Hello fellow movie lovers! If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve heard. This week, I have created a “Storify” for the review of Ponyo. On there, you will find things like the IMDB page for Ponyo with plenty of facts about the movie’s production, cast and other things alike. I have also included some interesting videos from YouTube to talk about some theories from other film lovers. I hope you enjoy!
Well hello, fellow movie lovers. Allow me to start this post by saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” or for my single friends, “Happy Pal-entine’s Day.” Today’s special post is dedicated to the French film Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart. While this is not necessarily a love story in it’s entirety, it does have some elements that are celebrated on this day (this post may be brief due to the lack of information on this underexposed movie).
This movie, like Mary and Max, started as a foreign film festival production. The film, based on a novel by Mathias Malzieu, was originally released at the Arras Film Festival in France on November 17, 2013. Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart also took a swing at the Berlin International Film Festival in February of 2014, and the Brussels European Film Festival in June of 2016. Like many of the productions in the film festival industry tend to do, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart had very spread out release dates. It was first introduced to the United States as a limited premier in September of 2014, and then released on Blu-ray and DVD in October of 2014. The film was directed by Stéphane Berla and Mathias Malzieu. Along with being one of the writers and directors, Malzieu also starred in the film, as the voice of Jack, along side Olivia Ruiz who voiced Miss Acacia (full cast). Now, personally, I believe that this movie is amazing and fantastic; there are simply not enough words to describe how much I love this film. But some European critics may not fully agree with me. The film was only nominated for three awards: “Best Film” at the Berlin International Film Festival, “Best Animated Film” at the César Awards in France, and “European Animated Feature Film” at the European Film Awards. Sadly, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart did not bring home any awards.
Jack was born on a cold, winter day; the coldest winter day to be exact. He is taken to a witch doctor, named Madeleine, in Edinburgh. When Jack is born, his heart is frozen solid; Madeleine offers to take the child under her care as only she could take care of him and his heart that she replaced with a cuckoo-clock. As he is growing up, his new mother, Madeleine, gives him three rules to follow: never touch the hands of your heart, keep your temper under control, and never fall in love. Jack follows all three rules up until his fourteenth birthday when he goes out into the city and finds a girl who is named, as he later discovered, Miss Acacia. He falls in love with young Miss Acacia and searches for her at the private school he joins but she is no where to be found. Jack is constantly made fun of because of his abnormal heart and eventually loses his temper and pokes out the eye of a bully named Joe. Afraid of prosecution, Jack runs off and literally joins the circus, an Extraodirarium as it its called. On his way to the Extraordinarium, Jack meets and almost falls victim to Jack the Ripper but is saved by cinematographer, George Méliès. Jack and George continue on to their journeys together after George fixes Jack’s heart. While Jack is searching for himself and he belongs, he happens to find Miss Acacia to have been located at his destination. Is this fate? While a majority of the film focuses on the love between Jack and Miss Acacia, it asks the question, “would you be willing to die for love?” Jack knows that one of the three rules he must follow is “never fall in love,” yet he does anyway. While it seems like a huge romantic gesture giving the key to your heart to the one you love, Jack’s intention is not to be romantic but to let Miss Acacia decide if he is to continue to live even after he has fallen in love. What this lovely film brings about is the question I previously mentioned but also if it is enough to love to create a full life. Jack has been through many intriguing experiences with the fantastical but once he does get his love back, his life is complete. I guess that is something we all must ask ourselves, is life complete after we find love or do we need more?
Which ever way you choose to answer that question, I encourage you to watch the trailer. Rent the movie, or watch it on Netflix, and enjoy the wonders of Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart.
Sometimes perfect strangers make the best friends.
Mary and Max is an independent film coming from Australia. While animated, this film
is definitely not a kids movie. But, before we get into the plot, let’s discuss the technical aspects. The film was directed and written by Adam Elliot, who “spent five years studying photography, painting, pottery” and other art forms. With an approximate budget of 8,240,000 Australian Dollars ($6,327,496 USD), filming in Melbourne lasted almost exactly one year: from July 2, 2007, to July 18, 2008. Mary and Max took on the world over a time span of two years; with strategic releases and festival appearances, it was only released in select cities and theaters. The film was released in the US, first at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2009, in the city of Los Angeles in September of 2009, at the Chicago International Film Festival in October of 2008, at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival in February of 2010, and finally was released on DVD to the whole country in June of 2010. During its two years in the spot light, Mary and Max was nominated for eight awards and won four awards, such as “Best Animated Feature Film,” at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and Grand Prize at the 2009 Ottawa International Animation Festival.
