Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2108th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3556, October 6, 2005.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
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|L.A.con IV in 2006!||Nippon 2007 in 2007!||Salamander Press #2591|
The Animated Movie Guide will not be officially published until the end of this month, but Amazon.com is selling it already. Jerry Beck is the only author credited in Amazon.com's blurb, but I wrote all the reviews of Japanese movies released theatrically in the U.S., which there were more of than we realized when we first planned the book. I am one of several reviewers on Beck's team; we get credit in the book. This was the last major writing project that I completed before my stroke. If you want comprehensive information on any animated feature film released theatrically (not directly to TV or video) in the U.S. up to the end of 2004 (I wrote a rush review of the South Korean Sky Blue, released December 31, 2004), it should be in here.
When he announced my new webpage on his (& Amid Amidi's) Cartoonbrew website last month, Beck said:
September 07, 2005
FRED PATTEN UPDATE
Our dear friend Fred Patten suffered a stroke last March. I'm happy to say he's recovering nicely (slowly, but nicely) - and he now has a new webpage which is being updated with his current health status and activities. Fred is the foremost U.S. historian on Japanese anime - and his contributions to my forthcoming book, THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE, were invaluable.
Get well Fred - I need you for the revised edition!
Here is the Amazon.com listing, minus the cover illustration:
The Animated Movie Guide (Paperback)
by Jerry Beck
List Price: $26.95
Price: $17.79 and eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. See details
You Save: $9.16 (34%)
Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Going beyond the box-office hits of Disney and Dreamworks, this guide to every animated movie ever released in the United States covers more than 300 films over the course of nearly 80 years of film history. Well-known films such as Finding Nemo and Shrek are profiled and hundreds of other films, many of them rarely discussed, are analyzed, compared, and catalogued. The origin of the genre and what it takes to make a great animated feature are discussed, and the influence of Japanese animation, computer graphics, and stop-motion puppet techniques are brought into perspective. Every film analysis includes reviews, four-star ratings, background information, plot synopses, accurate running times, consumer tips, and MPAA ratings. Brief guides to made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video releases, foreign films that were never theatrically released in the U.S., and live-action films with significant animation round out the volume.
About the Author
Jerry Beck helped create Animation Magazine and has contributed to such publications as Hollywood Reporter and Variety. He is the author of six books, including Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide and Outlaw Animation. He has taught courses on animation at the University of California-Los Angeles, New York University, and The School of the Visual Arts. He is the former vice president of animation for Nickelodeon Movies and has produced several animated television series. He lives in Hollywood, California.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 28, 2005)
Product Dimensions: 11.0 x 8.5 x 0.8 inches
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Rob Powell brought me to last week's LASFS meeting because Michael Burlake's van was being repaired. The Alderson parking spot was empty for us this week; I did not find out whether the car parked there the previous week had been towed away or not. In addition, Cathy Beckstead bought the Alderson spot in the monthly auction and donated it to me for October, Actually, all the bidders for it said that they were bidding to donate it to me. Thanks, everyone!
After publishing my tribute last week to Jud Hurd and CARTOONIST PROfiles, and saying that I thought the final issue was #145, the first thing that happened when I entered Freehafer Hall was that Kay Shapero gave me #146, which had been mailed to me c/o Lee Gold. It was cover-dated June 2005 (the month after Hurd's stroke), and was a giant-sized issue filled with tributes to him as well as the usual stuff (mostly promotional plugs for 2005 brand-new hopeful newspaper strips); so unless it was over three months being forwarded to me, I assume that it was just published now and was back-dated to June to keep up the magazine's regularly quarterly schedule. It certainly had the feel of a final issue, both by the tributes and by the fact that it was more of a hodgepodge than Hurd's usual neat editing; it looked like his wife must have dumped everything in the editorial files for future issues into it. Even if nobody knew that Hurd would die in September, it must have been obvious that he would never recover enough from his stroke to resume publication, so CARTOONIST PROfiles #146, June 2005, was designed to be the final issue rather than the magazine being cut short by the editor/publisher's death. This was nice in terms of ending the magazine's career with a definite feeling of closure, even if it was a sad lightweight (if physically hefty) mess in comparison to Hurd's well-edited issues.
The highlight of last week's LASFS meeting was technically after the meeting adjourned, when Tadao Tomomatsu showed the electronic press kit for Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. He actually showed only the segments that included the animation (none that were live interviews only), but this still added up to about 15 minutes' worth of the feature. Rob Powell & I were already planning to see it at the publicity screening for ASIFA-Hollywood members the following Monday, but this confirmed our intention; it looked great! My only annoyance with the promo was with several gushy statements about how popular stop-motion animation of clay (actually plasticine) figures is with the public. Baloney! I approve of the educational explanation of how stop-motion animation works (especially today, when most of the public probably thinks that stop-motion films like Tim Burton's Corpse Bride are the same computer graphics as Shrek and The Incredibles) but what is popular with the public are well-made, witty films with strong stories, which Chicken Run and the previous Wallace & Gromit short films have. No cinematic technique is popular in its own right, or will save a movie that is stupid or boring.
