This became a weekend all about animation. A way to celebrate it and the people who made it. The Animation Guild announced an afternoon memorial for recently departed friends and family of the Animation community. This was held at the famous Hollywood Heritage Museum which is a small barn that was the original production studio for the very first hit Hollywood film: The Squaw Man.
Every year the Animation Guild remembers the men and women who worked in the industry for decades or just a couple years. There were 54 to list this year ranging in age from 100 to 27. Many people came up to speak for these artists, some friends, some fans, all family. This is what has struck me about Animation more than other crafts in this industry. The people love to be a part of this group. They hang out together, stories of raising each other's children, helping the next generation even if they couldn't help themselves. I was glad to get to see a little bit of this close-knit group in real life because for years I had always seen their names on the credits and thought they must be geniuses. But at the memorial, it brought them just a little bit closer to reality. Of course they're real people but it was nice to see they had all sought out this work individually and thought enough of it to travel great distances for it and bank their lives on it and died while doing it. We should all be so lucky.
So I'm terrible with names and didn't have a pen handy to write who spoke for whom but I know Tom Sito led the proceedings, Steve Hulett from the Guild, Mark Warnier, Russell Calabrese (DNA!), and Frank Thomas' son spoke eloquently, passionately and with difficulty about their lost friends. Some had no one to speak for them so Tom read their notices from the Guild bulletin.
Unfortunately I could only stay so long because Greg and I had a "date" to go see Coraline. Going to see a movie on opening weekend. At the Grove. What were we thinking. By the time we get there, the ticket lobby is packed 10 deep and the cashiers exhibit an astounding lack of urgency. Greg was getting more and more riled and other patrons were expressing disdain at the speed with which we were progressing. Oh, no, the 4:30 looks sold out. Anything left for the 5:00? Come on come on, push the button! It's the one that says [Coraline - 5:00] !! 8 Tickets left. Great sign us up. Refresh. Oops, Computer says no.
So we head for the exit. I mean I head for the exit and Greg is knocking on the manager door? What are you doing, Greg? Letting the manager know that his team is losing ticket sales with slow service. Sigh. Manager takes Greg aside to discuss and the next thing I know, we're being led past the ticket girls and shown to seats in Coraline. FREE! There were plenty of seats available, they just hold back 10% for overflow, theater hoppers and irate customers who raise a stink. SWEET! Now we could afford some popcorn.
Coraline was breathtaking. I was weeping in my seat about how much of a hack I had become. This definitely gave CG a run for its money. Some stuff was pretty creepy and the Arachno-mom will make any 5 year old scream so Virginia may have to wait a little bit before we scar her with this. Bren won't open NBC on her yet. If she starts gravitating towards witches rather than pincesses then we'll see. We heard a couple kids being let out so it's not a good sign. I'll see it again though!! Since we had the run of the place and the theater had the room allowed, we snuck into Slumdog Millionaire. Poverty Porn perhaps, Best Picture, not likely. A Rrags to Riches fairytale dropped into the slums of India. A nice uplifting twist. Remind me never go there.
Capped it all off with a stroll through The Farmers Market next door and a bowl of Jambalaya at the Cajun Pit serenaded by the Merchants of Moonshine on the outdoor stage and our date was complete. Only thing better would have been the Happy Ending but Bren wasn't around and I'm not that bored yet. Valentine's weekend can't get here soon enough. :)
To wrap up the Weekend of Animation, I finally made it down to the Laemmle Royal Theater to see Waltz with Bashir. This Flash/AE based 2-and-a-half-D marvel is the memoir of Ari Fohlman, filmmaker, who tries to piece together his memory of the Lebanon War in 1986. A few of his friends arestruggling with their memories of the massacre but he seems to be missing his. Through interviews and recolections, Ari learns where his place in the turmoil was and what, if any, hand in the massacre of the Palestinian refugess might he had. From the narrative you get the Christian Phalangian forces raided the Palestinian refugee camp cities with Israeli forces as backup. The Phalangians trotted out whole families and shot them execution style against the wall. Word of the shootings filter up the chain of command but there is very little notice at the top until eventually somebody says stop. The Phalangians pull out, the Palestinians go back to their destroyed city, the Israelis follow the civilians and find a charnel house of men women and children lying in the streets. Our hero finally remembers himself as one the backup forces that didn't participate inthe massacre but didn't stop it either. A 19 yo private probably wouldn't get far with that anyway. An awakening of sorts to the reality of the world. Visually arresting. An excellent new use of the medium. Story-wise it gets a little confusing as to whose story is this. Maybe if it gets turned into a graphic novel there will be more insight.
Coraline: 4 Stars
Walts with Bashir: 3 stars
Both films I want in my collection.