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No film is over 49 minutes (with the exceptions of David Lynch's "Rabbits", "My Childhood" & "My Ein Folk", and "The Smiling Madame Beudet").
Also, no feature length anthology films were included. I began making this list in early 2009. I now finished it in 2015 adding the short oscar nominations for this year. Enjoy and discuss! ---- P.S. I really like these short film lists here: http://www.imdb.com/list/bCsd0-DTUv4/ http://www.imdb.com/list/6e6x6r_kXKE/ http://www.imdb.com/list/-3JHOu65Aq8/ http://www.imdb.com/list/J-Pb12XD-As/ http://www.imdb.com/list/bDt6cQhgFus/ http://www.imdb.com/list/mYyBXbOXh6Y/ http://www.imdb.com/list/dDGV4VgYLzA/ http://www.imdb.com/list/1ihjrAh-MF0/ http://www.imdb.com/list/zrOngfdYPI4/ http://www.imdb.com/list/TftcqepYvYI/
Also check out this website - 100 Important Directors of Animated Short Films: http://alsolikelife.com/shooting/2009/08/100-important-directors-of-animated-short-films/
And don't forget about this list about 16mm Experimental films: http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/sightsandsounds/index.aspx?id=33290
Those lists are bound to have films not on my list, maybe even ones not on IMDB.
Edit: Removed 3 titles: La coiffeuse (1905), Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure (1929), and Transfer of Modulation (1969) for being in the adult category, causing this list to be filtered. This version is otheriwise the same, just republished.
Also seen but not on IMDB: Aquatic (1987) (Koji Yamamura) Petit Eva: Evangelion@School (2007-2009)
Also, you should follow this tumblr: http://animationactivist.tumblr.com/
All films were shown theatrically in one form or another.
Most films listed are available commerically.
Also included in the descriptions for some movies are links to reviews and where you can buy some of the rarer films.
Lav Diaz, has the most films on this list (nine) The runner ups are Ulrike Ottinger and Andy Warhol who tie with six each.
Here is are some articles on the films of Lav Diaz: http://theseventhart.info/2010/05/16/the-films-of-lav-diaz/
A possible future addition would be a six-hour version of The Tree of Life, although it hasn't surfaced yet, so I won't add it. I'll also include the extended Django Unchained when it's released (around 3 hours).
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Whether you're young or old, "Kubo and the Two Strings" is a wonderful stop-motion adventure for all
"Kubo and the Two Strings" is the latest film from Laika, the animation company that created stop motion films like "The Box Trolls", and "Coraline".
In ancient Japan, a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson) sings songs on the streets, and tells grand tales to passersby to make a living. He supports his sick mother (Charlize Theron), the two living in a cave by the sea.
The stories he tells of a warrior fighting the evil Moon King are more than just faerie tales, and soon Kubo has adventure thrust upon him when one day he discovers the truth about his family, and the powers he has hidden inside him.
Laika's latest work is a beautifully imagined adventure that handles its mature themes of family and loss without pandering to children. The characters are all colourfully developed; the stop motion animation and the Eastern settings being incredibly detailed.
The journey itself is fairly standard fantasy, with Kubo having to run away from his enemies while he and his followers retrieve magic relics (a suit of armor, a sword) to help defeat forces of evil. It takes a short while to gain momentum, but once it does, the story is a delight right up until the end.
The strength of "Kubo and the Two Strings" is in the way fantasy tropes are presented - each new set-piece dazzles the imagination; deserts, caves, the ocean and ruined fortresses are all vibrantly designed and given a unique character. The same is true for the inhabitants of these places, like the birds and sea creatures, or even Kubo's companions: a talking monkey and a cursed samurai who is now a beetle (played by Matthew Mcconaughey).
Good-natured humor and pathos is equally balanced in the script by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, and the direction by Travis Knight is always exciting, especially in the action scenes that were actually pretty intense for a children's film.
