O Menino E O Mundo(2013) – A Musical Bildungsroman

the_boy_and_the_world_-_p_-_2014.jpg_0Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo, 2013) directed by Brazilian animator Alê Abreu tells the bittersweet story of a little boy who goes in search of his missing father from the idyllic village of naive, simplistic childhood to bustling towns of growth, progress and knowledge. The music elevates the whole narrative to a whole new level, with its instrumental and folk touches.  The drawings are mostly minimalist, created so as to look like a child’s drawings splattered with a wild but intelligent sense of colour. Continue reading

Idealism and its Aftermaths – ZOOTOPIA (2016)

Zootopia.jpgIt appears that I’m simply against animated film produced by mainstream, popular animation studios. So I found it hard to ignore the hardened prejudice that gloated maliciously at the premise of American-Dream-turned-sour-but-yet-somehow-managed-to-save-face-due-to-the-individualism-of-the-hardworking-underdog, or precisely, the hardworking bunny rabbit. While the story was one of empowerment and social mobility, and therefore, the same-old, I was delighted at the meta-generic Godfather spoof and the Sloth bureaucracy. The Fox is charming and suave, basically the same-old Flynn Rider, with an adorable suave shrewdness, bad only due to circumstances, and not incorrigible; the Bunny whats-her-name naïve and optimistic like those rote female protagonists representing a better future and converting the beast into prince–in this case, good cop. Continue reading

Kung Fu Panda 3, or How to Become Supercool with Awesome Powers Overnight


“The more you take, the less you have.” With this paradoxical and overwhelmingly simple statement embarks another movie of the quasi-Asian, quasi-American farrago – Kung Fu Panda 3. It seems to be an indictment of consumer culture and capitalist greed. A chink from the philosophy of the Tao, Grand Master Oogway’s dictum suggests to the unwary audience (me, of course) a breath of rejuvenating fresh air from the mystic elusiveness of eastern philosophy. Sadly, the movie makers have concocted a philosophic base mixing the rejuvenating fresh air of eastern thought with the cool mintiness of American optimism, manufactured to guarantee the dazzlingly white-toothed cheerfulness of billboard dazzlers. Continue reading

BIG HERO 6 (2014): On the Un”health”iness of Revenge


(Spoilers galore!)

A 14-year old genius, Hero (Hiro) takes revenge for his brother’s martyrdom-cum-murder. He is helped by his brother’s nerdy and eccentric friends and a health-care robot, Baymax. Perhaps, I am mistaken, but Japanese anime and Disney’s ordinary brew seems to have been unappealingly mixed up; the characters have Japanese names, but look American, the place is San Fransokyo in a future era.

There is a lot of ‘butt’fights (bot-fights, the future of boxing), car chases, super gadgets, financial no-concerns even though the protagonist is an orphan (inevitably, he has a rich friend), flying, and more flying, narrow  escapes, destruction and vain attempts at humour, primarily by Baymax’s Sheldonic* health tips and comments and Totoro-ish build. The subplot deals with the greed versus ethics theme.

The surprising thing is the scene of mourning where everybody is in black. Death and grieving, normally so out-of-place and convenient in Disney, looked unfamiliar but real (it needed a futuristic setting for realism). Another offbeat design is the pro-health message (those who do health care are equally superheroes), despite the violence and high speeding (“Always buckle up!”).

The final message: Revenge is no good. You lose what you lose, you can merely hold on to memories and souvenirs, in this particular case, robots. Death is real.

CLOWNIN’ Score: 3/5

* of the Big Bang Theory TV series, NOT the author.

The Suppression of Curiosity and of the Individual in Alma

Alma (2009, Spain) is an animated short film by ex-Pixar animator, Rodrigo Blaas. The storyline goes thus: a little girl, passing along a desolate snowy street is “enchanted” by an eerie toyshop that mysteriously unlocks its door and lures her in. The doll that fascinates her keeps shifting farther and farther into the shop, and the child, unsuspecting and with utter awe, reaches out and touches the doll. After a series of nightmarish, pediophobiac shots, the child disappears and we only hear the sound of muffled anxious breathing from within the doll. True to her name, Alma, which means “soul” in Spanish, the child’s soul has become entrapped within the doll. The film ends on this disturbingly ambiguous note.

The film’s producer, Cécile Hokes, while admitting that the film has no moral lesson, remarked that Alma is the story of “a little girl, very nosy, who is interested in everything and who would be punished because of her curiosity.” The tragic doom of the child is attributed to her curiosity (read nosiness). Continue reading