Star Wars triple: Anime A New Hope + heroic C3PO + The Mandalorian

 

You can never, as I discovered way back in 1977 in a small darkened wooden cinema in Ballina, NSW, Australia, have too much Star Wars in your life.

One trip to that galaxy far, far way and a long time ago and you will want to spend the rest of your days with Luke and Leia, Han and Chewie, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and their newer narrative friends like Rey and Finn, and yes for all their nefarious evil Darth Vader and Kylo Ren.

It’s a captivatingly exciting world of possibilities that is in full bloom right now, thanks to the recent releases of films like A Force Awakens, Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story, and it continues to inspire all kinds of people to make the most amazing Star Wars-centric art and commentary of their own.

Here are but three recent examples …

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

Star Wars: A New Hope gets the anime treatment

Way back when, in that aforementioned moment in 1977 when then plain old Star Wars was a lone film and not a sprawling franchise of wonder and imagination, we had no inkling (well, I’m guessing good old George Lucas did!) of what this tale of one dream-laden boy, a princess and a smuggler fighting the great evil of the Empire could become. What is has become is all kinds of imaginative everything including this anime version of the original trailer for the first, now fourth, film, by Russian animator Dmitry Grozov (aka Ahriman) which is supremely delightful and transportive, recreating all the wonder of the original viewing. (source: Laughing Squid)

 

 

C-3PO is not averse to big-noting himself when required; he is, after all, a protocol droid who is “fluent in over six million forms of communication” and honestly surely that is worthy of some sort of important treatment? Quite possibly, though R2-D2 may disagree in that delightfully-trilling, bringing you down to earth way of his; thing is, Redditor ajniggles completely agrees with C-3PO as the linchpin of everything but not for the reasons you might imagine as Gizmodo explains:

“Rather, C-3PO’s a support operative there to help you succeed. The perfect protocol droid—his protocol being survival of the Republic. Throughout the Star Wars saga, C-3PO is controlling, influencing, and manipulating everyone around him. He persuaded Luke to join the Rebellion, inspired Han Solo to successfully navigate dangerous asteroid fields, and kept Han and Leia from screwing up their missions with their personal drama. C-3PO knows what you need before even you do, and will help you get it.”

It’s a compelling theory and you can read more at Why C-3PO Is The Most Important Character In Star Wars.

 

(image via Inquisitor (c) Lucasfilm/Disney)

 

Who is the Mandalorian? Who indeed?

We do know they are the protagonist of a new live action 10-episode Star Wars TV series, rumoured to be costing Disney $100 million to make, which is all about “… the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.”

We also know, via Inquisitor, who’s working behind-the-scenes to make the magic happen:

“Fans already know that the series would be written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated producer and actor Jon Favreau. However, it is now known that Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) is in charge of directing the first episode of The Mandalorian.

“Added to this directorial line-up is Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).”

But underneath the mask? Ah, that is the great unknown and honestly a little mystery in this spoiler-saturated age is not necessarily a bad thing.

More at Inquisitor.

 

Here comes The Food Thief with a fabulously fishy teaser trailer

(image via Vimeo (c) Mindbender)

 

SNAPSHOT
The Food Thief is a 1,5 minute short-film by Mindbender Animation Studio that is currently in production. The film will be released on the internet later this year. (synopsis via Vimeo)

I am usually a little indifferent to teaser trailers.

They usually tantalise with atmospheric and thematic hints aplenty but lack the narrative heft that I am craving and which is, usually, though sadly not always, provided by the more substantive trailers that succeed them.

But the teaser trailer for Gothenburg, Sweden-based Mindbender’s The Food Thief cartoon is an absolute delight in and of itself, handing us a 30-second glimpse of the 90-second short film to follow.

In the time that most ads struggle to convince you to buy something, this deliciously-brief window into The Food Thief practically tells an entire story, fleshes out a character and throws in some slapstick humour to boot.

