Showing posts with label Jeff Garlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeff Garlin. Show all posts

Friday, 4 January 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed



The latest film from the Duplass brothers is Safety Not Guaranteed, a film about a sad young magazine intern (Aubrey Plaza) who joins her boss (Jake Johnson) and fellow intern (Karen Soni) in tracking down a man who has left an advert in a local newspaper. The ad reads: “Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.” Intrigued and hoping to discover a crazy man worth writing a story about, the three of them set off from Seattle to Ocean View to track the man down. They find Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a paranoid man who believes the Government are following him. Slowly Kenneth begins to accept Darius (Plaza) into his plans but is he crazy or is he on to something?



I was recommended this film by Malone on Movies and had heard very little about it beforehand. Just this morning I saw it was on The Vern's worst of 2012 list which made me worried. What also worried me was my total lack of interest in Jeff Who Lives at Home, a film I really disliked. I have really enjoyed the Duplass’ work in the past though and to be fair this film was written by newcomer Derek Connolly and directed by Colin Trevorrow but retains a lot of the quirky plotting, expert dialogue and unusual situations which has made some of the Duplass’ work great.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

ParaNorman


Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Road) is an eleven year old boy living in a small Massachusetts town famous for hanging a Witch three hundred years ago. Norman is unpopular at home and ridiculed at school because he believes that he can talk to ghosts. After being approached by a creepy old man about averting the ‘curse of the Witch’, Norman accidentally raises a horde of zombies from their graves before enlisting their help along with that of his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Jock Mitch (Casey Affleck) and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)in sending the Witch back to her grave.

The first of three hotly anticipated horror/comedy/stop motion kids films we’ll see in the coming weeks and coming three years after Laika’s success with Coraline, ParaNorman begins with a flourish which sets it up to be an interesting and funny family film. Unfortunately it runs out of steam after about fifty minutes when the jokes dry up and the predictable plot takes over from what had been a fun, film which takes a surprisingly candid look at death.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Wall-E

Pixar’s 2008 Wall-E is set in the distant future; at a time when the human race has left Earth due to an unmanageable build up of waste. While humanity has grown fat and lazy aboard giant space craft the last remaining Wall-E robot is busy on Earth trying to clean up the mess. Wall-E is dedicated but na├»ve. He takes pride in his work but also has a collection of interesting objects and a passion for the 1969 film Hello Dolly! That film makes him long for company. That company arrives unexpectedly one day in the form of EVE. EVE is a robot sent to earth to search for plant life, something that Wall-E has recently found on the otherwise desolate planet. Wall-E falls instantly in love with EVE and follows her into deep space in an adventure which will impact both them and the remainder of the human race.

I’ll say straight away that I love this film. It is probably my favourite Pixar film which puts it pretty high up my all time list. The animation is extraordinary. In my opinion it is up there with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for the best looking computer animated film ever. The thing that stands out most is the way the film uses focus to such great effect. Backgrounds have the look of being in the background and it gives the film great depth of field. The focus also shifts from the foreground to background to give the film an incredibly realistic feel. This realism is heightened as live action is occasionally dropped in. The characters themselves are beautifully designed and animated. Wall-E looks exactly as you’d expect a trash compacting robot to look and has some lovely little details on him. He even has little scratches which look great. EVE looks much more futuristic than Wall-E but has a beautiful design. The man behind the design of the iPad, iPod and iPhone was consulted on her design and she looks as sleek and stylish as Apple’s products (though her battery lasts longer).

As neither Wall-E nor EVE really speaks much, the animators had to make sure they were able to give their characters expression through the use of body language. They well and truly succeeded with this task and both characters have great expression. Both characters use their eyes and the position of their bodies is very important. At no time was I in any doubt as to what the emotion was that a character was trying to convey and their personalities shone through, despite their lack of dialogue. I read that Wall-E was modelled partly on Buster Keaton who despite his stoic and expressionless face could convey great emotion in the silent era. You can see a lot of Keaton (one of my all time favourite film makers) in Wall-E.

The story has two main strands. The first is a sweet and timeless love story which is very charming. The second part of the story turns the camera on the audience and looks at the lifestyle of the West in the early part of the 21st century. It shows us a glimpse as to where we could be heading. There is only one giant corporation and people have become completely reliant on technology. They have also become so fat and lazy that they can no longer walk. The idea that we don’t appreciate what is around us is also hinted at. These themes fall into line with a lot of the messages from modern day ‘family films’ and can be considered a warning to us all. As well as the traditional Hollywood ‘left wing message’, there are also quite a lot of subtle Biblical messages in the film. EVE could be considered as a partner for the lonely Wall-E (Adam) and her guiding of the Axiom towards Earth has some parallels with the end of the Noah myth, I mean ‘story’. The corporation ‘BnL’ could also be seen as a sort of false prophet.

The whole film is incredibly sweet. It is lovely that all Wall-E wants from EVE is to hold her hand and it is touching to watch him attempt to do so. It almost bought a tear to my eye the first time I watched as Wall-E protected EVE from a storm while on Earth and the scene in which the two dance in space is one of the most magical I’ve seen. As well as being a lovely part of the story, it is also the best animated part and at times one of the funniest.


Wall-E is not the funniest of Pixar’s films but still has its funny moments. The character of a robot that follows Wall-E around, cleaning his track marks is very funny and with all Pixar films there are funny lines and incidents dotted throughout. The addition of the broken robots also created some laughs. It might not be Pixar’s funniest but I think that, with the possible exception of Toy Story 3 it is their most emotional and most endearing film to date. Your heart aches when Wall-E thinks he has lost EVE and again when the opposite is believed to be the case. It is testament to the strength of those two character’s love for one another that the fate of humanity plays second fiddle to their story. Wall-E is an absolutely fantastic film which is too good to be just considered as a children’s film. I believe that an adult would get more out of it than a child. It is touching, funny and sweet. And I love it.

10/10