10Holy interlocking bricks, Batman! LEGO Batman Movie is in theaters today. Kicking off today are Anima in Brussels (thru March 5) and the New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival (thru March 19). [animafestival.be | nyicff.org] during the
The journey is everything for the talent on screen and off in Illumination Entertainment’s heartfelt musical-competition comedy By Karen Idelson.
Inspired by a conversation between Illumination chief Chris Meledandri and filmmaker Garth Jennings, Sing follows the lives of an overly optimistic koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who’s desperate to have success with his next show — an amateur singing competition with a hefty cash prize — and all the wishful singers who hope to leave their dull lives behind for a shot at their dreams of musical stardom. Among them: shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), who can’t summon the courage to sing with her full heart; Johnny, a tough-looking but sheepish gorilla (Taron Egerton), who winces at the thought of joining his father’s gang; Rosita, a pig (Reese Witherspoon) weighed down by raising a couple dozen baby piglets; and a group of girl bunnies that takes on the vibe of a Japanese pop group.
to be grounded in the reality of the experience of each cast member.
For example, when we see Johnny’s gorilla father react to seeing his son singing in the competition while the elder primate is in jail for burglary, we aren’t given a huge, cartoonish reaction. There’s a simple widening of the eyes and an emotional crackle in the voice as he declares to his confined companions that the singing gorilla is “my son.”
“It’s different working with a live-action actor because it’s a more spontaneous process where you’re talking and improv-ing with the actor; and with animation, you discuss an idea and then work with animators to develop the idea,” says Jennings. “You make the movie many, many times in animation, so you have a lot of opportunity to refine your ideas. But
ing. Anime importer FUNimation has stepped in to bring the movie to the United States, booking Your Name. for an Oscars-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles, with an eye toward earning a nomination, and a theatrical release for subtitled and dubbed versions in the spring. Shinkai is best known for directing the anime features 5 Centimeters Per Second and The Garden of Words, and was surprised by the film’s enormous success and gratified audiences on both sides of the Pacific are embracing the film and its message so openly.
reaching a wider audience. “I felt like I could do something new,” he says. “The reason I felt that way was because I was doing several commercials, and I’ve done movies in the past as well. And I’ve also been writing, for this publication — short stories, fiction. With all of that combined, I felt I had what it took to write something really daring.”
The idea that sparked the movie was a simple one: Shinkai wanted a boy-meets-girl story where they meet at the end, an idea that came from pondering the question of why certain people meet and connect as friends or a couple. “I think a lot of times it’s a series of coincidences or just time and place, but you always ask the question why,” he says. “There’s sometimes no explanation and I wanted this movie to almost give meaning to that reason. Maybe there was some path we had forgotten or some link or something that brought us together that was meant to pull us together, but we just can’t see it because it’s operating in a higher dimension.”
Shinkai turned to older Japanese literature — mainly poems — for ideas on how to connect the pair and let them swap bodies. “One in particular that gave me the idea about the dream is a poem by Ono no Komachi,” he says. “In this song, or poem, she talks about how you can meet someone in your dream, but when you wake up, all you’re left with is a feeling of nostalgia, and had you known it was a dream you would have liked to stay there forever.”
BWales-based team revisits tough cop clichés for stop-motion feature By Karen Yossman.
ridgend, a former coal-mining town in Wales with a population of fewer than 140,000 people, could not be farther from the sprawling cities that set the scene for classic 1980s action films such as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Yet it is in Bridgend, on a local industrial estate, that the collective spirit of John McClane, Martin Riggs et al. has been resurrected — in plasticine, no less — by the team behind Night of the Trampires, a stop-frame feature about a renegade cop called Chuck Steel who must battle to save his city from a plague of blood-sucking bums (“tramp” being the British slang term for vagrants).
Although the film started shooting in June 2015, Chuck Steel has been rattling around Welsh-born writer and director Mike Mort’s brain for more than 30 years, ever since he first doodled the character in his schoolbook as a