It’s over in no time flat but you don’t mind because it’s been such a shot-in-the-arm of hilarious joy … and besides, you can watch it over and over on repeat, until such time as it’s longer-form successor makes an appearance.

 

 

 

(source: Cartoon Brew)

Rick and Morty get their anime on with this brilliantly-reimagined opening sequence

(image via YouTube (c) Malec)

 

Suffused with a wildly-extravagant, boundless imagination, an irreverent sensibility courtesy of creators and sustainers Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon and a willingness to GO THERE, Rick and Morty is one animated series not limited by an unwillingness to try anything once.

So I’d like think that Messrs Harmon and Roiland would love the efforts of cartoonist Malec, from French company Turbo Interactive, who has, in the words of brilliantly–curatorial Laughing Squid, “brilliantly re-imagined the opening title sequence from the sublime animated series Rick and Morty as a gorgeously lush anime short complete with Japanese subtitles.”

It is utterly, immersively brilliant, a thoroughly original take on the anarchically frenetic opening credits which look wholly Japanese and yet abundantly true to the spirit and look of the original artwork.

So good is it that you must heed the words of Malec and share it with everyone! (See the pinned tweet.)

 

Rip’d from the pages of my childhood: Miffy by Dick Bruna

(image (c) Dick Bruna estate)

 

Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy, died at the age of 89 in February 2017.

That might seem like a brutal way to begin an homage to one of the children’s books series, and characters, I treasured most as a child, but the truth is his death rattled me far more than that of many other great writers and actors of the years in which I grew up.

Partly because my dad had just died eight months before, his death still very raw and present, a marker of my passing years that sat painfully atop, and almost obliterated, every other aspect of my life at the time; but also because his passing reminded not so much of the time rushing by, although it did, but the fact that so much of what I loved of my childhood had been created by people who would soon no longer share the planet with the very characters they had created.

There is something confronting about that, especially when you’re talking about a cute cartoon rabbit that debuted in 1955, 10 years before my birth, inspired, so says Bruna’s obituary in The Guardian, by the need “to entertain his infant son after they saw a rabbit in the dunes while on a seaside holiday.”

That largely explains why this post has been kicking around this blog for almost 18 months, something I desperately wanted to write because I adored Miffy’s sweet, colourful innocence, but almost next to impossible to put pen to paper because of what she now represented.

Quite a lot to sit on one small rabbit’s shoulders.

 

(image courtesy Simon and Schuster)

 

Oddly, despite being enraptured from almost the word go by Miffy’s bright, vivacity countenance, Bruna’s “little rabbit” (from Nijntje which is what Miffy was called in Dutch, the author’s native tongue) was not universally loved by parents:

“But Miffy was not an overnight success; parents weren’t impressed with Bruna’s iconic simplicity: “They said, ‘Oh, that’s too simple. The colours are too bright and I don’t like blue and green together,'” he told the Guardian in 2006. “But I thought it was nice to make everything as simple as possible to give children lots of room for their own imagination.”” (The Guardian)

That surely was the very essence of her appeal, along with her adorably lovely disposition and Bruna worked hard to make sure she was as appealing and emotionally-rich as possible:

“Bruna, who also worked as a graphic designer, spent years finding the specific red, blue, green and yellow that would become known as the Bruna colours. He would later expand his palette for Miffy’s friends Snuffy Dog, Boris Bear and Poppy Pig, but again agonised over the right shade of grey, brown or pink. Despite all of the books, he said that he found drawing Miffy’s eyes and famous ‘x’ shaped mouth hard: “That’s all you have. With two dots and a little cross I have to make her happy, or just a little bit happy, a little bit cross or a little bit sad – and I do it over and over again. There is a moment when I think, ‘Yes, now she is really sad. I must keep her like that.'” (The Guardian)

You could see all that love and care in every last one of Miffy’s almost 30 adventures, which began in 1955 with Miffy and Miffy at the Zoo (the title most indelibly imprinted on my mind and which I still own) and finished in 2017 with posthumous title Miffy is Naughty.

