I emerged from the theatre cheering after seeing The Incredibles for the first time. I loved it. It was the most openly fun I’d had during a Pixar film thus far and it remains one of my personal favorites. It’s always a joy to watch and when I think of Pixar, this is one of the first ones that springs to the forefront of my mind.
However, with this rewatch, I found it surprisingly difficult to articulate why I enjoy it so much. What is it, exactly, that makes The Incredibles so . . . well . . . incredible?
From the jump, story and tone strike just the right balance between quiet, wild, imaginative, witty, sweet, and speculative. I could break down elaborate, nitty-gritty examples of why this movie is so effective (Michael Giacchino‘s score, the style and art direction, homage v. originality, etc.) but, truthfully? This film demonstrates an unusually solid example of “movie magic”; when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (for me, at least). A lot of that comes down to the team behind it; if Pete Docter is my favorite Pixar director, then Brad Bird comes in at a very close second. I’ve been a fan of his style since I first saw The Iron Giant (oh, how I love that film, too). In Bird’s films, I most appreciate the dialogue, pace, and – like with Docter – the ambition. There are blurred moral lines here. We may not sympathize with the villains, but we understand them. While their decisions and reactions to their circumstances may be wrong, the points they make are very often sound.
I’ve been on something on a book hiatus for the past couple of years. Writing my own novel and trying to finish it probably had a lot to do with that. However, my lack of reading started to worry me; at first, I felt guilty, then I started to miss it. Last year, I picked up A Wrinkle In Time for the first time (in preparation for seeing the film), followed quickly by Neverwhere (my first Gaiman novel) since there was a staged production coming up near me. I rounded out this set of books with Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, and each of these books were fantastic, in their own, unique way. All three deserve their own book reviews (coming soon, I hope) and all three were delicious reading experiences. They suited me perfectly and, with their powers combined, they sucked me back into the world of reading. I found myself seeking a new book that would ring similar tones to Neverwhere, thus I landed on The Night Circus. It’s been on my TBR list for years. I can remember seeing it on a shelf in a local indie bookstore in Vermont back in the summer of 2012, thinking, I really should get a move on with this.
Immediately after starting this book, I said to myself, “I can see what all the hype was about.” There had been a reputation surrounding this book since publication, or so it seemed. It had given me pause (much in the way Harry Potter had done), and considering the inside cover sells the idea that this book rides on a romance, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even when I carried this book out of the library, a girl passed me, doubled back, and told me how wonderful it was. From the first few pages, I could feel the strength of the story, and the control Morgenstern has with her words, with her craft. Even more delightfully, that sense of wonder and immersion continued through to the end of the book. I kept worrying that it would fall apart, that the book would run out of steam and turn out to be a dud, but it follows through.
Also, the audiobook is brilliant, spectacularly narrated by Jim Dale.
Verdict: I enjoyed reading this story tremendously and I can’t wait to see what Erin Morgenstern comes up with next.
More book signings! Here are some cool spots where you can find me and the book in the coming months. I’m really, quite excited about each and every one. I’ll even be in costume for some of them…
So, if you’re in the neighborhood, swing by and say hi! I’ll have new character prints and other fun goodies to share.
Confession: I’ve never been a huge fan of Finding Nemo.
And I’ve always felt a little guilty about that. This marked the first occasion where I left a Pixar screening with a lukewarm feeling, rather than being WOW!-ed.
Don’t get me wrong: I do like this movie. In fact, I have liked every Pixar feature film I’ve ever seen in some capacity (though I avoided The Good Dinosaur and all of the Cars sequels and spinoffs). I’m just not moved by Finding Nemo. I don’t relate to it personally. Given the choice, I would pick several others from Pixar’s collection to watch first.
Viewing it again for this series, I went in with the sincere hope that it would resonate with me differently as an adult, as it happened with A Bug’s Life and Monsters, Inc. (both of which I already loved, have watched repeatedly over the years, and I often think about). However, Nemo struck me about the same as before. I can now articulate more clearly the aspects of it that I enjoy and I realize that there are more things I like, while also identifying the specifics of why this movie has never struck a chord with me.
Pete Docter may be my favorite of the Pixar directors. He helmed some of my favorite of the studio’s stable: Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out. Watching Monsters, Inc., I am reminded how much worldbuilding it requires, right from the jump. I would argue that it remains one of Pixar’s most imaginative movies to date. It does not take place in our world – let alone a bedroom or sunny backyard – but rather delves into a parallel dimension, populated by wildly outlandish characters. The characters dip into our world frequently, but the landscape virtually encompasses the entire globe. That is an immense undertaking, and a huge risk. That said, Pixar’s success with its first three films laid the groundwork for them being able to present something so “out-there,” and, thus, continue with even more radical ideas in the future. After all, Pixar was launched on a wild, unprecedented venture, so it’s not exactly surprising.
