Up

up

Up
Directed By: Pete Doctor / Bob Peterson
Written By: Bob Peterson
Voices: Edward Asner / Christopher Plummer

Up is the latest animated film from Disney / Pixar, and is a treat for all ages. It follows the exploits of Carl Fredricksen, a disgruntled, elderly balloon salesman, and a local boy scout named Russell, as they set off in a grand adventure to South America in Carl’s house, propelled by a plethora of colorful balloons.

That’s the most that I want to give away from a film that everyone should experience for themselves. I was impressed by the balance between the style and the narrative in Up. The opening 15 minutes or so, for example, is in essence a montage, that blends the two together perfectly and sets up the rest of the film nicely.

Pixar has a history of technical excellence, and Up definitely falls into this category. It was released in 2D and 3D formats, and I applaud the Pixar team for creating a 3D film that doesn’t feel too gimmicky. The 3D format accentuates the film, and doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, taking the viewer out of the experience.

From the beginning of the film, the story evokes feelings of nostalgia, childlike innocence. While Up is a decidedly humorous (Sometimes too silly for my tastes) family film, it’s also very serious, touching upon themes of family, belonging, and fear.

Following in the footsteps of WALL·E, I love Pixar’s emphasis on non-verbals, especially in the opening montage, drawing upon Charlie Chaplin’s physicality, antics, and especially pathos. The emotionality of the film was especially heightened by Michael Giacchino’s breathtaking score, which kept me in my seat during the end credits.

While I found the story especially moving at times, however, some of the dialogue seemed forced and on-the-nose. An example of this would be when Russell tells Carl about his family, a scene that felt like tacked on exposition to get the story moving. In writing a story, subtlety is a virtue.

And while I was more than wiling to accept the fantastic nature of the film by leaving my brain at the door and taking my heart with me, there were certain elements that left me scratching my now empty head.

But aside from a few issues that I had with the film, Up is a truly fantastic film that everyone deserves to see. The themes and characters are so rich that the whole family can take something away from it.

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NetFlix Update

1. The Girl in the Café (Dir. David Yates)

Why Did You Pick That?

Two reasons: It’s been in my queue for over a year. 2. Bill Nighy.

2. My Blueberry Nights (Dir. Kar Wai Wong)

Why Did You Pick That?

The preview and the cast sold me.

3. Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud / Marjane Satrapi)

Why Did You Pick That?

I’ll watch any animated film that challenges Pixar at the Academy Awards. And  I’ve been wanting to see more different animation styles.

My Favorite Films of 2007

(Taken from my lists page)

Naturally, the lists are subject to frequent change. For example, I didn’t watch The Diving Bell and the Butterfly until recently.

10 Top Ten Films of 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
A beautiful film about celebrity status, idolizing, and the West. Great performances from Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt in the title roles. A film that deserved a satchel full of Oscars.

No Country for Old Men
The latest from Ethan and Joel Coen; easily one of their more serious films. Plenty of food for thought.


Juno
A fun and engaging Indy film with a great cast ensemble. Not to mention it’s insanely quotable.


Lars and the Real Girl
The film that took me by surprise the most last year. Word of advice: It’s better than the summary sounds. And the more I watch it, the more I love Rob Schneider as an actor.


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
A surprisingly suspenseful and entertaining documentary about Donkey Kong. Not what I was expecting.


Ratatouille
Pixar can do no wrong. I never thought a story about a rat that wants to be a chef in Paris would succeed. I loved the different themes in this, and Anton Ego was amazing.


There Will be Blood
Wow. What an amazing performance from Daniel Day Lewis. I’m still thinking about this film.


Zodiac
Completely underlooked at the Academy Awards. It should have been up there with the rest of them for several of the big awards. I loved how the story was from a different perspective than you’d expect, and was a great introduction to Robert Downey Jr. for me.


Paris, Je’Taime
Some of the films in this collection I’m not a fan of, but there are several little gems to be found. I highly recommend checking this out. And watch out for New York, I Love You next year.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
A fascinating and emotional story that blew me away.

What are your favorite films from last year?

DVD Releases 6/24

I don’t do this kind of post often, but there are a lot of films coming out this Tuesday that I’m interested in. And since I’m not being paid,I don’t have to talk about crap like this.

1. The Spiderwick Chronicles
Why? I saw this in the theater and loved it. Much more original and fun than it looked.

2. In Bruges
Why? A plethora of positive reviews.

3. Persepolis
Why? Any film that challenges Pixar deserves to be watched.

4. Charlie Bartlett
Why? The preview was cool, and I haven’t seen Anton Yelchin in anything.

5. Definitely, Maybe
Why? I don’t know. It looks fun yet smart, and got a good rating on IMDb.