Bluntly, Inside Out is not a good film because it explores the inner regions of a child’s mind, nor is this a particularly novel concept. The girders of the screenplay strip parts from many films that rest on the subject of literalizing human emotion.. Winnie the Pooh, in all its facets, including the seminal duo of feature films by Pixar’s parent company, Disney, is implicitly about childhood emotions let loose in the forest of the mind. Eeyore is melancholy, Tigger is a deranged enthusiast and childhood id, Pooh is the curiosity balancing them all on a pin head. The Hundred Acre Wood is Christopher Robin’s free-floating mental space, scratchily drawn with free-floating ambition and tapered-off regions where the harsh scrawl fades into watercolor lightness to symbolize Robin’s emotions eventually trailing off into the great unknown limbo of pure empty whiteness. Continue reading
If Ratatouille suffers in any meaningful way, it is simply because it does not redefine the possibilities of cinema like its immediate successor Wall-E, a contender for film of its decade and one of the two greatest American animated films since the original Disney Golden Age (yes, the original Golden Age, the one that ended in roughly 1942 and saw Disney fundamentally reorganize the state of film no less than four times). That aside, it is an impeccable work, and although I suspect the if is more definitive, that is damning as enormous, transcendental praise.
Brad Bird came to Ratatouille with two films under his belt, the incomparably underrated tribute to ’50s genre cinema The Iron Giant and the morally questionable but zippy and whiplash recreation of American comic book history The Incredibles (if I felt Bird was some sort of radical, subversive genius, I might claim this film a mockery of the rampant elitism and individualist bootstraps twaddle inherent in Superhero lore; they don’t call it America’s Modern Mythos for no reason). Yet, while Brad is not looking to stoke the flames of film technique to redraw the lines of the form, or to indict that which he invests time in to with the fury of a New Wave auteur, what he is absolutely interested in, capable of, and brilliant at, is having fun with classical cinema given to new airs. With Ratatouille, he channels his talents into classical Hollywood fluff and has a grin on his face so big it’s ready to jump of and kiss the audience while he’s doing it. Continue reading
In a nearly dialogue-free sequence blanketed together by long-shots that cut only when absolutely necessary, capturing feeling and physical space with stunning, sparing clarity, we learn just about everything we could possibly need to know about the state of Wall-E‘s world with an awe-inducing elegance that casts its gaze on inspired little moments of action and (mostly) inaction. We are also treated to the finest cinematic homage to bright, feeling, humanist silent cinema snark this side of …well, the heyday of silent cinema. While Pixar’s follow-up film, Up, pulled out all the stops for a life (or two) in a minute, Wall-E is wonderfully content to just chill and explore its world a little in the most wonderfully non-narrative fashion, invested less in “arc” than in the little visual moments that define character. The opening scenes of the film are, quite literally, just a slice-of-life drama, except there’s nothing alive to be found. There’s just a robot, and his name is Wall-E.