?) using a penstick on the paper. No rough drawings, and they were all rough drawings. They were finals, most of them will be finals. Life was so much easier back then, yet from the entry position so much harder. It was more fun though, lots of communit. Today we’re all bent into the glow of the television screen and we probably listen to earphone music or noise, and we don’t intercommunicate with those around us. Not like the olden days, when we’d have conversations while doing the work. Of course there was the shut up time, but there was also the community time. How many times did Heidi comment, when walking into my studio, “It’s so quiet here.” You guys have to get music. We did play music once upon a time, but then it all went into the earphones. Everybody into their own TV world. Alone with the animated character. Sorry, it’s a stupid complaint from someone getting to be an old timer. An old timer worried about his machine doing that line that took a long time to perfect. Wondering if he’ll ever get it back again.
J.J. just called from the New York Computer Help group. It wasn’
t the “notherboard” but a power line that was the cause of the problem. He has the part in stock, and I should have my computer back – fully functional – by 3pm. Only $160.
Let me tell you, I recommend them highly. If you’re in New York and need any computer help, go there. They’re friendly, fast and great. They could have taken me for a ride if they really wanted. I expected to have to pay through the nose to get that repaired. They’re life savers. It’s going to be a nice New Year.
New York Computer Help
53 EAST 34th STREET, 3rd FL.
NEW YORK, NY 10016
(Park and Madison Avenues)
(212) 599 0339
- Steve Fisher is much more energetic than I during this holiday break. (Actually, I don’t really have a holiday although I am doing a lot of different things with a very different pace. My break is really more a mental one.) Consequently, he took a lot of interesting photos in search of Christmas decorations in New York’s higher rent district. Thus sayeth Steve:
- Yesterday, I finally had a chance to take advantage of a sunny, dry day [between storms] to look for Christmas decorations on landmark buildings. I decided to follow two guided walking tours of the Upper East Side – the Henderson and Treadwell Districts. The Henderson District, at the East Side Drive between 86th and 87th Streets had several decorations, but the Treadwell District, on 61st and 62nd Streets between Second and Third Avenues, less so.
Here is the first bunch – of the Henderson District. I’ll follow up shortly with other bunches.
The following were taken in the Treadwell Historic District, on 61st and 62nd Streets between Second and Third Avenues [along with the first several taken along the walk from the Henderson district].
At this point, Steve took the Tram to Roosevelt Island to visit the FDR Memorial. This trip will show up on the blog next Sunday.
Commentary 29 Dec 2012 07:38 am
- This past week Nathan Theis left a comment on my blog.Ienjoy goig to the sites and blogs of those who comment on mine. It helps give me a bit of an idea of who’s writing on my site and also shows me what’s out there. I do live in a somewhat hermetecized world here, and unless I venture outside my own realm, I won’t have much idea of anything beyond myself. Or something like that.
Anyway, I went to Mr. Theis’ site and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the trip. His work is predominantly ads he’s done, and his animation is limited to say the best, but the guy is funny. He really had me laughing quite a few times, and I have to recommend you take a look. Just go here and click on any of the images.
Thanks, Nathan, for the laughs, and keep up the great work. Your timing is impeccable.
This past week, of course, was Christmas week and a lot of events were limited. No Academy screenings were held. I have to admit that once you get used to seeing three to four films a week, it gets tough to pull back. I’ve actually been tempted to watch some on DVD. Though I don’t feel that judging a film on DVD is ok for Academy voters, there are a number of films that are probably good that will not have a chance in hell of getting nominated. Bernie, for example, is probably one of these. I actually am looking forward to seeing this movie, but there are no scheduled screenings in New York, that I know about. I don’t know what choice I have but to watch that film on my TV. (Watching on a computer screen would be a real insult.)
I spent Christmas Eve at a friend’s house. She usually has an open house where a number of artistic types show up. There were only a couple of couples there when we’d arrived. It was quiet but fun. The chili was great and we had some great conversation.
