My review for Vivo on Film Festival Today!
I enjoyed it very much but it also really shocked me. It’s surprisingly intense, emotionally-speaking. This is a spoiler, but I think it’s important for anyone considering watching it: Vivo is primarily a grief story.
Vivo boasts absolutely stunning animation… the soundtrack is catchy and charming and the songs span a wide range of genres… the real magic occurs, though, when Vivo and Gabi harmonize, musically and narratively. It’s worth noting, however, that this is a grief story, which hits unexpectedly hard. Moments in which multiple characters express regret and desperation reach Pixar levels of potency in their ability to conjure tears... Yet, at other times, the story careens into side-quests, almost like a series of Odyssey-style vignettes, needing to overcome obstacles and, sometimes, literal monsters.
Read the full review on Film Festival Today:
“Vivo” Is Fun but Surprisingly Emotional
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…”
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!