THE GOOD NEWS: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit opens as the number #1 film of the week, with a box office gross of 16.1 million.THE BAD NEWS: The Aardman
studiostorage warehouse burns down, destroying much of the company’s archives, props and history. Full CNN report here.
The final digest sized, pulp paper issue of TV GUIDE is on sale this week. At least they go out with a bang: 9 covers featuring current TV celebrities recreating classic TV Guide covers from the past. It was hard to choose between the Homer Simpson/Flintstones tribute and the Conan O’Brien/Howdy Doody cover, so I bought ‘em both.
In an effort to raise money for the Red Cross to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, the CESD Talent Agency is sending their clients to the monthly Los Angeles Comic Book & Science Fiction Convention this Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium Expo Center. Appearing in person to sign autographs for this cause will be cartoon voice actors Richard Horvitz (Invader Zim), Bob Bergen (Porky Pig), Kevin Michael Richardson (The Batman), Scott Menville (Teen Titans), Bill Farmer (Goofy) and many others. The show opens at 10am. For more details click here.
FILM THREAT on the current status of Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH.
As usual on the first Thursday of every month, I’ll be showing several 16mm films at the Steve Allen Theatre (at 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz) October 6th at 8pm, preceeding a live concert by Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys.This gig has finally caught on (despite limited press coverage) and the crowd grows larger every month. If you want to be musically transported back to the late 20s/early 30s – this be the place. I usually run a few Fleischer cartoons to set the mood and Janet usually sings a few songs that are familiar from movies and cartoons of the era.Join us!
Unless I’m mistaken, I’ve now seen every substantial theatrical animated feature of 2005 (except CHICKEN LITTLE). MADGASCAR, CORPSE BRIDE and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE are certainly worthy films for Oscar consideration. But I think I’ve seen the hands-down winner: WALLACE & GROMIT in THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT.First off, (for the three people out there who care about such details) as I am someone chronicling animated features – not only for future updates to my THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE, but for Leonard Maltin’s MOVIE GUIDE as well – I have to note the film’s several title discrepancies. On the posters and ads the title is presented as “WALLACE & GROMIT The Curse Of the Were-Rabbit” with the characters names twice as large as the subtitle. The poster’s credit block (small print) have it as “WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” (all the same size) with a colon separating the character name from the subtitle. On the film itself, the title is presented this way: “WALLACE & GROMIT” as one card, “in” as a second card, and “THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” as a third card. Never since ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF have the film’s principals and the film’s title been so intertwined and confusing!Regardless, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is certainly the best animated feature of the year. Thoroughly entertaining, inventive, charming, hilarious, clever and fun. A total pleasure, produced with the highest standards of craft and creativity. I won’t go into story details – you should just go and enjoy that for yourselves – but I really admired, despite the story’s simplicity, the filmmakers ability to cram as many jokes and visual sight gags into the 85 minute running time. It never feels forced or overwhelming. The audience I saw it with laughed consistently the entire time.Dreamworks did an interesting thing: before the film begins (at least at the press screening I attended) they tagged on a three minute film explaining the film’s stop motion process – with behind the scenes footage, explaining what plasticine is, showing the set builders and animators at work. I think this was a good idea – I’m concerned that audiences are now so familiar with computer graphics, they’re unaware of the painstaking work that stop motion animation is. The animation in CORPSE BRIDE was so smooth, I’ll bet most viewers of that film probably thought it was the same technique as ROBOTS or THE INCREDIBLES. I applaud Dreamworks for informing the audience that what they are about to see was produced by hand, frame by frame, and shot on motion picture film. I predict this feature will be a box-office smash of SHREK 2 proportions. I hope AARDMAN is considering another feature length WALLACE & GROMIT adventure. I’ll be first in line.
Our buddy Daniel Goldmark was interviewed about Music and the Hollywood Cartoon last week on WNYC’s music discussion show, SOUNDTRACK. You can listen to it here. His new book TUNES FOR ‘TOONS’ is now on sale – and will be reviewed in Friday’s WALL STREET JOURNAL. Congratulations Daniel!
