2nd Animation Hall of Fame


Your Name

This is just a beautiful film. It's not very original and there are some boring moments, but it ends with such beauty and autumnal wisdom that I couldn't help loving it. The whole premise is pretty cool, of some magical occurrence causing two different people to switch... It makes for a great movie that mostly keeps you on the edge of your seat. The dialogue was pretty good, especially for an anime movie (of what I've seen they are generally more visual-based), and both main characters were great and relatable. I read afterwards that the director was actually unsatisfied with Your Name, he thought he could have done a lot more with it... I personally don't agree I loved it.

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

The Adventures of Prince Achmed/Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926)
Directed By: Lotte Reiniger

As the oldest surviving animated feature-length film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is an important part of film history. Familiar tales from “Arabian Nights” provide the basis of the story, which features the titular Prince Achmed as a central character to tie the different segments together. While the title cards do provide context, the film's visuals are able to convey enough on their own that the general plot can easily be surmised without them.

The cut-outs used by Reiniger are incredibly detailed, and it must have been a painstaking process to ensure that everything was in its correct place for each shot. The film apparently took three years to complete, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it had taken longer. Though it looks quite simple, the animation is incredibly creative. Added materials like sand and wax help create special effects when necessary, and certain segments feature an impressive illusion of depth, though many of these backgrounds are now faded or barely visible.

With a fairly short runtime, Prince Achmed is an easy watch for fans of fairy-tales and fantasy. Wolfgang Zeller's score works incredibly well to set the tone of each scene, so I appreciate that it has been preserved over the years. There's not much else to say, since I can't exactly comment on the performances of cardboard silhouettes and sheets of lead, though I was tempted to credit them in the “starring” line I typically include under the director. While I had seen large portions of this film before, this was the first time I've seen the entire thing from start to finish, so I'm glad it was nominated, otherwise I might never have gotten around to it.

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Ernest and Celestine is the charming story of a bear and mouse criminal team in France. I really enjoyed the art style of this film which went for a more hand drawn look than the CGI look of most modern animated style. The film also had a very pleasant score that lulled me into a sense of happiness.

The only knock I would have with the film is I didn't feel like Ernest was flushed out enough as a character. The story was whimsical but some of the humor early on didn't work. I didn't really laugh until the scenes during the trial and that's a bit of an issue for a "comedy".

Spirited Away is a beautiful fantasy film about a girl who ends up in this lost world of monsters and magic. This film is a pure masterpiece so many of the early scenes are just wonderfully constructed. If the film has a flaw it's that the first half of the film is near perfect but it meanders and doesn't really have a place to go after a while. It's a film that loves it's world building but it doesn't necessarily have a place to go after the introductions. I was a big fan when we got blood during one scene with the dragon but sadly the story went with the blob portion which has become slightly cliche in my eyes.

The Wind in the Willows is well just weird, I'm not even sure what to say after watching this, I'm not even sure I understand what I saw which I suppose is a testament to this Hall of Fame and all the weird choices. The anamorphic animals have distinct personalities and very distinct humor...this is almost to British for me. But I enjoyed the claymation and the little songs even though I feel like I'm going to forget 90% of this movie a week from now it was a pleasant evening for me.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Cowboy Bebop; The Movie aka Knocking on Heaven's Door

Are you living in the Real World?

I have always been and continue to be a fan of the Cowboy Bebop Series of 26 episodes and this lil gem of a film is set between episodes 22 and 23. Created soon after the finale of the final episode for the ever growing fan base of this jazz fusion anime that mixes westerns, sci-fi, action and moments of comedy.
The artwork is extraordinary, using extreme angles and -- while it appears so, especially in the opening credit sequence, there is NO rotoscoping what so ever in this film. Which is just incredible.

Much like the music that accompanies it (beautifully) it is a stylish action-oriented film where our leading crew of Bounty Hunters search out a chemical terrorist set on unleashing a virus on the world. As with the series, there is more going on than a simple plot and at times there is a philosophical query hidden beneath it all.

Fast paced, funny, with incredible action sequences, great music and detailed artwork, it is a top favorite anime that I always return to.

They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran

Tower (2016) is an important film as I've grown older I've seen the independent film market sour and turn frankly one note. Original inspired independent films are harder and harder to find as they often feel very much the same.