Each of the stories were just 12 pages long, printed in a small, easy to hold size for a child, a reflection, says Wikipedia, of Bruna’s belief that “that his audience [feel] that his books are there for them, not for their parents”.

 

(image courtesy Simon and Schuster)

 

Honestly I’m not sure any of that ever crossed my five-year-old mind although I did love the fact that the books were easily able to be held by me, that they were astonishingly bright, suffused with Bruna’s primary colour palette – and I was, likely always will be, enraptured by everything vividly colourful so my love of Miffy’s distinctive look makes perfect sense – and that Miffy was as inquisitive and eager to learn about and experience the world as me.

That makes sense; books for kids of the age I was when my mother first introduced to Bruna’s enduring creation are supposed to engender and cultivate the kind of curiosity that was Miffy’s trademark.

But there was something captivating about the way Bruna made something so profound and wonderful look so easy, simple and effortless.

It wasn’t of course with Bruna, again according to The Guardian, working “seven days a week and rose at five every morning” despite “his huge financial success” but then truly great, affecting creations rarely are, as anyone who has ever lived to one of ABBA’s pop gems can attest.

Bruna saw what he did as nothing much it seems, telling The Guardian in 2006 that “I just see it as a very ordinary job. There is nothing else I can do, apart from make little drawings and stories.”

I am not alone is saying that was it was anything but ordinary.

Miffy, sweet, vivid, adorable Miffy, earned a place forever in my heart by being utterly extraordinary, a small rabbit that along with her parents, her fraternal grandparents, Aunt Alice Alice and Uncle Brian, sibling and friends like Boris and Barbara Bear and Poppy Pig, came to be a huge part of my early life in such a way that I am still writing about her almost 53 years after my birth.

That’s some kind of legacy, and I am forever grateful that I have finally reached the point, almost 2 1/2 years after the loss of my beloved dad where I can finally pay tribute to the “little rabbit” who made such a big impression on my life.

 

The short and the short of it: The surreal delights of Melt Down’s body-less boy

(image via Vimeo (c) Amy J. Xu)

 

SNAPSHOT
Melt Down was my senior year film at Pratt Institute. It’s a surrealist narrative story about a body-less boy who doesn’t want to go outside, among other wacky characters in a world where people melt from stress. (synopsis via Vimeo)

There is no denying that life can be an anxiety-causing nightmare at times.

Try as we might to weather the storms, literal and figurative, the reality is that it can feel overwhelming trying to navigate the stresses and strains of life.

In Amy J. Xu’s goregously-abstract short film Melt Down we see how stressful life can be but how small acts of kindness and comfort can make a profound difference to those around you.

Melt Down is stunningly beautiful on all kinds of level, a salve for the soul and a surrealist treat for the eye that reminds us how life can move from the nightmarish to the sublimely-lovely in a thoughtful instant.

 

Cyndi Lauper and Seth McFarlane make beautiful Family Guy music together

(image via YouTube (c) The Graham Norton Show)

 

Talk about a dream come true!

Two of my favourite creative people in the world together on the one show, The Graham Norton Show to be exact, combining their talents to gloriously good effect.

Taking the songs of the brilliantly-talented and quirkly-lovable Cyndi Lauper at the urging of host Graham Norton, Seth MacFarlane (who, as well as being the wickedly funny kind behind The Family Guy, is also a superbly-good crooner; check his Christmas album as Exhibit A) gave them a Stewie and Peter Griffin twist.

Lauper gives every appearance of loving it (makes sense – she’s a great sport), and while McFarlane does look a little reluctant at first for fear of offending the great “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” herself, her appreciation spurs him on and we end up with a thoroughly-enjoyable piece of pop culture hybrid musical theatre that will make your day (and if not, why not?)