On Saturday afternoon, Rob Powell took me to the AMC Burbank 16 theater to see Serenity, the Firefly movie. (It took us an hour to get to the Burbank theater from North Hollywood, due mainly to looking for a parking space. Even all the handicapped parking in the multilevel parking lots was filled. If it were not for the dozen or so pre-feature trailers, we would have arrived late; we barely found a place for my wheelchair in the theater before the feature started.) Thanks to having seen the entire Firefly TV series on DVD (in the proper order and including all the unaired episodes) less than a month before, courtesy of the Van Wagners and the Estrogen Zone, I was able to appreciate the feature fully. Even though it is supposed to be a stand-alone story (set months or a couple of years after the TV series, since one of the main cast had left the Serenity long enough ago to begin a new life), I do not see how anyone could understand all of the characters and the personality interplay if they were unfamiliar with how these had been established in the TV episodes. But this is an old problem of theatrical features based upon TV series. The movie is very successful in the Star Trek/Babylon 5 tradition, and will not disappoint the fans of cinematic space opera and of the TV series, except for maybe those who expect all the ongoing mysteries and loose plot threads to be wrapped up. A couple are (I will complain, however, that the movie does nothing to change my feeling from the TV series that the violently cannibalistic Reavers are depicted as too mindlessly feral to be able to convincingly operate spaceships), and there are some unexpected surprises. The movie pulls off the difficult trick of wrapping up the TV series definitively while still leaving the potential for another movie or a renewed TV series if Serenity is popular enough. Be warned, however, that this adventure is even more depressing and seemingly hopeless than the average Firefly episode. It is good s-f drama but it is never a "feel-good" movie.
ASIFA-Hollywood's membership screening of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the evening of Monday, October 3rd, at the ArcLight/Cinerama Dome theater in Hollywood. Attendees got a free Gromit mask and a packet of Wallace & Gromit's Giant Carrot seeds (genuine; the directions say it takes 75 to 79 days to grow an Imperator carrot, the largest popular table variety). I was afraid that the electronic press kit shown at the LASFS might have given away all the best scenes, but the press kit turned out to have been cleverly planned to leave many of the best scenes as surprises in the movie. Another fear, that The Curse of the Were-Rabbit might be just a lengthier repeat of A Close Shave, did not materialize, even though there are superficial similarities in the romance between Wallace and his client Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter gives her such a natural-sounding upper-class British accent that it is hard to believe she is the same actress who voices the non-British Corpse Bride) and the rivalry between Gromit and a toothy bulldog. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is refreshingly original. Much of the success of the movie is due to the antagonist, Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), who is not a 'secret" villain as much as an arrogant Big Game Hunter type who cannot bear to let his quarry get away. His romantic rivalry with Wallace for Totty's hand is never really serious (the movie establishes in his first scene that he has no intention of stopping shooting the rabbits despite Totty's disapproval of his bloodthirstiness; she prefers Wallace's humane Anti-Pesto garden pest removal service); it is his plot to make sure that Wallace gets killed as part of his Final Solution to rid the veggie farmers of their rabbit problem that is the real threat. Victor is obviously cleverer than Wallace; it is up to Gromit, as usual, to save the day. The movie parodies King Kong and Frankenstein as much as werewolf horror movies in general. It felt as though the audience never stopped laughing, although that can't be true or the laughter would have drowned out the witty dialogue. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was reportedly five years in production; hopefully Aardman Animation has already started its next feature.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Vanamonde #646 - (Hertz) "Futuristic" is one of those terms like "modernistic" and "post-modernistic" which is already passé. ## Congratulations on your letter in Analog. There have been times in the LASFS' history (probably none since Ackerman stopped attending) when all members were urged to write letters of comment to the prozines. The prozines themselves are accused of becoming passé today. ## There have been different styles of fezzes; all seem passé (if I can use that word a third time) now. When I was in school the world history textbooks included the 1876 coronation photograph of Abdul the Damned (Sultan Abdul Hamid II), who wore a fancy fez if I recall correctly. (I just checked to see if it is posted on the Internet, but all his illustrated entries seem to use the same photo from his old age, wearing a regular fez.) ## Whether it was the Roman Senate around 1 A.D. or Numa Pompilius 700 years earlier who messed up the calendar, what was it like originally? What was the original arrangement of months, and their names?
