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The Lost Thing (2010)
A masterpiece found: "The Lost Thing"
The lost thing rises as a breath of fresh air against an ever rising tide of wise cracking or sickly cute fur balls and violent comic animation fueled by the American market. At around 15 minutes in length "The lost thing" had a production time line sprawled over nearly ten years with the bulk of work done over three years. The required creative control in adapting and complementing a very popular book have clearly been kept in check buy the directorial hand of the original illustrator and author Shaun Tan and very small production team principally Leo Baker, the main animator and computer graphics artist Tom Bryant.
It is a simple story which reflects on human natures diminishing observation and appreciation of a world out side the day to day pathway we are all forced to travel by both greater authority and selfish ambition. Childlike observations laced with surrealistic circumstance create the distinctly dream like world of "The Lost Thing"
"The lost thing" is short but so visually rich with Shaun Tans remarkable eye for detail it feels complete and invites repeated viewing. If your a little over street wise dudes with stand up comic sarcasm, over blown CGI action coupled with misfiring plots take a medicinal shot of "The Lost Thing". You can not go wrong.
Finally, a children's film that is worth seeing.
Out of the hundreds of films and shows my four year old daughter has seen there are very few that I would confidently recommend as perfect for a little girl. "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" is one of these. Totally inoffensive and absolutely stunning production qualities make this one of the most pleasant films I have seen for children for many, many years. I am totally lost why this little visual masterpiece has had such little promotion. I recently saw a mother take a group of little girls to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonder land and it was disturbing to see so many of them upset by the film. How was the mother to know that this PG rated version of a traditional children's story was going to be that far off the mark for the girls to enjoy.
Maybe the title "Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" makes it sound a little trite and lame but the actual film is totally beguiling and charming.
World Safari (1977)
Fantastic journey lost to time
Not a comment or message in site, but back in the late 70's this no budget randomly planned adventure odyssey that straddled most of the globe captured the attention of an entire nation. Alby Mangels was shot to a celebrity status and was in the public eye for the next decade or so.
"World Safari The Adventure of a Lifetime Volume 01", was a magic blend of naive film making and accessibility mixed with just the right amount of corny humour to push it outside the typical travel log funded by some faceless educational body.
Memorable moments are a stop on the deserted Palmyra Atoll where the ghostly remains of a once massive WWII American military base are fossiced though and salvaged. With remarkable resourcefulness, engines and vehicles are brought back to life and actually used as transport during a stay on the island that lasted for months.
Then there was the endearing feather weight DAF panel van with a rubber band drive train that seemed to be unstoppable in the face of some of the roughest and dangerous parts that Africa had on offer.
His numerous escapades and television shows to follow where ultimately pale echos of this first documentary and public interest wained. The Alby Mangels/World Safari myth dissolved away with disputed claims of animal cruelty, deceptive documentary making and law suites.
Regardless, The drama and story of World safari is as engaging today as when first released and it may be fair to say that such a journey could never be made again. In all of human history there appears to be only a small window of time where travelling the globe was relatively easy for average man. This window opened after the industrial boom following WWII in the late fifty's where appropriate, affordable traveling infrastructure was in place and there was enough political stability to cross international boundaries with a minimum of fuss. The window began closing in the eighties with the height of the cold war combined with the escalating cost and red tape of traveling. Aggravating the mix further is an ever tightening of security due to illegal trades and growing international terrorism. While globalisation and high speed communication is making the world smaller everday, physically getting around it appears to be getting harder to do. The World Safari journey, like other journeys of the period, appears to be a product of its time, the significant thing about Alby Mangel's adventure was a decision to film and record it.
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's "long way round" travel series gives a very good insite into the vast logistics and cost of conducting what was was ultimately a much simpler journey in contemporary times.
World Safari's low budget charm is possibly also it's curse, the production qualities and obvious post synchronization make this film from the late 70's film look like its from the 1950's. This may have damaged the chances of it ever being broadcast widely, and appreciated, again.
Walk the Talk (2000)
Shirley Barrett has a way of hooking into personality quirks and waving them about shamelessly on a silver screen to brilliant effect. Walk the talk is no exception. Consistently amusing and occasionally, absolutely hilarious. The "dinomyte, sorry, "dynamite" scene has to be one of the most beautifully setup, laugh out loud hilarious sequences I have seen in many years. Walk the talk is ultimately an insightful and oddly sensitive look at the ground dwellers of the entertainment industry, people desperate and aching for that big break but are doomed to mediocrity.
