Jul 26, 2006
My goat, gotten
Over on Cartoon Brew this morning Amid Amidi notes a prominent newspaper's review of "Monster House". It's a jaw-dropper.
The art of film writing and reviewing is obviously subjective, and I have no particular grievance with writers in general on film even if on occasion I might I violently disagree with their tastes or views. In the best of it I at least find something new to think about in a reviewer's points.
But the paragraph Amid excerpts has to read to be believed; the writer makes a mockery of 100 years of often beautiful, heartbreaking, breathtaking, real acting achievement in animated films. It's one thing to write about a "new" technique in film as the flavor of the month served up in a holy grail--it's another to backtrack and demean the plain fact of past successes as somehow terribly lacking, which is what this reviewer thinks of, well, basically all Disney animation output from 1937 until "Monster House" with its supposedly improved presentation of animated facial performances.
"There was never any point to a close-up in an animated film -- there was never really anything to see[italics mine]."
Not really anything to see?
Methinks someone's been drinking much too deeply from the well of the presskit. This gentleman may think the fat kid's face in "House" is vastly superior in expression to, say, the kitten Figaro showing his annoyance at Gepetto's muttering in "Pinocchio"; I know where my vote lies.
You can come after all of us still working on our craft, fair enough; the book's still being written on everything we're currently doing in animation. But don't dare go after past giants whose work probably won't ever be equaled on its own terms--terms that were invented from scratch, that are the foundation of any techniques such as "Monster House" uses. Not only is it dead wrong on its face, with hundreds of examples that dispute it (and of course not just from Disney films, either), but the artists who achieved those triumphs are dead themselves and can't defend their work.
Maybe that's a blessing in this case.