De Jueves #1446 - (Moffatt) Could the Philip K. Dick robot have been programmed to jump up and walk about/out? Has anyone established yet whether all the A.I. circuitry was contained in the seated humanoid body, or if it extended through the seated body into the couch it was seated on? If the body was connected to the couch by the circuitry, at best it would not have been able to stand up and walk around without trailing its wiring behind it, even if the A.I. programming was advanced enough to enable that - and is it yet? ## Aside from fezzes, top hats are also pretty passé (there's that word again) today. I remember news photos of President John F. Kennedy wearing a top hat at his 1961 inauguration. Have they been stylish since then? ## The Roman Senate did not add July and August to the calendar at the same time. It added July shortly after Caesar's assassination, to honor him. Then when Octavian became the Emperor Augustus it added August to avoid insulting him by not giving him equal honors. Then when Tiberius became emperor it did the same; but Tiberius said, "This is ridiculous; I don't need a month named after me; leave the calendar alone!" So the calendar has not had a permanent change since then. Nero ordered that a month be named in his honor (or after Hercules, since he had proclaimed himself the reincarnation of Hercules), but that was after the Senate had stopped paying attention to him. (I should acknowledge the "modern" Gregorian calendar adjustments without getting into them.) ## Probably every city in Nevada has its share of casinos. And legalized brothels? ## Penny will doubtlessly have plenty to be paranoid about. I cannot imagine her getting out of the Goblin Hollow "gaming center" house without encountering its supernatural inhabitants (who have already "borrowed" her poetry). ## I do not expect to need my electric fan once the hottest days of Summer have passed.
Paper - (Cantor) I wish that I was able to resume bringing in ˇRR! already printed instead of making you print it. I wish that I could finish the layout myself, so it would never have any blank pages and I could select the comic strips to be included to fill space. I would also like to include more paste-ups from websites instead of just the URLs, since some 'Lers do not have computer access and for long-term permanency since those weblinks may not work five or ten years from now.
Godzillla Verses #56 - (DeChancie) Your interesting writeup of the Wabash tunnel in Pittsburgh reminds me of the fancy Los Angeles Subway Terminal building in downtown L.A. that was started in the 1920s and then abandoned for decades after only about a half-mile of tunnel was dug. Now that L.A. does have a subway system (which I have not ridden yet), is that old terminal part of it?
Solon & The Art Of Jurisprudence - (Gold) Thanks for the additional information from The Man Who Built San Francisco. I do not know that much about California history during the Civil War, but I do know that the Union depended heavily on the gold fields of both California and Colorado to finance the War. I had read that the Union had difficulty getting the public to accept paper money when it was first introduced in 1862, but I had not seen statistics like those cited in the book. I am surprised that the paper dollar was worth less by 1864 than it was in 1862, since the Union was closer to winning the war by then which was why Lincoln was reelected by such a large majority. ## The LASFS did threaten to have that illegally parked car towed. I should ask Ed Green or Liz Mortensen if it actually did so. Does anyone know if the club has had cars towed in the past? Could the LASFS enforce its own parking tickets? ## Thanks for the information on the calendar. What do you know about February being "the bad luck" month, and the Roman Senate reassigning days from it to other months to help diminish the bad luck, which is supposedly why February is now shorter than the other months?
Fish Out of Water #138 - (Helgesen) My family had a cocker spaniel who had a doghouse in our back yard. I used to crawl into it when I was a small child. It was certainly too small for an adult to get into.
Merrie Maladies #28 - (Castora) Vanessa Van Wagner and I should share the credit for any comic strips reprinted here. I have given her a list of my favorites to choose among, but the specific strips that appear are her selection. As I said last week, I do not always agree with her choices. Of the current Nip and Tuck very funny story sequence, which is up to eight strips so far, she has only printed the one that makes almost no sense by itself. ## I cannot imagine wearing a fez just to keep your head warm, or wearing any kind of hat inside the home just to be stylish. If keeping your head warm is the main reason, there have always been warmer hats available. For the less hirsute, a wig would be both warmer and more dignified. ## Kittens may not be able to be taught to dance the cancan, but I am pretty sure that I remember somebody (Terry Gilliam?) animating kittens dancing the cancan in pixellation. (Adult cats dance the cancan in Gay Purr-ee, as I recall.) ## Nepotism occasionally works out well. The best recent example that I know of was Animaniacs senior producer Tom Ruegger's using his own young son Nathan as the voice of Skippy Squirrel. The kid turned out to be a brilliant natural voice actor, so good that most people forgot that Ruegger had put his whole family onto the show as voice actors. Nathan was the only one who had real talent, which surprised everyone since he was given the part out of nepotism, not because anyone knew he was good. When Leopold Mozart promoted his son Wolfgang as a child progidy, was that nepotism or a case of a father's recognizing genuine talent? ## "Harrumph!" used to be a standard written sound effect, for more pompous and deliberate throat-clearing than "Ahem!" I associate "Harrumph!" with actors like Monty Wooley, Lionel Barrymore and Louis Calhern who played self-important judges, family patriarchs, senior politicians, bankers and the like; the sort of characters that Major Hoople clearly aspired to be. It used to be more socially acceptable to be openly self-important if one had the social standing to get away with it. In these more egalitarian times, I guess that "Harrumph!" has become (guess what?) passé.
Long Time, No C #38 - (Zeff) Thanks for publishing your synopsis. It looks like your setting is both the future and an alternate universe, unless you explain why being in the future makes magic and the supernatural work as well as futuristic technology. Lots of s-f stories do this these days, with or without justifications for the magic. Have you read Nick Pollotta's "Bureau 13" novels?