The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games (2012) movie poster

director Gary Ross
viewed: 03/25/2012 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

Happy Hunger Games.  Happy indeed after raking in the dough in its first weekend/week in release.  Happy for author Suzanne Collins and her publishers and the makers of the coming two other novels into a film trilogy (or quartet, depending on how they do it).  Happy everybody involved from director Gary Ross to star Jennifer Lawrence.  Their fame and value in Hollywood has risen starkly.   And Happy, mostly, for fans of the book series because the film The Hunger Games is really pretty good.  Good casting, pretty involving, gets the gist of it and makes for a fairly tense science fiction thriller.  It’s not going the way of The Golden Compass (2007), one and done in adaptation from book to screen.  Happy Hunger Games indeed.

Like I said, I thought it was pretty good.  I think Lawrence is perfect as Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the series.  The rest of the cast, from Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Josh Hutcherson, et al. all deliver in their respective roles, nothing overly jarring in the casting (for me, that is.  The racial issue backlash is super-shocking to me.)  The whole thing is pretty well done.  I thought there could have been less hand-held camera and quick cuts, but on the whole, a good job.  Good work.  I look forward to the next.

The kids and I read the books last year.  I had wondered if they would be too “adult” or “teenage” for them, or too violent.  So we read the first one cautiously and both Felix and Clara…and me for that matter, were hooked.  We quickly read through the other two books.  Found myself recommending it to others.

I’ve found it a little hard to communicate the appeal specifically.  A future world in which 12 sectors submit once a year a boy and a girl to fight to the death on television, a punishment/reminder for an uprising three quarters of a century before.  It’s a brutal thing but it’s also not overly original.  The Japanese film Battle Royale was released in 2000, based on a manga from before that.   That was virtually the same concept.

But it ultimately comes down, I think, to the character of Katniss.  Living in the coal mining district, like something from a Loretta Lynn song in a fascist state, she is the elder daughter of a family whose father was killed in a mine explosion, who takes it upon herself to feed her sister and nearly catatonic mother by hunting and fiercely living.  When her little sister Prim is selected in “the reaping” to go and fight to the death in the hunger games, she of course volunteers to take her place, and in her struggle for survival, becomes a catalyst and icon of rebellion, by accident.  She’s a compelling character on the page and Jennifer Lawrence is quite perfect to play her.  Katniss is not a terribly big leap away from the backwoods teenage family protector she played in her breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone (2010).

When it came time to see the film, it was determined that Clara (8 years old) was too young for the film’s violence and brutality.  There are, after all, multiple images of children killing other children.  This is what the story is about.  It’s this enforced violence on one another, dictated by the state, that is the theme of the book and of the film.  The film’s violence seems to be intentionally muted (cut away the moment of impact, limiting spurts of blood, lingering on wounds), perhaps as much just to get the PG-13 rating as it is just not to need to linger on the gore.  But as can well be the case, the suggestion in some ways carries more impact than the detail.  It’s a brutal story.  Katniss is not a born killer, a born hunter, yes, but killing other teens is something forced upon her.  And it’s the killing of the youngest of the participants, her friend Rue, who reminds her of her younger sister, Prim, that displays the sensibility that becoming willing tools of the machine is dehumanizing.  Humanness is connecting and caring.

I think both the books and the film have a well-intentioned agenda for political critique.  I don’t know how successful or unsuccessful or sophisticated or unsophisticated it is.  The thing is, quite simply, a very compelling story, with a great female hero that is engaging, exciting, and compelling despite its apparent lack of originality.  And as far as Hollywood adaptations and franchises, we could be doing a whole lot worse.

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (2010)

Everyday Sunshine (2010) movie poster

directors: Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler
viewed: 03/24/2012

“Everyday Sunshine”, the bittersweet story of the band Fishbone, is perhaps somewhat ironically titled.  Named from a single from their 1991 album The Reality of My Surroundings, the album that the band and many of their admirers hoped would be their breakthrough into the commercial success that was happening all over the place at the time to friends’ bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Living Colour, and Primus (among many others), it instead signaled the beginning of the end of the run for the original six person line-up that had formed in Los Angeles among a number of middle and high school friends.  For shortly thereafter, members began to break away for various reasons, and as the present state of the band features only two original members, bassist Norwood Fisher and singer/saxophone player, Angelo Moore, whom the film primarily focuses on.

