Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cracks - Jordan Scott (2011)

Yes, I know "Cracks" made its debut at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival yet my title says "2011."

I've been going by U.S. Theatrical release dates. I decided to just pick a standard for the dates I use and stick with it for consistency's sake. So for the record, when there's a disparity between my dates and's, that's why. It occurred to me that I have never explained that.

At any rate, "Cracks" was released in New York and L.A. on March 18, so it should be making its way here to Kansas City for a short run at some point this spring.

It has gotten mediocre reviews, but I thought it was a brilliant character study of a woman unable to tell narcissism from love.

If that sounds pretentious, there's a reason why the word "Snob" is in my title.

Here's my video review.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010)

"My Dog Tulip" Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

“My Dog Tulip” is a milestone in animation. It is the first paperless, hand-drawn animated feature ever.

Of course that wouldn’t count for much if the movie wasn’t very good, but I’ll get to the analysis of the film’s content itself shortly.

Paul Fierlinger drew the film onto a digital tablet, using a stylus and Sandra Fierlinger filled in the images perfectly. She seems to know just the right colors to capture the right moods and just how much detail to use without giving too much away. They used a program called “TVPaint.”

Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

“Tulip” is based on J. R. Ackerley’s memoirs of how he finally found true friendship late in his life when he got his first dog, Tulip. Ackerley is voiced by Christopher Plummer.

I have not read the book in more than 10 years, but I remember laughing out loud a lot and as I watched the film, I kept remembering bits of the book I’d forgotten.

The film, like the book, is pretentious, funny and literate. So naturally, your Resident Film Snob loved it to pieces.

Ackerley whittles the most complex human emotions and experiences down into the basest of animal urges and what he comes out with in his book, is a remarkably wise record, not only of anecdotes, but proverbs.

For example, in the midst of his meditations on Tulip’s bathroom habits, Ackerley takes her through a cemetery. He seems to think the dead should be grateful that his dog is blessing them by using their resting place as a place to unleash her bowels.

After all, they ought to be grateful to be serving any purpose at all, shouldn’t they?

Tulip diddles on the dead. Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

The film’s style could not possibly fit the spirit of the book better. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger don’t draw “Tulip” with the realistic detail the Pixar generation has come to expect. After all, if it’s going to look so gall-darn realistic, why bother animating it? (That’s right, I said “gall-darn.” You’ll just have to pardon my French.)

Animation style dips several times into what the author sketched as he imagined his dog and sister home alone together. These sequences are simple doodles on paper.

Notice how, for some reason, as minimalist as his “style” is, he still takes the time to draw boobs on his sister. It’s either endearing or creepy. I guess it can be both. Hey, the guy wrote “The Prisoners of War,” so I’m not going to get all bent out of shape.

Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

And what he projects of human sexuality onto dogs is hysterical and emphasized through this simple doodling that he does, more than it ever could through more sophisticated animated effects.

This is important, since roughly half the movie involves Ackerley trying to get his beloved dog laid.

Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

Again, he goes about exploring sexuality by simplifying it through the eyes of his dog and again, the stripped down animated style is perfect here. It’s equally adorable and disconcerting how Tulip is drawn in a dress, like a lady of the night.

Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

It’s touching how he marvels at the way Tulip allows a very small dog to hump her even though Ackerley clearly thinks Tulip is far out of the mutt’s league.

Please don’t make the mistake of trying to watch this with your kids. “My Dog Tulip” is a wonderful cartoon for adults.

This film will be showing here in Kansas City at the Tivoli for at least another few days, so you really need to catch it while you can.

If you miss it, put it in your Netflix queue pronto.

My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010)

Midwest Association of Professional Animators: My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010): "'My Dog Tulip' Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films “My Dog Tulip” is a milestone in animation. It is the first paperless, hand-drawn animate..."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paul – Greg Mottola (2011)

“Paul” reunites “Shaun of the Dead’s” Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and teams them up with an animated alien voiced by Seth Rogan.

Fair warning, the film is filled with vulgarity and potty-mouthed humor.

But it's highly recommended.

And check out for a feature from your Resident Film Snob.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dear Academy, Obvious Does Not Equal Good

Hey guys. By guys, I mean the Academy. And I know only like two of you are reading this and you already know what I think, but I'm going to pretend my opinion matters anyway.

We all knew Melissa Leo was going to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but just because it was inevitable doesn't make it right.

I get tired of pointing it out, but I have to say it again: the most obvious performance isn't always the best one.

I'm sure Alice Ward was a shrill woman in her prime and Leo gave a shrill, bad, unwatchable performance.

"The Fighter" is a very good film and Leo's performance is the weak link that pulls it down and keeps it from being great.

But it does reach out and grab you by your eyebrows and make you pay attention to her and apparently, that's what the Academy deems "good."

Amy Adams was nominated for playing Micky's girlfriend, Charlene who had some of the same tough-as-nails qualities as Alice.

Yet her performance, even as she brawled with her future sisters-in-law on her front porch, was subdued and lovely.

I know I'm late in my criticism of the Awards, but I've been sick this past week and a half, so you'll excuse me. This is only one of the Academy's bone-headed moves, so more posts are forthcoming.

Please, hold your breath.

I command you.

Hold it.

That's better.

And just as an afterthought, how many of the voters saw "Animal Kingdom?"

Jackie Weaver was nominated, so a good chunk of the actors at least did, but you have to wonder, how in the world could they ignore that syrupy sweet demonic Smurf?

That woman is still giving me nightmares.