If you have young children and arent a professional movie viewer, chances are youre only well-acquainted with this years Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature. And even then, youve probably still only seen three of the contenders, the two Disney productions, Zootopia and Moana, and maybe the stop motion adventure Kubo and the Two Strings. That last one may even have been a little too scary for your kids. As for the other two, My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle, theyre foreign-made movies that arent easy family fare, and they havent been widely available.
Until now. Possibly. Depending on where you live. This weekend, The Red Turtle is making its way to theaters beyond the nations major cities, though its still a relatively limited number of locations. Also this Friday, which just so happens to be the start of Oscar weekend, My Life as a Zucchini opens in New York City and Los Angeles, kicking off its own rollout across the rest of the country through March. Neither will win the Academy Award, but whether youre able to see them before Sundays show or only afterward, they must not be dismissed or forgotten about as also-rans.
Its hard to argue that either of them deserve the Oscar over the three mainstream American movies, because theyre just so different from the usual anthropomorphic animal stories and singing princess fairy tales and more calculated yet less soulful stop motion efforts. It doesnt matter which takes the prize, as together the five films offer a wonderful range of animation delights. And My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle represent the most distinctly different achievements of the bunch. With the former, though, you just need to be sure you see the right version.
My Life as a Zucchini is a coming-of-age movie, directed by Claude Barras based on the 2002 French novel Autobiographie dune Courgette, about a kid nicknamed Zucchini who accidentally kills his alcoholic mother. He winds up in a small foster home, finding a kind of family there among the other abandoned and orphaned children and their caretakers. Although the new movie version has been sanitized somewhat from the book, which isnt exactly for young readers, the story as well as some of the themes and visuals are most appropriate for viewers aged in the double digits.
Plus, to best appreciate My Life as a Zucchini, youll want to see the original French-language version, and yes that means youll want the subtitled rather than the dubbed release. Fortunately, most theaters will be showing both versions. Heres what you get with the original that you dont get with the dubbed incarnation: the child actors who voice the children characters (including Gaspard Schlatter as Zucchini) have a natural, almost improvisational quality to their speech, the result of Barras not making them memorize their dialogue so much as speak the lines in their own words.
That approach really makes the film, fitting well with the crude yet cute character design. The voice acting in the dubbed version (which includes famous adults like Nick Offerman and Ellen Page, as well as child actors who sound like veteran professionals in spite of their age, including Erick Abbate as Zucchini), has a more conventional, polished sound that feels overproduced and not at all right for the story. Knowingly emphasizing its voice work, My Life as a Zucchini also has a bonus scene during the end credits depicting, in animation, Schlatters casting session (the dubbed version includes the scene intact with Schlatters voice, subtitled, which doesnt make much sense after watching with Abbate voicing the role).
As for the rest of the movie, its fine, often very sweet, and it handles the heavy themes of death, drug abuse, child abuse, and more very well from the perspectives of the children. I do wish My Life as a Zucchini was better focalized with regards to it being Zucchinis story, as the title claims and as the bits of voiceover narration adhere to; for a while its much more concentrated on another one of the orphans. But otherwise theres nothing to criticize thats not wholly subjective and a matter of my personal dislike of the look of some of the characters, specifically their scratchy red noses.
The Red Turtle is a little easier on the whole family, as theres almost no dialogue, and what little there isa few utterances of hey!requires no English-language version. No subtitling, no dubbing. Its a marvelously visual film, though its possibly too slow for younger children anyway. Its not a kid movie nor an adult movie. Its not for any audience in particular other than one that likes to be enchanted by visual storytelling and basic fairy tale and mythology plots. The story concerns a castaway who one day encounters a large sea turtle that magically changes the course of his desert-island-dwelling life.
Directed and co-written by Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit (a previous Oscar winner for his 2000 short, Father and Daughter), The Red Turtle has its own issues, but theyre minor and Im nitpicking to address them. As much as I love that the film is dialogue-free, that actually becomes somewhat implausible for the story in the latter half. The first part is also much more exciting in its depiction of the adventurous survivalism of the stranded man. And there are a lot of questions that arise about where the story goes that cant be answered because theres nobody to explain the details or the characters motives.
Yet every single shot in The Red Turtle is perfect, especially because of the intricate and beautifully imagined backdrops, and in terms of just what is on screen, the story action is directed faultlessly. While theres not always the greatest emotional connection to the characters, between them or for the audience, the film is occasionally pretty affecting for something of its simple 2D hand-drawn style. We dont get many films of any format so lacking in their dependence on dialogue these days, and its essential that we see more like this and the past-nominated works by Sylvain Chomet.
