SIFF 09: Alisa’s Birthday

Alisa’s Birthday/ dir. Sergei Seregin/ 2008/ Russia

alisab1It has nearly been a month since the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival ended, and I am now finally reviewing the last animated feature I saw at SIFF this year. And I can’t think of a better movie to end my 2009 SIFF experience.

The art style and animation may turn folks off of this film and if you saw the SIFF trailer for Alisa’s Birthday, with its awful English voice-over dub and its campy upbeat tone, you may think its just a bunch of children’s fluff. To be truthful, yes, Alisa’s Birthday is geared more towards younger children, but unlike the other PBS kids’ specials I watched at SIFF, Alisa’s Birthday offered the audience a richer experience with moral dilemmas, contemplative moments, and *gasp* real emotion. All of which eventually led to a pretty decent animated film. Make no mistake, it doesn’t reach the pinnacle of Pixar or Studio Ghibli animated films, but Alisa’s Birthday is entertaining nonetheless. Continue reading

SIFF 09: Nak

Nak/ dir. Natthapong Rattanachoksirikul/ 2009/ Thailand

Nak_ext3Out of all the animated features at SIFF, I was most excited to watch Nak. The big reason for my excitement was that Nak was a Thai animated movie, and I was looking forward to seeing some Southeast Asian animated cinema. (Because from my observations, if the animated feature isn’t from China, Korea, or especially Japan, nobody is really taking notice. ) Plus, the guy who produced Nak, Prachya Pinkaew, was the same dude who produced Ong Bak, and Nak featured Thailand’s most famous ghost, Nak, alongside  some other mythical ghosts from Asian lore.

Although Nak is a solid animated effort by director Natthapong Rattanachoksirikul and cast and crew, (and yes, I was thoroughly entertained)I can’t front, after watching Nak I was a little disappointed… Continue reading

SIFF 09: Egon & Dönci

Egon & Dönci/ dir. Ádám Magyar/ 2008/ Hungary

3949How does one make a movie an experience? When a movie stops being about story, plot, and characters and the  focus is so much about the visuals, the sights and the sounds that we, as an audience, really don’t give a damn about the story.

That’s what Egon & Dönci attempts to do. This quirky Hungarian animated feature (apparently Hungary’s first CG animated movie) has no dialogue whatsoever, and uses gestures and sounds to communicate its characters thoughts and ideas, a technique that is not new by any means to the animation field, but still powerful when done right. Continue reading

SIFF 09: Mamma Mu och Kråken/ Der Mondbär: Das große Kinoabenteuer

Mamma Mu och Kråken (Mamma Moo and Crow)/ dir. Igor Veyshtagin/ 2008/ Sweden

packshot

Der Mondbär: Das große Kinoabenteuer (Moonbeam Bear and His Friends)/ dir. Thomas Bodenstein & Michael Maurus/ 2008/ Germany

moon-1

I saw Mamma Moo and Crow and Moonbeam Bear and His Friends at Admiral Theater for SIFF this past weekend. Both showings were filled with cute little children and their parents. I’ll be honest I felt a little weird being there. Luckily I wasn’t the only one there without kids.

Anyway, I have a new found respect for animated projects that are geared toward those in society that are 5 years old and YOUNGER. If I were being really critical, I would mention the sub-par and simplistic animation, the thin story and plot, and general cheese factor for both films. Yeah, it was cool seeing animation from other countries but these films screamed PBS kids special. Hey the filmakers know their audience and simple animation combined with simple story and basic dialogue is perfect for the target demographic.

I did have some quibbles after the fact though. Mamma Moo and Crow was a story about friendship, but to me it seemed that the Cow and Crow had something more  going on (if you know what I mean). That aint age appropriate is it?

As for Moonbeam Bear and His Friends, I enjoyed that story more, but there were rapping crows! That’s right crows that rapped!  I almost yelled “THAT’S RACIST!” in the theater. That aint age approriate is it?

The real question for these kinds of films is “Is there a good message for the kiddies?” The answer is yes. However, I would never let MY kids watch this sh#%!

SIFF 09: $9.99

$9.99/ dir. Tatia Rosenthal/ 2008/ Australia/ Israel

411px-Nine_ninety_nineIt’s that time of year, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) has started and I am planning on seeing all the animated features at SIFF this year. So I decided to take off early from work last Thursday and head to  small theatre at the end of Broadway, the Harvard Exit. The first animated movie I saw was $9.99.

I have wrote this before, but stop motion is a bitch and I give much credit to those animators who are working in that medium. I also appreciate a film maker who is willing to take a chance and make an animated movie that is NOT geared towards children. $9.99 is an all stop-motion animated film that is not for children. Right from the spectacular opening scene, you know that $9.99 is not filled with cuteness and fairytales, but is filled with real people with real life problems. Continue reading