Saturday, July 07, 2007

And speaking of food...

We saw Ratatouille tonight, and it did not disappoint. D didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did, because--in her words--"It's a rat!" Which I found amusing, because she and the protagonist rodent both enjoy heightened olfactory senses. She can often identify the ingredients in a dish by taste, and she can distinguish Coca-Cola from Pepsi by smell. I'm not even kidding here.

Anyway, Brad Bird is becoming one of my favorite writer/directors (as the French might say, an auteur). I didn't think The Iron Giant was all that great, but that was based on Ted Hughes' book anyway; The Incredibles and Ratatouille are masterpieces. Granted, both of those films were produced by the Disney/Pixar juggernaut, but that dedication to story and character is sorely lacking in most movies.

I wonder how (and what) Bird might do at another studio. The sad truth is, animated features still exist in a Hollywood ghetto, even though live-action films are using more and more computer animated visual effects. Consider: there were only one or two physical robot models built for Transformers, the horribly unnecessary Underdog is the demon spawn of Babe's talking animals, and just about everything in the last three Star Wars movies was (wait for it) animated. Except for the acting. (Zing!)

On that note, I also enjoyed the retro logo at the end of Ratatouille's credits proclaiming that the movie was made using "100% Genuine Animation! No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts were used in the production of this film." That's how it should be. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Robert "cast of Tron doing bad Shakespeare" Zemeckis! I'm talking to you!


Ward Jenkins said...

Just thought you'd know, Brad Bird's next feature will indeed be a live action film. Produced through the Disney name.

Bryan H. Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan H. Bell said...

I think Ratatouille is a near-perfect animated feature and Pixar's best so far, even better than Toy Story or A Bug's Life. Ratatioulle for me recalls the days of the early Disney animated features which were as much about Art (with a capital 'A') as they were about entertainment. Take, for example, the daring move of attempting to animate such an inherently non-visual experience as the taste of food. They succeeded to much the same degree that Fantasia did when trying to visualize the experience of listening to Bach's Toccata & Fugue or that Dumbo did when trying to visualize intoxication with the 'Pink Elephants on Parade' sequence.

Each character in Ratatouille was unique and interesting, without overwhelming their appropriateness to the storyline. The rich and varied facial expressions given to each character, no matter how inconsequential, were a constant source of surprise and delight for me.

Even the end-credits animated sequence was cute and funny.

Ratatouille is my favorite movie so far this year and will likely end up on my top ten list of best films for the entire year.