The essential charms of My Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle are contrasting components. The former is worth seeing for its voice work and what it does freely with its dialogue, while the latter is a must-see feature because of its lack of voice work (and coming from Studio Ghibli, whose films tend to get distracting celebrity-filled dubs, thats really notable) and what it does freely with its imagery, including fantastic dream sequences. They face strong mainstream competition at the Oscars this year, but hopefully they at least benefit in the notice of being nominated.
See them both once theyre playing near you.
Read the original here:
- What To Make Of The Mysterious Melania Trump - Worldcrunch - July 21st, 2020
- 'The Office:' How the Jim-and-Dwight Rivalry Impacted the Actors' Offscreen Relationship - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - July 21st, 2020
- What Does Al-Qaeda Tell Us About The Base? - The Defense Post - July 21st, 2020
- The 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time - Men's Health - July 8th, 2020
- Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse - CNET - July 8th, 2020
- Leader of ultra-right militia The Three Percenters General BloodAgent predicts end of America by 2021 and warns of new civil war - RT - July 8th, 2020
- Coronavirus and the Culture Wars - PopMatters - July 8th, 2020
- The Rose | by Ben Lerner - The New York Review of Books - July 8th, 2020
- VICE - Armed Man Who Allegedly Stormed Justin Trudeau's Residence Appears to Have Posted QAnon Content - VICE - July 8th, 2020
- Military Veterans and the Boogaloo Bois Explained - Connecting Vets - June 20th, 2020
- Return to your roots: Gardening a great solution to cope with stress of pandemic - The Independent - May 24th, 2020
- Else Blangsted, Who Fled the Nazis and Found a Hollywood Ending, Dies at 99 - The New York Times - May 24th, 2020
- Inside ultra-luxurious disaster survival kits where super-rich can pay 4k for night vision goggles and posh - The Sun - May 24th, 2020
- Far More Valuable Than a Stockpile of Food and Money - Investment U - May 19th, 2020
- Eat this Now (Because You Have to): Terrible Homemade Bread - Kansas City Pitch - May 15th, 2020
- Survivor Is the Quintessential TV Show - The Ringer - May 15th, 2020
- Documentary shows life in the 'Biosphere' wasn't out of this world - Arlington Catholic Herald - May 15th, 2020
- I didn't think a pandemic would bring out the domestic goddess in me - Metro.co.uk - May 11th, 2020
- How to avoid the end times - The Japan Times - March 24th, 2020
- Is It as Impossible to Build Jerusalem as It is to Escape Babylon? (Part Two) - CounterPunch - February 27th, 2020
- Veteran Analyst Warns of XRP Crash to $0.20 as Price Stumbles - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- XRP Could Be on Verge of Explosive Breakout Higher, Taking It 100% Higher - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- XRP Just Flipped a Key Resistance Into Support: Why This is Bullish - Ethereum World News - February 27th, 2020
- Ripple Is On The Verge Of A New Rally According To Analysts - Somag News - February 27th, 2020
- West Ham need something drastic to kickstart a revival they might not get it in the Premier League - FourFourTwo - January 25th, 2020
- Lost in Space Season 3 Releasing on Netflix and Dr. Smith Will Return - Honk News - January 25th, 2020
- When Is Lost In Space Season 3 Coming Out On Netflix And Dr. Smith Returning Possibilities - The Digital Wise - January 25th, 2020
- The Best And Worst Of WWE NXT 1/15/20: Survivalism - UPROXX - January 18th, 2020
- Bitcoin Indicator That Called Rally to $14000 Flashes Again - BTCNN - January 18th, 2020
- Bitcoin just cracked $8,500, and it means bulls are taking control - CryptoSlate - January 18th, 2020
- Ethereum Forms a Bearish Rejection Just Below a Key Resistance Level - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- The Explosion In This One Metric Is Bullish for Bitcoins Price - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- Why An Analyst Thinks XRP Price Has Further to Fall - Ethereum World News - January 18th, 2020
- Would a Virginia bill really ban dads from teaching sons how to use hunting rifles? - PolitiFact - December 18th, 2019
- Amazon's holiday gift to Orlando's sci-fi fans is a revitalized season of 'The Expanse' - Orlando Weekly - December 13th, 2019
- Market Experts Weigh in on the Next Major Mergers & Acquisitions in Media - Observer - November 21st, 2019
