Happy time, people! I’m pleased to report that there is not one stinker in the last 10 films I’ve watched. (Yes, The Room stinks to high heaven, but it stinks like only the finest cheeses can stink.) Some of these films were first time viewings – Woman on the Run, A Bucket of Blood, Runaway Train, Blood and Black Lace – and none failed to live up to their solid reputations. And Kato Tai still remains possibly Japanese cinema’s best kept secret – more on him in future posts!
- Woman on the Run (Norman Foster, 1950)
- A Bucket of Blood (Roger Corman, 1959)
- The Peanuts Movie (Steve Martino, 2015)
- By a Man’s Face You Shall Know Him (Kato Tai, 1966)
- Runaway Train (Andrei Konchalovsky, 1985)
- Blood and Black Lace (Mario Bava, 1964)
- Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, 2003)
- The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)
- The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)
- Surf’s Up (Chris Buck and Ash Brannon, 2007)
Last, let’s briefly discuss how great The Peanuts Movie turned out! Reviews were mixed for the film and no consensus seemed to exist as to how Charles Schulz’s work should have been brought into the post-millennial era. As someone who watched every Charlie Brown Special he could get his tiny child-hands on, The Peanuts Movie succeeded in not betraying its sweet and slightly melancholy foundation, a task made more impressive by Martino’s keen updating of Peanuts through his careful use of digital animation to support the brand’s familiar aesthetic. By and large, the film plays with 3D space without upending the lateral plane that organized the world of Peanuts. The dogfight sequences between Snoopy and the Red Baron are visually impressive, but clever in (almost) never allowing Snoopy’s doghouse to detach from the frame’s edge. But it is in Martino’s use of thought balloons, motion lines, and simple black-line artwork that The Peanuts Movie makes itself self-consciously current through evocations back to the comic strip origins of these characters and Schulz’s wavering inks. It would have been very easy to shoehorn in a villain that the Peanuts kids would have to overcome, but The Peanuts Movie mindfully keeps its focus on the interpersonal dynamics and lightly philosophical concerns that defined the strip and TV specials. Its rallying dénouement might be a bit much for the material, but The Peanuts Movie brought to mind all the things I loved about the characters with barely a sour note. A surprise favourite for 2015!