"Kubo" is an excellent film that will appeal to both the young and old. I hope the film does well at the box office, so that more stop motion films can be made, especially if they're of the same quality as this picture is. "Kubo" is a fine alternative to lackluster live- action films in the action genre that have lost their sense of fun, as well CGI animations that are perhaps too zany for their own good.
MORE REVIEWS AT MY BLOG: dynamitefilms.blogspot.com.au
The Little Prince (2015)
"The Little Prince" has some endearing elements, but is let down slightly by plodding scripting and a sometimes bland animation style
"The Little Prince" tells the story of a girl who lives in a well ordered, adult world. One day, she meets her neighbour, an elderly aviator whose eccentricities break from the mold of other adults around her, inspiring her imagination. He tells her the story of when he met "The Little Prince" - a boy who lived on a tiny planet, and how it changed his life. In turn, the aviator changes the girl's.
Like most people, I saw this French-Canadian animation when it was released on Netflix, but I was unfamiliar with the original story by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which is used here as a narrative device that's part of a larger, original plot.
The celebrity cast for the English dub includes Rachel McAdams and Jeff Bridges, as the girl's mother and the pilot, respectively. Both add dimension to their characters, Bridges narrating the story with a grandfatherly wisdom, and McAdams conveys the mother's stringent character - thinking of her daughter's future career success ahead of her personal happiness.
The relationship between the girl and the pilot was nicely developed and has some sweet moments, though I felt that the story he was telling to the girl seemed a bit removed from the main plot, and the lessons about foxes and roses seemed a little vague in context of the rest of the story. These elements do come into play in the second half when the lines between the two narratives blur, but the differences in animation (the expressive, painterly effects of the Prince story, and the more tactile look of the rest of the film) was distracting, as were the voice acting cameos from Ricky Gervais and James Franco - their characters' appearances were short and could have been voiced more effectively by others without taking the viewer out of the movie as much.
The pacing was also a little slow in parts, and the simple conclusion that the ending arrived at could have been reached with a shorter third act and running time.
"The Little Prince" is an enjoyable children's film that is occasionally bogged down by a muddled plot and some stiff animation, but overall is worth watching for its touching story of friendship and some nice themes about individuality and accepting difficult situations that kids could learn from.
MORE REVIEWS AT MY BLOG: dynamitefilms.blogspot.com.au
An engrossing ensemble picture about three guys who don't know what they want
Cassavetes' Husbands is at times exciting, at times funny, can a bit boring and authentically real in dealing with its three central characters, played by John Cassavetes (Gus), Peter Falk (Archie), and Ben Gazara (Harry).
The opening scene where they go to the funeral of their friend - who died in his forties or a heart attack - and their subsequent all day and night drinking binge usually would give us some clear insight into these characters. Typical movies would have one of them state about making up for lost time, and the feeling they have for their lost friend. It sort of happens in the movie, but not stated so obviously. Each of the three men act out on a childish whim, and never really express themselves to each other underneath their male posturing and childish antics.
In the bar scene that follows, they get into a drinking game and everyone sings (the wake where everyone shares something positive about the deceased is skipped). After Gazarra's theatrical singing, a woman starts to sing, but is berated by him to sing with more passion. This goes on for a very long time, and then his friends go on to belittle her and bully as well. The scene is prolonged to go from funny to uncomfortable and back again, but our sympathy for the characters never permanently changes.
The reasons why characters act out is never clear in the movie to us, and I don't think to them, either. You cam never tell when the performers are being genuine or playing "roles" around each other.
When the three are in the bathroom, throwing up in the stalls, Gazarra shows some vulnerability, but then ends up yelling at his friends, the other two not really listening. He calls them out on acting like children later on, but hypocritically acts that way himself.
We don't see Gus' wife in the movie, or Archie's. Harry's wife is divorcing him, and their separation could be the source of his occasionally anguished strife. His fight with his wife and mother in law over wanting to see his kids is raw and earnest, but also a little ridiculous.
