ENJOY THE SHOW
"Don't be afraid. Be brave." Passion River Films is highlighting one of their best releases from this fall, an animated documentary film titled Liyana. This originally premiered in 2017, but since then has picked up over 35 Jury & Audience Awards from numerous festivals all over the world. After playing at various fests for over two years, it's now available to watch on VOD or DVD. Liyana is a genre-defying documentary that tells the story of five children in the Kingdom of Eswatini who turn past trauma into an original fable about a girl named Liyana who embarks on a perilous quest to save her young twin brothers. The film weaves her animated journey together with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance and hope. It looks like an imaginative and inspiring film to discover about the incredible power of storytelling.
"Just took a little bit of work, and a whole lotta love." Sony Pictures Animations has released the short film Hair Love for everyone to watch. This initially premiered in front of The Angry Birds Movie 2 in theaters, but I don't think many people saw that - luckily it's on the web now. It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers & daughters, by former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry. He also wrote a book also titled "Hair Love", which you can find at bookstores everywhere. I love how honest and pure and beautiful this short is, especially without dialogue. There's a lovely score by Daniel D. Crawford & Paul Mounsey that compliments the story. Watch below.
"Look at their faces! Tell me you want to continue…?!" Another gorgeous animated short film to watch. Le Mans 1955 is a short film directed by Belgian animation filmmaker Quentin Baillieux. It first premiered last year and played at a number of prestigious film festivals worldwide, now it's available to watch online. The 3D animated short is about the infamous Le Mans 1955 race in France, during which 80 people were killed when one of the cars flew off the track and into the stands where audiences were watching. "And yet, the race goes on." The next day it continues - nothing can stop the race. This features a beautiful geometric animation style that is unlike anything I've seen, which makes it all the more mesmerizing to behold. The flames are especially stunning. And with Le Mans 66 (also known as Ford v Ferrari) in theaters now, this is a perfect follow-up to that. Featuring the voices of Nathan Willcocks, Joe Sheridan, & Nicholas Mead.
"Fate does funny things sometimes…" A fascinating mix of hand-drawn animation and doc storytelling, this award-winning short film is now available to watch online. The Driver is Red is a short doc film made by animation filmmaker Randall Christopher, and after picking up awards at major festivals all throughout 2018, it's now available for everyone to see. Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary film follows secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he searches for a mysterious man named Ricardo Klement. What he discovered in the remote outskirts of Buenos Aires would send shock waves around the world. Featuring Mark Pinter as the voice of Zvi Aharoni. I appreciate how unique, and how detailed, the sketch-style animation is in this.
"We're going on a quest!" Disney has revealed another official international trailer for Pixar's Onward, their next original project that's both written and directed by Dan Scanlon (of Monsters University). This new Pixar movie arrives in theaters March, coming up in just a few months, their first of two original movies out next year (Soul being the other). Onward is set in a "suburban fantasy world" and follows these two elf brothers who could not be more unalike. Tom Holland voices Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt voices his brother Barney Lightfoot. The only other main voices listed include Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The two brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. Now with the big reveal of the half-father pants thing out of the way, they can finally give us a taste of what else is going on in this. And I'm very, very curious. The more we see, the better this looks - which is usually the case with Pixar.
Watch out below! How about something funny to end the week, maybe brighten up your day with a bit of animated skiing humor. Hors Piste is an award-winning short film made by talented four students at École des Nouvelles Images in Avignon, France. A few are also involved in MegaComputer animation collective. This short is an amusing 6-minute comedy about two ski patrol rescuers who head to a mountain top to pick up a crashed skier. However, their journey down doesn't go as planned and things fall apart fast. The two guys are named Salami and Parmesan, which might be a bit too much but it's okay. This has an impressive amount of expressive animation which is important at making it at universally funny as it is. Jump right in.
"Today, I want to tell you about my little sister." Always happy to feature stop-motion animation - shorts or features. This award-winning, wonderful stop-motion short is a very personal film from Chinese animator Siqi Song and it's worth just a few minutes of your time to watch. 妹妹 Sister is a stop-motion film about a man who thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently? The voice is provided by Bingyang Liu, with Siqi Song doing most of the animation herself. This won the Jury Award for Animated Short at the Austin Film Festival and Best Animated Short at the competitive Hollyshorts Film Festival. Not only is it an emotional story, but the animation itself is lovely. I hope we'll see more fantastic films from Siqi Song soon.
