Finding Dory

W.W.D.D: What would Dory do?

13 years on from the incredible Finding Nemo and our fish friends are back – but this time Dory is the focus. Our favorite Paracanthurus (Blue Tang) is back. The phrase above is not just my new mantra for living, it’s the motto of the movie. At one point a character even asks himself, What Would Dory Do? For Dory is one of Pixar’s greatest creations – truly lovely, totally optimistic with a tenacious heart of gold. What is truly Pixar about both her onscreen features is how her having memory loss is handled – it is not her main character trait nor is it treated as a problem that needs ‘fixing’. It is part of who Dory is, yet something she does not allow to completely control her. Her much awaited sequel really does not disappoint.

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Inside Out

Pixar proving that it really does know us Inside Out…

This film is Pixar’s best outing yet. It’s so clever, moving and beautifully told – in the way only Pixar an master. An outstanding treat of a film for both kids and adults. Both silly yet serious, it manages to articulate the traumas of growing up in a way that both reflects them for the kids but prompts self-reflection from the adults. It cannot be emphasised enough how universal the film is, with a multitude of jokes that will appeal to all markets. It’s witty, yet warm and oh-so wise. Joy. Sadness. Fear. Disgust. Anger. These are all emotions that we feel, often simultaneously, yet this film makes us consider the true power of these emotions and how they are all equally important – in a manner that will make you giggle and possibly shed a tear or two.

11-year-old Riley lives in Minnesota with her mum and dad. For Riley, everyday is a great day. She loves her family, friends, hockey and goofing around. With Joy (Amy Poehler) at the helm in the Headquarters -Riley’s conscious mind- to influence Riley’s actions and memories. Joy, along with Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling), use a control console to interact with Riley. Even after 11 years, they still cannot understand the purpose of Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Yet Riley’s life quickly changes, with her family moving to San Francisco for her dad’s work. Whilst Joy and the other three emotions are trying to negotiate Riley’s well-being upon moving, they most also deal with Sadness who has started to touch some of Riley’s happy memories, transforming them to be sad. When trying to fix one of these memories Joy and Sadness end up being transported away from Headquarters into the labyrinthian maze that is Riley’s mind.

It’s immensely hard to find the words to explain just how extraordinary this film is. In typical Pixar-style it has created a film with a premise that seems so obvious, the idea of our emotions having personalities, yet manages to create something so beautifully poignant, entertaining and moving. Riley’s turmoil is so well reflected, it will bring back evocative memories for all. For the parents of the audience it could only be doubly heartfelt – an opportunity to see inside your child’s mind!

How these aspects are converted onto the screen are what makes Pixar so innovative. We have the Train of Thought, Personality Islands and the dreaded Memory Dump. A stand-out sequence has to when Sadness, Joy and Bing-Bong (Riley’s long forgotten imaginary friend) stop by the production studio for Dreams. It’s just so meta, with the revelation that dreams are actually created in a movie studio style-operation, reflecting on the manufacturing and perception of moving image. All of this is incredibly astute, but told in a way that is accessible to all ages. But what really makes us care about the events of this film is the characterisation. All the characters are fully developed and three dimensional – Riley is portrayed as such a lovely kid going through a real crisis, her loving parents doing all they can to help and their bond is so endearing. The emotions do steal the show here – they each have nuances and quirks yet are all untied with their tender treatment of Riley.

If you decide to go to the cinema only once this Summer, this is the film to see. It’s conceptually daring in both emotion and intellect, so comforting and simple but also affecting and thoughtful. A masterpiece.

Mini-Review: Lava

lava

Like all Pixar movies this film starts with a short, a beautiful love story called ‘Lava’. Told through song, a lonely volcano expresses his need for a companion he can love. It’s a beautiful sequence, the colourings and textures of the island landscape with the camera panning over so elegantly create an almost mythical tone. It’s hard to believe how far, animation-wise Pixar and its technology has developed since ‘Knick-Knack’ (1989) one of its earliest and similarly themed shorts. A timeless and universal theme presented in a extraordinary setting and style – setting you up perfectly for the main picture.