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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A nice film, made more interesting by the story behind it, 17 June 2011

A very aptly titled movie, Sita sings the blues tells the story of Rama and Sita as found in the Ramayana with some 1920s blues, sung by Annette Hanshaw thrown in. Nina Paley created the film, as director, animator and producer, on her own on her personal computer, quite an achievement given the huge numbers of people and computers who work to create each Pixar or other major movie studio animation.

The movie plays out as four distinct animations running concurrently. The story of Rama and Sita is most clearly played out in a Mughal miniature style which is interspersed with the Hanshaw songs. Sung by a 'Betty Boop" looking character, the musical segments are more vibrant and re tell the story visually whilst the song's develop and explain a little of the character's feelings. To explain and narrate the story Paley asked three Indian friends to discuss the Ramayana. Paley didn't give them any time to prepare, so the narrators speak purely from their memories, leading to disagreements over names and other facts, though all agree on the overall themes and tales. When the discussions are taking place the Narrators are represented by three distinct shadow puppets. The final strand to the movie, and the impetus behind the film's creation, shows the disintegration of Paley's real life relationship with her Husband in a grainy modern day New York. There are various parallels with the story of Rama and Sita, such as separation, and these are drawn out through the simultaneous development of the two stories.

The songs are wonderful and the movie is a fair introduction to the Ramayana, although not entirely factually correct.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Charming film, some good songs, 17 June 2011

In 1699 sailor Lemuel Gulliver's ship is caught in a storm. Lemuel is knocked over board, and washes up on shore in the land of Lilliput, where he is a giant in comparison to the locals.

Princess Glory of Lilliput is set to marry Prince David of Blefuscu, but when their fathers argue over wedding details, war is declared between the two kingdoms. When King Little of Lilliput is told of the giant on the beach, he sees Gulliver as the perfect weapon to defeat King Bombo once and for all.

Released in 1939, just 2 years after Disney's "Snow White," Gulliver's Travels was the second feature length animation ever produced. The film makers, Dave and Max Fleischer are better known for their work on Popeye and Betty Boop. The brothers feature film making efforts were ill fated however, with Gulliver's Travels released at the beginning of the second world war and their follow up "Mr Bug Goes to Town" released just two days before the bombing of Pearl Harbour, were it not for these events, the work produced at Fleischer's studio may be as famous today as that of Walt Disney.

The film is an adaptation of the classic Novel by Jonathan Swift, intended as a biting social satire, Gulliver's adventures span four novels. Most well known is the first regarding his arrival in Lilliput, though Gulliver visits several other mysterious places. The book tells the story of a man finding himself in strange lands, while the film approaches the subject mostly from the Lilliputians point of view.

On its release the movie was nominated for 2 Oscars for its soundtrack (Best Animated Feature wasn't a category until 2001) The opening song "All's Well" is a catchy number with a great twist, however the tunes are very 'of their time' and may not prove popular with today's children.

The film has a certain innocence to it, it keeps a slow, steady pace rather than racing from one set action piece to another as modern films often do. There's a scene of perhaps 15 minutes without any talking as the Lilliputians tie up Gulliver and transport him, unconscious, back to the city and the King's palace. Their methods are ingenious and highly amusing feats of engineering. The extreme differences in size are used to great comic and visual effect, King Little dances with Gulliver's hand, three Lilliputians are trapped in Gulliver's pocket watch and he is able to put out a house fire by cupping water in his hands.

A charming film, wonderful for younger children, though perhaps a little gentle and slow for older ones. The film is also a great starting point to discussions about filmmaking and the evolution of animation.

Eep! (2010)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful family film, 17 June 2011

Iep! Follows the story of a childless bird watcher, Warre, and his wife, Tine. One day whilst Warre is out bird watching he hears an unusual noise. Following the sound he discovers Viegeltje, a baby no bigger than his hand. She looks almost human, except that she has wings, instead of arms. With no sign of Viegeltje's parents, Warre takes her home, where Tine's maternal instincts immediately kick in. The couple decide to keep the baby and raise her as a little girl, hiding her true identity from friends and local villagers.