Most of the scenes follow this trend of muddled uncertainty, which can leave the viewer exhausted from having to be around these three men who seem incapable of articulating themselves without damaging those around them. We don't judge them based on the filmmaker's point of view, we just observe (like a documentary, but without the imposition of trying to tell a story).
"Husbands" is a demanding work, but rewarding for the virtuosic acting from the ensemble cast. Just don't expect any resolutions or neatly expressed ideas.
Mikey and Nicky (1976)
Great low-key gangster flick from Elaine May, with two fantastic performances from Cassavetes and Falk
"Mikey and Nicky" directed by Elaine May is all talk, but the talk is wonderful. It's a man's picture in every sense, following the two titular friends around New York for a night; low level hoods for the mob, with Nicky (John Cassavetes) trying to get away from his old profession when he thinks a hit man is coming after him, his childhood friend Mikey (Peter Falk) tries to help him.
Both performers are fantastic here, with Nicky's paranoid manic performance playing against Mikey's straight man routine.
The film is episodic in nature following one event after the other not to propel the plot, but to give you a feel for both characters and their friendship. Nicky starts out in a state of paranoia in a hotel room, but later gets into trouble for causing a stir at a bar, visits an old fling for a quick lovemaking session (hilarously with Mikey in the room next door eating grapes) and alienating his friend all at the same time. Mikey feels like he's along for the ride, hanging around to get his friend out of trouble, but at the same time enjoying his manic intensity. We see their home lives as well, shedding light into the lives of the women who married mob men.
Elain May tried hard to make a Cassavetes style picture, the actor/director was famous for his "improvised" movies that had honest, raw performances. The only difference here is the deft sense of comedy that is unique to May's writing (like the scene where Nicky acts inappropriately at a cemetery). The intentionally low key subject and technical rawness of the camera-work and sparse soundtrack add authenticity to the New York locations, making the film have a "lived in feeling". May's directing style of having numerous takes to find authentic performances from the actors is very much in the Cassavetes tradition, though. Although this movie seems to be more traditionally "enjoyable" than the work of Cassavetes, placing more value on entertainment than his pictures.
"Mikey and Nicky" is a wonderful 70's picture, a lost gem of sorts, which should be appreciated by more people, and not just fans of the gangster genre or movies from this time period.
Lights Out (2016)
A solid debut horror flick, with some strong concepts and a somewhat scary creature
"Lights Out" is a horror film directed by David F. Sandberg, and is based on his 2013 short film of the same name.
In a suburban home, a boy named Martin is threatened by a supernatural presence that keeps him up all night. His older sister, Rebecca, visits after hearing from his school about problems he says he's having at home, where he lives with their mentally unstable mother. Martin tells of a strange creature that only appears in the shadows, and shies away from any lights. These events lead Rachel to believe that the monster she saw when growing up might have been more than just a figment of her imagination.
Director's Sandberg's first feature film is a decent enough horror picture. What distinguishes it from other "boogymen" pictures of this variety is the attention he gives to crafting solid scares for the audience. The movie doesn't rely too heavily on cheap jump scares, but instead goes for more thought out ones, though the creepiness of the creature can become a bit tiring as the movie goes along, since we're explained the concept of monster from the get-go, so any mysteries that are revealed about its origins are more like interesting tidbits, that aren't anything really revelatory or shocking.
The family relationships between the mother and her two children provide some interesting dynamics, with older daughter Rebecca leaving her home to get away from Sophie because of mental illness (convincingly portrayed by Maria Bello), and possibly her careless parenting. Teresa Palmer is a fine young actress, as is Gabriel Bateman, who plays young Martin.
The movie also does well to play against typical horror tropes. Here the boyfriend character isn't just a accessory to the protagonist to just end up getting needlessly slaughtered early on, like in other pictures. Alexander DiPersia as Bret, Rebecca's boyfriend, is supportive, and actually helpful when things get awry. A refreshing change of pace, all things considered.
