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Archive for the ‘films’ Category

This is a short film being shown at the Toronto Worldwide Short Film Festival this year. The film doesn’t really have a plot line; it’s more a visual piece that allows the audience to briefly follow a spring fairy as he wakes up nature after the end of winter. On the webpage provided below, it is stated that this film is a tribute to nature and is symbolic of the awakening of spring. It’s a whimsical little film and is very short. If you like it, be sure to check out the creators’ other films, which are posted on both the link below and on the Vimeo profile.

Here is the website http://www.inkymind.com/work.html#

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This is a cute little musical short by Merrie Melodies about a couple of mermaids who find a sunken treasure ship. The two play a little, the boy doing a little Charlie Chaplin imitation, when all of a sudden an octopus kidnaps the girl and the boy must go save her! A lot of the time the mermaids walk on their fins as if they were feet rather than swim. It’s a fun little cartoon.

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As you can guess from the title, this movie is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet… with gnomes. Going into this movie I quite honestly had very low expectations. As they stated in the movie itself, more than once, this is an old story that has been retold many times. However, though it took maybe half of the film for the story to engage me, it ended on a good note and I didn’t regret watching it.

The story takes place in the garden of a semi-detached house. The owners, last names Montague and Capulet of course, are a middle-aged to elderly pair or neighbours who loathe each other and toss insults at the other on site. Both neighbours have gardens and their garden ornaments seem to have adopted the feuding nature of their owners. One side is decorated in blue and the other in red. They either try to out-do their enemies by creating a better garden than their opponents, or more destructively, try to sabotage their enemy’s garden. On the night of one such sabotaging raid, Juliet sneaks out of her garden because she sees a beautiful flower that will make their garden superior. In samurai style, she disguises herself in a black sock (and has a fishing pole she holds like a katana) and proceeds to leap and run along the alley fences toward her goal. Gnomeo, escaping from a failed raid, sees  dark figure and intrigued, follows it to its unknown destination. He sees the flower also and as the two of the grab for it at the same time, their eyes lock and they are stunned by their attraction to each other (both in disguise). After a little flirtation stealing of the flower from one another, they fall into some water and their identities are revealed. And there continues the story of their deciding to meet secretly despite clan differences and the problems that arise. Will they ever be happy?!?!

Though the movie on the whole wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t overly clichéd either, which was refreshing. There were one or two side stories that varied the forbidden love theme to keep the viewer guessing. However it wasn’t at all a complex story line. An interesting little twist they did stick into the story however was a small chat Gnomeo has with a statue of Shakespeare. The Shakespeare statue listens to Gnomeo’s situation and says that he’s heard a story like it before, and that it ended in the lovers dying. Gnomeo then goes off to prevent this from happening to him. Elton John had a hand in the soundtrack so it’s pretty decent.

Overall, a nice movie if you want to introduce Shakespeare to children who don’t read, but not a classic.

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Legend (1985)

This film is about a dark lord who wants to destroy all that is good in the world and take over it, so sends his minions to kill the only thing that could stand in his way, the personification of light and purity, which happens to be unicorns. At the same time, a princess named Lily and a feral child named Jack meet up in the forest. They’re in love and Jack decides to show Lily the unicorns as a present of sorts, and the dark lord’s minions follow them in the shadows. When they meet the unicorns the goblins shoot a dart into one of the unicorns, scaring them away, and then steals the male’s horn. The female unicorn and princess Lily are also eventually captured and taken to the dark lord’s lair, and at this point it is up to Jack and the forest faeries to save the unicorns and the princess.

I only heard about this movie a couple of months ago and after I watched it, I wondered why. It’s on the same level as The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story, but I suppose it wasn’t a book first. I was kind of skeptical when I first picked it up because Tom cruise is Jack. He was never one of my favourite actors, and he I wouldn’t peg him as being able to pull off a fantasy film… but he’s actually pretty good. Also, Tim Curry is the Dark Lord. Enough said.

