The Little Matchgirl (2006, Roger Allers), which I saw in theaters. Huh, it was supposed to be part of a third Fantasia feature, hence the music score with no dialogue or effects. Oscar-nominated with The Danish Poet and Pixar’s Lifted. Allers worked on The Prophet, which we missed at filmstreams this year.

Lorenzo (2004, Mike Gabriel), great one, jazzy and dancey. Blue cat in a rich house taunts the street cats outdoors, gets cursed so his puffy tail will have a mind of its own. Gabriel codirected Pocahontas and The Rescuers Down Under. This was oscar-nominated along with Ryan and Guard Dog, and I’m surprised I never saw it until now. Also part of the cancelled Fantasia 3, along with Destino and South African kite-flying short One By One.

John Henry (2000, Mark Henn), strange, unfinished-looking with squigglevision pencil marks visible around the blocky human figures. Katy recognized the voice of narrator Alfre Woodard. Part of Disney’s post-Lion King discovery of non-white people.

How to Hook Up Your Home Theater (2007, Deters & Wermers), cute, fast-paced Goofy short with lots of classic-Disney references. Has a shot-on-film look to it (it wasn’t: made with cintiqs and toon boom). Played in theaters with National Treasure 2 for some reason.

Tick Tock Tale (2010, Dean Wellins), sentimental story of novelty clock in a clock shop (where all the timepieces come to life after hours, natch) who saves the others from a burglary but is destroyed in the process. Will the clockmaker repair the heroic clock or leave it in pieces in the trash? Not telling! Wellins is a writer/animator/composer involved with The Iron Giant and The Princess and the Frog.

Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa (2010, Deters & Wermers), where two elves are on a Mission: Impossible-referencing assignment from Mrs. Claus to retrieve a trinket from Santa’s workshop so she can give him a sentimental Christmas gift. Apparently a spinoff from a half-hour special released with the 3D version of Monsters Inc. Dave Foley played one of the elves – coincidentally since we just rewatched A Bug’s Life.

The Ballad of Nessie (2011, Deters & Wermers), poem about how Nessie the sea monster was displaced from her natural habitat by mini-golf course construction, and cried herself a new lake to live in, surely displacing thousands of mammals in her selfish quest to find a new home. Narrated by Billy Connolly, the only Scotsman known to Hollywood. I liked the tartan-patterned hills.

Then we rewatched Paperman, Feast and Get a Horse, and skipped Frozen Fever and Tangled Ever After.

Part of Disney’s ongoing live-action-remake series. This one adds nothing to the Cinderella story, fails to update or improve it in any way, has no seeming artistic reason to exist. But gee, it’s pretty.

From the director of Thor and writer of Antz, starring cousin Rose from Downton, with Daisy as one wicked stepsister, Cate Blanchett the wicked stepmother, Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech) the king, Helena Bonham Carter the fairy godmother, Rob Brydon as a painter and a voice actor from the Castlevania games as the prince.

Ouch from Dissolve:

The film just touts, with sparkly but plodding repetition, the outsized, eventual rewards for being a sweet, brave dishrag that causes no trouble and makes no waves. … Asked why she stays on in such a horrible household, she explains that she’s doing it to respect her parents’ memory. By intepreting “be kind” as “be passive,” she teaches herself to be happy with physical and emotional abuse, to accept it as the norm, as the price of respecting her dead family. It’s a grotesque message, presented with perverse cheer, through a character who’s more idealized martyr than relatable hero.

Opened with a short called Frozen Fever, in which all your favorite Frozen characters smile almost nonstop, sing a song, catch a cold and celebrate a birthday. Didn’t hold a candle to Partysaurus Rex.

Oh no, I got behind on the blog and didn’t write about these.
I tend to forget shorts pretty fast, so I’m using web sources to recall which of these was which.

Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove)
Narrated memoir of three girls growing up in a normal town with not-normal parents – they are art and design obsessed, and when the kids ask for bicycles they finally get a weird one the proud parents have mail-ordered. Kove won best picture in 2006 for The Danish Poet.

Feast (Patrick Osborne)
We saw this before, playing with Big Hero 6, and I forgot to mention it then. Dog’s-eye-view of food, food, doomed human relationship, more food. Osborne worked on Bolt, Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph.

The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs)
One of my favorite things: wall drawings and real objects interacting, 2D and 3D blending, like the drawn animations on paper-mache backgrounds in Rocks In My Pockets, or in a different sense, the dimension-based drama of Rabbit and Deer. But while I love the idea, it’s still a drab little story about fighting siblings and a dying parent.

A Single Life (Blaauw/Oprins/Roggeveen)
My favorite – also the shortest. Woman puts a 45 on the player, and finds that if she skips to different parts of the record, she travels to different times in her own life. IMDB claims the story was conceived on a drunken college night.

The Dam Keeper (Kondo & Tsutsumi)
Lonely pig runs the windmill that keeps the darkness at bay, but nobody in town loves or respects him so one day he lets the darkness in. Both directors worked on Pixar movies. This was cool, dark and imaginative, so naturally there’s talk of sequels and franchises and live-action remakes.

Sweet Cocoon (Bernard/Bruget/Duret/Marco/Puiraveau)
A student film, I think. A caterpillar is fat!

Duet (Glen Keane)
Keane has been in animation forever, was a lead character animator on many Disney features, and this is his first solo film. A boy is sporty, and a girl is graceful, and they like each other, all in one continual, fluid animation. Katy thought it reinforced oppressive gender roles, but that was before she saw the new Cinderella.

Footprints (Bill Plympton)
Moebius-strip footprint-following detective story.