The concept of "Light's Out" may have been better realised in short form, but David F. Sandberg is a director of great potential, especially if he can make more interesting ideas like with this film.
Dawn of Justice has some strong action scenes, but is an overwrought let down
"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is directed by Zack Snyder and is his followup to Warner's latest Superman film, "Man of Steel" which he also directed.
Following the events of that film, the city of Metropolis is decimated after an intense battle between Superman and the nefarious General Zod, of the planet Krypton (played by Michael Shannon, who I felt was a highlight of the picture). Superman is held responsible, and this leads to the media questioning if his unlimited powers actually do more harm than good. Bruce Wayne has some steaks in this as well, when he sees the damage done to his employees at a tower he owns in the city. He dons the cape and cowl, working at night as Batman to try and find out a way to stop him.
There's also some other plot threads to do with reporter Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Lex Luther and the senate, a cold opening in some part of Africa with a warlord, some flashbacks, and some inexplicable dream sequences with Batman hallucinating flying robot wasps (?).
The premise of Batman fighting Superman has been done well before in the comics, like in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (which Snyder is obviously a fan of). But here, the reasoning feels underdeveloped, like it's just for the sake of seeing two good guys fighting each other on screen.
Having seen only the extended cut of 183 minutes, I feel the picture was (mostly) cohesive, but overlong, relying too much on referencing the catalog of DC comics from the last 30 years or more, and trying to set up too many plot points for future movies, spin-offs and tie- in's, that it felt like a sort of hollow watching experience.
It's a bit disappointing to me because I liked "Man of Steel" and it's interpretation of Superman, making him a bit darker, but still telling an engaging origin story. In this movie he becomes sort of Christ figure through some rather on-the-nose religious symbolism, making the movie seem a bit heavy-handed for a super hero movie like this.
Another aspect I found to be a let down was that the rest of the casting was solid overall, with the glaring exception of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. His ticks and quirky mannerisms weren't threatening in the slightest, seeming like a lame hodgepodge between The Dark Knight's Joker, and The Social Network's Mark Zuckerberg (which he also played).
Ben Affleck's Bat Man was a solid choice, and I am interested in where the character will go in future movies. But here, the character is a little one dimensional, not really doing anything new, except building upon Christian Bale's grizzled Batman, the only difference being is that he kills criminals now (which isn't so much shocking, as much as it is puzzling). Jeremy Irons as Bruce's butler and longtime friend Alfred, does well to deliver his expository dialogue in his too brief appearances, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman suits the character just fine, in appearances anyway. She doesn't really show off any interesting powers til the climactic fight scene, so for the first two and a half hours, she has more a a background role, not really adding much to the plot, except for making her presence known to Bruce, the both of them doing some detective work behind the scenes.
To give credit where it's due, the movie does look beautiful, Hans Zimmer's music gives some emotional weight to scenes, and there are some good ideas, but everything seems so glossed over and condensed, it's hard to really care at all about what's going on, making the movie seem like one big advertisement for future movies in the Warner DC franchise. The ending, especially loses all impact when you see the slew of Comi-Con trailers released online for the "Justice League", and other movies with each character, and even before that with the company releasing a line up of movies for the next eight or so years. With one coming out every six months, and competing with Marvel, Fox, and Sony's comic movies, it's hard not to become more than a little jaded with Hollywood.
The Nice Guys (2016)
Gosling and Crowe make for a great duo in this Shane Black directed sleeper
"The Nice Guys" is written and directed by Shane Black, and is a send up of 1970's detective movies, but with a unique humor all of its own.
Set in Los Angeles, 1977, Ryan Gosling plays private dick Holland March. He's not much of a detective, and accepts jobs from senile clients, extorting them for extra money. But eventually, a case he's on is connected with the disappearance of Amelia Kutner (Margaret Quailey), a girl who doesn't want to be found. Amelia hires Jackson Healey, an enforcer (Russell Crowe) to stop the P.I., but the two eventually team up when they have a feeling there's more to the situation than meets the eye. Especially when it potentially involves the murder of a fading porn starlet.