On Christmas Day, I was tempted to spend the day with my brother having dinner and catching up. He lives in the Village and it’s surprising how infrequently we see each other despite that. Instead, Candy Kugel had a dinner party for about 20 people, all friends of hers, none in the animation community. Heidi and I ended up spending a lot of time with an older woman who seems to have a lot to do with events at the 92nd Street Y. She was the person behind their “Lyrics and Lyricists” evenings. Wetalked opera and I pushed the conversation to modern opera – Phillip Glass, John Corigliano and John Adams. The woman really knew what she was talking about with this subject and it was a real treat to talk some other artform (besides animation, I mean) in depth.
We did leave to meet up with my brother afterwards. He’d expected to go out with some friends, but that didn’t turn out since some of the people never made it into the city. Instead the three of us met up for drinks at a local pub. (He lives a block from Candy and the bar was in between the two.) It really made for a nice capper for the evening. I went home to read more of the J.B.Kaufman Snow White book I’d received from Heidi (much more about this tomorrow.)
On Wednesday we went to see The Life of Pi again. Now I’m convinced that it’s the best animated film of the year. The movie is not perfect but it may be my favorite film of the year. It tackles such huge subjects and leaves you smiling at the end. It also has one of my all-time favorite actors in a lead. Irrfan Khan has appeared in many films and
he’s always brilliant, but his performance in episodes of HBO’s In Treatment were just magnificent. I wish I had those on DVD. I will get them, though. Surely with HBO I’ll be able to make copies somewhere along the line, if I don’t find and buy the discs on line. (By the way, that series – not just for the Irrfan Khan performance – has some of the best acting and writing I’ve seen on television recently.)
His role in Pi is almost the equivalent of the straightman in a comedy routine in that he is used primarily to act as the storyteller. The story is bounced off of him, and he reveals what had happened in his trip to the Americas. The film, like all of Ang Lee’s movies, starts with a story about a family, however dysfunctional. As it turns, in this film, the family is a warm, loving ideal one, it just has an odd wa of living. Once that family is broken apart all the seams come loose, and even god is challenged in this movie. (I’m not quite sure that the book had as wide a range as the movie, but they work off each other wonderfully, and yet each stands wholly on its own.
I like this movie a lot and will see it again.
I’ve had a lot of blog writing to do; it all felt like catc h-up, for some reason. I have a few pieces to present this coming week, but I needed a couple of posts to put up for the end of this week. This one, for example, is like all my Saturday posts – done at the last minute. They’re all a bit crazy since I usually end up writing them at about 3 in the morning.
I am also reading with absolute joy about Snow White (J.B. Kaufman, again.)
I’m also working on a couple of animatics for a presentation I hope to give to HBO this coming January. Once I’m finished with the animatic at hand – a very personal piece that wold be part of a half-hour show I’m hoping to do -, I’ll be able to get back to POE, and believe me I’m looking forward to that. Reading Snow White has me biting at the bit. I want to go there.
Edgar Allan Poe (seated, far right) working
at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.
This daguerrotype, possibly by Paul Beck Goddard, is the
oldest-known photograph of an American museum interior.
- Bill Peckmann chooses one of my favorite artists to end the comic strip posts for 2012. Dick Moore’s is a champion to me, and his work on the Mickey Mouse strips is wonderful.
I, personally, like the way he draws Goofy. But this is Bill’s entry, so here he takes over the post:
- I’ve always been a fan of Dick Moores’ Disney comic art work, especially the two Mickey Mouse comic books that I have, (we’ve posted one already) if he did more than these two, I’m not aware of them. And if he only did these two, wow, that is really our loss. He had a great understanding of the Mick and the Goof characters.
His combination of excellent story telling and outstanding art makes you wonder what he could have done with Mickey and Goofy, if he would have had the same lengthy run with them that he had with his super successful Gasoline Alley comic strip.
The magazine cover
Here from 1952 is Dick Moores’ “Mickey Mouse and
the Wonderful Whizzex” Dell comic book.
- I’ve thought about stop motion animation recently. Films like ParaNorman are beautifully made oversized spectacles that feel, to me, as if they were trying to mimic cg animation. The quality of the 3D animation has just about moved to the “slick” mode; the work has gotten so well done. This is the ultimate effect of mixing the computer with actual puppets, dolls that the computer creates that are then filmed. Isn’t that what happens with the hundreds of thousands of facial positions that are being created? I have a preference for Tim Burton’s puppet motion in films like Frankenweenie. You can feel the fingerprints on those dolls, unlike the excellent work done on ParaNorman.