The story of Fishbone really is the story of how kids from the black neighborhoods in Los Angeles were bused into “the Valley”, bonding a core group of creative, innovative, very cool guys and forming into what was at one time probably one of the greatest bands of the 1980’s.  The eclectic style mixed more styles and genres than is easily detailed, from ska to punk to funk and soul, in a mixture that was far more than the sum of its parts.  Their first EP, which they recorded when they were 18 and fresh out of high school is sublimely cool.  And I vividly remember seeing them on IRS’s The Cutting Edge on MTV around 1985 and thought that they looked super cool.

Why the band never made it as big as their friends and contemporaries perhaps is one of those sad but not a-typical stories, being a bit too ahead of their time.  Noted for being “too black” for a white audience and “too white” for a black audience is something that comes up in the film, but was far from a hindrance to me and my friends and many others who were into the band in their heyday.  I’ve always thought that their music went from this truly bizarre, manic ska-heavy chaos of their first record into progressively a more homogenized sound, blending rock and funk more deeply, becoming more serious.  I always felt that as they grew, they actually lost some of that insanely unique thing that they were.  In fact, by the time of 1991, I was less happy with their music myself as a fan.

But six individuals with strong personalities made the band what it was and sadly also unmade it.  Nowadays, playing much smaller gigs with a team of musicians filling in their departed spots, Angelo and Norwood work hard to keep this thing alive.  The film sheds some light on Angelo’s upbringing in the Jehovah’s Witnesses (he was the lone member who lived in the Valley) and his present day struggles with unnamed addictions and his relationship with his near teenage daughter.

With talking heads like Flea, Les Claypool, Ice-T, Gwen Stefani, Mike Watt, Keith Morris, and Branford Marsalis, you get a sense of the range of influences that Fishbone reached, jammed with, influenced and entertained.

In 1987, I met Norwood, keyboardist Chris Dowd, and guitarist Kendall Jones when Fishbone was touring with their “In Your Face” album, opening for the Beastie Boys on their “Licensed to Ill” tour when it came through Fresno.  Even then, the future was perhaps tipping its hand.  Originally planned as a co-headline tour, the Beastie Boys suddenly broke bigtime and Fishbone went from a lead to an understudy on the tour.  They were extremely nice to us then and at a later time, I got to follow up the interview with Norwood a year or so later, when they toured with their “It’s a Wonderful Life” single, sadly without Kendall, whose mother had just passed away (a triggering factor eventually in his departure from the band, as detailed in the film).

The film itself is a very earnest effort, tries to employ various techniques from animation and other informational imagery along side the interviews and concert footage.  Some things struck me odd, like the omission of covering the first album, skipping ahead to 1989’s “Truth and Soul”.  The story is somewhat bittersweet.  This amazing, unique, incredible band that was so vibrant, now touring on hopes and dreams as two members try to keep it together, some semblance of the original vision.

Norwood Fisher is an immensely talented bass player.  He’s recorded with innumerable others and played with lots of the bands and friends that are detailed within.  He and his brother Philip “Fish” Fisher, the original drummer, who formed the band in their bedroom were the core of the thing from the start.  Norwood and the others were such oddball cool people, miles ahead of everyone, fusing the multitude of influences of their world into something utterly unlike anything else.  Like so many bands that never had their moment of glory in broad popularity, that aspect of their story is not so unique.  Like so many ahead of their time (I really think that their influence gave way to a lot of popular music of the 1990’s), they get credit but no money or big accolades for their efforts.

Blank City (2010)

Blank City (2010) movie poster

director Celine Danhier
viewed: 03/20/2012

The 1970’s New York City was a gritty, crazy, vibrant environment, birthplace of innumerable musicians, artists, writers, poets, and filmmakers.  And by all accounts was one of the coolest times and places for such stuff as anytime anywhere.  While a multitude of music styles from Hip Hop/Rap to Punk, post-punk, new wave, everything caught fire around the same time, there is no singular story to tell, about any form, any medium, any style.  While documentarians have been catching up with a number of bands in their day, particular artists of the time, scenes too obscure for notice, director Celine Danhier turned her camera to the No Wave film scene and the later “Cinema of Transgression” that crossed over significantly with the multitude of music scenes, though assumingly No Wave in particular.