Starting off, the period details in "The Nice Guys" is fantastic, accurately capturing the 70'e with it's production design, art direction and choice of music. Black, and his co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi, take special care to make the whole film have a tremendous sense of fun, while also juggling a serious plot to do with cover-ups, conspiracies, and a dozen murders.
Gosling is the foil to Crowe's smarmy straight man, and the two play off each-other with great aplomb. They wouldn't be together under any other circumstances, but they're stuck with each other, and that's where most of the humor comes from.
Another excellent character is Holland's daughter Holly (Angourie Rice), who's cunning intellect and sense of right and wrong help anchor in her sometimes reckless father. Rice's acting and characterization make for a child performance that seems realistic, but also likable and endearing.
The plot was engaging from beginning to end, and I never found it predictable. There was a bit of a lull in the pacing near the middle when a character reveals a hidden truth that sets up the third act (no spoilers), but otherwise the pacing was excellent, and every line of dialogue was well thought out, and never without purpose.
"The Nice Guys" is a movie that I've been looking forward to since I first saw the hilarious trailers, and it lived up to the hype it's gotten. It's a shame that it hasn't made much of a return at the box office, raking in only $5 million in profits, and having to compete with massive brand name blockbusters (Captain America, Warcraft, The Conjuring), but I'm certain it'll secure itself in history as a future cult classic.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
First rate horror sequel with genuine scares and suspense
"The Conjuring 2" is the latest film directed by James Wan and a followup to his 2013 film, again based on real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
I really enjoyed "The Conjuring", feeling that it was well made and provided a lot of scares and atmosphere, unlike most horror movies today which rely too much on extreme violence, shaky cam and jump scares to shock the audience. The two leads, played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, also had great chemistry.
After hearing bad press for the spin-off "Annabelle" - which featured the demonic doll from the opening of the original movie - I was hesitant to see this sequel. It doesn't help that most horror sequels are quick cash grabs that do little to improve on the original, and usually end up being a poor rehash of the original.
Well it turns out I was wrong. "The Conjuring 2" is an excellent movie, the scares are genuine and the story (based on a real incident in England) is compelling.
The film starts off with Ed and Lorraine just off the case of the infamous 'Amityiville' haunting in Long Island in the mid 70's. The case leads to mass attention in the media, but Lorraine wants to stop working because of an evil omen she feels coming from an unknown source.
Meanwhile, in England in the town of Enfield, the Hodgson family starts to experience strange occurrences in their flat, especially young Janet (Madison Wolfe - who turns in an excellent performance) who has a strong connection with the spirits that haunt them.
Instead of being a simple retread, the film takes care to make you connect with the Hodgson's - single mother Peggy, and her four children are all developed well; and the new conflict with the Warren's ties both stories together skillfully in the script. The ghosts and monsters (especially the "Crooked Man") are genuinely creepy, and while there are jump scares, they are done effectively, and always sparsely.
The only minor gripe I have is that the minor character development of Ed Warren handling his anger issues could have been explored more. It seemed interesting, but there were only a few throw-away lines about it, and then it was never brought up again.
James Wan is one of the most skilled directors working in horror today, and while the sequels to his work vary in quality (after Saw II, the series becomes redundant), under his guidance, "The Conjuring" has had the makings of a first rate franchise, in spite of any inaccuracies when adapting from actual events.
Omohide poro poro (1991)
A simple and beautiful film about nostalgia and the past
"Only Yesterday" is a Studio Ghibli movie directed by Isao Takahata and just recently has been dubbed into English by GKids and released into theaters outside of Japan.
I live in Australia, so I've seen this film twice before on DVD with it's original Japanese language track, but it was exciting to see it finally in a cinema with an audience.
The story follows Taeko, a woman in her late twenties that has an office job in Tokyo, but takes time off to go to the countryside and get away from city life for a while.
While away, she thinks back to her childhood when she was seven years old, reminiscing about the past, the good and bad times with her family and friends, life at school and her first crush.