I know, I’m complaining about the work being too well done. Too good to satisfy me. I just wonder what Ray Harryhausen would have done in this market. How would his films – rarely on ones, often clunky in its movement – have been accepted by modern audiences? Would audiences balk at that? Or would his extraordinary imagination take the bill and give us plenty to take in?
Last night I went to the movies and saw a lot of 3D action adventure trailers of films coming soon: Jack the Giant Slayer, Oz: The Great and Powerful, even the 3D version of Jurassic Park. There were more of them whose titles I’ve forgotten. They all seem the same – Loud and crushing with all those violent 3D moves. The same whooshing sound effect with every cut. It’s hard to get excited about any of them.
I once posted an article featuring Jason and the Argonauts. There was a chapter from Mr. Harryhausen’s 1972 book, Film Fantasy Scrapbook, about that film. I’d like to show it again. The book is written in the first person singular and collects B&W images like a scrapbook.
Here it is:
Of the 13 fantasy features I have been connected with I think Jason and the Argonauts pleases me the most. It had certain faults, but they are not worth detailing.
Its subject matter formed a natural storyline for the Dynamation medium and like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad strayed far from the conventional path of the “dinosaur exploitation film” with which this medium seemed to be identified.
Taking about two years to make, it unfortunately came out on the American market near the end of a cycle of Italian-made dubbed epics based loosely on the Greek-Roman legends, which seldom visualized mythology from the purely fantasy point of view. But the exhibitors and the public seem to form a premature judgment based on the title and on the vogue. Again, like Sinbad, the subject brewed in the back of my rnind for years before it reached the light of day through producer Charles Schneer. It turned out to be one of our most expensive productions to date and probably the most lavish. In Great Britain it was among the top ten big money makers of the year.
A preproduction drawing (above) compares favorably with a film still (below.)
The drawing is quite a bit more dynamic. (After all, it is Dynamation!)
Some of the difference in basic composition between the pre-production sketches I made for Jason and the counterparts frames of the production is the direct result of compromising with available locations.
For example, the ancient temples in Paestum, southern Italy, finally served as the background for the “Harpy” sequence. Originally we were going to build the set when the production was scheduled for Yugoslavia. Wherever possible we try to use an actual location to add to the visual realism. To my mind, most overly designed sets one sees in some fantasy subjects can detract from, rather than add to the final presentation.
Again, it depends on the period in which it is made as well as on the basic subject matter. Korda’s The Thief of Bagdad was the most tastefully produced and designed production of any film of this nature but unfortunately the budget that was required would be prohibitive with today’s costs.
The Skeleton Sequence was the most talked-ahout part of Jason. Technically, it was unprecedented in the sphere of fantasy filming. When one pauses to think that there were seven skeletons fighting three men, with each skeleton having five appendages to move each frame of film, and keeping them all in synchronization with the three actors’ movements, one can readily see why it took four and a half months to record the sequence for the screen.
My one regret is that this section of the picture did not take place at night.
Its effect would have been doubled.
Certain other time-consuming technical “hocus-pocus” adjustments had to be done during shooting to create the illusion of the animated figures in actual contact with the live actors. Bernard Herrmann’s original and suitably fantastic music score wrapped the scenes in an aura of almost nightmarish imagination.
In the story, Jason’s only way of escaping the wild battling sword wielding “children of Hydra’s teeth” is to leap from a cliff into the sea. (Above left) A stuntman, portraying Jason for this shot, leaps from a 90-foot-high platform into the sea closely followed by seven plaster skeletons. It was a dangerous dive and required careful planning and great skill. It becomes an interesting speculation when dealing with skeletons in a film script. How many ways are there of killing off death?
(Above right) Another angle with the real Jason jumping off a wooden platform into a mattress a few feet below. The skeletons and the rocky cliff were put in afterwards while the mattress was blotted out by an overlay of sea.
Director Don Chaffey and Ray Harryhausen discuss the leap with Italian stunt director Fernando Poggi.
