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Inside Out Review

Extraordinary

Those bright sparks at Pixar have done it again, taking a fiercely original approach to animated filmmaking that connects with both adults and children. Intriguingly, this movie will be a very different movie depending on your age, because it explores the point where childish happiness gives way to more complex emotions. The basic idea may not be completely original, but the way director-cowriter Pete Docter (Up) approaches it is inventive, provoking constant laughter and even a few tears.

It's set inside the mind of 11-year-old Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias), where the control room is run by Joy (Amy Poehler), who struggles to keep the darker emotions in check. Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust (Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Louis Black and Mindy Kaling) aren't easy for Joy to manage. And when Riley's parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane) move the family from Minnesota to San Francisco, Riley's difficulty fitting into her new environment causes serious turmoil in her mind. Joy and Sadness find themselves lost in the recesses of Riley's memory, and must team up with Riley's forgotten imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind) to get back to headquarters, where Fear, Anger and Disgust are making a mess of everything.

As expected, the animation is simply gorgeous, combining bright colours and all kinds of textures to create both the real world and the expansive universe inside Riley's head. These things will provide both laughs and thrills, while grown-ups will also engage with an extra psychological layer of meaning, as Joy and Sadness travel through abstract thought to get to the imagination and ultimately to dreams, which are like a full-on movie studio that uses memories to create sleep-time blockbusters. There's also a brief but freaky visit to the subconscious. Through all of this Joy and Sadness discover that they need each other to function, which adds a surprisingly moving kick to everything that happens along the way.

Continue reading: Inside Out Review

The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys Review


Good
I'll forego my opportunity to cleverly riff on the film's title, as I'm sure many will have a field day doing in light of current world events. Director Peter Care's (best known for his work on music videos and commercials) debut feature The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, based on the 1994 novel by late author Chris Fuhrman, is a film about children made primarily for an adult audience. It's a thoughtful meditation on the thrills and difficulties that come with being a fourteen year old in a world where every older, authority figure seems to be oppressive, apathetic, or both. Combine Care's compassion for his characters and methodical pacing with a number of crazed, Todd McFarlane-created animated sequences, and what results is a unique telling of a structurally traditional, coming-of-age story.

Set in the 1970's, Francis (Emile Hirsch) and Tim (Kieran Culkin) are two irreverent, trouble-making friends who attend the same Catholic high school. Their archenemy is Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster), an immensely strict nun, who rules the school with an iron fist. Seeking a more even playing field, Tim and the artistically gifted Francis, with the help of a few friends, create a comic book where their superhero alter egos do battle with the evil forces of Sister Assumpta.

Continue reading: The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys Review

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