The only filmmaker who has really achieved sustained critical success in feature films that arose from this time is Jim Jarmusch, who appears among a multitude of familiar faces of the “I was there” folks.  Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry, Steve Buscemi, Thurston Moore, and John Waters all offer their vantage and memories to this effort.

Clips from films are shown.  Mostly of films that I’ve never seen.  Some of the more highlighted names like Amos Poe, Lizzie Borden, Beth B. and Scott B., I know very little about and have never seen their work.  So, it’s hard to know how good/bad any of it is/was.  The style of filmmaking is paralleled to punk rock, people picking up instruments (cameras) with a do it yourself attitude, not needing to know what they were doing.

The latter section of the film, featuring Nick Zedd and Richard Kern and the “cinema of transgression” I remember a bit more from the 1980’s.  I haven’t really re-viewed any of those films since then and would have to put it in front of myself again to form an opinion.  In some ways, it sort of stretches out the period in question in New York, though the 1980’s continued for quite a while to carry over that same vibe of danger and possibility in the country’s largest city.

The film doesn’t really manage to draw any greater image of the time.  It’s better perhaps than the more purely music-oriented No Wave documentary Kill Your Idols (2004).  Maybe what would be most comprehensive, though sadly perhaps the ultimate of co-opting and homogenizing would be to have a Ken Burns “Jazz”-like story about the New York scene of the 1970’s-1980’s.  Maybe that could be more the punk movement itself or maybe by staying in one location and telling as comprehensive a story as possible would animate the material further.

The Lorax (2012)

directors Chris Reynaud, Kyle Balda
viewed: 03/17/2012 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

The world of the new digitally animated film The Lorax is just a few shades below dayglo.   It’s not the first film to turn a Dr. Seuss book into a CGi film, produced by Christopher Meledandri, originally of 20th Century Fox and now of Illumination Entertainment.  We saw a similar type of adaptation in Horton Hears a Who! (2008) which offered a similar level of success/failure.  The Lorax‘s commercial success, which I suppose that we helped add to by seeing it theatrically, will beget further adaptations, no doubt.

The kids enjoyed it.  It’s really targeted to that audience, with the typical types of appeal to not nauseate the parental units accompanying them.  And at that, it’s a passable affair.  It wasn’t to my tastes.  I actually found it pretty lame.

The Lorax as a book was always a favorite of mine (and perhaps many others).  The tale of ecology, written at the dawn of the 1970’s when the first big wave of concern and activism on such topics came to the fore.  In that sense, the story has only remained relevant and perhaps more so every year further since its writing.  So, in that sense, it’s quite a apt choice of material.

But in taking any Dr. Seuss book and turning it into a feature film, you’ve got a lot of fluff to add.  And for The Lorax, that meant giving the Once-ler, the faceless defiler of paradise a backstory…and a face.  And redemption.  And empathy.  And the nameless boy, the “you” of the story, he gets a girlfriend.  And the story gets a villain, more villainous than the well-intentioned but deluded Once-ler, the mayor of Thneedville, the plasticine haven of fakeness where all people live buying fresh air from his monopoly.  This didn’t have to be a bad thing necessarily (though it clearly departs the beauty and simplicity of the book’s story and message.)  But it is a bad thing and it waters down the message and the story and a lot of stuff.

The animation is beautiful.  Digital animation, especially from the top companies, never ceases to get more rich and detailed.  The bursting color palette, the details of the truffula tufts, everything, is sharp and fresh and clean.

But the best parts of the film are the little moments, little asides with the humming fish or the brown barbaloots.  The story, while not heavy or clunky per se, is strikingly uncreative.  What is handled with visual wit and charm is a content of dull and blah.

What’s odd and somewhat troubling is the happy ending that the film extends from the story.  The book ends with a bleak message of possible hope, the final truffula seed entrusted to the boy (the “you”, the “us” of the book), saying that only in caring (and acting) will hope truly be there.  Of course, in the movie, this redemption is brought about, with the Lorax himself coming back to the Once-ler and telling him “you did good.”  It’s shifting the criticism to the people in power who keep change from happening, the corporate power that monetizes the present and doesn’t want change (which is arguably a potent message as well).  But it does muddy the water, especially as Lorax branding is sold and presumably un-eco-friendly marketing materials are drummed up for the film.