 

Don’t be afraid: Tito and the Birds is here to beautifully embolden you

(image courtesy official Tito and the Birds Facebook page)

 

SNAPSHOT
The Brazilian film — directed by Gustavo Steinberg (End of the Line), Gabriel Bitar (Cidade Cinza) and Andre Catoto (Say I Am Only Seventeen) — follows Tito, a shy 10-year-old boy who lives in a world on the brink of pandemic, where fear is crippling people, making them sick and transforming them. (synopsis (c) Hollywood Reporter)

There’s a lot to be afraid of in our world right now.

Everything from climate change to the rise and rise of the far right to countless wars and so much more besides is priming us not so much for fight as flight.

The worst part is you begin to feel as if there’s nothing you can do but as a new Brazilian animated film, Tito and the Birds makes gorgeously clear – and the artwork is a thing of breathtaking beauty (Indiewire describes it lush colours and landscapes as resembling oil paintings – maybe there is a way to combat the fear and not being changed or maligned by it.

If ever there was a message the world needed to hear right now, it’s this one, and what a beautiful vehicle to deliver it in – let’s hope it makes it right the world and we can all think about staring down the fear and embracing love and hope and all the good things instead huh?

Tito and the Birds premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France in June; North American launch will take place at Toronto International Film Festival with release scheduled in theatres later this year.

 

Meatball cake anyone? Release your inner child with Esme & Roy

(artwork via HBO (c) Sesame Workshop)

 

SNAPSHOT
Esme (pronounced EZ-may) (Millie Davis) and her best monster friend Roy (Patrick McKenna) live in Monsterdale, and their monster sitting business is going well. When the pair’s all-purpose carrying case starts playing a jazzy Dixieland tune, Esme says ‘We’ve got a monster to watch!'”

Adulthood is supposed to be a Very Serious Thing.

I’m not sure who decided that but it seems to be the message that’s repeated over and over by the kind of people that think that just because you go to work, pay taxes, and maintain a loving relationship – all of which are very grown-up serious things (unless you’ve seen my boyfriend and I giggling like idiots over something silly in which, not always) – that absolutely every last part of your life must be grimly determined.

Sorry but no; I’m firmly of the opinion that letting your inner child off the leash as often as is practicable is a great way to not only keep a health lease on life but an important contributor to not letting all that serious stuff get you down.

As always, the solution to keeping your inner child happy is Sesame Street and the Sesame Workshop, who make the long-running, fabulously-creative educational show for children, are offering up another gem for adult-weary viewers.

 

 

Sure, it’s ostensibly for kids and they are going to LOVE it, but like pretty much everything the talented team at Sesame Workshop do, Esme & Roy has got a lot in it that appeals to adults too:

“Esme & Roy is the first new series developed by the Sesame Workshop in over a decade, and the elements that they bring to Sesame Street and the other shows they produce are there in spades. It’s a relatively quiet and slow-paced show, but with more than enough to hold kids and parents interest. And just like the rest of the SW’s shows, it doesn’t talk down to its audience.” (Decider)

It looks absolutely gorgeous too with each episode, as with Sesame Street, dedicated to teaching kids some important life lessons:

“The main purpose of E&R is to show how kids can learn and listen via play. In every episode, Esme usually has an idea to make a game out of the task that needs to be done. In fact, she generally comes up with a play idea that doesn’t work first, leading to a ‘Monster Meltdown’. After a song about calming down, she and Roy usually hit on the right game that gets the job done. So there’s a mindfulness element to the show, as well.” (Decider)

Of course if you like meatballs, anmd frankly who doesn’t, there’s plenty to, ahem, whet the appetite there too.

So sit down with your kids, or by yourself, and be reminded that for all the seriousness in the world, and there’s a lot right now, and in adulthood, that letting your inner child have some fun isn’t ever a bad thing.

Especially not with a show as charming as Esme & Roy which is currently screening on HBO.

