Disney’s The Princess and the Frog? Finally I’ve seen it.
I’m an animation buff, after all. For that reason I’m glad to have seen it (so
I can say that I have only one more movie to go to finish the Oscars’ 2009
animated feature list, that being the import The Secret of Kells). Another
animated film I can check off.
[Update: My family and I at last saw The Secret of Kells on Saturday, April 17, which was a birthday celebration for me. See my separate post on Kells.]
There was a time
when -- and my sons can attest to this -- I promised myself I would go see every
animated feature that made it to the theaters. That seemed like a good thing
for an animation buff to do in this era of renewed interest in the art. Briefly
seemed, that is.
The movie Hellboy 2: The Golden Armybegins with a bedtime story told by John Hurt, accompanied by a CG animation montage that looks as if it were cast with Lego Bionicles and hand-carved wooden dolls. Later, the film takes in some vicious, piranha-like Tooth Fairies; an elephantine 8-foot troll named Mr. Wink; some drunken product placement, courtesy of Tecate Beer; a brash singalong, courtesy of Barry Manilow (Jesus H!); the most diverting menagerie of critters since early Star Wars; and not one but two love stories, one involving the demonic Hellboy and his pyrokinetic lady love and the other involving, well, a fish-man and an elf. Oh, and there's a faceless ectomorph in a diving suit who speaks with a comical German accent, a troll lady with a deathly fear of canaries, and an Angel of Death that is the most exhilarating take on that idea I've seen since Terry Gilliam et al.'s Baron Munchhausen. There's also a ton of fighting, a shameless baby-in-jeopardy scene, a cameo by Howdy Doody, and a bunch of bathetic guy talk about how girls are hard to understand (the more bathetic because the guys are the demon and the fish-man). Man, this movie is just plain weird.
I Was a Teenage Movie Maker: The Book by Don Glut. Foreword by Bill Warren. McFarland and Company, 2007. $29.95.
"The true amateur, even in consort with other amateurs, is always working alone, gauging his success according to his care for the work rather than according to the accomplishments or recognitions of others." --Stan Brakhage, "In Defense of Amateur."
There are limits to any kind of cultural criticism, including comics criticism. When I write a review, I celebrate the achievement of the art under scrutiny, or I talk about how the art falls short of my own inevitably subjective "standards." but what I can'tdiscuss, unless I know the artist personally, is how meaningful the process of making art is to the artist him- or herself. I'm sure there are thousands of professional and amateur cartoonists who can't draw worth a damn (at least according to my "standards") but whose lives have been profoundly enhanced by their art. Instead of sitting in front of the TV chomping down Doritos, these folks make pictures, publish fanzines, build websites, make friends through the mail and at conventions, and in general refuse to passively drift through life waiting for Three's Company to entertain them. So why should they care if I don't like their work? Their art has inherent value to them; they'll continue to make their art regardless of what the critics say, and good for them.