There is also a notable shift away from the language of Dr. Seuss.  The film only hints at the poeticism and flourishes of the words, staying within a more typical narrative structure.

For kids, it’s more of a good time at the movies.  Less attached to the meta orientations that cruise through my brain while watching a film.  Felix did note that his favorite sequence was a brief Mission Impossible reference.  Now that the kids start to see and understand these cultural winks and asides, it does take them from the most ground-level of watching films, with the jokes that are meant to pass over the heads of the young to stimulate the adults in the audience.  Not that I thought it particularly clever.  But there are many levels on which to spend your time in the film.

John Carter (2012)

director Andrew Stanton
viewed: 03/17/2012 at AMC Metreon 16

Hollywood loves a franchise.   Whether borrowed from comic books, re-booted from a prior franchise, or unlikeliest of unlikely, created from scratch, they don’t care.  Big action, big promotion, big adventure.  Aliens digitally-rendered, acted in motion-capture.  It’s all good.  Heck, even an adventure series nearly 100 years old, a spawner and inspirer of much that has come since.  Put it in the hands of a former Pixar director, shake, bake, hype and go.

Only none of that matters if the whole thing, expensive as it was supposed to have been, is a middling affair.

It suffers in no small part from having invented perhaps a lot of the tropes of the science fiction adventure in that it’s been appropriated extensively so that an awful lot of it seems tired and staid.  Many reviewers called it “derivative”.  Maybe there are inescapable aspects of that in a source material so old and influential, but really, if it doesn’t feel fresh, it’s not from a lack of cutting-edge CG effects.  It’s really more to do with the creators.

This was not an untalented crew.  Produced by Disney, directed by Andrew Stanton (director of Pixar’s Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL-E (2008)), and sharing a screenwriting credit with Michael Chabon.  Shouldn’t this have turned out better?  There is some pretty lame dialogue in the thing as well.   Considering the success of another Pixar alum’s first venture into live action film, Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), it seemed more and more like something that could have worked.

Of course, your hero is Taylor Kitsch, former male model turned action hero.  He’s not awful.  A lot of critics found him “too beautiful”.  I would say more that he’s just not terribly compelling.  Occasionally bad, mostly passable.  But that is not exactly the kind of thing you build your franchise around.

Probably most challenging is the name of the thing: John Carter.  It’s a man’s name.  Not a very interesting name.  I know it’s what the books were also called, but it doesn’t have much “wow” factor in it.  Of course, if the movie had been great, the name wouldn’t really necessarily have been such a deal, but I can easily imagine how tough a sell it was for those Disney marketers.  Apparently they dropped the “of Mars” from the title due to perceived audience boredom with the topic of the red planet.  Who knows?

The kids were not particularly wow’ed by it either.  I’d decided to make a rainy day (that wasn’t rainy) into a double feature for us.  I figured we’d watch an action film first, in 2-D.  I was neither compelled nor satisfied.  Our feelings were largely mutual on the John Carter front.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

director Isao Takahata
viewed: 03/16/2012

I’d long known that Grave of the Fireflies was considered one of the great Japanese animated films, and I’d long had plans to see it or have had it lodged in my queue.  I’d even considered watching it with the kids before, but wasn’t sure how dark or depressing or inappropriate it might be.  Craving variety, I finally pushed it to the top for us.

Adapted from a semi-autobiographical account of the hard times in Japan at the end of WWII, Grave of the Fireflies follows a teenage boy and his young sister as they struggle for survival in a war-ravaged country.  The animation style is very beautiful, featuring a very “illustrated” style, telling a mostly very naturalistic story.  When their town in firebombed the boy and girl lose their mother (their father is away in the Japanese navy) and they are forced to move in with a very ungrateful, not terribly close aunt and her family.  The beauty of the countryside, the fireflies, the rice paddies, the ocean, are all somewhat blighted by death already.  When living with the aunt becomes untenable, they move to an abandoned bomb shelter and live on their own terms but with virtually no food.

