HOORAY FOR DENMARK!
I've only ever been to Denmark once, on a weekend at the end of June 1998, just before spending a few weeks in England, but Copenhagen is a very pleasant little city, with a feel more like a large version of a smaller British city with open air shopping streets like Northampton than a capital. Also, Denmark remains the only country in the world where I've ever been to a 7-Eleven branded convenience store.
I wish I had thought to take photos (all of these pictures, other than the ones I'm in, are "borrowed" from elsewhere).
Anyway, Denmark is a country worth celebrating.Hooray for Hans Christian Andersen and his stories, especially The Little Mermaid!Hooray for Carlsberg Special Brew high-alcohol beer!Hooray for Aqua!(Yes, I am fully aware that lead singer Lene Nystrøm, a fellow member of the October 2nd club, is Norweigan and not Danish, but the band is Danish, named after the Danmarks Akvarium.)Hooray for Lego!Hooray for Kastrup Airport!Hooray for the Palads Cinema, where I once watched The Wedding Singer in English with Danish subtitles! Danish people really like Adam Sandler apparently!Hooray for Bang and Olufsen CD players with their sliding glass fronts!Hooray for Danish McDonald's French Fries that have a slight but noticable sugary sweet taste compared to McDonald's fries I tried anywhere else in the world!Hooray for freedom of speech!
I fully admit that some of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons that Muslims are all up in arms about
, particularly the ones depicting Prophet Mohammed, aren't in the best of taste (as is the case with a lot of these Photoshops
, not to say I didn't chuckle at some of them), but that is the glorious thing about freedom of speech. Bad taste is protected. The freedom to be juvenile and vulgar and outrageous and blasphemous and incendiary should be sacrosanct. (I know it's not quite that way in Canada for certain things, but it ought to be. Though I should point out that, since this blog is hosted by Blogspot, this is technically an American website.)
You certainly don't have to like
it if someone writes or draws something offensive. You don't even have to stay quiet about it. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to criticize others' speech. But, in the west, if a newspaper prints something offensive, the proper way to react is to write an angry letter to the editor. Or, perhaps, cancel your subscription. Or, if it was something really over the line, protest outside of the newspaper and boycott stores selling the newspaper.
Rioting and threatening murder and violence and terrorist actions against entire continents because of a couple of less-than-respectful drawings is not an appropriate or productive form of civil discourse.Terrorist "demonstrators" burning embassies do far more to smear Islam in the eyes of the general public around the world than a few stupid cartoons.
Boy oh boy, some Muslims really need to take a chill pill and get some "perspective" and learn to appreciate such concepts as nuance
and, maybe, "not making a mountain out of a molehill".
It's perfectly natural to be offended at cartoons that aimed to offend (though they swallowed troll bait hook, line, and sinker. "Fished in! Get the net!"
But, if you're going to threaten our western freedoms because a couple of semi-skilled Danish cartoonists dared to besmirch your pwecious widdle prophet Mohammed (pizza be upon him), then, well, you can all fuck yourselves. (Muslims with "perspective" are exempt from the previous sentence.)
And, if the Islamofascist hordes want a clash of civilizations, I say, BRING IT ON, BITCHES! Awaken the sleeping giant of a unified west (beyond just the Anglosphere) and feel our wrath.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE OSCAR NOMINEES 2006
Here's my amateur punditry from back in November, when the shortlist for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award was announced
Of the ten on the list, the only safe bet for getting nominated would be Wallace and Gromit.
The real shortlist of who will be competing for the two other slots is just:
- Chicken Little
- The Corpse Bride
- Howl's Moving Castle
Two of those, Madagascar and Chicken Little, are there primarily for their box-office only (though I thought Madagascar was better than the over-praised Shrek films at least, though, yeah, it doesn't touch Pixar or Aardman). It could be the year that we won't see a single (primarily) CGI-animated film nominated (in a W&G/HMC/TCB situation), but I'm skeptical that it's likely to happen.
I think Wallace and Gromit already has the award in the bag, though. The other nominees are merely formalities.
