Commentary 28 Jan 2012 06:45 am

A Penny’s Worth

- This was a pretty quiet week, except for Tuesday. That was the day the Oscar nominations were revealed. I don’t think I’ve been as happy with the overall nominations since the year Doctor DeSoto got nominated. Since I’ve been a member in New York, I’ve always felt that our voice was barely heard in the Hollywood awarding of the prizes. My vote always felt like a little guppy in the salmon swim upstream. This year I feel well represented.

I had hoped that one of the French and Spanish 2D features would be nominated against the blockbuster boys club of Spielberg, Dreamworks & Disney. I was adamantly against TINTIN (first) because it was a MoCap film and (second) because it was a bad movie with a poorly realized script. This was the last thing I’d have expected from Spielberg. I’d have preferred the bad, limited animation of the TV series with a good script. And whatta you know! TINTIN and Pixar didn’t get nominated. And, even better, not one of the two foreign features but both of them got into the competition. How happy could I be?!

The same was true of the short films. The best of the Short list was nominated. I really believe that. If I had to pick five shorts from the mixed bag of films we saw, I’d have chosen four of these five. And the fifth is technically superb however trite the script. I couldn’t be more pleased.

As I said, this extends to all of the films. I’d have chosen eight of the nominated nine films for Best Picture. I know my favorite doesn’t have a shot at it, but I’m happy it got recognized.

Now to see all the docs and foreign films to vote on them. If any compare to THE SEPARATION, I’ll really be very satisfied with this year’s crop of films.


Nominations for the Cesars, the French version of the Oscars, came out this week. For Best Animated Film (they combine shorts with features for this category) the five nominees are:
- LE CHAT DU RABBIN (THE RABBI’S CAT) by Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux, a 2D animated feature.
- LE CIRQUE (THE CIRCUS) by Nicolas Brault, a painterly animated short from the NFB.
- LE TABLEAU, a 2D short. (THE PAINTING) by Jean-François Laguionie, a 2D feature from the award winning animator.
- UN MONSTRE À PARIS (A MONSTER IN PARIS) by Bibo Bergeron, a cgi feature.


By the way, the one film that seems to be swooping it up in this Awards season is the animated short, A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard and . This film is the only one that was nominated by the BAFTAs but also the Oscars. It won prizes at Annecy, Bradford, and Brooklyn. Congratulations to Studio AKA, director Grant Orchard and producer, Sue Goffe. I’ve seen it half a dozen times so far and could probably sit through as many again.


For those of you in NY who’d like to get a look at the Oscar nominated feature, Chico and Rita, it will be screened on Tuesday, February 21st, at the Jacob Burns Film Center.

Designed by Javier Mariscal and directed by Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque) the story tells a love story about a Cuban piano player and his love of a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. The film features a luscious track of Cuban jazz as well as classics from Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker.

The Jacob Burns Film Center
364 Manville Road map
Pleasantville, NY


Coming March 26th & 27th the IFC Center will present An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt

Acclaimed animator Don Hertzfeldt will appear in person to present his most recent film together with a selection of his award-winning earlier shorts Monday.

March 26, 2012 at 7:00pm! It’s Such a Beautiful Day, makes its exclusive regional premiere at IFC Center. This is the third and final chapter in a trilogy about a mysterious man named Bill. The entire trilogy will be screened together for the first time on new 35mm prints, followed by a live Q&A with Hertzfeldt

Mon, Mar 26 at: 7:00 PM and 9:30 PM
Tue, Mar 27 at: 7:00 PM

Tickets for this special event are $17.50 general admission, $15.50 seniors, $13.50 IFC Center members

The IFC Center
323 Sixth Avenue, NYC


- A favored blog read this week came on Cartoon Brew. Amid Amidi posted Steven Colbert‘s interview with Maurice Sendak. The second part is the better one, when Sendak starts singing. It’s a real laugh out loud. Go here to watch them.


- The post that stirred me most was on Mike Barrier‘s site. Actually, something in the comments on that post got me thinking, particularly Jim Korkis‘ note and Don Benson‘s followup. I haven’t quite yet formed my thoughts, so I won’t respond until another time, but you should go and read the post and the comments. There’s some real conversation happening there.

4 Responses to “A Penny’s Worth”

  1. on 28 Jan 2012 at 5:20 pm 1.The Gee said …

    I know it is too late in the day to try and shake off cobwebs but it was a long morning. I’m not sure if what I’m about to write is playing Devil’s Advocate or just stirring a pot but I just finished reading the Barrier post to which you linked.

    Okay, film….

    Assertion i: I’ve long held that 1975 was a cut off point for many, many great films being released each year. After that year, it just seemed like it was hit or miss. And, I guess post “Jaws” (1975) and post “Star Wars” (1977) film releases seemed to veer towards blockbuster or bust.

    Obviously, for animated features, the 1970s to early 80s were not sublime. Though, I suppose it could be said that there were a wide variety of features which were made by more than just the Disney studio. It was interesting. But, Classic isn’t the word that usually describes them, right?

    Here’s where it gets tricky:
    Two of the greatest films released from 1975 to now are:
    the movie adaptation of “Grease” and the movie “Caddyshack”

    I’m not gonna figure out the grosses for each of them in the theatrical releases or on video. Though that metric would be interesting to know. I think what makes them “great” is just how impacting and entertaining each movie is to many, many people. I’m guessing a large part of this is that “Grease” is a stage production and surely there is at least one production happening in some high school somewhere this school year. And, both movies are probably played often enough on cable TV.

    Assertion ii: any woman 47 and under knows the dang soundtrack to “Grease”
    Assertion iii: everyone knows a joker who has committed “Caddyshack” dialogue to memory and probably has the character impersonation down pat.

    So, what they heck are we saying as we look for perfect works? I mean in film, I’d say the production of “West Side Story” is far superior to “Grease” but I don’t dig musicals. And, as comedy goes, there’s been movies just as great before and since Caddyshack.

    With animated films, the way they are picked apart is much harsher than that of popular live action or Classic films. So, is it being too harsh on some by saying Oh, the animation lacks sincerity. If people still like them, for whatever reasons, is that valid?

    Like I wrote at the beginning: cobwebs… hope this makes sense.

  2. on 28 Jan 2012 at 11:55 pm 2.Doug H said …

    Dear Michael,
    My dissertation on the Snark Chart has now been published and I’m happy to send you a copy. Please confirm that I have the right email address to send it to you. Doug H.

  3. on 29 Jan 2012 at 9:55 am 3.David Nethery said …

    There are some an interesting videos and .pdf documents on the making of “Chico & Rita” posted here:


    Budget: €10,000,000 (equivalent to approx. $17,442,000 U.S. dollars)

    The entire movie is filmed with live action actors.

    The sets include dummy objects and tracker marks for camera tracking.

    The live action shots are edited in Final Cut Pro and becomes the live action version of the animatic.

    Approximately 2 frames of every second of live action is traced in TVPaint and becomes the drawn version of the animatic.

    The traced frames are printed on paper, pegged and sent through a classical 2D hand drawn production pipeline with rough animation, key animation, clean up, ink & paint and compositing.

    The live action shots are used to create backgrounds in either 2D, 2½D or 3D where 2½D refers to 2D elements positioned in a 3D universe.

    All 2D animation and coloring in ToonBoom Harmony .

  4. on 29 Jan 2012 at 7:21 pm 4.Michael said …

    Thanks David, those links were really informative.

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