Tower is the story of the first shooting, rather than focus and glorify the killer it tells the stories of the victims, it's heart-wrenching and harrowing. The film animates the stories of the survivors using rotoscoping which gives it a more distinct adult look. The film's epilogue is mostly told of the survivors who are still with us 50 years later.

As for the issue of did this story need to be animated...yes I think unequivocally the film needed to be animated. You aren't using an actor to convey the heroism or victim-hood of these people but rather their own words, I think it makes it more real and important to do it this way. I don't want to see Tom Cruise running up a flight of stairs and fighting with Whitman in some weird choreographed fight scene the way the scene is shot is more powerful and leaves a better impact.

Meet the Robinsons

I had this pegged as my least favorite Disney film after first watch and after seeing it again, it will remain there. For this to be Disney's worst for me is certainly a testament to how strong their films are, but for me I just don't care for the characters in this one. Also usually the Disney humor is good for me but the humor here stayed rather stale for me.

It's strongest point was the future world building, but even that wasn't necessarily spectacular. The animation is decent as it is with pretty much every Disney film. It's ending was somewhat touching. There's not really much else to say about it because nothing stands out for me. Sorry.

Ernest and Celestine

Wow, what a gorgeous little film! I would never have watched it had it not been nominated, thanks @Miss Vicky. I liked both Ernest and Celestine as characters, and their relationship was just adorable. The animation was to die for, it had a beautiful watercolor palette that looked right out of a carefully drawn children's book (and I read later that this is based on a children's book series). The plot was surprisingly well fleshed out as well, although I don't think that was the main strength of this movie. It's strength is in the subtle moments between mouse and bear, relaxing or talking in Ernest's cottage, living a quiet and beautiful life... this is a world I would want to live in.

Lists and Projects

Spirited Away
(Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)

This is my fourth or fifth time watching Spirited Away. While it is visually beautiful to look at and I’ve enjoyed each viewing, it still remains one of my least favorite Miyazaki films.

I have a hard time connecting with any of the characters because it never seems to get as deep into their personality as I’d like. I also have a difficult time connecting with the story because it has a bit too much going on for me to fully engage with it. The few things that do stand out for me are specific scenes like meeting Kamajī in the boiler room and Chihiro helping the soot sprites and bathing the stink spirit.

I like the themes of nature and spirits, environmentalism, coming-of-age and love but I don’t think those themes are explored as well as in other Miyazaki films like Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle or Kiki’s Delivery Service.

I did like the voices chosen for the English version, specifically James Marsden for Haku, but I know that’s because he also voiced Max from A Goofy Movie and that is still one of my favorite Disney films- which brings me to my confusion for all the critical acclaim this movie gets, Spirited Away just reminds me of all the other Miyzaki films I like more.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
If anybody wants to hook me up with a link for Your Name and Ernest and Celestine I would appreciate it
sent one for Your Name, which is subbed, haven't found one that was dubbed.

Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Directed By: Stephen Anderson
Starring: Jordan Fry, Wesley Singerman, Steve Anderson

I was a little surprised at how the opening scenes in Meet the Robinsons don't shy away from showing the struggles some kids may face in orphanages, with Luis not being being the right child for any of the adopting couples. Throughout the course of the story we continue to see how mistakes or perceived failures can have a negative impact on someone or cause them to hesitate to try again, which is something I think both children and adults can relate to. So the film's message of not allowing these set backs to keep you down is an important lesson to convey.

I'm not a fan of fully CG animation, so the visual style doesn't appeal to me. Some of the character designs were interesting, but as a whole I didn't like the aesthetic. It didn't bother me so much at the start of the film, but once the plot jumps ahead in time, I found it off-putting. The scene where we actually meet the Robinson family was easily the worst part of the film for me. Too much happens too quickly, and the whole thing becomes so nonsensical it feels like it was aimed at a significantly younger audience than the rest of the story would suggest. I wasn't exactly engaged before this point, so this change in pace completely threw me off and I was never able to get back on board.

