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Pixar animator Dylan Brown discusses the painstaking
computer process behind cartoon hits like Wall-E
By Meaghan Arbital Pixar Animation Studios continues to break new cartooning ground with its current crowd-pleaser Wall-E, which concerns the outer space antics of a lonely robot. Such a cutting-edge success story explains why the fifth annual Syracuse International Film Festival hosted a May 2 seminar on “New Technologies in Animation” at Armory Square’s Museum of Science and Technology. Area high school students learned plenty on the subject from someone in the know: Dylan Brown, a supervising animator for the Emeryville, Calif.-based company.
Be Kind Rewind. (New Line; 102 minutes; PG-13; widescreen; 2008). One of the last films released by New Line Cinema before parent company Warner Brothers absorbed the struggling mini-major earlier this year, this wacky comedy from writer-director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is another self-valentine for the movies-about-movies genre. In other words, think of behind-the-scenes works like Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night and Peter Bogdonovich’s Nickelodeon, where the love of all things cinematic often transcends the boundaries between real life and reel magic.
Get Smart. (Warner Bros.; 110 minutes; PG-13; 2008). This summer’s comedy crop has been on the mild side, best typified by this big-screen revamping of the beloved 1960s-era TV spy spoof that asks one key question: Would you believe it’s easier to blow up buildings instead of creating funny one-liners? Yes, the old Don Adams sitcom created by yukmeisters Buck Henry and Mel Brooks, which treasured deadpan wit, repetitive catch-phrases (“Sorry about that, Chief!”) and silly sophomoric puns (one episode concerning a mad scientist named Rath and his killer gorillas was titled, naturally, “The Apes of Rath”), has been expanded millennial-style into the usual summertime blockbuster with lots of explosions, stunts and car chases.
Rome’s Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St., continues its yearlong 80th birthday with a drive-in-style double bill on Thursday, July 24, 7 p.m. Two 35mm movies will be screened: the 1961 monster mash Gorgo (pictured), as a mama dinosaur smashes London to find her baby (a plot borrowed for Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park) and 1964’s Face of the Screaming Werewolf, with Lon Chaney Jr. emoting within the confines of a badly dubbed Mexican horror flick. Admission is $1.50 for adults, 75 cents for children, with a concession stand that will also feature grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the occasion. For information, call 337-6453.
By Bill DeLapp
Maybe the real reason that so many people were surprised by director Sydney Pollack’s May 26 death from cancer at age 73 was that he looked so damn good right up to the end. Judging from his appearance on the new interview series Under the Influence, a half-hour hosted by New York Times movie critic Elvis Mitchell that kicks off a four-week Monday night run during July on cable’s Turner Classic Movies, Pollack comes across as both spiritually vital and physically relaxed throughout the anecdote-spinning and bumper crop of old photos and film clips.
Gore galore dominates two scary evenings at Eastwood’s Palace Theatre
By Bill DeLapp
For those in the mood for old-school buckets of blood, Eastwood’s Palace Theatre, 2384 James St., fills that need with two fright nights this weekend. Friday, June 13, offers screenings of three features, while zombie costumes, hard rock and a quintet of creepshows will take over all day and into the night on Saturday, June 14, for the fourth annual Shaun Luu Horror Fest. (See Tom Kahley’s What’s Shakin’ item for price configurations or call 463-9240 for information.)
Will Ferrell lovingly spoofs the 1970s and the ABA in Semi-Pro
By Bill DeLapp
One of Will Ferrell’s rare box-office stumbles, thanks largely to a deserved R rating that kept out his younger fan base, the raunchy basketball satire Semi-Pro (New Line; 91 minutes; R; widescreen; 2008) has made a fast break from its Feb. 29 bijou opening to its DVD debut this week, just in time for the NBA finals. Ironically, Semi-Pro pays amusing homage to the American Basketball Association, the short-lived league with its own unique style, such as the creations of slam dunks, alley-oops and 3-point shots, all of those feats accomplished with a slightly smaller basketball decorated in red, white and blue.
Buster Keaton’s 1924 silent comedy will be screened in a 35mm print on Saturday, June 7, 7 p.m., at Rome’s Capitol Theatre, 220 W. Dominick St. Also on the bill are two comedy shorts: Charlie Chaplin in the 1918 World War I farce Shoulder Arms and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and Mabel Normand in 1916’s Fatty and Mabel Adrift. Bernie Anderson will provide musical accompaniment on the Capitol’s theater organ. Admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for students and seniors and $1.50 for children 12 and under. For information, call 337-6277.