 

 

Up, up and away! Inflight safety video gets gloriously LEGO’d

(image via YouTube (c) Turkish Airlines)

 

I think we can all agree that the inclusion of LEGO in just about every endeavour in life makes them all better (and naturally, AWESOME), simply by the sheer presence of those joyfully-anarchic coloured bricks.

That includes, and honestly this is a miracle given how odious airline travel can be, inflight safety videos which I normally watch out of a sense of “I’d better pay attention in case the plane crashes” obligation than any driving belief in the scintillating entertainment value contained within (of course, there is usually generally, and lamentably, none).

While Air New Zealand has magically found a way to make these videos actually watchable, and become the gold standard for all airlines to follow in the process, Turkish Airlines has upped the ante considerably, offering up a LEGO-fied inflight safety video that’s got the info and lots of fun to boot, with Emmet (Chris Pratt) and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) from The LEGO Movie hosting a cavalcade of important info and silliness starring the likes of Wonder Woman, Batman, Joker, Robin and Princess Unikitty who delivers an earworm-worthy song that’s just what you need on a long flight.

I’m not sure the video makes me want to catch Turkish Airlines necessarily but should I ever find myself one of their flights, I can rest reassured that both my safety-conscious and my woohoo! inner child will find themselves equally thrilled.

At least at the beginning of the flight …

 

I spy a brand new Star Wars animated series – Resistance

(image via Star Wars Wikia (c) Lucasfilm / Disney)

 

SNAPSHOT
The series, which revolves around the ace fighter pilots of Leia Organa’s burgeoning Resistance, follows a young pilot named Kazuda Xiono (voiced by Days of Our Lives’ Christopher Sean), recruited by the rebel group to conduct secretive spying missions on the growing reach of the villainous First Order. (synopsis (c) Gizmodo)

Those far-off days when new cinematic and televisual Star Wars instalments were few and far between, and longtime fans like yours truly – who is so old he saw the original Star Wars, when it was just called Star Wars, in a cinema in 1977 – had to wait a while for the next part of the story to be told, now seem like a weird dream, a distant memory.

For ever since Disney got their hands on Lucasfilm, it’s been all systems go with an endless parade of mostly very good films – for the record I loved Solo and was meh about The Last Jedi (but not, I must stress, for the reasons advanced by the misogynistic fans who bizarrely want to remark it; I just thought it dull and scattered in its storytelling) – and TV shows which have taken our “long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” to all kinds of wondrously expansive places.

Next up is Star Wars Resistance, an animated series that takes place before The Force Awakens – when does it take place exactly? Why here! – when Poe and BB-8, who’ve been around the Resistance traps once or twice, greet a new crop of raw recruits eager to do their bit for a free galaxy and fight the pernicious inroads of the First Order. (The series will also happily feature General Leia, voiced by actress Rachel Butera, which warms the heart of old time fans like myself.)

 

 

The trailer has a delightfully comic air to it that dovetails nicely with the fact that the protagonist Kazuda soon finds that aspiration and reality aren’t always the best of bedfellows and that perhaps there’s a lot more to being a spy that he bargained on as the synopsis for the first episode makes all too clear.

“Poe and BB-8 assign newly-appointed spy Kaz to the Colossus, a massive aircraft re-fuelling platform on an outer rim water planet, home to colourful new aliens, droids and creatures. While undercover, Kaz works as a mechanic and lives with Poe’s old friend Yeager, a veteran pilot who operates a starship repair shop run by his crew: Tam, Neeku and their old battered astromech droid, Bucket. Kaz soon finds himself in over his head with his new friend BB-8 as he’ll have to compete in dangerous sky races, keep his mission a secret from his newfound family, and avoid the danger of the First Order.” (Gizmodo)

So derring-do adventures, danger, intrigue and some comic lightness? Sounds like the perfect Star Wars adventure and you can catch it all, if you’re in USA, from October, when Star Wars Resistance debuts; international dates TBC.