Posts in Fantastic
January 25 - WORLD OF TOMORROW (2015)

"Now is the envy of all of the dead."

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WORLD OF TOMORROW is a 16-minute animated film by Don Hertzfeldt, a filmmaker who by now has built up a small library of existentially-minded work. He's the writer, director, and animator behind IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (2012), which is a feature-length impressionistic portrait of a mental break. IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY is one of my favorite animated pieces of all time, and so I was looking forward to watching more from Hertzfeldt, especially since WORLD OF TOMORROW has been nominated for an Oscar in the Short Film (Animated) category for 2015. I'll say right off the bat that it's definitely worth its runtime, and if you're at all interested in a personal rumination on humanity's place in the cosmic timeline, you should just go watch it and think about it for yourself.

I have several thoughts about WORLD OF TOMORROW. For one, it didn't strike me quite as powerfully as IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY did, but that's as much to do with Hertzfeldt's legacy as it does with the subject matter. It's his first digitally-animated film, which makes sense. It's a futuristic / sci-fi film, or at least it has elements of such films (time travel, cloning, etc.), but it's primarily a kind of existential meditation that uses those touchstones as tools to explore its themes. The aesthetic of WORLD OF TOMORROW is beautiful, although I can't help but lament Hertzfeldt's transition to digital animation. IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY was animated entirely by hand, and it had such a gorgeous feel to it. WORLD OF TOMORROW looks pretty, but it wasn't as striking as his past work, in my opinion. Additionally, I found the subject matter to be somewhat well-worn, which was a bit disappointing. It felt like a better, more poetic (and animated, obviously) episode of BLACK MIRROR, which could be a compliment from some but to me means the most intriguing part of the piece will be its execution.

I'm being more critical towards WORLD OF TOMORROW than I am of many of the other films I've seen this year, but not because I didn't like it. I definitely appreciate it, and I'm trying to engage with it at the level it deserves.

Tomorrow: B-sides

January 18 - CONSTANTINE (2005)

"I don't believe in the devil." "You should. He believes in you."

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I remember seeing CONSTANTINE years ago and thinking it was cool, so when I saw that it was streaming on Netflix I figured I might give it a go to see how it held up. Whoa. CONSTANTINE isn't good. No matter how hard Keanu Reeves tries to growl his lines, they just aren't nearly as badass as the writers probably thought they were. Despite the simplicity of its plot, CONSTANTINE is remarkably difficult to follow. From scene to scene, characters' motivations seem to flip flop and most connective tissue is either eschewed entirely or mercilessly hammered home.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy had just wrapped up two years before CONSTANTINE's release with RETURN OF THE KING (2003), and its influence on CONSTANTINE's VFX direction is obvious. The Hell sequences are basically a less-interesting rip of the wraith world in LOTR. I remember CONSTANTINE being much more metal, but it's the softest R I can remember: "Screw the balance!" shouts Keanu Reeves, shortly before apologizing to make sure nobody's feelings were hurt. The only time I thought the 'tude of the movie actually hit what it was going for was when Keanu flips Lucifer the bird as he slowly ascends to heaven. That was pretty much the only satisfying moment in the entire movie. The rest of it wasn't offensively terrible by any stretch, but none of it really did anything for me.

Keanu's ink was cool, I guess.   Image credit:

Keanu's ink was cool, I guess.

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Tomorrow (today, really. I'm traveling and I'm on a weird sleep schedule): B-sides.