Monday, August 10, 2009

The New Saturday Morning Cartoon

Getting old sucks. It becomes a lot more “I’m too tired” and less “oh cool, sounds fun!” Getting old sucks. Slowly going from “I think I did something to my back” to just “Hold on, my backs f*d” – and I’m only 26! But the main reason getting old sucks is because my Saturday mornings are a lot more “Beverly Hills: 90210” reruns and HGTV instead of "X-Men" or "Woody Woodpecker"…hell, I even used to get down with "Eek! The Cat".
I miss my cartoons. Nothing beat getting up early, grabbing some Kix – kid tested, mother approved – and watching my favorite characters on television. But now what? I can’t get into any of today’s cartoons. There’s either a seizure or a restraining order waiting for me on the other end of that half hour. So what do I do when I want my animated fix?
That’s why I’m going to rundown the top 5 animated movies for adults. So many people are quick to dismiss animated films as if they cannot be serious. But that is not the case. In fact, many animated films are very serious and use animation as the vehicle to visually present many complex ideas, theories and concepts. From science fiction to documentaries, animation allows the filmmaker to express the otherwise imperceiveable. This list will definitely need to be expanded as I have not even tapped the great keg of animated feature films, but of the many I have seen here are 5 that you probably have missed, but should see (in chronological order)…

5. Ghost in the Shell, 1995 Japan (not subtitled) - This is a beautiful film that is enjoyable and captivating for the entirety of its 82minute runtime. I will say that the voice talent is absolutely terrible. I wish I could blame it on good acting that was trying to capture the mechanical qualities of some of its characters, but honestly it’s just bad. However, that can’t be held against the movie since I watched the American version and this is originally a Japanese flick. A lot of The Matrix elements could be said to be taken from this film. I say watch and decide for yourself. Either way, I’m sure you will appreciate both films for their own originality and visual lure.

4. Waking Life, 2001 USA – As I’ve mentioned, animation is no longer just a child’s medium. Some films on this list prove that with violence and presentation of futuristic landscapes and technologies. Waking Life, however, focuses on the cerebral, the surreal, and the subconscious. This film utilizes rotoscoping which is the process of filming a live action movie and animating over it. If you’ve seen the Charles Schwab “talk to chuck” commercials you know what I’m talking about. However, this film was done well before that art was perfected so excuse the “jumpiness” and enjoy the journey!

3. Renaissance, 2006 France (not subtitled)
Another visually striking film, Renaissance is mostly in black and white. This plot is a little convoluted at times, but at least the voice talents are superb, and the aesthetics will hold you long enough while you sort out the story. The English version features Daniel Craig as Paris police captain, Karas.

2. A Scanner Darkly, 2006 USA
– This is an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel by the same name. If you’ve ever read a PKD novel or enjoyed any movies inspired by his novels (Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner) I say you give this one a shot. It will not please everyone; I’m a huge PKD fan and I wasn’t sure what to make of this movie the first time through. But it is visually stunning and presents us with a much more dismal future than we’re used to in other futuristic animated films. The cast is also an added bonus: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harreslon, and Wynona Ryder.

1. Waltz with Bashir, 2008 Israel (subtitled)
The music and scenery are absolutely breathtaking. Visually this is an absolutely beautiful film which serves it well because you are safely held at a distance from the atrocities of war while the director ventures into a world of memory and the abstract. I will say that I do not know the history of the Lebanon war too well, but this movie did seem to be a little one-sided. Being a personal documentary, I’m not sure we can fault the filmmaker for this. This film was the first animated film to be nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award and after watching it I am confident you will understand why.

I hope you check out all or at least some of these. In the meantime be sure to check out this upcoming filmmaker, Ben Levin. He is totally hilarious and his Election Time PSAs are hilarious regardless of your political affiliation.

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