"Let's get weird." "Boom." 20th Century Fox has revealed a "Super Secret" new trailer for Blue Sky Studios' animated movie Spies In Disguise, the animated movie opening Christmas Day coming up. This makes it the fourth trailer so far, and honestly, it seems they were saving the best for last as this looks the slickest. This animated comedy follows two people: Lance and Walter. One is a super cool and charming spy, and the other invents the super cool gadgets Lance uses. When Walter turns Lance into a pigeon, they must learn to rely on each other like never before in order to save the world. Will Smith plays Lance, and Tom Holland as Walter. The voice cast also includes Ben Mendelsohn, Karen Gillan, Rashida Jones, DJ Khaled, & Masi Oka. Inspired by the short film Pigeon: Impossible, about a spy battling a pigeon. This final trailer has some seriously stunning shots, with tons of color all over, an intriguing highlight of this last look. Enjoy.
"She really was the sunshine girl!" GKids Films has debuted a final full-length official trailer (with English subtitles) for the Japanese animation film titled Weathering With You, the highly anticipated next film from writer/director Makoto Shinkai, who achieved worldwide acclaimed with the beloved animated film Your Name. This first premiered in North America at TIFF earlier this fall, now opening in US theaters in January. Weathering with You is another original film from Shinkai, featuring some stunningly gorgeous animation. The Japanese title is actually Tenki no ko, which translates to Child of Weather, as the film is about a young man who moves to Tokyo and befriends a girl who can manipulate the weather (she has the power to stop the rain and clear the sky so the sun can shine). The original Japanese version features the voices of Kotaro Daigo & Nana Mori. It's another lovely, whimsical Japanese film that I do recommend.
"These other trolls aren't like us… They dance different! They sing different." Universal has debuted a new official trailer for Trolls World Tour, the sequel to DreamWorks Animation's movie musical Trolls from 2016. A member of hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb, aided by her father King Thrash, wants to destroy all other kinds of music to let rock reign supreme. In an adventure that will take them well beyond what they’ve known before, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over the lands, devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop, and Rock. The voice cast includes J Balvin, Rachel Bloom, Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, Ester Dean, Jamie Dornan, Ron Funches, Flula Borg, Ozzy Osbourne, Anthony Ramos, Karan Soni, Sam Rockwell, Kenan Thompson, Charlyne Yi, with George Clinton, and Mary J. Blige. Rock on, little trolls.
"Gary's been snailnapped!!" Paramount Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, the latest epic live-action hybrid SpongeBob movie from Nickelodeon. This is a follow-up to his other theatrically-released movies, most recently Sponge Out of Water from 2015, and the original SpongeBob movie back in 2004. SpongeBob and Patrick embark on a hilarious adventure to The Lost City of Atlantic City in order to #SaveGary in this sponge-tastic sequel. Featuring the voices of Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Awkwafina, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, Douglas Lawrence, and Reggie Watts. This continues with the 3D animation style, even taking SpongeBob and Patrick up into the real world - where the encounter the head of Keanu Reeves in a tumbleweed. Crazy. This really does look like all kinds of amusing under-the-sea fun, might be worth seeing.
This might be the most beautiful animated film of the year. My Moon is an animated short running only 8 minutes, made by the very talented animator Eusong Lee. It is a lovely film about a relationship between three celestial bodies; a romance between Earth, Moon, and Sun. Presented by King of Pine in collaboration with Chromosphere, an animation studio in LA. Eusong Lee won the Silver Medal Student Academy Award in 2013 for his short Will, and follows up with this gem. It's beyond gorgeous, with a heart-melting score by David Kamp to go along with all the stunning visuals. There isn't much dialogue in this, but the voices we do hear sound natural, almost as if they were recorded right out in public which makes this short all the more authentic. I love everything about this stellar film, totally entranced by it from the moment it begins. Enjoy.