Inside Out


Viewed – 24 December 2015  Online-rental

Pixar seem to have been a bit hit and miss in recent years.  For every Monsters University or Toy Story 3, we’ve had a Brave or an Up … so I’ve actually felt more satisfied with Disney’s own creations like Tangled or Wreck It Ralph.  However we now come to this, Pixar’s latest and rather intriguing effort.

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This follows the simple story of Riley, an 11 year old girl who is uprooted from her cosy existence in Minnesota when her parents move to San Francisco.  It’s not long that she begins to pine for ‘back home’ and struggles to fit in at her new school.  At the same time, we get a look inside young Riley’s head where four little beings are hard at work, and represent her varying emotions; joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust.  It’s not entirely a new concept but done with no end of imagination as we see the four beings squabble and work hard to get Riley through her day as different aspects of her personality and memories come under threat form current circumstances.

Inside-Out-Riley-I found this incredibly entertaining and it was really well executed.  The idea of different islands representing important parts of Riley’s personality was ingenious (imagination land, goofball land, family land etc.) and with Pixar’s wonderful style and gorgeous animation, it was a world brought stunningly to life.  The emotions that run Riley’s head were also very well realised, especially Joy who tries to make good of every situation and also Sadness who has the uncanny ability of bringing doubt and unhappiness into everything, whilst still managing to be likeable.  These two emotions become the main focus of the story as Riley faces different obstacles and I loved where it went, bringing in imaginary friend Bing-bong and various other funny characters (the ‘my hat’ police, the workers who tidy up the deep memories archives, the imaginary boyfriend).

For an animated movie I found this especially creative and it didn’t dumb down the over-arking message for a kiddie-friendly audience.  I got quite emotional towards the end, and this was both thought-provoking and feel good, with some themes really hitting home.  One of Pixar’s finest.  Essential stuff.

Verdict:  5 /5

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Scenes that make the movie


I’ve been thinking about this idea for a post.  Ten memorable scenes from some of my favourite movies of all time, or simply great moments that make a particular movie going experience stick in my head.  This may become a continuing series as I recall other great moments…but for now, here are ten stand out moments from great movies:  Minor spoilers.

Akira

Teddy bears & hallucinations.

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As a telepathic Kaneda post-brush with an infected child of the Akira experiment, recovers in hospital, he begins to experience terrifying hallucinations where teddy bears and toys comes to life as his powers start to manifest in horrifying ways.  One of the defining moments of this complex and ground-breaking Anime.

An America Werewolf In London

Stick to the road

AAWIL Moores

Two back packers after stumbling into local watering hole The Slaughtered Lamb are ushered back out into the night, with simply the warning of ‘stay on the road, keep clear of the moores’ – which they subsequently ignore and are soon stalked by a blood thirsty werewolf in John Landis’ still superb 1984 horror classic.

Blue Velvet

In Dreams

Blue Dean

Amateur detective Kyle MacLachlan gets a little too close to nut-job mobster Dennis Hopper who takes him for a visit to his cross-dressing neighbourhood friend Dean Stockwell, who lip-syncs to Roy Orbinson’s timeless classic in possibly one of David Lynch’s most freaky and brilliant scenes.

Boogie Nights

Disco montage

Boogie Nights

As former nobody Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) rises to infamy in the seventies porn movie industry, we are treated to this fabulous disco montage, cut seamlessly with various shots of Dirk ‘in action’ or receiving awards and culminating in a wonderfully choreographed dance number with fellow stars Reed Rothchild (John C Reilly) and Roller-girl (Heather Graham).

Eyes Wide Shut

The secret sex party

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Only in a Stanley Kubrick movie can a high society sex orgy come across as creepy and surreal.  The master film maker in probably his most misunderstood work, presents the viewer with a secret society that Tom Cruise manages to sneak inside of and witness the debauchery of most-likely high profile dignitaries with various high class call girls.  All to a haunting, incredibly eerie score.

Goodfellas

Paranoia, drugs and guns

goodfellas paranoid

In the final act of the movie an increasingly paranoid Ray Liotta, struggles to juggle family responsibilities with fencing guns for Robert DeNiro and avoiding what he thinks is an FBI helicopter during the day from hell.  Expertly edited for maximum tension and intensity by the grand master Martin Scorsese.

Monsters Inc.

A chase through the doors

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After discovering the main villain’s evil scheme, Billy Crystal’s motor-mouthed Mike and John Goodman’s lovable Sully are chased by Steve Buscemi’s dastardly Randall into the inner workings of the Monsters Inc. facility and through a plethora of doors into the human world.  Exciting, inventive and visually stunning.

Pulp Fiction

Jack Rabbit Slims

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In a mob movie with pop-culture quoting wise guys and a soundtrack to die for, who’d have thought one of the best scenes would be a night out between John Travolta’s mob hitman and gangsters-mol Uma Thurman?  Culminating in the world famous Twist Contest.  Sharp dialogue, a highly memorable setting, and an after-math that segway’s into probably the other best scene in this movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Omaha Beach Landing

After visiting the final resting place of hundreds of soldiers, an elderly veteran recalls his experience with tears in his eyes – switch to the shocking beach onslaught in Omaha in 1944 as thousands of troops fight against impossible odds.  A stunning opening to one of the greatest WWII movies ever made, with star (Tom Hanks) and director (Steven Spielberg) on blistering form.