Maybe because Salvatore Coco's character, the affectionately annoying Joey Grasso was so strong and omnipresent throughout the story that it made the experience less rich than Shirley Barrett's first feature 'Love Serenade', but Walk the Talk is well worth seeing and has the director's signature plot diversions and observations that make it art.
And hey, for those of you that have seen it, Joey Grasso has not given up yet- www.nikkibennett.com :)
7 out of 10
One Got Fat (1963)
We're not in Kansas anymore Toto
We're not in Kansas anymore Toto An early 60's documentary on bicycle road safety. This god forsaken nightmare has me reeling, There is no were to grasp, no safety nets. What is happening here? Trigby Phipps? Mossby Pomegranate? I can't help but feel an occasional undertone of apocalyptic human devastation manifest throughout the narrative, a hidden message about our doomed civilization. You may need some heavy duty counseling after sitting through this. ... a sensation. Dam! I need three more lines so that the IMDb accepts this review and I don't know what to write. Maybe if I just rattle on for just a few more words than that should just about be all the lines I need then I can have a hot chocolate and go to bed. There, all done :)
This old girl has not aged well at all.
Beautifully drawn but Clunky, economical animation and an abysmal home made soundtrack, Its most damming mistake was to almost completely ignore the subtle and endearing humor of the original comic strip. The story was at its best when it was more true to its origins. There was just way to much noise,action, fight and chase sequences. Not to mention the most annoying helicopter ever animated. Another sore note is the under use of Dave Dobins "Slice of heaven". A missed opportunity considering what a great song it is.
In context and at the time it was released it was popular and its seemed New Zealand was saying to the rest of the world, "watch this space" 3/10
Finding Joy (2002)
Charming but naive film making.
I felt a bit uncomfortable to start with, it felt like a home movie or student film, but it eventually found its mark and delivered heart and soul in buckets. The cast assembled are, aging, imperfect but ultimately endearing as they fall through lives that echo reality unlike the superficial garb spewed out of Hollywood everyday.
A lot of color and texture in this film giving it a rich feel that is further enhanced by a tasteful blend of folk and contemporary music. The intangible, loving relationship humans can have with dogs is wonderfully explored here. Whilst the human relationships in the film are pitted with conflicts and upheavals, Raffi the blue healer cross is always a faithful companion to who ever needs him. A great tribute to the unconditional love measured out by dogs and illustrates how they can shape and influence human lives.
See this film, it does make mistakes and feels a little off key at times but the bigger picture is a very charming one that will stay with you. 8/10
Slowly draws you in, then pays out.
You need some patients to appreciate the masterful little film. Its stage play heritage has it heavy in dialogue and connecting with all of the characters in the early stages of the film is important. It is in fact the key to understanding why this film was made as we will soon witness how our new acquaintances hold or fold under a relentless physiological assault measured out by an unpredictable nemesis.
The start of film is bruding rather than slow, however when the menacing 'Teddy' joins the others that have come to be together in a lonely diner the naked humanity of all is brutally exposed as Teddy systematically terrorizes them all with condescending mind games and humiliation. The surreal climax and resolution package a very watchable film. If nothing else Marjoe Gortner's applied and brilliant portrayal of 'Teddy' is a must see for anyone interested in strong character studies.
A classic piece of much overlooked American cinema.
Panic Room (2002)
High grade effluent
The most interesting thing about this film is watching its production values decay. It starts off well enough with some classy acting and clever cinematics, however about quarter way into this film it comes apart, its obvious no one cares anymore about this film and the whole apparatus nose dives into mindless cliches and overacting. Where are those classy cinematic now? The parallels with "home alone' are just to numerous for this waste of time to be described as suspenseful. Jodie Foster should not have stooped this low (literally). Personally I hoped the gas burn would take out the bad guys, the mum, the girl as well as the production crew to stop them making making this stupefying film.
The Majestic (2001)
Overly long try hard movie
After a clever opening scene the film unfortunately becomes mockery of itself.It lacks believability and substance to be taken seriously and is to pinned down with reality to be a light hearted tale. The film is vexed with such a catalogue of absurdities and hollywoodisms that it becomes easy to disconnect fairly early in the film, it however goes on and on and the protracted courtroom farce becomes a punishing grind. I really felt let down by this film, the trailer looked so promising.