- A brief history of John Krasinski's transformation into a guy who absolutely loves the CIA - Business Insider - November 21st, 2019
- Richard Tobin of Brooklawn accused of conspiring to initimidate minorities - Courier Post - November 21st, 2019
- The Terminator Created a New Kind of Hero With Kyle Reese - Yahoo Entertainment - October 27th, 2019
- Bitcoin Might Head To The $6,000 Region In The Near-Term According to Wyckoff Logic - ZyCrypto - October 17th, 2019
- Low Tide Review: The Goonies Meets The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Sharp Coming-of-Age Thriller - IndieWire - October 4th, 2019
- As the climate collapses, we can either stand together or perish alone - The Guardian - October 4th, 2019
- Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes - Locus Online - October 4th, 2019
- Oregon 'Hate Map' Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State - Patch.com - August 18th, 2017
- Doomsday Desperation - Southern Poverty Law Center - August 18th, 2017
- 'American Made' Review: Tom Cruise Flies Between Comedy and Tension, Missing Both - TheWrap - August 18th, 2017
- North Korea: Nuclear War Fears Spur Sales of Preparedness Goods ... - Fortune - August 14th, 2017
- For Doomsday Preppers, the End of the World Is Good for Business - New York Times - August 13th, 2017
- Film Review: Good Time - Consequence of Sound (blog) - August 13th, 2017
- What I Learned From the Neo-Nazi in My Prison Book Club | The ... - The Marshall Project - August 11th, 2017
- Nine Inch Nails - Webster Hall, New York City - Gigs - Reviews ... - Soundblab - August 11th, 2017
- Film Review: The Glass Castle Fails on Almost Every Level - Splice Today - August 11th, 2017
- If North Korea targets Guam, how should the US respond? - Fox News - August 11th, 2017
- Naked - slantmagazine - August 10th, 2017
- Noir Thriller Wind River Examines An Ignored America - Willamette Week - August 10th, 2017
- Silicon Valley luminaries are busily preparing for when robots take ... - Mashable - August 10th, 2017
- Review: Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is as Riveting as it is Groundbreaking - First Showing (blog) - July 23rd, 2017
- Do you Have What it Takes to be a Christian Survivalist? - CBN News - July 19th, 2017
- Morning Star :: No growth but lots of opportunities | The People's Daily - Morning Star Online - July 19th, 2017
- 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Review: Finale of biblical proportions - Rappler - July 18th, 2017
- Queued Up: 'The Lego Batman Movie,' 'XX,' 'Logan,' and More - Aquarian Weekly - July 12th, 2017
- Film Review: War for the Planet of the Apes - Consequence of Sound (blog) - July 11th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ... - Norfolk Eastern Daily Press - July 8th, 2017
- Review: Paranoia thriller It Comes At Night is impressively tense and ineffably creepy - Norwich Evening News - July 8th, 2017
- DJ CherishTheLuv, Music Missionary - HuffPost - June 30th, 2017
- What it Means to Finish Pikes Peak + Results - Hot Rod Network - Hot Rod Network - June 29th, 2017
- 'It Comes at Night' a Spellbinding Tale of Family and Survival - Shepherd Express - June 29th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Charleston Express - June 26th, 2017
- Are you ready when disaster strikes? These Minnesota doomsday preppers are - Arkansas News - June 25th, 2017
- Where billionaires are stockpiling land for the apocalypse: Map - The Real Deal Magazine - June 19th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - Business Insider Nordic - June 17th, 2017
- Map reveals where billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse - SFGate - June 15th, 2017
- Billionaires are stockpiling land that could be used in the apocalypse here's where they're going - The Advocate - June 15th, 2017
- Next "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana - KRTV Great Falls News - June 11th, 2017
- Veteran teaches disaster preparation skills at Heights library - The Killeen Daily Herald - June 10th, 2017
- It Comes At Night stars on survivalism, the apocalypse - WDEF News 12 - June 9th, 2017
- Recently unveiled documents reveal anarchist strand festered at Evergreen for nearly a decade - The College Fix - June 9th, 2017
- Margaret Atwood on the utopias hiding inside her dystopias and why there is no the future - Vox - June 9th, 2017
- Humanity 2.0: The Unstoppability of Singularity - HuffPost - June 8th, 2017
- Upcoming "Far Cry" video game is set in Montana - KTVQ Billings News - June 6th, 2017