94 posts categorized "Animation"

October 17, 2023

LITTLE OTIK — SHOCKTOBER!

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Little otik poster

Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer draws upon his long history of theatrical experience working with marionettes in this mysteriously comic retelling of an ancient Czech fairy tale.

Svankmajer marvelously intermingles stop-motion animation with live-action to tell the tale of an infertile married couple obsessed with having a child, even if that child is a murderous monster made of tree root.

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Husband Karel Horák (Jan Hartl) finds inspiration in a tree root that he shapes into the body of a genetically correct branch-limbed baby boy. Karel's wife Božena Horáková (Veronika Žilková) is overjoyed with the result. She hatches a plan involving nine handmade pillows of sequential sizes to publicly account for a gestation period that will allow her to act as a mother to the lifeless piece of wood. However, upon its "birth," Otik comes to life.

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Alzbetka (Kristina Adamcova) is a precocious pre-teen girl, obsessed with sex and babies, who lives in the couple's apartment building. Her intense curiosity about Karel's and Božena's "baby" taps into the magical tale of "Otesánek," that Alzbetka reads in a book of fairy tales.

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Weirdness prevails. Little Otik proves to be an insatiably hungry baby. The family cat is turned into a pile of bloody bones. Otik gradually grows to a gargantuan size. The mailman also becomes a victim. The strange child-creature takes on a serial killer identity. Daddy wants to chop baby into splinters, but mommy won't let him.

Screen Shot 2022-05-30 at 7.36.00 PM

Svankmajer creates an undeniably original fairytale-tinged satire about the gruesome reality of childbirth and the tremendous social pressures that come with the duties of parenting. The picture resonates especially with David Lynch’s “Eraserhead.”

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Božena's compulsory overprotection of a baby she can never allow her neighbors to see is a point of high humor. She takes to putting a plastic toy-baby in the pram she that leaves outside while she shops. Božena, you see, is overprotective only to a point.

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Most striking is the bizarre baby itself. With its flattop head, frayed branch appendages, and snout-like nose, Otik makes a strong case for the ugliest infant you've ever seen. Still, in spite of its unsightly appearance and reprehensible behavior, Božena can't help but adore her creepy offspring.

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Fairy tales are cautionary stories written to teach children hard lessons that most parents would rather not attempt to paraphrase. "Little Otik" is in a class all by itself. Jan Svankmajer is a mad genius of cinema. Nightmares may follow.

Not Rated. 132 mins. 

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“ COLE MONSTERCozy Cole

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WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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ColeSmithey.comBritish Claymation geniuses Nick Park and Steve Box bring to life their best-loved characters Wallace (voiced by veteran actor Peter Sallis) and his faithful tongue-tied dog Gromit in a nifty children’s movie filled with just the right amount of bawdy double entendres to make adults snicker.

Through a painstaking filming process that takes a full day to shoot, at most, two seconds of screentime the filmmakers create a vibrant rural British community obsessed with growing giant vegetables for their annual fairground competition.

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Wallace and Gromit run a brisk pest control business called "Anti-Pesto" by humanely capturing garden-ravaging bunnies with Wallace’s specially invented Bun-Vac 6000 contraption that "sucks as well as blows."

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But their Northern England clientele go wiggy when an enormous rabbit attacks their gardens during a harvest full moon to devour every gigantic vegetable in sight.

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It’s "the world’s first vegetarian horror movie," but there’s nothing scary about it.

Rated G. 82 mins.

5 Stars CARNEGIE SHCOKTOBERCozy Cole

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October 13, 2023

PARANORMAN —SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

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ColeSmithey.comStop-Motion Spooky
Laika Cuts Pixar Down to Size
By Cole Smithey

Fans of Aardman’s handcrafted style of animation will find much to enjoy in this wonderfully stylized stop-motion comedy-horror-thriller about a little boy named Norman who sees dead people, or at least their ghosts.

Co-director/writer Chris Butler (storyboard artist for “Corpse Bride” and “Caroline”) teams up with Sam Fell (director of “Flushed Away”).

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The result is a detail-rich kids’ monster movie that strikes a fine balance between comedy, suspense, and goofy horror. You know you’re in good hands in the first minute.

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Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) likes to watch gross-out B-horror movies on television while talking to the ghost of his dead grandmother (voiced by the inimitable Elaine Stritch). The movie opens with a televised grindhouse horror-movie parody — complete with scratched up film stock — that delights Norman. Neon-green goopy brain matter comes with the territory. The film’s zippy production design (courtesy of Laika production house in Oregon) and off-kilter humor is a riot. The clever intro makes you wish they’d turn the short into its own feature-length movie.

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Norman’s parents worry about him — dad (Jeff Garlin) more so than mom (Leslie Mann). Everywhere Norman goes in his small New England town of Blithe Hollow, he sees and talks to the ghosts of deceased citizens. Echoes of the 17th century Salem witch trials reverberate. Norman gets bullied at school for his weird behavior, and also due to his unusual appearance that includes hair that sticks straight up in the air. They call him “Ab-Norman.” Funny stuff. A rehearsal for a Halloween school play that Norman is in, gives rise to a scene-stealing instructional line reading from Norman’s teacher (voiced by Alex Borstein).

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His uncle’s guffaw-inducing death enables the freshly minted ghost to give Norman his marching orders to eradicate an annual curse by a witch’s ghost that promises to bring on a plague of zombies. Norman’s ability to talk to the dead isn’t such a bad thing after all. Good thing Norman has his chubby pal Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) to come along for the ride. Anna Kendrick wangs it up as Norman’s self-obsessed teen sister Courtney. Painting her toenails and dreaming about the ab muscles on her buff classmate Mitch (Casey Affleck) keep Courtney occupied until. Mitch’s participation in the story as Neil’s older brother holds a not-so-subtle (read adult oriented) character revelation that sends a witty punch line late the story.

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“ParaNorman” has its share of jaunty chase sequences to keep kids on the edge of their seats. No matter how many pieces the encroaching zombies break into, their body parts keep on attacking. Expert camera work from cinematographer Tristan Oliver (“Fantastic Mr. Fox”) gives the movie plenty of lively movement. An over-the-top climax explodes into a surreal universe of cosmic horror that borders on science fiction. Visually, the movie is a treat. The story is a little lightweight and muddled, but you shouldn't hold that against it. If you liked “Caroline” (2009), the animation here is even better.

Rated PG. 93 mins.

4 Stars SHOCKTOBER!!!!Cozy Cole

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