Archive for the ‘COMIC FANTASY’ Category


14 Feb

Frozen – Disney Cartoon Fairy Tale. 102 minutes Color 2013.


The Story: A crown princess’s hands emit destructive cold that nearly kills her sister, who is quarantined from her, until both are released at great peril and cost.

~ ~ ~

I seldom see cartoons. I loved the old ones, Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, but the drawing went off and the music declined, and, although there were always a few interesting monsters, I stopped being interested. Except as a dutiful father, I seldom went. But people said I should see this one.

I can’t say that you should see it. Mind you, it certainly has remarkable sequences, which I shall forebear from describing lest I spoil them for you. But animation does many things superbly. It can conjure like nobody’s business, and it can produce spectacles of three dimensional perspective that ordinary film cannot touch.

What is remarkable about this film is its fidelity to its theme. And its surprise ending. (Although I shouldn’t tell you there is one. For then there will not be such a surprise.) It keeps the cold coming in icy displays of imagination. It never warms up. And we like it that way. In fact, it gets colder and colder.

Like most such full-length cartoons it is a bring-em-back-alive story, a most satisfying genre. And it has parties of minor characters that certainly give full value for a cuteness you would not abide in a regular film. It has a delightful mascot snowman. It has a comic Norwegian shopkeeper and a gaggle of gnomes, an endearing reindeer, and a Nordic setting full of curious detail including a castle of dreams and a palace of gelid power. The songs are undistinguished.  But all the parts are well written and acted especially by the younger princess who is quite brilliant and real. Moreover, it is a story in which two young women take the leads, so what it lacks in innocence it makes up in drive.

The facial animation is shockingly real. It is an amazement to behold. The mouth and the cheeks operate in character all the time. The only difficulty is the eyes, which are like Keane portrait eyes, pop-eyed with the pitiable. Why this decision was made, I cannot tell. It is so grotesque and off-putting to me that I fear to recommend the film for fear you will come over here and punish me as much as I was punished by it.

However, if you are curious about what animation is up to these days, you will be entertained and informed while you are both.




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Bruce Almighty

03 Oct

Bruce Almighty – directed by Tom Shadyak. Comedy. A local small-time newscaster yearns for advancement and sells his soul to God to get it. 101 minutes Color 2003.


I always thought Jim Carrey should play Hamlet. With those eyes. So handsome. So slender. So essentially romantic.

Imagine all that attack held in check. “To be … or not to be!” Imagine him entering the “not-to-be” of that speech, the demoting ratiocination of it, the reduction, the sin of that repression. For if ever an actor was gifted with the To Be it is this one.

This picture is a comic Faust, the tale of a man given supernatural powers, and then having to live up to them imaginatively and compassionately.

Of course, Carrey is very funny when he is not doing that, and the script helps him bountifully.

Jennifer Aniston is present with all her skill as a light comedienne, a skill equaled by no other actor of our time. We have the great Phillip Baker Hall as the boss. We have Steve Carrell playing a nasty, a part which suits him to a T. And we have Morgan Freeman playing God. Or perhaps we should say we have God cast as Morgan Freeman.

Well, the film is full of sight gags, gags which are very witty, and amusement reigns throughout.

What is the reverse of a sight gag?

Hamlet is the reverse of a sight gag.

Jim Carrey is a sight gag. He, like Hamlet, is also a genius.


The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

16 Jan

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus – directed by Terry Gilliam. Fantasy. A travelling theatre offers its eternal creative powers out to a world not interested in them whatsoever, until a certain Tony turns up. 123 minutes Color 2009.

* * *

Terry Gilliam is your ordinary fantasist, thank goodness, which means that his story is firmly lodged in classical narrative rubric, e.g., once upon a time there was an ancient magician who had a beautiful daughter. Living in their magic cave was a monster and a servant boy who was in love with her. The magician had failed in his work, however, because he had made a deal with a demon: he could live forever if he gave his first daughter as the demon’s bride. One day, the theatre company saved a young man from drowning. This man, named Tony, was set dire tasks to save the daughter: he had to enter the magic world of the wizard with three females whose souls he would sacrifice.  And so forth and so on. All we see is quite delightful and well grounded. The piece is fanciful and well cast, with Christopher Plummer as the magician, and where it is not well cast, the costumes supply the deficiency. All is well, or would be well, until the drowning man appears. Then things fall apart. For Tony is played by Heath Ledger, in what should have been the most daring and entertaining performance of his career, save for one thing: it is made invisible by facial hair. You cannot see what he is feeling or thinking; you cannot see what he wants; you cannot see what sort of person he is. The performance is a dead loss. For there is a rule for young leading male film actors. Keep hair out of all parts of your face. Keep your head hair combed back off your brow, no matter how much younger than you are you want to look, and keep all beards, goatees, mustaches, sideburns miles away from you. Beards are fine for the stage where the close-up is outlawed, where no one can see your features anyhow, but on film, nope, never. In film, they do not define character; they demote it. (You may, as Clark Gable did so effectively, wear a thin mustache as a sort of medical prescription. But that’s it.) Facial hair destroys performances. It never adds character. It always conceals character, because it conceals filmed human response. If you are a leading man, that is. If you are Monty Woolley, do as you please. Anyhow, we sigh and wander on through the film in all its expected and unexpected treats. Jeff and Mycheal Danna have written charming music and the special effects are a riot. Until we come to a point in the story when Ledger has to take three of the ladies through the magic mirror, at which point he turns into impersonations of himself, which is a lot of fun. The first is played by Johnny Depp, and that’s all right; the second by Jude Law, and that’s all right too; the third, however, drowns us in excess and even Colin Farrell, who is fine in the part, cannot rescue the logorrhea of the director, who throws into the last episode everything he ever thought up about everything – and the movie is swamped and goes under. He has a fecund imagination but no talent to cull the fruit.  Too bad.  A lost film. A lost performance.


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