When transferring published material to the screen it is almost always necessary to take certain liberties in the work in order to present it in the most effective visual terms. Talos, the man of bronze, did exist in Jason legend, although not in the gigantic proportions that we portrayed him in the film. My pattern of thing in designing him on a very large scale stemmed from research on the Colossus of Rhodes.
The actior: his blocking the only entrance to the harbor stimulated many exciting possibilities. Then too, the idea of a gigantic metal statue coming to life has haunted me for years, but without story or situation to bring it to life. It was somewhat ironic when most of my career was spent in trying to perfect smooth and life-like action and in the Talos sequence, the longest animated sequence in the picture, it was necessary to make his movements deliberately stiff and mechanical.
Most of Jason and the Argonauts was shot in and around the little seaside village of Palinuro, just south Naples. The unusual rock formations, the wonderful white sandy beaches, and the natural harbor were within a few miles of each other, making the complete operation convenient and economical. Paestum, w its fine Greek temples, was just a short distance north. All interiors and special sets were photographed in a sm studio in Rome.
For the second unit operation a special platform had to be fitted to the Argo in order to achieve certain camera angles. Although it looks precarious it was far more convenient than using another boat for the shots.
The Argo had to be, above all, practical in the sense that it must be seaworthy as well as impressive. It was specially constructed for the film over the existing framework of a fishing barge. There were twin engines for speed in maneuvering, which also made the ship easily manipulated into proper sunlight for each new set-up.
Harryhausen off the book’s back cover
to give an idea of scale of drawing sizes.
- Len Glasser had designed a number of pieces for Perpetual Motion Pictures. I wrote last week about two pieces that were designed and work was done on a job for CBS and their weather division. Ed Smith animated the originals which were killed and never aired. At some point a couple of years back, Vince Cafarelli built a miini-film out of what they had done. He animated anything they needed to complete this one flm. It’s built on a snowman that comes to life; the film was taken to its conclusion, but nothing was done with it beyond that. (I’ve suggested that they make an animated Christmas card out of it and send it out to everyone. It’s certainly entertaining enough.)
I’ll post every other one of the animated drawings here so you can see the animation and accompany them with the final QT movie of the piece. It should make a nice little post.
Here are the drawings predominantly animated by Ed Smith directly in pen onto paper. The drawings were xeroxed and/or inked onto cel, colored and shot traditionally. Here are the paper drawings with one or two odd comments added. Rick Broas helped Vince complete it.
The Background to scene 1
The final mini-movie
(I looped it. It could have used a hold at the end before starting over.)
Commentary 25 Dec 2012 06:15 am
“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
This was a hand-me-down post I’d done my very first Christmas on-line. It’s still a beauty of a cel I own.
It was from a scene Richard Williams animated for his Christmas Carol. The drawing was done on cel not on paper with a mars omnichrome pencil. Hence, the inking is Dick’s, as well. Dick’s tightly strung version of the story is still available in old vhs copies. You can also find the entire film (in three parts) on The Thief Archives on YouTube, and it’s still a beauty.
I remember Dick having a conversation with me about the brilliant animation Abe Levitow did on this film, and, indeed, I agree. In a film filled with stunningly beautiful animated illustrations, my favorite character animation was done by Levitow. The sequence wherein the ghost of Christmas Past opens his robe to reveal “ignorance” and “want” is the capper of the show.
The film, I think, done in 26 minutes is a little too rushed to properly tell the Dickens’ story emotionally, and it’s an emotional story. What’s there is as brilliant as anything Dick had done. In some ways, the artwork reminds me of the cross-hatched animation his Soho Square studio did for The Charge of the Light Brigade. (In fact, when I first saw the show in 1971, I wondered whether some of the birds in Christmas Carol were reused from Charge. I never learned the answer.)
David Nethery has posted a cel from Abe Levitow’s sequence – probably my favorite scene in the film comes from this sequence. It’s the scene where Christmas Present moves back his robe to reveal the two children – “ignorance” and “want”. I think I disappointed Dick when I told him this years ago and hadn’t named one of his scenes. Given the way Dick worked on Raggedy Ann, I’d guess he did the cleanup on these scenes as well.