Bus Story (Tali)
Another memoir, this time of a young woman who dreams of being a bus driver, so rents a shitty bus from its grumpy owner. Tali made La Pirouette, which I saw in 2002 and liked, though I can’t remember at all.

Something wonderful (inflatable medical robot turned flying/fighting machine against its own will) combines with standard superhero-team origin-story and standard double-revenge plot with standard twist ending (you mean the most extremely obvious suspect doesn’t turn out to be the shadowy masked villain?). Adequately racially/sexually-diverse team of genius tech-nerd college kids use their lab experiments to defeat their own professor who has hijacked young Hiro’s micro-bots to destroy the military-capitalist who sent the prof’s daughter into another dimension. Interdimensional rescue of cryo-sleeping daughter unexpectedly recalls Interstellar, and robot’s self-sacrifice to serve man, floating away half-wrecked, recalls Terminator 2. Actually made me kinda sad, but as with Guardians of the Galaxy, we get a rebirth epilogue. As much as the world calls out for sequels to recent hit Disney movies, they keep putting out new stuff like this, to their credit.

First movie watched since moving to Nebraska!

A movie with no baddies. Cursed ice-princess loses control of her snowy powers and hurts her little sister, then years later as hormonal ice-queen she dooms the whole town to endless winter and runs off. Little sister gathers hunky ice salesman and magic comic snowman (with the voice of Elder Cunningham) to set things right. There is singing.

Get a Horse! (Lauren MacMullan)

Like the premise of Tezuka’s Broken Down Film with the pacing of Pixar’s Presto and revised into a self-consciously old-meets-new Micky Mouse cartoon. The director has worked on Wreck-It Ralph and some quality television.

Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz & Alexandre Espigares)

Great steampunk 3D – nervous shut-in manages to leave the house to rescue a neglected dog, which eventually outgrows his apartment. Based on the artwork of Stéphane Halleux, who goes uncredited on IMDB. One of the directors worked on the feature version of 9.

Feral (Daniel Sousa)

Wild child is “rescued” and brought to civilization, doesn’t adapt well. Black and white, faces are all toothy mouths, with eyes hidden. Some cool expressionist bits.

Possessions (Shuhei Morita)

A lost traveling repairman seeking shelter gets imprisoned by a house full of vengeful discarded artifacts – broken umbrellas, torn clothing and the like. He convinces the objects they still have worth, thanks them for their more productive years. Not as formally exciting as the previous three nor as cute as the next one.

Room on the Broom (Jon Lachauer & Max Lang)

Clearly based on a children’s book: a witch gradually gains new friends while looking for lost things. Her broom gets more and more weighed down, which is a problem with a witch-eating dragon on their trail. All animal grunts were voiced by famous people, but famous voices are lost on me since I thought Simon Pegg’s narrator was actually Rob Brydon. Cartoony 3D style, like if those animated shorts we used to see on HBO had been made with today’s software.

A la francaise (Boyer & Hazebroucq & Hsu & Leleu & Lorton)

Versailles 1700 with the king’s court portrayed as chickens. Loved it.

The Missing Scarf (Eoin Duffy)

The second short in the program about someone asking woodland creatures for help finding a lost article of clothing. Belatedly, I’m going to declare that the major trend in cinema last year. This definitely wins best performance of the bunch, for the voiceover by George Takei. Conversations with neurotic animals turn philosophical, then metacosmic, with infographic-style animation. This and the previous one were not nominated, but they’re the two I most want to watch again. Aha, the chickens are on vimeo!

The Blue Umbrella (Saschka Unseld)

Seen this before. A good closer.

These were stitched together with not-great ostrich/giraffe vignettes voiced by a guy from Thomas and Friends and a guy from Nightbreed who also appeared in the amazingly titled The Glam Metal Detectives. We saw the traveling theatrical presentation – all screenshots are from online trailers.

Mulan is an embarrassment to her family and will never find a husband. When the government threatens to conscript her aging dad, she secretly takes his place, proves girls can fight, saves all of China, and meets a cute boy.

Eddie Murphy plays an animated animal sidekick three years before Shrek.

I liked the look of the horses.

Disney’s apology for Kundun, directed by character animator Tony Bancroft and effects animator Barry Cook (who worked on Tron and Captain EO).

As a Disney-not-Pixar feature, I never expected this to live up to the promise of its trailer. Surprisingly, most of the film takes place inside kiddie racing game Sugar Rush. More surprisingly (but in true Pixar fashion), the character who seemed the most irritating in the trailer, Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope, becomes the heart of the film. Lots of good movie-star casting (Jack McBrayer’s Fix-It Felix is a bit too Kenneth-reminiscent) and classic video game shout-outs (including references to character glitches and cheat codes). Veteran Futurama director Moore is welcome to make as many sequels as he’d like.

Paperman (2012, John Kahrs)

Predictably, my coworkers are talking more about this short than the main feature, since the short, which involves a cute couple being brought together by magic paper airplanes, is meant to look like old-fashioned drawn animation with its rough pencil lines, but it’s all cutting-edge software trickery.

About the 20th time I’ve seen The Lion King, but the second time in theaters and the first time in THREE-DEE (Katy commented that in the rainy scenes it seemed like it was raining inside the theater – otherwise the 3D didn’t add much). During the whole Hakuna Matata scene (and a few others) the Book of Mormon song “Hasa Diga Eeebowai” ran through my head, but I restrained myself from bothering Katy with it, since she was 15 again and reciting all the lyrics and dialogue along with the movie. Didn’t realize Rowan Atkinson played the king’s bird assistant Zazu. Jeez, IMDB lists 29 writers.