Saturday, November 13, 1999

The Region Crisis

In the intricate field of film criticism, region is everything. Residing in locations that tend to receive the more big-budget flicks than lesser-known pictures poses much of a problem for aspiring film journalists, because it can limit their exposure to certain cinematic experiences (usually the ones that receive better consensus than some more widely known films). This may very well be why all the famous critics--Roger Ebert, Janet Maslin, Kenneth Turan, and Desson Howe, just to mention a few--are employed in places more widely populated and known; they aren't habitually cut off from non-mainstream products. Although some, such as myself, can persist as a movie reviewer even in some places less extensive than those like Chicago and Los Angeles, one cannot argue that we would be much better off in areas as large as those. Can one, for instance, be a Broadway star only if they live in New York? Not necessarily, but it helps.

Monday, November 8, 1999

101 Dalmatians / *** (1961)

Disney's "101 Dalmatians" is an unusual piece of work because it shamelessly meanders from the threads of common sense. Cartoons have different rules than traditional family films when tinkering with stories, but here is an idea so ridiculous and absurd, it is amazing how animators thought they could have gotten away with it. The theory that animals can talk with human vocabulary is unbelievable enough; imagine seeing them outwit a viscous dog-napper, and traveling miles in the snow at a staggering number of 101. These images are passable (sometimes), but when Pongo, the head of the Dalmatian family, takes inventory of his children, we jump to our feat and shout in wonder – "Who taught him how to count?"