Fe­bru­ary Plan­ner

Animation Magazine - - Frame- By- Frame -

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.

sal Stu­dios.

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

Gun­ther and his sing­ing part­ner Rosita pre­pare for their shot at star­dom.

Chris Meledan­dri

Teen Taki watches the fate­ful comet streak across the sky over Tokyo in Your Name.

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