It doesn’t turn out well.  But you kind of know that from the beginning, an opening sequence in which the brother dies of malnutrition in a busy train station, approaching his sister in a spiritual plane, all before the main narrative begins.  The kids said that they liked the movie pretty well but it was “too sad”, which is not entirely off target.  It’s a tragic reality of the world, not a crazy madcap adventure.

It struck me that this film, coming from 1988, emanated from a period in which feature-length Japanese animation, anime or not, showed a broader content base, from this mostly naturalistic historical film to the soft fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro (1988) to the highly influential Akira (1988).  Still all traditional cel animation, but a remarkable trio of varying narrative styles and content, seemed to hearken of a renaissance of Japanese animated feature films.  Outside of Miyazaki, I wonder if this promise was truly ever met.

It’s quite a beautiful film, though slow and ultimately tragic.

Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter (2011) movie poster

director Jeff Nichols
viewed: 03/15/2012

You know the saying that “just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you?”

Take Shelter is a bit more like “just because you’re a paranoid schizophrenic having hallucinations and dreams of doom, doesn’t mean that the world isn’t really coming to an end.”

Michael Shannon plays the working class dad who starts having nightmares that effect his beliefs, who doubts his sanity because his own mother flipped out big time when she was about his age and is a diagnosed schizophrenic.   Sheenan has earned a lot of praise for his performance, which is good, though after seeing him in Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009), I had already seen him play the local psycho.  His wife is played by the very beautiful Jessica Chastain, who also appeared in the deep, bizarre The Tree of Life (2011).

It’s a thriller in which the unreliable depiction of reality is on a constant tipping point.  Is he crazy or are his visions truly prescient?  Is he going to flip out and kill his wife and daughter?  It’s all very looming and ominous.  The film received mixed to positive reviews and sounded intriguing.  I even had recommendations from friends as well.

I wasn’t that engaged in it for whatever reason.  It might have been me or my mood or whatever, but as it played out, I had no major complaints or points of criticism, but I just wasn’t that drawn into the story, the drama.  I knew that the ending would reveal the “answer” so to speak and still, I wasn’t terribly compelled by it all.  It just didn’t do it for me for whatever reason.

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

Human Centipede 2 (2011) movie poster

director Tom Six
viewed: 03/03/2012

Cult phenomenon that it was so due to become, it’s little surprise that the 2009 horror film The Human Centipede (First Sequence) begot a sequel.  Much like the original “human centipede,” director Tom Six promises that The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) is but the middle segment of a trilogy, with the intent that the films will continue to get more gruesome, revolting, and explicit.  Like I am so often, “in for a penny, in for a pound” on these types of things, I did consider it relatively requisite to go through with actually watching it.

In a move that is semi-clever/a tad post-modern, The Human Centipede 2 starts out with the premise that the original was just a movie.  And part 2 is about a pathetic English parking garage night watchman who has seen the film and now dreams of making it his reality.  Unlike the clean, pseudo-science of the doctor of the film, he’s all sleaze, sexual torture, and duct tape.  His centipede is one that MacGyver might be able to put together with the things found in an alley.

Shot in color but transfered to black and white, the film focuses on the terrible world of this man, his abusive mother, his psychologically damaged past, and his grand artistic dream: a 12-segmented human centipede.  He has to settle for 10, but he gets there with more violence and more explicit gross-out, cringe-inducing ways than the original film.  Six claimed that he wanted to make the first film “look like My Little Pony” in comparison.  In that sense, mission relatively accomplished.

Laurence R. Harvey stars as the flubby little man in a role that is about as unsexy as you can get, with his large beer belly, his torpid eyes, and his seamy slimy skin.  While Six tries to give him a backstory, and some sympathy, he’s also fairly invested in his post-modernist angle on this film too.  Not only is the man a copycat killer of the first film, but he somehow manages to lure Ashlynn Yennie, one of the “stars” of the first film, out to London under the pretext of a film opportunity, having Yennie play a version of herself, commenting occasionally on the earlier film.

I don’t need to detail the “horrors” depicted in the film.  I stomach a lot of gruesome stuff easily and I found myself feeling somewhat nauseated through the film.  Again, mission relatively accomplished.

I think it’s interesting that this film, pretty much an exploitation film, has entered enough of the pop culture world to be joked about on South Park and infested in more people’s brains that the average film of such potential obscurity.