What was surprising, however – apart from the dynamic worldbuilding and physical comedy (we’ll come back to that) – was the depth of the movie’s theme. Of course, at four films into the studio’s collection, depicting deep themes was clearly their M.O., weaving these subjects delicately so it reaches audiences emotionally, regardless of age, but not coming off as preachy. And, like with A Bug’s Life, the message struck me a lot harder and a lot more powerfully as an adult. As Sully summarizes during the film’s conclusion:
“…laughter is ten times more powerful than screams…”
* contains spoilers *
Even though A Bug’s Life is the second movie in the Pixar filmography, this is my first post for “Watch-It Wednesdays,” my weekly movie night with friends. Going into this film, I remembered it fondly. I never did see it in cinemas, even though I had loved the trailer (still do, this one too).
However, I was put off by public reception and by my own rather less than fond reaction to Dreamworks’ ANTZ. I will try not to compare the two films in this review as they really aren’t anything alike (aside from featuring insect characters) and they offer radically different viewing experiences. To this day, though, I prefer A Bug’s Life.
According to the Disney Wiki: “The film is loosely inspired by the fable ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ and the classic film The Seven Samurai, it is the second Pixar movie and tells the story of an outcast inventor ant named Flik, who recruits a group of circus bugs he mistakes for warriors when his colony is threatened by a group of grasshoppers.”
Back in 1998, I remember a general consensus of disappointment with this film as a follow-up to Pixar’s first feature, but I find that, the further away we get from initial release, the better A Bug’s Life holds up.
For the past several years, a highlight of my week is what my friends and I call “Watch-It Wednesdays.” The name has changed a few times (i.e. “Marathon Mondays”) but the idea has stayed the same; myself and a group of friends gather together to watch a movie (or a couple episodes of a television series). Considering how busy our lives get, this weekly staple provides a chance to stay connected with friends and partake in some good old-fashioned fun. Call it an exercise in self-care. This also has brought some remarkable new titles into my life; most recently, the anime film, your name. Though I’m super late to that bandwagon, I’ll probably have to write a post about that pretty soon. It was well worth the hype!
In any event, I’m going to start blogging about the films we watch each week. We’ve gone through quite a few themes and collections (Doctor Who, Veronica Mars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Firefly…) but now we’re beginning the journey through the films of Pixar Animation Studios, moving chronologically. So, last week we began with Toy Story and this week we watched A Bug’s Life. In both cases, it’s remarkable how well the story, characters, and animation hold up…and I shall elaborate in the separate reviews to come.
First up: A Bug’s Life!
It has been over three months since MAG Fest, but I can finally share something from that event; I was spontaneously interviewed for a podcast! Cris Alvarez, host of CrisAlvarez.com, recognized my cosplay, having taken my photo at a previous convention. He asked if he could interview for me for his website; ask me about my writing process and about the novel.
Listen to the interview here or click through the photo.
I was planning on going to Awesome Con 2018, anyway, but this year is set to be even more exceptional. Star Wipe Films is headlining the Horror, Action, Sci-Fi Block with our short film, Apocalypse Rock!
But what is Apocalypse Rock about?
Tom Harper runs a radio station. By himself. At the end of the world. Surviving alone in an emergency radio station, he broadcasts rock and roll fueled show every day, hoping that someone out there might hear him.
This will be the first trip to Awesome Con to others on the Star Wipe team, so I’m stoked to be our guide. Showcasing Apocalypse Rock at this convention will definitely ‘level up’ the experience.
Apocalypse Rock will screen on Friday, March 30th, in the block starting at 5pm-6:30pm in Rm 101 – Screening Room. If you’re in the Washington DC area, come and see the film – and the Star Wipe Films team!
It has been a LONG time since I posted in my blog, but since I’ve been publishing my novel, Resistance Rising, I’m hoping you’ll forgive me! As a way to ring in the new year, as well as embrace a new phase of my life, I decided to make a MAJOR change by way of a haircut; parting with 12 inches of my hair, which I am delighted to donate. For years, I thought I was unable, since I dye my hair, but the salon I’ve been going to use non-synthetic dye and no bleach, so I am able to donate after all!
2017 was as much a whirlwind for me as it was for everyone else; I was a bridesmaid, I celebrated my one-year anniversary with DUO Media Productions (coming up on two years this month!), I pushed my cosplay limitations, and I’ve gotten a crash course into becoming my own, personal book-marketing team.
The process of publishing the book was an extremely enlightening process and pulled my priorities into sharp focus. I am giddy with pride over the finished product, but I also had to learn to let a lot of things go. One of my colleagues (over at DUO Media Productions) likes to say, “you’re never done, you just run out of time.”
I’ve had long, nearly-waist-length hair my entire life, so this was a significant metamorphosis. I’m adapting to this new hairdo far more quickly than I expected, and I find that it is, indeed, very reflective of who I am now.
Don’t you love it when everything falls into place?