Avocado Weekly Movie Thread (10/8)

Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread! Talk about movies you’ve seen lately, new releases, great classics, not-so great classics, etc.

Today’s bonus prompt: What is your favorite use of stop-motion in film?

Coraline, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, was directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) and based on on a Neil Gaiman novel about a girl who finds a secret door to an alternate dimension where people have buttons for eyes. As you can expect, things gets weird.

Stop-motion has been around as long as film. The first recorded use was a lost 1897 animated short film called The Humpty Dumpty Circus. Pioneers would experiment with clay, puppets, and dead insects propped with wires. The first female animator, Helena Smith Dayton, adapted Romeo and Juliet with clay figures.

In 1940, the Hungarian George Pal would emigrate to the US to make Puppetoons for Paramount Pictures. Several of these were up for Academy Awards; some are preserved in the Academy film archives. Pal would go on to use his stop-motion techniques when directing feature-length films like Tom Thumb and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.

Willis Harold O’Brien would use his stop-motion talents to create stop motion sequences for The Lost World and King Kong. His work on Mighty Joe Young won the Academy Award in 1950 for Best Visual Effects.

He would be succeeded by Ray Harryhausen, who worked with O’Brien on the latter movie. He would use his talents on fantasy epics like Clash of the Titans, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Jason and the Argonauts.

Stop-motion would also play a key role in some of the most popular movies of all time: the original Star Wars trilogy. Where would the franchise be without the Imperial Walkers?

Special effects, and the advent of CGI specifically, have matured to the point where stop motion is a little obsolete. Stop-motion is now mainly the domain of quirky animation studios like Aardman Animations (Chicken Run), Laika (Kubo and the Two Strings), Starburns Industries (Anomalisa), and recent Wes Anderson projects (Isle of Dogs). Recent innovations, like 3D printing, have made the animation process a little speedier than it had been previously.

So why stop-motion in this day and age? There’s something about it that projects a sense of being hand-made and an air of sophistication. So yeah… it’s a little hipster. You can’t deny the hard work involved, though. My favorite part of any Laika film is the post-credit sequences where you can can see the animators hard at work. The 99% perspiration is part of the magic.

Everyone got excited with doing horror movie reviews this week (specifically… me), so brace for a very long list of reviews!