7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) movie poster

director George Pal
viewed: 03/02/2012

I’d never actually seen the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, though I’d read about it and seen a number of stills from it as I was growing up.  As part of our George Pal series, I figured it would be a good change up from the stuff we’d recently been watching.  The other two Pal films we’d seen, The War of the Worlds (1953) and The Time Machine (1960), both had been really good.   On top of that, the script was by Charles Beaumont, one of the best writers from the television show, The Twilight Zone.

It’s the story of a small Southwestern town, early in the 20th Century, a town under the oppression of a tough guy landowner who is trying to get everyone to sell out their property to him.  In comes the diminutive figure of Dr. Lao, a “Chinaman” in the classic sense of the cliche, riding a donkey and smoking a long pipe.  He shows his magic early on as he brings his circus to town.

His “faces” are characters all played by Tony Randall, everything from a snake to Medusa to the Yeti to the god Pan.  His little circus reveals truths to the villains of the town, amusements and magic to the others, and ultimately brings about the happy endings that a film like this must have.

Pretty early on, Felix noted to me, “This film has racist stereotypes of Chinese people.”  Well spotted.  Though, I’m not sure it’s as racist as all that.  Part of Dr. Lao is his fluctuation in character and voice (he has even more voices than faces) and as the film plays out, his most painful Chinese accent is employed mainly when people anticipate it the most. Like when the boy first meets him and he can’t understand him when he’s speaking in Randall’s normal voice, he’s forced to slip back into the L’s for R’s and R’s for L’s.  It’s more troubling than racist.  It’s certainly not intended meanly.

Felix later said that it was the worst film we’d seen in a long time.  Clara enjoyed it more.  Me, I was a bit disappointed in it.  It’s a light children’s film, humorous and unchallenging, but lacking in major sparks or charms.  Pal only has one major animation piece in the film, the Loch Ness Monster the grows from the little catfish gives the film its finale.  Maybe its best sequence.

A young Barbara Eden appears as the lonely schoolteacher/librarian, looking very lovely.

Fantasia (1940)

Fantasia (1940) movie poster

various directors
viewed: 02/25/2012 at the Castro Theatre, SF, CA

It was a theatrical showing of Disney’s Fantasia that inspired our watching the film a little over a year ago, which was on DVD at home on a Friday night.  When the opportunity for a theatrical showing appeared again, this time at the Castro Theatre, I set it as a priority visit to the cinema for us.  We wound up with one of Felix’s best friends in tow as well.

Back last January, watching the film together, the three of us all wound up enjoying it.  Initially, the opening sequences were a little straining for the kids but eventually they got into them, Clara quite a lot.  How much (or little) a year changes.  And actually, having a friend along to distract you as well, I would say.  Felix found this outing “boring”.  Clara really liked it, again, her favorite was “The Pastoral Symphony” segment, with all the Greek mythology figures dancing around in forms of enhanced cuteness.

For my money (and it was my money we spent on this trip), it’s a great film.  The one sequence that I could do without is “The Rites of Spring,” which is interpreted through the creation of life on Earth, evolving into the dinosaurs and then culminating with the dinosaurs’ ultimate destruction at the hands of Nature and fate.  It’s a slower sequence, not entirely humorless but lacking vibrancy.  It’s the only true slog of the show.

Having just watched Legend (1985) the night before, I was very struck at how Ridley Scott’s devil is adapted from the demon in the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence.  It’s an interesting transition from that piece to “Ave Maria”, which the sequence morphs into.  The opening part has the devil raising the dead, ghostly spirits zipping from the grave and devils dancing like Hieronymus Bosch figures through the Disney animation lens.  And then as dawn comes and the beasts all go back to ground, shrouded figures carrying lights march toward a forest cathedral.  While there is a significant Christian overtone, it’s not of a grandly explicit nature.  In fact, the images, filtered through Art Deco and Neoclassicism bear a nearly Pagan sensibility.

I didn’t get to quiz Felix’s friend on his thoughts, though he seemed more wiggly than Felix and Clara.  Felix and Clara have experienced a pretty wide spectrum of cinema and probably have a patience that is greater than a lot of children their age as a result.  Clara has a tendency to find qualities in everything, while Felix is going through of phase of being hard to impress.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which child seems to take after me more than the other.