Trainspotting

Clubbing to Blondie.

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Taking a break from ripping people off and doing drugs, Ewan McGregor’s Renton finds himself on a night out with friends, hitting the clubs and listening to Heaven 17 and Blondie (or Sleeper doing a marvellous version of Atomic), where he meets Diane (Kelly MacDonald) and leads to a montage of sex, alcohol and pulse-pounding music in Danny Boyle’s break-out gem.

Do you agree with my list?  Have favourite scenes of your own?  Leave your comments below or link to your own lists…

Monsters University


Viewed – 25 December 2013  Blu-ray

A daunting prospect … a sequel to possibly my favourite animated movie of all time.  I absolutely loved Monsters Inc. and consider it Pixar’s crowning achievement … funny, a perfect ‘buddy comedy’, charming, magical and with gorgeous animation and a brilliant concept.  This is more a prequel showing the early years, mainly during University of much loved characters Mike and Sully (Billy Crystal and John Goodman) as fledgling monsters who dream of nothing more than becoming Scarers one days and working at Monsters Incorporated.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

Clearly a parody of every campus comedy you’ve ever seen, and seemingly closely resembling Revenge Of The Nerds … I loved the idea of Mike and Sully becoming part of the least popular frat house on campus and having to compete against the more skilled & scarier houses for a chance to learn to be a Scarer.  The banter between the wealth of imaginative creations is first rate, and again Goodman & Crystal work brilliantly together.  There are also plenty of cameos and appearances from other supporting Monsters Inc characters, including Steve Buscemi’s chameleon-like Randy.

With less interaction with the human world this time and more of a focus on the monster world, this does lose ‘something’ that the original movie had, and with a hectic storyline and sometimes too many characters, it fails to zip along like it did before … oh and the ending was anti-climactic.  But these are small gripes for a stunning looking movie (Pixar at the top of their game) and plenty of jokes and fun moments meaning it’s impossible not to come away with a big grin on your face.  Pixar’s best movie in a while.

Verdict:  4 /5

Wreck-It Ralph


Viewed – 20 June 2013  Blu-ray

CGI has pretty much taken over traditional hand drawn cell animation, and where it hasn’t (such as the movies of Studio Ghibli) it is still used to enhance the art.  Simply put animated movies look stunning.  So these days, they have to bring something to the table new and exciting to stand out in a crowded genre.  Does this one have what it takes?

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Ralph is a video-game villain, modeled it seems on the classic Donkey Kong game he plays the wrecking giant who destroys a tower block, until Fix It Felix (see: Jump Man, aka Mario) comes to the rescue, and ‘fixes’ the tower block until the occupants toss Ralph from the top … game over.  But Ralph is tired of being the villain, and feels he has what it take to be that hero and claim his golden medal so everyone will appreciate him.  This pretty and energetic movie has a feel of Monsters Inc. with a world going on that we are not aware of as human beings, this time an arcade where behind the scenes in ‘game central station’ video-game characters hang out at bars, visit support groups and act like every day folk outside of their respective games.  It’s a very cool idea that I think is only marginally successful.  The many video-game references are more the style of spot the famous and not so famous character, than clever actual jokes of video-game culture.  Yes the writing for such a subject could have been sharper, but relies a little too much on the viewer having a long memory of video-games.  So therefore this slightly alienates those who may not have such a history.

On a plus, we get a likable, adorable little girl (Sarah Silverman) who befriends Ralph in his quest and she’s a great creation, and an Alice In Wonderland inspired King proves an interesting villain.  Animation throughout is slick, with plenty of well-observed gaming detail, even if the more famous faces are disappointingly under-used – licensing perhaps?  Ralph himself, beyond a good performance by John C. Reilly, is also rather forgettable.  That being said what happens and some of the ideas (the Gears of War-like space marines section) and situations are still enjoyable (the final Mario Kart inspired race) and even for a lesser entry in Disney’s cannon – this was difficult not to enjoy.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Monsters Inc


Viewed – 14 August 2009  Blu-ray

In the ten-film career of famed Disney studio Pixar, this entry has long been my favourite.  Yes I love Toy Story and it’s sequel, have a soft spot for both Finding Nemo and Wall-E, but something about this one, sets it apart from the others.  I think it comes down to one word: imagination.  The concept here, playing on that old childhood fear of monsters in your closet, then re-imagined into a a story of working-class monsters who scare to create energy to power their city … is a touch of genius.  Now add to this the voice casting which is first class, the buddy duo of John Goodman & Billy Crystal, and excellent work from Steve Buscemi as the villain – everything comes together perfectly.

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Now lets add to the menu the wonderful visuals, given even greater depth in high-definition and to not talk about the art direction and fluid animation would be to do the film an injustice, as this remains one of the best looking animated movies ever made – and not because it is technically impressive (which it is) or particularly realistic, as this shows off the joy of cartoon-world imagery like nothing else, and your eyes will be having orgasms throughout.  It then is a great achievement that the story is good enough to back up the visuals, never over-sentimental or too childish, funny without being silly, and cute where it needs to be and dark and sinister when necessary.  Director Pete Docter has crafted one of the finest family movies of all time, and this is above all else brilliant entertainment from start to finish.

My favourite animated movie.

Verdict: 5 /5