Goodbye 2013. And good riddance.

Last year brought death, cancer, car accidents, and so much more to me, my family, and my friends. I know far too many people for which 2013 was an unusually unlucky banner year. I want to make the comment that things can’t be worse in 2014, but I know that’s false logic. Things can always get worse; I just choose to believe they won’t and will instead get better.

So 2014 brings new hope for a better year.  Wishing you all happiness and improvements in the New Year. See you in 2014!

Let’s Go to the Movies – Oscar Animated Shorts

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In anticipation of the Oscars this Sunday, I’ve been trying to see some of the films up for the industry’s biggest prize.  I love going to the movies, but I’ve been very remiss over the past year. So much so that many of the movies I was extremely excited about to see opening weekend didn’t even get watched until they were released on DVD (Frankenweenie).  For others, it took me several months (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and/or a discount theater (Wreck-It Ralph) to catch them.  I’m hoping I will be better this year – after all this is a big summer for the genre movies I really enjoy. (Typically, summer is for the fun movies and winter is for the award caliber movies – but I’ll save the argument/rant/debate for that and the constant snub of genre movies for another time).

The Oscars are on Sunday, and I want to be one of the many people sharing their opinions on nominated films.  I’m going to start with the Shorts, both Live Action and Animated (sadly, I never saw the short documentaries).  For only $10, I got to see all the 2013 nominated Live Action and Animated shorts (plus a few other honorable animated shorts). It was a bargain. And their was some great film-making exhibited.

If I were a voting Academy member, I’d vote for Paperman. Have you seen any of the animated shorts? What are your thoughts?

Paperman

Paperman ImageI had watched Paperman at least five times prior to seeing the Oscar Shorts presentation. Even so, it does not fail to illicit emotion from me (Yes, I cry. Every time!).  The unique look and feel of the film (combining the hand-drawn animation in a CG environment) and the story are just so beautiful.  I love the one spark of color from the woman’s lipstick. I love the soundtrack. I love the paper airplanes. Watch it and see for yourself! This is my favorite and the one I hope wins the Oscar.

Head Over Heels

image from Head Over HeelsThis is a Claymation short that is the one of the five most likely to be in competition with Paperman for the top prize.  It’s a very cute little tale about a couple that has some issues with gravity.  It’s clever and cute and the perfect length to convey all that it needs to convey.  In some ways, it is a great example of the importance of communicating and how love requires work and gestures – grand and small.

You can watch this short at Filmo Filia here.

The Longest Daycare

image from The SImpsons: The Longest DaycareThis a short which was shown before Ice Age (Continental Drift?) in theaters.  It’s a Simpson’s related short, but it is focused on Maggie (Marge appears briefly at beginning and end).  I enjoy this short and I don’t regularly watch The Simpsons. It was sweet and funny and it made me gasp at one point.  My only compliant – how can Maggie be categorized as average intelligence? Though plot wise, it clearly would not have work for her to be with the prodigy children…

You can watch it for yourself via Hulu at io9 here.

Fresh Guacamole

Image from Fresh Guacamole, nominated animated shortThis was the shortest of the shorts at just around 2 minutes long.  The idea of adding real sounds to images that are familiar, but not accurate in context, to create something was intriguing. It didn’t seem as seamless to me and just felt strange. But it was very clever.  I understand the substitutions in most cases, but did anyone else know what exactly the light bulb was supposed to be? Cilantro? I think this is a long shot to win the statue.

Adam and Dog

Adam and Dog imageThis was the longest of the shorts, coming in around 20 minutes. The animation was reminiscent of Studio Ghibli at some points, if a little inconsistent in some aspects (shadows in particular). But the film was too long. I think the main ideas and story could have been conveyed in half the time.  Maybe I would have enjoyed the film more if it was shorter, but I’m not confident. Why? This is the story of Adam, the first man, and how he meets dog, man’s best friend. Their relationship is what you’d expect and it made me smile. The problem is when Eve arrives and Adam ignores and forsakes Dog for her. As a woman, I’m a little tired of seeing Eve as the cause of all Adam’s troubles.  Spoiler Alert! Granted, the dog rejoins Adam and leaves paradise with him and Eve at the end. But by then, I was just over it all.

Filmo Filia also presents this short here.

2013: Foster Creativity…

One thing that I know was majorly lacking from 2012 for me was creative endeavors. I had big plans for several things and I continued to work towards my eventual career shift, but that work was mostly on the technical side.  But, I didn’t really foster my creativity. I did one Talenthouse invite, and admittedly even that was kind of half-assed just due to the many demands on my time.

So this year, I’m making it a priority to work on creative things.  Luckily, I finally get to start taking some more artistic classes – so that should help. But, I want to do more than just my required schoolwork. For one thing, I know it makes me happier and usually provides stress relief as well.  That in of itself is a good reason to attempt more creative projects.  I’m not putting any definitions on what they can be either. Decorating cupcakes and cakes and writing blog posts are just as valid as working on paintings and drawings.

But as they say, goals and resolutions should have some specificity to ensure measurable progress.  As such, I have come up with a few specific objectives. I want to participate in at least four Talenthouse creative invites. And as of last night, I have decided on another specific, measurable creative endeavor for the year.

Philip Pullman's Fiary Tales from the Brothers Grimm book coverI received Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version from the publisher as a promotion.  As I read the introduction last night I was struck by the comment that fairy tales are composed of flat, stock characters <maybe extract a direct quote>.  Essentially, fairy tales are about telling the story and as such they lack distinct character development, descriptive passages, and defined settings.  Any descriptions that are present are very generic (deep forest, golden hair, etc.).  The stories change based on the person telling the tale.  This is what makes fairy tales so ripe for interpretation.  Recently, we have seen many new takes on fairy tales (Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Hansel and Gretel: Witchhunters, Snow White and the Huntsman  Mirror Mirror).  However, this is not a new phenomenon.  Consider the Disney interpretations over the years, Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theater, the series of Fairy Tale movies that included Puss in Boots with Christopher Walken, etc.  You need only do a search of Snow White or Sleeping Beauty on IMDB to find out how frequently fairy tales are reinterpreted.

So what is my point in all this? I’ve decided that I want to visually interpret every tale included in Pullman’s book (there are 50).  I’m not making any rules other than that I will do one a week (and my week will begin on Mondays – this should help by providing a full weekend at the end of the week to complete each piece).  This week – it’s The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich.  So, before next Monday expect to see something related to the aforementioned tale.