“XX” is yet another horror anthology, this time featuring four horror segments directed by women, all of which revolve around concepts mostly associated with women. While “XX” garners the recurring theme of motherhood, the tales themselves are based around feminine or maternal concepts that are twisted for the genre. “The Box” is a loose allegory for anorexia, “The Birthday Party” is about status, “Don’t Fall” is kind an allegory for menstruation, while “Her Only Living Son” is about a mother’s unwillingness to let go of her son and let him realize his destiny. The four very talented female filmmakers were given complete freedom and as a result we have a pretty stellar horror film, all things considering.
It just serves to prove my theory that bad animated movies can be excused since they’re “for kids” is a cheap cop out meant to let crap pass by us. Animation studios are providing amazing kids fare, including Laika who seemingly snuck out of nowhere to deliver yet another stop motion children’s masterpiece. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is probably their great animated stop motion achievement to date. It’s an immense, epic, and heartfelt ode to the art of storytelling and the power of memories. It’s teeming with fantastic Asian folklore offering a very respectful view of its characters, and creates a wonderful hero who is capable of defeating evil not with his fists or guns, but with magic and his ability to think outside the box.
In the end what will win out and be our undoing will be apathy. It’s the willingness to just sit back and allow evil, to apathetically cling to our faith without challenging those that seek to do wrong. It’s our talent for not doing anything, and allowing injustice. It doesn’t matter what we believe, what politics we subscribe to, but when the world comes literally crashing down on us, we’re all just bugs ready to be squashed. “Hive” is set in a world where its breed of insectoid people have been split and divided by beliefs, religion, and class.
I respect Tim Burton’s legacy a lot and I admire what he was going for with “The Corpse Bride.” Not a lot of mainstream directors aspire to deliver movies that are more bent toward the Gothic sensibility with homages to folks like Edward Gory. Burton is a man who clearly has a love for the style, and I love it as well. Sadly, “The Corpse Bride” is a weaker approach toward the stop motion animation that Burton was mostly known for with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” for a long time. The aforementioned film is so much more charismatic and entertaining than “The Corpse Bride” in the end. Granted it’s not an awful movie, but it just feels like Burton is trying to recapture the brilliance of “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Dad’s Fragile Doll (Iran) (2014)
A young girl uses imagination to mentally work through her family situation. The film by Ali Zareghanatnowi has an interesting animation style that looks like moving sketches. The style is visually appealing but can become too much in scenes with more action, which is unfortunate. The film shows the horrors that humanity can do and how a young girl uses the power of imagination to help herself. This short shows that imagination liberates you, frees you of your cage, of your oppressor. The use of dolls and animation as surrogates for reality brings forth the message and the emotions.
IN SELECT THEATERS OCTOBER 28TH – Although Henry Selick does a damn fine job of directing what is one of the most entertaining stop motion animated films, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has Tim Burton’s stamp all over it. It’s about an outcast, a love for the Gothic and Halloween, and it’s unabashedly menacing. Though Henry Selick’s animated movie was originally touted to kids, the film is very much a dark and harrowing narrative about monsters from the Halloweentown infiltrating the Christmastown, and using the traditions and rituals to terrorize random victims. One montage even features kids getting very creepy presents like a shrunken head, and a snake. Jack Skellington is the pumpkin king who is the anti-hero that finds himself restless with Halloween and accidentally becomes the villain when he falls in love with Christmas.
Man is “The Shutterbug Man” amazing. The only complaint I can lobby toward it is that it feels more like a prologue to a feature length horror film than an actual short, but i hope director Christopher Walsh turns this idea in to a horror movie somewhere down the line. Told in brilliant and haunting Stop Motion. the legendary Barbara Steele narrates the tale of “The Shutterbug Man.” With simplistic albeit immensely effective and haunting stop motion, Christopher Walsh tells us the tale of the Shutterbug Man, a local who spent his time taking pictures. He could only really take pictures of horrific sights and suffering as it granted him a sick pleasure.
Norman is a kid who has an unfortunate problem. He lives with a small family, all of whom expect a lot from him, especially his dad who badgers him constantly. Norman’s dad just wants Norman to be like every kid. One who doesn’t talk to spirits of the dead, including his grandmother who died years prior. Norman never really asks for his ability, but is aware of a long lost uncle Prenderghast that his family shunned away years ago, who shares his knack for speech beyond the grave. When his uncle Prenderghast tracks down Norman, and makes him cautious of a curse involving an ancient witch that is set to unfold in their town.