Some years later when Viegeltje is grown, her affinity for birds is still clear. The only vowel sound she can make is "e", she eats insects, and flies around the kitchen. When she sees a flock of birds flying south for the winter, she flies away to join them.

When Warre and Tine discover she's gone, they begin a cross country pursuit that will take them and the people they meet along the way on a journey which will change them all in unexpected ways.

Eep! Is at times serious, dealing with issues of family, loss and loneliness. Mostly however it is a light hearted film with lots of comic moments. It's perfect for children, who will love cute Viegelte, the thought of being able to fly and the adventure story. The film will also appeal to adults who will appreciate the situation's absurdity more than children will.

The characters are very well portrayed, particularly the elderly couple, who make the situation feel real despite the absurdity. The children in the film are also wonderful, sweet and innocent.

Iep! Is suitable for all the family, it hasn't been widely distributed but has been screened at several film festivals including Leeds Young People's Film Festival and Lancaster Children's Film Festival. If you get the chance, it is well worth a watch.

15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Christmas viewing, 17 June 2011

Magic Silver is based on a popular Norwegian television series, a classic Christmas series which is entrenched in a generation's memories and feelings about Christmas.

Magic Silver is the element which controls the transition between night and day. A small community of Gnomes is responsible for maintaining the transition at an hour called Magic Hour. These are the Blue Gnomes, whose king is ill. When his young daughter, Princess Bluerose learns that humans use something called "money" to get a cure when someone is ill, Bluerose risks everything to steal money from the local humans, setting in motion a series of events which will change the lives of the Blue Gnomes forever.

The tone of Magic Silver is reminiscent of "The Lord of the Rings" but is lighter and more child friendly. The suspense and tension are very well executed, and the film plays out on a number of levels emotionally, making this a thoroughly enjoyable film to watch.

The young heroine, Princess Bluerose is joined in her adventures by a red gnome. The characters have well thought out story arcs and the two actors create likable characters with believable reactions to the frightening tasks and events they face. The human character is the film is played by a great Norwegian actor, whose performance creates a level of empathy and pity for the character whilst also making an excellent bad guy.

The film is eminently suitable for children and would make an excellent addition to family Christmas viewing.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A melancholy, visually interesting and bitter-sweet film., 17 June 2011

A film by French film maker Sylvain Chomet, who also directed The Triplets of Bellville. It is a wonderfully delicate film, visually it provides a lot of interest and is particularly relevant to those who know the city of Edinburgh in which a large portion of the film is set.

As an animated film, The Illusionist has the feeling of being children's film, however the film has an extreme dearth of dialogue, with only a few spoken lines, which are not all in English. Nor is the film action packed or concerning a character to whom children will readily relate. Like the opening scene of "Up" The Illusionist conveys the arc of life and the melancholy of old age, an issue most children will find it hard to understand. From an adult point of view this is a bitter-sweet, beautiful film.

In 1950s France, magician Tatischeff is finding it increasingly difficult to make a living as his style of entertainment goes out of fashion. Tatischeff travels across Europe looking for a home for his act, and picks up orphan Alice along the way, finally settling in Edinburgh.

The film has some comic moments, Tatischeff's uncooperative rabbit who resents being pulled out of a hat, provides one such moment, although these are tinged with the melancholy which runs throughout the film.

The film's story is linked with the life and work of Jacques Tati, though how closely is widely debated. The debate and the elements of Tati's life which are said to inspire the story adds an extra level of depth and interest to the film.

The calm and serene beauty of the film, with little action, virtually no dialogue and a soundtrack which lulls you into a dreamlike state the film verges on dull and soporific. While the overwhelming sadness which runs throughout the film causes a sense of woe, leaving you contemplating the message of the film.