Now onto the story of Mary and Max. Mary, voiced by Toni Collette and Bethany Whitmore (full cast), is an only child raised by her depressed father and alcoholic mother.
While Max, voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is an old man with Asperger Syndrome who lives in Manhattan, New York. They meet in an unlikely way, well I say “meet” but really they only met through letters. Mary wonders where babies come from and decides to write to a random person in a Manhattan address book to ask. When Max writes back with a picture of himself enclosed, Mary’s mothers freaks out and throws away the letter, worried that a pedophile is trying to toy with her daughter. Mary finds the letter and continues to write back and forth with her new pen pal. The two send each other gifts such as chocolates and advice. When Mary gets older, her father passes and leaves enough money for her to go to college. There, she studies mental illnesses in hopes of finding a cure for Max. Then, her mother’s bad habit catches up with her and she too dies. With all of the unfortunate events in her life, Mary finds one good thing in her year when she marries her extremely effeminate neighbor, Damien.
When Mary finally finishes her studies on Asperger Syndrome, she publishes a book with Max, unknown to him, as her subject of study. Max becomes infuriated with this revelation and Mary, upset that she hurt one of her only friends, shreds all copies of her book before publication and sinks into a deep, alcohol-filled, depression. Damian decides to leave Mary to live with his pen pal on his sheep farm in New Zealand. Once Max decides to forgive Mary, she is pulled out of her depression and starts up her savings to go visit her old friend Max, only to find that he has died on his couch starring up at all of Mary’s letters on his ceiling.
When I first watched this film, I was not sure what to think, other than how sad this seemed. After enough time to contemplate the meaning behind the story, I realized what it all meant. Mary and Max were two completely different people yet very similar at the same time. Neither had any friends but found friendship within each other. I guess that sometimes perfect strangers make the best friends. So, while this may not be the perfect date night movie, I do highly encourage you to watch the trailer, rent the movie, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy!
is our next example of the wonderful world of animation. This film has a similar animation style and process to that of Coraline, in that it uses “puppets,” however Fantastic Mr. Fox uses a style called “stop motion” animation. The animation style is not the only thing these two films have in common, in fact, the director of Coraline, Selick, was one of the original directors when Fantastic Mr. Fox started development in 2004 with Revolution Studios. However, once Revolution Studios folded, Director Selick left Wes Anderson behind so he could go direct Coraline. This was not going to stop Anderson from finishing this film. In 2007, production began again for Fantastic Mr. Fox With director Wes Anderson behind the wheel, a budget of approximately $40,000,000, and voices actors such as George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray, this film was destined for a magical award season (Full Cast). Like Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox is also based on a novel, this time written by Roald Dahl, and was adapted into a screenplay by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Fantastic Mr. Fox was released on November 25, 2009, ready to take home as many awards as possible. During award season, Fantastic Mr. Fox was nominated for sixty-one different awards and won thirty. These thirty included an Annie for “Writing in a Feature Production,” “Best Adapted Screenplay” at the International Cinephile Society Awards, and “Best Original Song” for Petey’s Song at the Houston Film Critics Society.
Now onto the story itself. The film opens to Mr. Fox and his wife strolling through a simple field which then turns into a squab heist. While Mrs. Fox expresses concerns about whether or not it is safe for the pair to be taking these birds from the farm, Mr. Fox reassures her that he “has been stealing birds for a living since before [he] could trot.” When the two find themselves caught in a trap, Mrs. Fox reveals that she is pregnant; this causes Mr. Fox to give up his old habits to find safer work for a domestic lifestyle. However, he finds it is hard for him to completely let go of his past and deny his animal instincts. Mr. Fox decides to take on one last big heist, but this job ends up putting not only himself, but the rest of the animals in danger as well. As the old saying goes, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. But Mr. Fox does the exact opposite. When it seems like the whole neighborhood has reached its end, Mr. Fox relies on his wild instincts to keep digging – as that is what he does best – until he can save his neighbors. The moral of this story is while you may not like your original self, it is who you are and can save you. There is no reason to deny who you are deep down, and even though you may want everyone to think of you in the highest regard, you do not have to strive to be renowned as “The Fantastic You.” I find the humor in this movie, such as replacing cuss words with the literal word “cuss,” is the kind that will never get old. I encourage you to watch the trailer, rent the movie, grab a bag of popcorn, and enjoy.