As limited as the animation is on Magoo’s Christmas Carol, it’s still probably one of the best versions of the film ever made. Actually, the Magoo version is probably tied with the 1951 Alastair Sim version of the film.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas full of the kind of joy Scrooge finds when he wakes up.
“I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy.
I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody.
A happy New Year to all the world.”
I’ve received a number of emails of collections of Christmas cards done by various artists. These are usually entertaining. However, I’ve found a number of my cards among quite a few of these groups, and I find that a bit awkward. I never quite sent them expecting they’d be published in any way, but I’m certainly going to roll with the punches. I’m not sure everything I post is designed to be published, either.
I did publish pages of a book which had posted one of my cards, and I did have some qualms about reposting those pages. Since one of them was mine, I figured that relieved any guilt I was feeling. So much art just wouldn’t be seen if it weren’t put on blogs like mine, so I justify it.
The image above came from an animated card I didn’t finish. It was a little dance Santa does as he eats an ice cream pop. It ends with a burst of snow spelling out the “Merry Christmas” message. I spent about . . . I don’t know. I spent a lot of time animating and coloring , and I still had about 15 seconds of art to finish it. But I missed the deadline. I would have had to kill myself and still probably miss getting it out ON Christmas Day. Absurd.
The real problem was that I hated the work that I’d done. It wasn’t something I was really proud of. There were too many distractions and I loved doing it on a day to day basis, but I’d forgotten to watch the big picture. Put it all together, and it didn’t need to go public. So, I apologize. No Christmas Card this year.
To all those that haven’t received anything from me, which means anyone reading this Splog, please accept my apologies and please, Have yourself a Merry and Big Christmas.
- From Bill Peckman:
- Here are some Holiday and Christmas cheer cards from over the years, done by some of our favorite pen and brush men.
First through the mail slot is Jack Davis.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
The following are Harvey Kurtzman‘s cards:
And now from the gifted hand of Arnold Roth.
A terrific threesome from Wally Tripp!
Thanks to Suzanne Wilson for these Christmas chuckles from Rowland Wilson.
- Steve Fisher captured some beautiful imagery of twilight hour. The cold crisp air is almost visible in these shots of a subtly decorated New York City. You can almost look forward to that first cocktail of the evening as an exhausted city tries to quiet itself down. As Steve writes:
- Yesterday, a fast-moving rain shower produced some quickly varying lighting. Here are thirteen snaps I took in a twenty minute period.
Commentary 22 Dec 2012 07:48 am
- There’s something nice, for me, about Saturday mornings. I usually wake up somewhere between 5 and 6 am. I sit down at a computer and do some writing. It may be something new for the Saturday blog or something new entirely. It always has to do with the blog, though maybe I should think about that. Perhaps do a bit of writing that might actually pay something. Naaaah! That might take away from the fun.
The two boy cats are asleep, one on the couch the other on the floor. Within a few minutes they’ll be kickboxing and making a lot of noise. I’ll have to break them up, and they’ll go back to their places, then back to sleep. Until I get off my butt and feed them some breakfast. AMC runs old episodes (I think that’s the only kind there are) of The Rifleman. This, like TV Land’s Andy Griffith Show, are a real pleasure for me. I was the age of the kids in those shows (Johnny Crawford as “Mark” and Ron Howard as “Opie”) when i watched them, originally. It brings something emotional back for me to sit through them again. It’s like comfort food is supposed to be, for me. I actually wondered if you were to take the script for one of those Andy Griffith Shows, with all the innocence about them, and remade them – it’d have to be a new cast – as is, verbatim. How would they turn out? The script has all that original, innocent emotion behind them, and none of the new cast or crew would have that. What would be lost, what would be preserved? I’d really love to try it some time with no sarcasm or irony whatsoever.
Until then, I just watch a couple of episodes every Saturday morning. Then it gets time to get things going, and the world changes back.
Kickstarter Small and Smaller
Mark Sonntag continues with his goal of raising $10,000 to make a film of “Bounty Hunter Bunny“. This is an attractive looking cgi film that seems to attempt to bring some 2D dynamics to the world of cgi. Mark’s a very astute guy; his blog takes in enormous detail fastidiously, and I would expect that to be the same of any film he produces. That’s why I have a lot of hope for this short movie.
