Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, March 19, 2021

In movies, the usual ideal is to balance the storytelling with words and images. It’s a balance that seems to elude recent American animated films, so overloaded by dialogue that they seem to not trust the power of pictures.

American animation wasn’t always like this. Some of its most memorable moments have no talking: Mickey Mouse dancing with the brooms in “Fantasia”; the Seven Dwarfs weeping at Snow White’s bier; Bugs Bunny riding in as Brunhilde on a white charger in “What’s Opera, Doc?” Animation is often funnier, more dramatic and more powerful when words aren’t distracting the viewer’s attention from the stylized expressions and movements.

Walt Disney often made his artists prepare their storyboards with only pictures; dialogue was added at the end of the process, when they determined how few words were actually needed to tell the story. In 2001, Joe Grant, who did key story work on “Snow White,” “Pinocchio” and other Disney features, said in an interview: “Walt was a great advocate of pantomime. He would stand in front of the boards and re-enact the scene. You could see the reflection of him in the film: his pantomime was beautifully followed through. Today it’s all talking heads.”

Two factors come to mind:

- Voice talent is often touted as the star power behind most animated features. Since Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy can’t be seen onscreen, I’m thinking that they get extra helpings of lines to compensate, and to justify their salaries and participation to the studios.

- Because the visuals of the movie don’t exist in the physical world, directors and writers don’t trust them as much to stand on their own. As a result, the process of writing the screenplay tends to become overly telegraphed. I recall reading an interview many years ago, with an animator who expressed his frustration over the narrative constraints imposed upon the medium. His example went something like this:

“In a cartoon, when two characters come upon a cave, they have to vocalize their actions: ‘Hey George, is that a cave?’ ‘Yeah, it is, Bill.’ ‘Maybe we should go into it.’ ‘OK, let’s go in then, Bill.’ Whereas in a movie like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and his companion will come upon a cave entrance, look at each other, and then just walk in.”

And overarching all this is the persistent characterization of animation as genre rather than medium, i.e. children’s fare in all cases. That’s the usual pitch and approach from the start of production, and influences how the film gets to its final form.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/19/2006 09:55:26 PM
Category: Movies
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I don’t know how I missed this the first time around. During my look at New York’s reborn Silicon Alley, I neglected to point out that one of the co-founders of Thrillist.com, Adam Rich, shares the same name as one of yesteryear’s since-fallen child actors.

I’d like to think that height-challenged Nicholas from “Eight Is Enough finally turned his life around by building a successful Internet company. But it’s not the case: Thrillist’s Rich is only 25, while the former Bradford kid is pushing 40 (but aren’t we all).

I sure do miss those “Eight Is Enough” reruns…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/19/2006 08:36:21 PM
Category: Internet, New Yorkin', TV
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winging for goaltending
Every trading deadline leaves behind scores of unrealized blockbusters, with only rumors to mark them. Perhaps the biggest non-deal from two weeks ago was the Tampa Bay Lightning offering up right wing Marty St. Louis to Chicago in order to bring goalie Nikolai Khabibulin home.

No telling how realistic this pursuit was, or that it was the Blackhawks’ counter of getting Vincent Lecavalier instead that killed any deal. But Larry Brooks is usually pretty reliable in terms of reporting stuff that’s credible.

It’s no secret that Lightning GM Jay Feaster was burning up the phone lines on deadline eve. He even admitted that he had three deals in place before they all fell apart at the last minute. Given the shakiness of his team’s goaltending all year, it’s no surprise that he was targeting a backstopper. (Just guessing, but I’d bet Feaster was also targeting Phoenix goalie Curtis Joseph.)

What’s less clear is why Chicago would go for such a deal. True, earlier this season, Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon publicly expressed frustration with Khabibulin’s failure to play up to his All-Star calibre (which was probably just a relaying of notorously cheap owner Bill Wirtz’s gripes). Trade rumors concerning the goalie had been circulating ever since. But before the injury that sidelined him for a couple of months, Habby was starting to play back to form; and in any case, Chicago’s young team didn’t offer him much support. One year doesn’t seem like enough time to commit to this experiment.

As for getting St. Louis back: It’s looking like last year’s Art Ross performance was a fluke. Chicago’s got developing scoring talent, like Tuomo Ruutu, that will soon be more reliable than St. Louis. It doesn’t make much sense to take on his long-term deal. Lecavalier would obviously be more desirable, just because of his age; but the Lightning have always let it be known that they weren’t going to part with their franchise cornerstone.

The cap factor would seem to have been fairly even, although another player (Sean Burke or John Grahame?) would probably have been tossed in to even things out.

Anyway, that’s more than enough speculation on a deal that never happened, and never will. But should the Bolts miss the playoffs, they can always wonder.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/19/2006 08:23:45 PM
Category: Hockey
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Finally, a mommyblog that’s not a nonstop chronicling of what baby spit up or pooped out.

NYC-based Mom-101 finds other ways to be compelling, thankfully. Her just-wrapped visit to LA is a typical gem, as is her ungarnished look at her old ad copywriting material. And even when she does indulge in babytalk, like a quickie on her missing out on daughter’s very first word, she keeps it sharp.

There’s hope for the subgenre after all.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/19/2006 12:31:48 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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