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Trier goes mainstream
Anyone ever play Majora's Mask? You know, the Zelda game? Lars von Trier apparently did. That's a weird thought: the nihilistic manufactured genius of a Danish film director playing a Nintendo game. He's a strange guy, thoughI wouldn't put it past him.
Melancholia involves a planet named Melancholia vacationing through our solar system. Earth may or may not be in its way, which means that the end of the world may or may not be possible. Melancholia is basically a disaster film, though, which means that the ending is determined outright and that, yes, the Earth is destroyed. This is the cool part.
The rest of the movie revolves around two sisters and their immediate family. This is the less cool part. The most interesting thing here is that their husbands are, in light of the end of the world, portrayed as weak and cowardly, and the sisters are the righteous ones who see Mother Earth through to her fiery end. This is a noted turnaround from the misogyny of Trier's previous film, Antichrist, which was founded on the premise that a mother would rather experience an orgasm than stop her son from jumping out of a window.
Trier wants to use the end of the world as a metaphor to make some sort of statement on depression, specifically, that depressed people stay cool like Fonzie in extreme situations. I guess this is worth exploring. Honestly, though, when Kirsten Dunst as Justine, one of the sisters, utters things like "Life is only on Earth, and not for long," I can't take the movie very seriously. Nihilism, I think, is only attractive to other nihilists, and also, personally, I'm fairly fond of the idea of extraterrestrial life.
I was really only enthralled in Melancholia when it was ripping off 2001: A Space Odyssey and setting wondrous celestial bodies, locked in a dance of death in the depths of space, to classical music. I also liked the prominence of Kirsten Dunst's breasts. Trier certainly didn't shy away from them, and for good reason. When Justine strips to the nude and bathes herself in the glow of the mysterious rogue planet, now a fixation of the night sky like the moon, it's easy to think of her breasts as celestial bodies all their own.
Now that's a metaphor I can get behind.
Colorful but unremarkable
So mediocre that it's almost an achievement. Almost.
Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Robots, Horton Hears a Who!) has some great animators, and their latest film, Rio , is nothing if not full of deliciously curvy character designs and a color palette that is at times sweetly saturated with deep hues, but it's clear that film's budget went primarily to wrangling a celebrity cast and writing some catchy songs. The animation noticeably cuts corners at timescharacter models are often under-animated and overused, and there's a stifling sense of formulaic rigidity to the whole thing.
It's unoffensive, though. Rio is the kind of animated film that easily entertains and placates kids for its running time. However, I must encourage parents to consider whether or not that's really such a good thing. In an age when animated films are popular and great films are produced with considerable regularity (Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Pixar films in general
not to mention Disney's commitment to localizing Studio Ghibli films), why settle for mediocre?