This would push back at what continually is the failure of the recent WB projects – attempting to animate Road Runner, Daffy and Porky in cgi moving at manic speed and pretending like the dynamics haven’t changed. I think Mark gets the difference and would succeed where the WB millions are failing.
You should, at the least, take a look at what Mark has put together on his Indiegogo page.
To go from one small effort to raise money to one much larger but yet, still a small effort, Bill Plympton has a Kickstarter campaign going strong. He’s trying to raise $75,000 to finish the feature he has in progress, Cheatin’. To us poor guys (Bill included) $75,000 is a hell of a lot of money, but to the world of feature animation it’s nothin’. Just take a look at some of the films out there now. Rise of the Guardians had a production budget of $145 million. Wreck-It Ralph was $168 million. Brave cost $185 million. ParaNorman was cheap in comparison at $65 million. It feels like Bill is cheatin’ with a budget of about $200 thousand.
Anyway he has a Kickstarter campaign in progress and you should take a look there. If anyone can raise that kind of money on line, he’s the guy. It’s entertaining just watching it proceed. At the moment let’s just say I’m introducing this one to you. I’ll have more to write about it in the New Year. In January, I’m starting a brand new series for this blog and am starting with Bill and his studio. There’ll be plenty to write about the Kickstarter campaign then.
To start with she asks you to “Like” her page, her film. She thinks that’d help her move to the next step on Facebook to raise money through them. I really don’t know how Facebook works. I go there once a week or so and avoid the “farms” and resist the “old friends” who don’t know me. I see the little tweets that are trown there and once in a while I add my three cents to the short, pulsating conversations.
Hell, if there is a way to cntribute money to Signe from Facebook, do it. She needs the money and her film is going to be great. I saw a rough cut. I wantedto be closer to the small monitor, but it was so compelling and the story just addictive. I want to see it again, finished. Give this woman money to do what she has to do to get it done. If you can’t give it to her via Facebook, just find her home address in Brooklyn and send it there. I assume she’s going to put together a Kickstarter thing and I’ll promote that too. I believe in this movie, let me tell you.
On Monday there was a lunch at the Illustrator’s Club for a documentary film, The House I Live In. This film by Eugene Jarecki talks about the failure of America’s drug wars. The end results mean that the United States houses an enormous number of our poor and underprivileged in prisons. It’s a difficult dilemma, and there have been no successful means yet found of fighting that problem in our society. This film is one of the short-listed documentary features, and, of course, the lunch was designed to catch our attention in the hope of a vote.
I was very impressed, first off, with the Illustrator’s club. Amazing art adorns the walls at every turn. To walk past a Howard Pyle original and come upon an Al Smith original Mutt & Jeff strip alongside a Milton Caniff. The stars hung everywhere, and I was overwhelmed. The meal they served us was a wonderful and silky cut of pot roast over mashed potatoes and okra. It was an excellent afternoon as John Legend introduced the film maker, Jarecki, who spoke eloquently and made sure we all left with a copy of his DVD.
It made for a wonderful afternoon.
I came home to listen to the endless political talk about the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. My brother’s family lives one town over, and my niece taught karate to one of the killed children. She had a photo of the girl on her cel phone. Nothing but tears this past weekend. The media treats the situation almost like pornography as they mettle in the lives of those affected. President Obama gave a brilliant speech and hopefully he will continue to lead the charge to get something done with gun laws.
Let’s jump from some capitalism to some outright theft. Eddie Fitzgerald found and embedded this guy’s YouTube video. I’ve been watching videos by this man – they’re all adaptations of dance pieces he creates scene by scene, country by country and puts them together always with the same effect. They’re absolutely joyous. Here’s the one Eddie had on his spot, and I’m posting it too. I imagine you will as well.