I suppose the thing that would turn most people off about the movie would be the fact that there are unicorns in the movie, and I guess I can understand why that may put some people off. It’s very rare that you’ll find a serious, adult movie with a unicorn in it. Unicorns are almost synonymous with little girls and tea parties, and any attempts at showing their heroism or prowess are often side-lined, if at all existent, at least in pop culture. I promise you though, you will not think that this is a movie for children and may even find that you have a soft spot for our horned friends, not that they have a lot of screen time. In addition to a non-childish representation of unicorns, I also enjoyed the other faeries in the movie. As is so often stressed in faerie lore, the use of riddles and a battle of wits saves Jack many a time when he’s dealing with these inhuman friends and foes. I think you have to watch the Director’s cut (or the Goldman version) though, because the other version cuts out some of that banter. Here is one of the parts where Jack faces Meg Mucklebones

One of the things I didn’t like so much was how the fall of the unicorn was sort of blamed on Lily. She went to go touch the unicorn despite Jack telling her not to, and when she touched it the goblin shot his dart. After that she was more or less blamed for goblins taking the horn. This doesn’t really sit well with me. I don’t know a lot of unicorn lore, but I know that girls are supposedly the only humans unicorns can really stand, so why would a girl touching a unicorn be a bad thing? It wasn’t her touch that cursed humanity, it was the goblins. Unless she was somehow meant to personify the dark lord and his evil, but that might be getting a little too biblical in its blame.

Something interesting about this movie is that, according to my Legend of Zelda friend, this film is the basis for the video game ‘The Legend of Zelda’. Wikipedia says that the inspiration for the game came from the creator’s “explorations as a young boy in the hillsides surrounding his childhood home in Sonobe, Japan where he ventured into forests with secluded lakes, caves, and rural villages.” I don’t know whether or not Wikipedia is right (you never do) but I do know for a fact that this exact explanation is how Miyamoto (the creator) came up with the idea for Super Mario Bros. … so maybe they’re just copy and pasting. Plus, Zelda was released in 1986 while Legend came out in ’85. You do the math.  Knowing this you’ll be able to pick out the similarities very easily, if you know anything about Zelda that is.

Here’s the trailer

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This is a short by Disney’s Silly Symphonies. The story of the water babies was written by Rev. Charles Kingsley. More info on this in a previous post here.

Enjoy.

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This is a coming of age fantasy about a boy who is fascinated with trolls, but he’s reached an age where believing in trolls has stopped being acceptable. The boy goes in search for a troll one day after his mother has told them they don’t exist. Since the book he reads about trolls says that they live under bridges, he goes in search the bridge that is hiding the troll he believes exists. Fate allows him to meet a series of adults who give him information, but all of these adults tell him that trolls do not exist. He eventually finds what he is looking for, finds that his new friends are in trouble, and has to save them.

This is a made for tv movie… and you can really tell. I have only ever seen this on the internet, but other reviewers have stated the poor quality so it’s not just me. It looks a little bit better than a home movie, but if you grew up with this I’m sure nostalgia will equip you with a pair of rose-coloured glasses. The plot sounds like a good idea, but the actual product falls short of the mark. Labyrinth does a much better job at conveying this story line, but if you are willing to overlook the poor production and the cheesy story line you will find an acceptable family film.

The whole thing is currently cut up on youtube

And here is the IMDB page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086996/

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The Secret of Kells (2009)

This is the story of a young boy named Brendan who lives with him uncle who is the head of the monastery, Kells. They are living in a time where invaders are pillaging and killing small villages and Brendan’s uncle is obsessed with building a wall he thinks will keep them out. He has forbidden Brendan from ever travelling outside of the walls. Then another monk, brother Aiden, comes to Kells and he is the holder of a book that has the most amazing illuminations in it. The book is supposed to change with life of anyone who reads it, but it isn’t finished yet. Brendan’s uncle has also forbade Brendan and the other monks from doing any illumination because he wanted everyone to be as consumed with the building of the wall as he was. When brother Aiden came however, he inspired Brendan to want to see his illuminations. Aiden sent Brendan into the forest to find berries he needed to make ink, and he went. This was Brendan’s first rebellions against his uncle and he was very nervous and got lost in the forest. There he meets a wolf who turns into a girl, named Ashley. She’s a fairy and befriends and helps Brendan. On the way back to the monastery they come across an evil presence which we deal with later. So Brendan studies illumination under the tutelage of Aiden and things are progressing quite well until Aiden realized he lost a glass that helps him do the most intricate work, and the name of the glass shares the name of  the evil presence Brendan and Ashley passed in the forest. So Brendan takes it upon himself to fight this beast for the sake of the book that will change the world.

This film is a visual masterpiece. Everything is geometrical. At first glance the animation looks juvenile and simple, but the scenes are so well laid out and intricate. The characters are very geometrical in nature, and when they run in a group they form a single shape. The cracks or shapes in between objects or objects themselves are all patterned.

One flaw I found in the film was that the monks were all of different nationalities and the portrayal of their different nationalities was really racist, almost offensively so. They weren’t a large part of the film though, so it didn’t bother me as much as they would have if they’d played a larger role.

http://www.newvideo.com/secretofkells/

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