Tag Archives: Animation

Ten of the Best Films From London Film Festival 2020

The 64th London Film Festival concluded this past weekend, taking place both online and in select cinemas across the UK in light of these unprecedented times, offering roughly a fifth of the usual number of features presented in a normal year, alongside shorts, experimental and VR works, and a couple of TV series previews. The festival ended with showings of Francis Lee’s period lesbian romance Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, in hundreds of cinemas nationwide, while Thomas Vinterberg’s drama Another Round won the inaugural LFF Audience Award.

Here are ten of the best titles from LFF 2020 worth looking out for in the future; some on their way to cinemas or digital soon, others further off…

Full feature for AnOther

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles (Salvador Simó, 2018)

With the Jean-Luc Godard portrait Redoubtable and Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato still lingering in the memory, and a Rainer Werner Fassbinder biopic on its way, there seems to be growing interest in fiction features chronicling the early years of some of Europe‘s most influential filmmakers. As an animation, Salvador Simó’s Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles – about the father of cinematic surrealism, Luis Buñuel – immediately stands out from the pack on form alone. Following the success of 1929’s surreal short Un Chien Andalou (where he was overshadowed by collaborator Salvador Dalí) and the controversy surrounding its follow-up, L’Age d’Or, Buñuel decided to take a comparative left turn by making a pseudo-documentary in a remote region of Spain as both his career and the country entered a turbulent period…

Full review for Little White Lies

30 essential ‘Simpsons’ episodes to watch on Disney+

Thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the 20th Century Fox back catalogue, one of the big selling points of Disney+ is access to the entire library of The Simpsons. Well, almost. The Michael Jackson-featuring Season 3 opener, “Stark Raving Dad”, was pulled from circulation in 2019 – you can currently only get that episode legally on the existing DVD box set of that season.

Additionally, most of The Simpsons’ 30-plus seasons are currently presented on Disney+ in an incorrect, cropped aspect ratio, something that is reportedly going to be amended in the next few months. But any easy access to The Simpsons is good access, even if conventional wisdom is that only an increasingly small fraction of the output is worth accessing…

Full feature for VODzilla.co

Promare (Hiroyuki Imaishi, 2019)

The opening of Promare establishes that the sudden combustion of various people across the globe caused severe damage to the world. This was the first appearance of the Burnish, a race of hitherto unknown mutant beings with the ability to wield flames.

Thirty years later, a firefighting mecha service, Burning Rescue, has been created to put a stop to similar catastrophes. The arrival of a new group of aggressive mutants known as ‘Mad Burnish’ sets up a conflict between its leader, Lio Fotia, and over-eager firefighter Galo Thymos, but all is not as it seems and the fate of the planet is at stake…

Full review for SciFiNow

I Lost My Body (Jérémy Clapin, 2019)

Adapted from a novel penned by co-screenwriter Guillaume Laurant (Amélie), I Lost My Body is the feature debut of Jérémy Clapin, a man known for directing animated shorts with odd premises. One example of this is Skhizein (2008), in which a person who has been struck by a 150-ton meteorite has to adjust to living exactly 91 centimetres from himself.

I Lost My Body is also concerned with displacement in various ways. From the title, one might expect a story in the vein of David Lowery’s A Ghost Story (2017), with a phantasm dealing with (after)life after death. But while I Lost My Body has a similar melancholy tone, this curious blend of 2D and 3D animation techniques in fact focuses on a still very alive human and his also very alive dismembered hand…

Full review for SciFiNow

The Prince’s Voyage (Jean-François Laguionie/Xavier Picard, 2019)

In 1999, Jean-François Laguionie, a French animator with directing credits dating back to 1965, made his third feature, Le Château Des Singes (The Castle Of Monkeys). It followed a rebellious teenage simian discovering an ostensibly more civilised society of simians, only to get caught up in a plot to murder a king. In the UK in 2000, the film was released as A Monkey’s Tale. The screenplay was considerably reworked in the translation to English, Rik Mayall played a comic relief villain, and the marketing campaign heavily promoted a soundtrack song by Westlife. It’s basically the epitome of a dawn of the millennium bastardisation of a foreign animation.

