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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"It's Just National."

Nothing more need be said. Those who were there, were there, and they know.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pixar Films, Ranked

This year Pixar is 20 years old, and with the release of Inside Out, they've now made 15 films. Over five years ago, I wondered, in complete admiration, "when will Pixar ever make a bad film?" Well, since that time they actually have made at least one which might actually be called "bad"--or at least genuinely lacking in either artistry or entertainment. Other than that, though, it remains the case that even their weakest movies score at least a B-, and distinguishing between their top ten is almost an impossible task. Almost. So herewith are my complete definitive rankings. Debate, disagree, and enjoy.

15. Cars 2. Okay to watch, with some decent gags, but basically entirely derivative, and it shows.
14. A Bug's Life. A classic story, but most of the characters are basically just animated jokes.
13. Monsters University. Would have been better if they'd stuck the original history, with Sully and Mike having met in their fifth grade geography class with Suzie Boyle.
12. Toy Story. The first, and a wonderful movie, though computer animation has improved so much in such a relatively short time.
11. Ratatouille. A lot of folks consider this an utter masterpiece, but for myself, I've never been able to overlook the lame, level-of-a-Hannah-Barbera-cartoon plot device of Remy controlling Linguini by pulling his hair.
10. Up. Both deeply moving and gut-bustingly hilarious, but the final scenes included more action-adventure movie tropes than were necessary.
9. Inside Out. An absolutely charming and inventive movie--though, perhaps appropriately given the characters and story, possibly Pixar's single most emotionally manipulative one as well.
8. Brave. I can remember this film being adored when it first came out, but later the appreciation of it cooled. It remains terrific for me, if only because straightforward, unapologetic, mother-daughter movies are so rare.
7. Cars. Almost nobody likes this move as much as me, but I love the low-key emotional feel of it, not to mention its defense of localism.
6. The Incredibles. Quite possibly the finest comic movie ever made. Certainly it's basically impossible for any adaption of the Fantastic Four comic book not to seem like a rip-off now.
5. Toy Story 3. Really wonderful, with bonus points for sticking what was bound to be about the most difficult and delicate ending imaginable.
4. Monsters Inc.. Flat-out Pixar's funniest movie. Beautiful and touching story, yes, with great characterizations, but first and foremost: just utterly, utterly hilarious.
3. Wall-E. Their most thematically and artistically ambitious and original movie to date; amazing to watch and listen to, and thoughtful too.
2. Finding Nemo. Pixar's strongest story, and most eye-catchingly beautiful as well. It probably should be number one, except that...
1. Toy Story 2 is a flawless movie. Not a single scene or line or joke or visual reference doesn't contribute to the whole. A movie which (along with at least a couple of others mentioned here) deserves to stand with Pinocchio or Spirited Away as one of the greatest animated films of all time.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Saturday Night Live Music: "Run for the Roses"

Way too mellow for many people's tastes, I know. But still, for today, more appropriate than ever.