I won’t take my usual turn this week by detailing a complete diary of my movie adventures this past week, but I will give you some of the highlights. On Tuesday there was a screening in the evening for David Chase’s first movie. (You’ll remember that he was the godfather of the Sopranos for HBO.) His film Not Fade Away is a love song to music of the 60′s, particularly the music of the British invasion. The movie was enjoyable, however the afterparty was excellent. The antipasto was on one level of the restaurant, and the main course was another level down. Table surrounded the upper level, and banquettes the lower level. Selecting some meats on the lower level, you couldn’t help but see a banquette or two full of Soparanos. Tony (James Gandolfini) in the corner, Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) – without the grey side-burns – just across from him and Steven Van Zandt juat next to him. Little Steve had advised on the music for the film and had put together a great score of 60′s songs. Also there to be seen was Christine Lahti and plenty of others.
Wednesday there was the endless Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained. A genius of a half hour movie, and excellent 90 minute feature, and a tedious 2 ½ film. Guess which one it was. DeCaprio was really good, Sam Jackson was very fine, and Christophe Waltz made a brilliant character out of nothing, but evenhe got repetitive by his character’s end.
Thursday brought Matt Damon’s Promised Land. A bit preachy but quite a good script with excellent performances. Damon is so damn loveable that you can never think ill of him. He has that “Cary Grant” kind of appeal. I’ll see anything he’s in.
Friday saw This is 40 with Paul Rudd, who was excellent, and Leslie Mann who was in her best film. Leslie Mann was the director’s wife; the two children were also Judd Apatow‘s children. Let’s see who did Paul Rudd play? Many people complained of this film to me, but I loved it. Perhaps seeing it on a screen as opposed to a tv set made the difference. It really was a movie. Perhaps they thought it was one of those idiotic comedies Apatow has made in the past. Instead it’s just an honest and human story with some really funny parts.
Apatow and family appear to the right; Paul Rudd should have been a stand in for the director.
Melissa McCarthy was brilliant in improv for one scene of this film.
I intend to see The Life of Pi again this week. I’ll go to a movie house and use my card to steal into a show. I think this was the best animated film of the past year. It keeps replaying in my head. I’m going to add a stash of screen grabs later. So look in again this afternoon or maybe it’ll be tomorrow. I loved this film. I think it’s still my favorite of the year.
Speaking of screen grabs, I received a DVD copy of Combustible this week. I’ve watched it about half a dozen times. I want to make a post of screen grabs from this cartoon. I’ll ask for their permission, and if I get it you’ll see the mages in their own post. I suspect they will say, “No”. It’s a stunningly attractive animated film that keeps getting better the more you see it. The film is very complex, but it’s also very cold. From the director of Akira, this film makes a lot more sense in only 13 minutes. I thought Akira was indecipherable. I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask that director, Katsuhiro Otomo. I’ll email his publicist and see if he’ll answer any of the questions.
I’d had lunch with Chris Sullivan, the director of Consuming Spirits. What a sweet guy. Let me remind you that his film is still playing at the Film Forum through to Christmas Day. A.O. Scott called this one of the best films of the year, on his short list of those just beyond the top ten. He wouldn’t give it a hard number.
Mr.Magoo’s Christmas Carol is 50 years old this year. The celebration brings this first animated Christmas special to network television for the first time in years. This has brought a little attention. There’s a fine article in the NYTimes discussing the special and quoting all the right people: Adam Abraham who wrote the relatively recent book, When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA and Darrell Van Citters, the animation director who wrote the excellent “making of” book, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special. These are both fine books and, for anyone interested in the subject of UPA, must reads. Both Adam Abraham and Darrel Van Citters have excellent animation history websites which, naturally, focus on the subject of their respective books.
- Jule Styne’s wife, Margaret, even hosted a party for the premiere, with about 100 guests at the “21” Club. Richard Kiley, Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin, Joan Collins, Anthony Newley, Lionel Bart, Stephen Sondheim, Mike Nichols and others chowed down on a roast pig — complete with apple in mouth — while watching the special on televisions supplied by RCA.
See Magoo’s Christmas Carol tonight, Dec. 22nd, at 8pm on NBC.
For those with A.D.D., Magooo is on opposite Prep and Landing and A Chipmunk Christmas, both on ABC. I somehow doubt either special will last 50 years, but you never know.
A Shirley Silvey storyboard drawing alongside a matching Layout by Sam Weiss.