Hailing from BoJack Horseman heavyweights Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Undone has some serious pedigree to get expectations high, and similarly to Netflix’s groundbreaking animated series, Undone is funny, dark and deeply moving. Like BoJack too, Undone is an exploration of mental health in modern society and is an empathetic look at people afflicted with mental illness, perhaps inherited through family. Undone also has a unique animation style rarely seen on television by combining rotoscoping and 2D oil paintings to create an achingly beautiful look for this dark and surreal show. The series opens with our tear-stricken protagonist Alma crashing her car after seeing her deceased father on the street opposite her; the show’s pilot then retraces to introduce us properly to Alma and the people surrounding her all of whom she has complicated relationships with. There’s her deceptively optimistic sister Becca trying to masquerade some deep-rooted issues; her faithful, very concerned mother Camila trying to prevent her daughter from neglecting her own health; and then there's her boyfriend Sam who she shares a profound bond with but is concerned by their contrasting outlooks on life. Alma’s mental health is shown to be deteriorating from the onset of the episode as she’s struggling with the mundanity of her routine life, and this causes her to act self-destructively in a series of events that leads up to the crash and have repercussions when she reawakens in hospital some time later. However, what strikes her most after waking from her coma is that she can now see her deceased father, who sets a mission for her to uncover the mysteries behind his death with her new abilities to manipulate time and space. With this fantastical premise, Undone breaks a lot of rules to give a wholly unique viewing experience with amazing visuals and great lead performances both in the actors’ vocal and motion capture performances.
Tendrils of her hair cling to her cherub face as she
In the throes of night when the sky is dark and
Time is relentless even as it
Arriving to UK cinemas at the end of this summer, Crawl has definitely been released at the right time. This film is undemanding, illogical, and silly—and one of the most enjoyable, guilty-pleasure summer blockbusters in years. Yet, it feels weird that a film like this even made it to the cinema. That's not due to quality-level, of course; this film genuinely surprised a lot of critics with its fun and self-aware take on creature-features that are few and far between these days. Of course, there will always be plenty of Jaws knockoffs—this year has seen a sequel to the unintentionally hilarious 47 Meters Down—but Crawl arrives more in the vein of Snakes on a Plane and Piranha 3D. Crawl is also reasonably well-constructed for a low budget film, with some less-than-desirable CGI, with camera angles and shot types that can manage to shock and surprise audiences so accustomed to mainstream horror. Director Alexandre Aja really plays around with his limited amount of locations, cutting back and forth between a handful of characters, and always keeping plenty of background space in view to keep sequences unpredictable, even when characters’ actions are obvious and, at times, illogical. It’s pretty nifty, and it also knows when not to take itself seriously. Lead actress Kaya Scodelario knows exactly what kind of film she’s in, and delivers some pretty on-the-nose dialogue with glee, even when she’s completely soaked in gallons of rainwater. Everyone just seems to be doing their best to give their audience some horror-film fun, and it makes the film all the better for it.
After my recent re-watch of Kubo and the Two Strings I wondered how this film could have possibly not won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but then you can just look at the list of past winners and it’s apparent that underdogs aren’t likely to succeed to be the eventual winner. Sure, they can be included, and it’s great to see them be recognised as being on the Academy’s radar, but Kubo was the first film to be nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Visual Effects, so I thought this would lead to a monumental leap for Laika and they would win their first Oscar. Unfortunately they were stopped by the powerhouse that is Disney because of course they can’t compete with the ultra-powerful monopolising company. I think it’s frankly unfair that Disney is not only dominating the box office but also these award shows with their constant need to buy popular franchises and acquire other studios. It’s concerning to me the amount of power they have over the box office, especially considering their main priority is franchises and remakes, none of which exceed the quality of the originals. Yet they are grossing over a billion dollars apiece so there’s nothing stopping them using this lazy tactic again and again. Fox Searchlight is one of my favourite studios for selecting fantastic independent films for limited or wide release, yet I wonder what their future is going to be like under Disney’s leadership. The Mickey Mouse company clearly struggles with creative directors as discovered with the situation with Phil Lord and Chris Miller who actually beat Disney to the Best Animated Feature Oscar with the outstanding Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse, a film that breaks the mold more than any MCU film. Zootopia is a colourful, well-meaning film, but overall it’s not a particularly striking film, it’s an enormous success probably led to its Oscar, but I still believe that Kubo is the superior film and I wish the Academy would give Laika the exposure and recognition they deserve. There’s reason now more than ever after their latest film The Missing Link is one of the year’s biggest box office bombs, only grossing a quarter of its 100 million dollar budget back, which is terrible for a film that’s charming, beautifully animated, and overall simply delightful.