Coraline

Coraline

Stop-motion animation is a dying art of cinema. Fortunately, the good folks at Laika have been keeping the artistry alive for years. The Boxtrolls is their latest selection to come to theaters, but the process started with Coraline in 2009 and then ParaNorman in 2012. While these movies have not been a mega-money-makers that we see with the Pixar and DreamWorks films, Laika’s films have made enough money to justify making more of the movies, and that’s a great thing for cinema. Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman’s visionary book, started the Laika ball rolling, and at the helm was The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick. For the 2009 Blu-ray and DVD release of the film, Selick sat down to talk over the film and give some personal insight. Composer Bruno Coulais is also listed as one of the commentators, and he does show up over the final credits to talk about the music, but almost the entirety of the film features Selick’s commentary. This is where pretty much all the relevant information comes from.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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“An episode of Scooby-Doo directed by Sam Raimi” is how directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell describe ParaNorman. Their horror-comedy wears its influences proudly. From the John Hughes-esque ensemble to Jon Brion‘s whimsical take on a John Carpenter score, it’s all obvious. Tonally, ParaNorman doesn’t share much in common with LAIKA Studio’s Coraline, a far darker movie. And not only is ParaNorman different from Henry Selick’s film in content, but also in terms of production. Butler and Fell didn’t want to approach ParaNorman as a stop-motion picture, as they saw the technical restrictions in going that route. Instead, they approached the film as if it was live-action, and it shows in the film’s scope and playful camerawork. According to Butler and Fell, they didn’t want to play by the rules of stop-motion. Here’s what ParaNorman directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell had to say about the film’s epic production, how The French Connection and Ronin influenced their zombie car chase, and the future of stop-motion:

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It is possible for family films, like any other film genre (or, for that matter, any other entertainment medium), to play to the cheap seats. It’s just that in the case of family films, those seats are brightly colored, made of molded plastic, and help little Jimmy see over the lady in front of him at the theater. When a filmmaker resigns himself to aiming the core of their movie low enough that only the tiniest of funny bones will be struck, story and character development take an unfortunate back seat. This issue has been raised and examined in many reviews on this particular site, and often due to the fact that the family film under review is guilty of sacrificing craft for a demographic-pandering layup. ParaNorman also calls to mind this issue, but quite fortunately, that’s only because it stands as a sterling example of a film that exists free of that compromise. ParaNorman is the tale of a boy named, unsurprisingly, Norman, who has been blessed/cursed with the ability to converse with the dead. This ability, as one would expect, leads to his being ostracized by his peers, mocked by his sister, and even resented by his father. Norman’s typically benevolent visions of the other side become increasingly sinister and foretelling of a horrible fate facing his community. Are the sins of Blithe Hollow’s past threatening to destroy its future? Is Norman the only person equipped to halt the impending Armageddon? Will saving his town finally get the […]

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The latest film from the makers of Coraline, Laika’s ParaNorman has a lot to live up to – fortunately, the studio’s next film looks to be just as sweet, funny, and damn dark as their first. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee as the voice of Norman, he’s just not like other kids – he’s got wacky hair, his parents don’t understand him, he doesn’t really have a lot of friends. Oh, and he can see dead people. And he’s cool with it. “AbNorman,” as the mean kids at school call him, might be a little lonely, but with spirits swirling around him, he’s never alone. And hopefully, Norman’s prowess with the undead will work beyond just everyday ghosts, because his town is about to be besieged by zombies and witches. Oh, my. The film is one of our Most Anticipated Movies of the year, thanks to the strength of its first teaser and also, just how damn cute Norman is. The full trailer is finally here, and while it’s less atmospheric than the teaser, it does let us into Norman’s life, complete with a trainwreck pal, a cool sister, those parents who just don’t get him, the mean kids at school, and ghosts and zombies aplenty. Get hip to Norman’s lifestyle and watch the full trailer after the break.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

The Best Animated Feature category — as you know — celebrates the best of the year’s animated fare. It is also the Academy Awards’ youngest category, first taking root in 2001. It was created ten years after Disney’s Beauty and the Beast became the only animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture. This year, almost 20 years after Beauty and the Beast and almost ten years after Shrek won the first Best Animated Feature award, we find ourselves once again with a first.

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Some years at the cineplex are just better than others. Which years those are can always be debated, hence the reason why FSR writer Paul Sileo and FSR’s resident devil’s advocate Josh Radde sat on their collective asses to hash out whether or not 2009 was particularly strong or notably weak.

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In the last month of the past decade, we put our readership through the ringer. We unleashed list after list of our favorites of the decade and the year. And if you can suffer through one more round of awesomeness, it will all be over. For now.

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We take a look back at the year 2009 in horror and, finding little to celebrate, never the less pull together a list of 10 films that, at the least, didn’t suck total balls.

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We see them plastered in lobbies and wish we had them all on our walls. Pieces of art with the purpose of selling us on a movie. Here they are: the best movie posters of 2009.

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Perhaps one of the greatest honors, yet most difficult tasks of my year is the creation of my annual top ten list. As this site’s editor in chief (or whatever title suits me this week), I get to kick-off our Year in Review every year with my picks for best of the year.

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culturewarrior-animated09

While 2009 may have been a weak year for movies overall, animated films shined in a way they haven’t in a very long time.

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breakdown-animatedfeature

Yesterday, Variety published the list of films that have made the cut of 20 for the race to get the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Allow me to break this down for you…

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With everyone clamoring to get more 3D movies in theaters and not enough screens to hold them, it’s a crucial time to either invest more or take a step back and question whether 3D is really going to last a while this time.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves serving chicken fingers and domestic beers to all the fat, flair-loving patrons at Chotchkie’s. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs.

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We’ve got an exclusive clip from one of the behind the scenes featurettes on the upcoming Coraline DVD release.

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rr-madeajail

I’m not surprised that a Tyler Perry movie did well at the box office. I’m not surprised it finished in first place. I wouldn’t even have been shocked with a haul of $30 or $35 million dollars. But $41 million dollars?

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coraline-review1

From Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Neil Gaiman, one of the most brilliant writers of our time, comes the clever and delightfully dark tale of a young girl named Coraline and her wild adventure into an alternate reality.

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rr-notthatintoyou

I know some box-office pundits will say in their copy “audiences just aren’t that into The Pink Panther 2.” Are you kidding me? Audiences were more than “just” not into this movie — they were really in no mood to see it.

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews the movies the studios didn’t allow him to see early this week: Pink Panther 2, Coraline and Push.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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