Here’s a photo of me at the CHAPTERS bookstore in Ottawa last week, shortly before my book signing, with copies of both my new books on the shelves. I will try not to keep hyping these projects, but it’s rare to have two books debut at the same time. Both THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE and PINK PANTHER: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE should appear in local bookstores near you within the next few weeks – and can be ordered on Amazon.com now.
PINK PANTHER BOOK: Ok, I think I have the answer. Apparently, according to my Pink Panther book designer at DK, the U.S. version WILL include a dvd of several DePatie Freleng cartoons.OTTAWA FEST: Bernard Joaquin went to an Ottawa Animation Festival workshop I was a panelist on – Creating Compelling Characters – and he sketched and posted a portrait of me and co-moderator Ellen Besen on his blog. If anyone else has photos of me (or Amid) in Ottawa – please send them in.
Brew reader Greg Chenoweth writes:
Brew people (and anyone else for that matter) can order the Pink Panther book with the DVD from Amazon’s Canadian website: www.amazon.ca. If you have an account set up with Amazon.com in the USA or like Amazon.co.uk in Britain, their account will work with Amazon.ca in Canada or any other Amazon.com website.
I’m checking with my editors at DK to confirm if the DVD version will be on sale in the U.S. – but for now, the version with the dvd is definitely available on stores in Canada and online from the Canadian Amazon.com.
I’m en route to Los Angeles today, from an exhausting week in Ottawa. Met many Brew readers – including our two festival pass contest winners – and had a ball running Pink Panther cartoons, signing copies of my new books, and displaying the WORST CARTOONS EVER program at the Saturday night animators party. Amid and I will be back to regular blogging by Tuesday. So forgive the delay in new information. We will be back with a full report on our adventures later in the week.By the way, they are selling the PINK PANTHER book in Canada with a dvd of early Pink Panther cartoons attached. I know you can know order the book on Amazon.com and they will ship the book to you immediately. Does anyone out there know if the Amazon.com version has a dvd attached? The publishers told me first, a long time ago, that a dvd would be attached to the book. Months later they said it would not. I will check with DK when I get back to the states. In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if any readers can let me know if the book has shown up in local bookstores – with or without dvds.Thanks.
Tonight we started screening films at the Ottawa Internation Animation Festival. I’m on the feature jury, so I won’t give my opinions yet on the full length films until I see them all – but tonight we saw FRANK & WENDY, a bizarre animated feature comedy from Estonia. All I can say is: strange.The shorts screened tonight were amazing. None of them were bad, even the experimental non-narrative ones were entertaining and visually dazzling. Two in particular, CURSE OF THE VOODOO CHILD (Steve Woloshen) and Chris Hinton’s “cNOTE” were beautiful, kinetic works of art. DELIRIUM FILMS OPENING TITLE by Nebojsa Rogic (pictured above right) was perhaps the most incredible thing shown tonight. A completely gonzo version of a movie opening logo as you’ll ever see.As for the narrative films, these three were winners in my book: MILCH by Igor Kovalyov (produced by Klasky Csupo) was a superb and surreal slice of life: FISH HEADS FUGUE by Lauren Indovia and Lindsey Mayer-Beug (produced at the Rhode Island School of Design) is a tour-de-force of all animation techniques; and John Canemaker’s moving story of his relationship with his father, THE MOON AND THE SON, was absolutely riveting.There were also commercials, promos and student films screened – with Luis Blanco and Michael Uman’s Comedy Central i.d. spots (pictured above left) real standouts.So far so good. I also met a few Brew readers – and that is always rewarding. Hope to meet more of you as the week goes on.
Amid and I will be lurking about in Ottawa for the next seven days. If posting here is light, that’s why. Here are some places you can find me: Friday September 23rd 10am – PINK PANTHER RETROSPECTIVE at the Bytowne Cinema
Saturday September 24th 1pm – PINK PANTHER RETROSPECTIVE at the NAC, Southam Hall
Saturday September 24th 5pm – Book Signing at the CHAPTERS BOOKSTORE
Saturday September 24th 7pm & 9pm – WORST CARTOONS EVER! screening at BARRYMORESSee you there!