Archives for posts with tag: animation

If you’re already struggling to stick to your new year’s resolutions, take some inspiration from the movies. Whether it’s finding a new job, taking risks or embracing adventure, there’s a film to help see you through, well, until February at least.

Office Space (1999)

Stuck in traffic, headed for a job you despise, with bosses you despise even more, the joy of office politics and bureaucratic pettiness sucking the life out of you. You’re then trapped in a cubicle with not even a glimpse of daylight, being forced to work extra hours with nothing to look forward to.

Meet Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), Initech employee. Peter hates his life but finds it too hard to say no. When Initech hires consultants set on cutting the workforce, Peter (with a little help from a hypnotherapist) decides to take things in hand and royally screw them over.

No one’s suggesting you go to the criminal lengths of Peter and his disillusioned colleagues to get back at the company you loathe, but it might just give you the push to find a career you’re truly in love with.

 

About Schmidt (2002)

Warren R. Schmidt (Jack Nicholson), 66 years old of Omaha, Nebraska pours out his feelings in letters to a Tanzanian orphan he sponsors through Childreach. He always dreamt of being someone, of owning his own business, of going places, but life sort of got in the way.

After he retires and his wife passes suddenly, he needs to re-evaluate his future and work out what to do with the rest of his life. Warren goes on a road trip in his RV, on a pilgrimage of sorts, and revisits his old stomping grounds. He tries to find meaning, some sort of significance to life, and learns a lot about himself.

About Schmidt is a great film to watch if you’re dealing with change, trying to work out what you really want from life, or struggling to see where your place is in the world.

 

Adaptation (2002)

Adaptation certainly has many life lessons to teach us. Charlie (Nicolas Cage) is a screenwriter who is struggling to come up with an adaptation of the best-selling book, The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep). As Charlie’s writer’s block deepens, his insecurities heighten and his self-loathing reaches a crescendo. If this wasn’t bad enough his less talented, over-confident twin brother, Donald (also played by Nicolas Cage), is offered big bucks for his hammy, clichéd thriller script.

Inspired by the real Charlie Kaufman’s struggle to adapt the book, this film is about taking risks, controlling your inner demons and ultimately avoiding winding up a walking cliché.

 

Mary and Max (2009)

A young Australian girl named Mary (Toni Collette) who is unhappy at home decides to write to a random person in an American phone book, who turns out to be a middle-aged New Yorker called Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Both are friendless with little hope for the future – Max is overweight and depressed and Mary’s parents have little time for her.

Battling loneliness and negative influences, they forge a connection and correspond for the next two decades. Despite their obvious differences, through their mutual support they work to change their paths. Mary and Max is about being spontaneous, trying to stay positive and making lasting connections.

 

Up (2009)

The young Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) is one step ahead of most people – he’s found his soul mate early on and they settle in a lovely home. When life begins throwing them curve balls they stick together and work things through. However, their lifelong dream of visiting Paradise Falls in South America always seems just out of reach. When his wife Ellie passes away, Carl shuts himself off and fights to save his cherished home from demolition.

This poignant tale teaches us to embrace adventure and voyage into the world but ultimately to follow your dreams before it’s too late. Take that trip of a lifetime now. Find a way to make it happen. Don’t wait for a health scare, a relationship breakup or retirement to make changes or live the life you’ve always wanted.

Seriously creepy films for Halloween.

Nosferatu (1922, Murnau)
Silent, German classic of the first incarnation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Max Schreck, with his claw-like fingers, razor-sharp teeth and pointed ears, is terrifying as Count Orlok. If his looks are scary, it’s his slow-moving, shadowy gait on the stairs as he makes his way to Ellen’s bedroom that really gives you the shivers. Typical of German Expressionist film, the use of light and shadow is integral to the visual narrative and heightens the suspense. Stoker’s widow, Florence, tried to destroy all copies of Nosferatu, claiming she was not asked permission for the adaptation. Fortunately for us, some copies were missed.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Polanski)
Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes star as newlyweds who move in to an apartment block in new York City, where there are many sinister goings on, including unexplained deaths. Rosemary (Farrow) quickly becomes disconcerted with their surroundings and their peculiar and intrusive next door neighbours. The strangeness in the film is slow-burning reaching an almighty climax when the neighbours try to steal Rosemary’s ‘unusual’ baby. The genuine terror Rosemary displays when she sees her child for the first time is palpable. Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.

Eraserhead (1977, Lynch)
David Lynch’s first full-length feature is arguably his darkest. Shot in black and white to emphasise the industrial landscape, there is no dialogue, only the sounds of machines, for the first ten minutes of the film. Henry (Jack Nance) and his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) appear to live in a soulless world. Mary soon becomes pregnant and gives birth to a grotesque mutant baby, straight out of a Francis Bacon painting. Can Henry learn to love it? Apparently Stanley Kubrick made the cast of The Shining watch Eraserhead in preparation for filming. Says it all really.

Marquis (1989, Xhonneux)
Not exactly ‘Halloween scary’, but one of the creepiest films I have ever seen. Set in the Bastille before the French Revolution, a group of incarcerates played by animal puppets await their fate. The main character, the Marquis (who is a dog), has been accused of trying to overthrow the king. He spends most of his day writing and talking to his penis (yes, his penis), which talks back to him (yes, it has a face). What’s probably most creepy about this film, as well as the inter-species breeding, is when about half way through the film, you realise that a talking dog having a conversation with his penis has become normal.

Little Otik (2000, Svankmajer)
A barren couple attempt to create a child from a tree in this horror fantasy based on a Czech fairytale. Alas their tree baby is not the little darling they had dreamt of, and it sets out on a path of gluttonous murder. The ‘baby’ has that overtly jerky animation synonymous with Jan Svankmajer’s films, which only heightens the creep factor. This, combined with the paedophilic neighbour who pursues the precocious little girl living upstairs, all adds up to a pretty disturbing movie.

After compiling this list, I’ve realised that three of these films centre around a creepy baby. How strange…Happy Halloween everyone!