What does any of this have to do with Laguionie’s charming new film, The Prince’s Voyage, co-directed with Xavier Picard? Well, although it is not an explicit continuation, the new film sees Laguionie explore new ideas and stories within what seems to be the same universe. The lead of this film shares the design and royal lineage of a supporting character from A Monkey’s Tale, and that previous film’s lead character is alluded to in a flashback. But The Prince’s Voyage requires absolutely no knowledge of A Monkey’s Tale to follow its story – a relief to many…

Full review for SciFiNow

Talk of the Toons: Scotland Loves Anime 2019 preview

An annual celebration of Japanese animation that takes place at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, the Scotland Loves Anime festival reaches a milestone 10th edition in October 2019. “It always feels like we’re younger still,” festival director Andrew Partridge tells us. “My, how time flies when you’re stressing about running a festival!”

Regularly showcasing the best new animation from Japan, alongside restorations of established classics and the occasional live-action adaptation of an anime or video game, the festival has gone from strength to strength in terms of audience, reach, influence and programming coups. What was once just a relatively modest attempt to get more Scottish cinema showings for anime – that aren’t just from Studio Ghibli – has become one of the key European animation events on the calendar…

Full feature for The Skinny

Modest Heroes (Hiromasa Yonebayashi/Yoshiyuki Momose/Akihiko Yamashita, 2018)

In a short documentary available on Netflix, titled The Modest Heroes of Studio Ponoc, producer Yoshiaki Nishimura says that makers of short animation films are often asked: “Why do you make short films?” But he wonders why they never ask the question, “Why do you make feature films?” He suggests that short films are often viewed as a stepping-stone of sorts for people who can’t yet make feature films, but that this does a disservice to the form. As he says, short animation films have their own form of expression: “If the creator fully understands the idea, they can create great work… we create short films because we believe they have a value in and of themselves”

Nishimura is right to point out this unfair view towards shorts films. And it is admirable that Studio Ponoc’s second release, which clocks in at under an hour, should be an anthology collection of short films, rather than a traditional narrative feature, such as their 2017 debut, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. The good news is that this three-film collection does a strong job at illustrating the range of the studio’s talents, helping them emerge from the shadow of Studio Ghibli, for whom many of their staff used to work…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Breakthrough anime director Mamoru Hosoda on ‘Mirai’

In conversation with Japanese writer-director Mamoru Hosoda, he cites childhood and how young people change as a recurring theme that unites all of his original stories. As such, it seems strangely appropriate that we end up introduced to his own children during our interview. Having just told us that his latest animation, Mirai, is inspired by his kids, we ask him if any of the film’s characters were directly informed by his own brood, which leads to us being shown a family portrait on his phone. “Do you want to see my kids’ pictures?” he asks. “They even look similar.” Sure enough, a lot of the people pictured in the photo resemble the character designs in the film. “The father is different,” he concedes. “Obviously, I’m not that good looking.”

Although staged on a comparatively smaller scale to other Hosoda films like Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast, Mirai still has an element of fantasy informing its portrait of family relations. It’s closer in spirit to his excellent drama Wolf Children, which spanned several years in the lives of a pair of lycanthropic children and the human mother struggling to raise them. Mirai also features troublesome children, though its exploration of time comes through the unique hook of a magical garden enabling a young boy to encounter his relatives from different eras, with a future older version of his younger sister Mirai acting as his guide…

Full interview for The Skinny

MFKZ (Shôjirô Nishimi/Guillaume Renard, 2017)

Scattered throughout animation MFKZ (aka Mutafukaz) – a collaboration between French company Ankama Animation and Japanese studio Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Mind Game) – are a number of narrative-interrupting title cards that reflect something about the film’s various eccentricities. Some are posed as questions before expository information, such as in the case of ‘Who Are These Mysterious Wrestlers?’ One, in particular, stands out: ‘The Movies Have Never Seen Sh*t Like This!’ Although you can trace the DNA of a few notable influences, They Live and Akira among them, one might find that an accurate summation of MFKZ as a whole…

Full review for SciFiNow