What's striking about Only Yesterday is the differing styles of drawings for scenes in the past and present. When she remembers being young, backgrounds are usually faded looking or completely white; it's like Taeko can't picture it exactly how it was, but how she thinks it was, which could be true of any distant memories any of us have.
The present scenes are more naturalistic, featuring detailed facial expressions, rather than cartooney ones, and brimming with detail, especially the farming scenes during her stay in the country, which seem almost like they could be out of a documentary if they weren't animated.
The movie is made up of mostly small scenes featuring mundane activities like eating a pineapple, doing math homework, or being in a school play. But these events resonate because of the importance the main character gives them and the way they paint a beautiful picture of the past in their detail. The music choices are also excellent, using Japanese pop songs of the 1960's and Hungarian choir music to set the mood perfectly for each scene.
My only problem with the movie is that sometimes it was too slow, usually in the parts that focused more on farming for rouge. Adult Takeo has fewer lines of spoken dialogue, most of it instead being narration, which was fine for the beginning, but eventually made me feel there was more distance between empathising with her character, making her feel separate from her younger self (who was instantly more likable).
Perhaps I remembered it differently, but I liked "Only Yesterday" a bit less since I last saw it years ago. Maybe it's my being used to the original dialogue (the English voice work is fine all around, especially Daisy Ridley as Taeko and Dev Patel as Toshio, a young farmer that works with her and shows her around town), but I felt that the movie didn't resonate with me as much this time around. It could be I've seen it too many times already to be won over by it again. Takahata's other movies moved me greatly, but this time I felt slightly underwhelmed, though I could appreciate it. Who knows.
Still, for anyone interested who hasn't seen it yet, I highly recommend Only Yesterday. It's an underrated Ghibli gem, certainly.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Marvel delivers with another satisfying entry in the "Captain America" franchise
Captain America: Civil War is the third entry in Marvel's "Captain America" franchise, and the second to be directed by the Russo Brothers.
I walked into this movie hearing about all the hype that surrounded it, and the praise by critics and comic-book fans. Having enjoyed the previous film "Winter Soldier" as a standalone espionage-thriller that also worked well as a superhero movie, I was unsure how this one could match it in terms of quality.
My doubts were laid to rest, as "Captain America: Civil War" is a worthy sequel and highly entertaining from beginning to end.
The story spans several countries and time-lines, and features new appearances by heroes Black Panther and Spider-Man (whose incarnation here is the best yet).
The premise of the film is great, with Captain America and Iron Man at odds with each other over signing the "Sokovia Accords" (in response to the collateral damaged caused by the team in the last "Avengers" movie), which would put the control of the Avengers into the hands of the United Nations, relinquishing them of their own control.
There's also an interesting espionage story, with the Cap having to clear his friend Bucky Barnes' name after he is blamed for causing a terrorist incident. The supporting roles featuring Sharon Carter (Agent Peggy Carter's daughter), and Helmut Zemo as the villain also play important parts, adding extra depth to the story.
The two split up and assemble their own teams, Captain America having with him Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier); and Tony Stark having Vision, Black Panther, Spider Man, War Machine, and Black Widow.
Performances are fine all around, and the usual funny chemistry is there between the heroes. But this time, there is more tension now that everyone picks sides. It all builds up well throughout, the script balancing an intriguing plot with plenty of twists, turns and action in between and giving time for each character to shine in spit of the large cast. "Civil War" still keeps the great tone of the previous film, being a mature entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without having to be gritty or overly violent.
All the fight scenes are well done and incredibly exciting, especially the showdown between all the heroes at an airport, which exceeded expectations. Ant-Man and Spider-Man especially are the highlight of the film here, with their quips and awesome moves.
"Civil War" does everything so well it works both as a stand alone feature, and as a continuing piece in the Marvel movie landscape. I'm looking forward to their upcoming movie releases, just to see if they can keep this same level of quality.