On a positive side, the performances were really great across the board, and none of the characters were overly irritating. I definitely appreciated the complete lack of musical numbers, though the film's attempts at humour failed to amuse me. I didn't even smile once during the runtime, let alone laugh. I'm clearly not part of the intended audience for the film, so I didn't expect it to cater to my tastes, and I'm not disappointed that it didn't do much for me. It was actually better than I was anticipating, and I appreciate the positive message the film expresses, but it's not something I'd consider watching again.

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The Sword in the Stone

There wen't any real bad moments in this movie, but nothing stood out - kind of like Meet the Robinsons, except at least with Meet the Robinsons there were some likeable characters. What I ended up not being impressed with The Sword in the Stone about was the fact that there was no clear plot or goal of the protagonist. Sure, he's looking to improve himself, but essentially half or more of the movie involves Merlin going to do different activities with him (turning him into a fish, squirrrel, etc.) to teach him about life. So I think this movie would have worked better as a collection of shorts, each a little tale in themselves. There wouldn't be as many structural problems, and it could come together near the end quite nicely. Everything with Madam Mim I loved though! What a wacky character, I wish we could have seen more of her. The rest was just... meh, as I said.

Ernest et Célestine (2012)
Directed By: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
Starring: Pauline Brunner, Lambert Wilson, Anne-Marie Loop

Ernest et Célestine is a charming story about friendship overcoming prejudice and one's social standing, which encourages its audience to follow their hearts despite what society expects of them. The tale is told in a simple yet effective manner that allows it to be understood by younger viewers, while remaining accessible to adults. It feels very sincere, which is something that seems to be missing from too many films aimed at a similar audience.

The animation is absolutely gorgeous. The use of watercolours, empty space, and occasionally incomplete backgrounds makes each frame look like an actual illustration ripped straight out of a classic children's book. The lines, especially the ones that comprise the outlines of characters, aren't always perfectly neat, but that makes it seem like an authentic work in progress - as though the film is being drawn for you as you're watching it. The style definitely suits the story being told, especially given the film's ending.

During this rewatch, I still had issues engaging with Ernest et Célestine at times. Ernest's introduction, and his next scene singing in the square are just so abrasive, that it takes too long to warm up to him afterwards. The film is basically over by that time. I did still enjoy the climax in the courthouses, and the final scene is quite sweet to watch. I'd say I liked it a little more than I did before, but overall I have a similar impression of the film.

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Ernest's introduction, and his next scene singing in the square are just so abrasive, that it takes too long to warm up to him afterwards.
I find it endearing.

I'd say I liked it a little more than I did before, but overall I have a similar impression of the film.
I'll call it a victory anyway.

Looking forward to Ernest et Celestine. I'm waiting for it at my library so I can watch it in it's original French.
I like the English dub better, but it's up to you which one you watch.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

Spirited Away

Aogaeru: Welcome the rich man, he's hard for you to miss. His butt keeps getting bigger, so there's plenty there to kiss!

While I try to watch films in their original language I came across this dubbed version which I was rather happy about. Since Chihiro was voiced by Daveigh Chase who had done Lilo in Lilo and Stitch was ideal for voicing her. Along with Susan Pleshette doing both Yubaba and Zeniba.

I have yet to see all of Hayao Miyazaki's films and while I've always loved the artwork in them, I do kinda meander off, attention wise. Not with this one. I vaguely remember seeing this in movie theater that specialized in arthouse films when this came out. So, this was very much like a first time view and I enjoyed Chihiro's character from the first moment I saw her glumly looking out the car window as they passed her new school and she stuck her tongue out at it. And enjoyed her throughout. Some of that was bias since I absolutely love Lilo, making me easily love Chihiro before I came to care about her on her own merit.

This is a film about loneliness, consumption, and the attempt to fill one's emptiness by consumption. All of which is beautifully expressed using the usual fantastical cosmos that Miyazaki is so skilled at rendering. Something I always seem to get more caught up in than the "meaning" and heart lessons that Miyazaki teaches within his films. Which seem to register after the film is complete and my heart informs my brain what my eyes have been experiencing and the whys within the beautiful imagery.

So, yes, very much enjoyed that.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I like the English dub better, but it's up to you which one you watch.
Well, I just may have to watch both then. Especially with Forest Whitaker voicing Ernest which is too tempting NOT to check out.

Besides enjoying things in their original language, I've been learning French this past year so there's that excitement of watching/listening to see how much I understand.