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Non-Review Review: UglyDolls

UglyDolls exists in the “uncanny valley” of modern children’s animated films.

Films like UglyDolls are a reminder of how profoundly Pixar has altered the cinematic landscape, and shifted expectations in terms of what audiences – young and old – expect from these sorts of films. Most obviously, the basic premise of UglyDolls echoes that of Toy Story; in much the same way that, say, The Emoji Movie mirrors Inside Out. This is a film about sentient toys trying to find an existential justification for their existence, often defined in terms of their relationship to a child. UglyDolls is a movie aout misfit toys cast out from the factory assembly line, wondering if they will ever be worth of love.

All dolled up with nowhere to go.

To be fair to UglyDolls, it is much better than The Emoji Movie. At the very least, UglyDolls understands that the film needs to be ordered around a strong central theme. UglyDolls has a solid conceptual basis, a familiar children’s movie allegory, and a very straightforward narrative structure. That said, although somewhat less crass in its materialist ambitions than The Emoji Movie, the film feels cynically calculated in other ways. The casting of performers like Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe and Blake Sheldon seems designed to move the film’s soundtrack album. And the premise is obviously toyetic.

Still, UglyDolls comes closer than most of these sorts of films to working, largely failing because it ultimately underestimates the maturity and intelligence of its target audience.

A glass apart.

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Nerd Alert! Jurassic Park Theme (1000% Slower)

Somebody sent this through to me and it was too good for me not to share. Basically, some on-line genius by the name of birdfeeder came up with the idea of slowing John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park theme down to one-tenth of its regular speed. This sounds like something that could just be incredibly banal, slowing down a beloved piece of film music almost beyond recognition. However, slowing the track down reveals just how beautifully crafted Williams’ score is – the end result is a wonderful ambient arrangement which sounds almost choral at points.

If you’re a fan of film music, give it a listen here, or click the picture below.

Ludovico Einaudi at the National Concert Hall

I had the great pleasure of catching Ludovico Einaudi, the contemporary composer, at the National Concert Hall last night. Being honest, I hadn’t heard the name until the better half suggested that the show might be worth a look. Interestingly enough, doing a bit of research, I discovered I’d actually heard a decent selection of his music without ever being aware that is was him – I suppose that’s one of the great things about composing the sort of wonderful ambient music, there’s always a film or television soundtrack in need of a bit of atmosphere.

Classic(al)...

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Non-Review Review: Crazy Heart

We all know the story. Artists are apparently particularly self-destructive, especially those who write country and western songs. Crazy Heart isn’t exactly a boldly original film by any stretch of the imagination – in fact, it’s typically predictable up until the end – but it does have a thing or two working in its favour, which elevates it just a bit above these almost conventional films. The first is a rather endearing soundtrack which is – in many ways – better written than the film itself. The second is Jeff Bridges.

Jeff Bridges plays your heartstrings...

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Glass Houses: The Music of Philip Glass

I have the pleasure of checking out Philip Glass at the National Concert Hall tonight. Despite the fact that I know next-to-nothing about music, I’m quite fond of Glass’ rather wonderful compositions – mostly through pop culture osmosis. It seems that Glass is the go-to guy if you need something wonderfully emotional and catchy, yet grandiose and sweeping to accompany a given film. He’s done countless soundtracks, but these are the big “on-screen” moments which I think of when I think of Glass.

First up, Watchmen. There’s a wonderful sequence on Mars scored to Glass’ Prophecies and Pruitt Igoe, which is perhaps the best scene in the entire jumbled up and deeply flawed film, as the past and present collide to the ominous soundtrack and narration. However, I can’t find that, so watch the trailer instead.

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