Well, it turns out my skepticism was unfounded, as the Academy did indeed select the three non-CGI animated films from my whittled-down list of the only nominees that had a realistic chance at being nominated
The final nominees are:
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride
- Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
I'm generally pleased. While I didn't feel compelled enough to write a full review of any of them, that doesn't mean I didn't care for them. It just means that I just didn't feel that I had all that much to say about them that hasn't already been said1
I actually did have a half-written review of Howl's Moving Castle
that I procrastinated on finishing. I might finish it when the DVD is released in March. But, while Howl's Moving Castle
is a narrative mess, it was very lovely to look at and has many great scenes. It doesn't come close to touching what I feel are Hayao Miyazaki's best films, Kiki's Delivery Service
and My Neighbor Totoro
, but I could go so far as to say that I like it better than anything Hayao Miyazaki has done since at least 1992's Porco Rosso
. Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride
deserved to be nominated for its outstanding technical achievement in creating a stop-motion animated film that was so smooth, it almost could be mistaken for CGI if you didn't know that everything you were looking at (with a couple of tiny CGI-enhanced exceptions) was a literal physical model (built mostly from die-cast metal, as opposed to clay/plasticine), even if the story left me mostly cold and the songs were flat and it was largely a rehash of the usual Tim Burton clichés that had already been done better in The Nightmare Before Christmas
.Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
, while not as tightly-paced as the half-hour Wallace and Gromit
short films, was still very fun to watch, and, while the stop-motion animation was relatively simplistic compared to The Corpse Bride
, seeing the minor flaws like the occasional animator's thumbprint actually gives it a warmth and charm that The Corpse Bride
lacked, and there was plenty of detail in the elaborate "sets", so it won't win the Oscar merely for being better entertainment, it will also win for some degree of visual splendor, even if it doesn't exactly push the envelope from a technical standpoint.
I have a few thoughts on the other Oscar nominees
, but I'll put them in a separate post later.
It's become customary for me to give some idea as to who will be nominated and win Best Animated Feature next year
At this point in time, the only obvious, obvious shoe-in would be Cars
, the first Pixar film with John Lasseter as director since Toy Story 2
in 1999. While it would not be fair for me to review films based solely on trailers, I will say that I have a lot more confidence in Cars
than I do in Barnyard
, Over the Hedge
, and Ice Age 2
(though I'm sure the latter will be fun).
I really need to do some research so I can write a 2006 animated film preview the way I did last year
. I can't think, off the top of my head, all that much else coming out besides the ones I just mentioned, other than the "old school" 2-D animated Curious George
, and Richard Linklater's rotoscoped A Scanner Darkly
, which appeared in my 2005 preview though it was subsequently delayed. (A Scanner Darkly
might not even be eligible as "animation" since it's rotoscoped from live-actors, so its eligibility will depend how much was added to the filmed action beyond the Photoshop filters.)
2006 will be a much smaller year for anime films released domestically. Mind Game
, which doesn't even yet have a North American distributor as far as I know, could cause some ripples for its "mindphuk" style, which doesn't really look "Japanese" and which changes from shot to shot, but, like nearly every other anime film before it, I don't see it being a breakout hit outside of the arthouse circuit, and, since it's not from Hayao Miyazaki, I doubt it will get a nod from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
All in all, aside from Cars
, I have no clue which animated films will have any awards chances.1I know, I didn't review Wallace and Gromit, yet I somehow saw fit to review both Robots and Madagascar. Well, I felt that I had something to say about those two, even if I fully admit they weren't exactly the greatest animated films of recent years. Sometimes it's just easier to review flawed films. Anyway, I also reviewed My Neighbors the Yamadas, which is possibly the best animated film I saw last year, though it was released in Japan in 1999, so it couldn't have been eligible even if it hadn't been released direct-to-video in North America, as the Academy only grants a single-year extension for films originally released in their home markets before their American release. That's how Howl's Moving Castle was eligible for 2005, even if it got released in November 2004 in Japan.