Benjamin Tobin's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

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Toy Story 3: The Agony and the Exstacy

April 18th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I always love watching Toy Story 3, even though it makes me cry. The simpsons-esque culture references and nostalgic Toy characters make this a fun entertaining and satisfying story. The deep psychological study of growing up and the bittersweet tragedy of transition makes the story emotionally resonant not only to child and adult audiences alike, but most especially for whatever letter generation the 1990s generation is, who grew up with these characters. For me, being a 90s kid, seeing this story come to such a conclusion is very satisfying and, due to it’s chosen release date, very intersecting with my life, now that I, like Andy, am going through the college gateway to adulthood-and all the sadness and happiness that comes with this transition. The animation is, needless to say, exquisite as always. While Pixar, could, most likely, make the films look more realistic like Legend of the Guardians or Rango, but choose to maintain certain stylized and cartoon-esque traits while continuing to raise the level of detail and texture as well as atmospherics and environments.

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Fringe head trip

April 18th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I just wanted to once again point out how amazing Fringe is. Episode 3.19 like it’s season 2 counterpart, decided to take several creative risks. Last year it was a musical/noir combo, now we have animated Fringe as the team heads into Olivia’s subconscious a la Inception to remove the consciousness of Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell. What follows is an insane LSD fueled trip with projections and animated scientist zombies. The animation was very much like Archer or Scanner Darkly and like Brown Betty last year, Fringe referenced several movies, TV shows, and pop culture themes. The episode was quite terrific and in this case I found the animation style, which I didn’t care for as much in a MORE real world setting of Richard Linklater’s film, to be a fine addition to this dream scape.

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Tv animation

April 11th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I like to consider myself to be a connoisseur of animated TV shows. I grew up on Reboot, Batman the Animated Series, Rupert the Bear, Anime, etc. I only discovered the Simpsons a few years ago, but have found myself drawn to its style of satire, more so than its newer counterpart Family Guy. I still watch Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show occasionally, but I find Seth McFarlene’s attempts to take the Simpsons model and remove the railing to be oftentimes too much. There are certainly funny moments, but they are becoming scarcer. I really enjoyed Dalia and Ventures Bros, however. I regret not having found these shows earlier, as they fall into my one of my two favorite brands of animated TV, the witty and quirky satire. I also respond well to darker fare such as the 1990s Batman animated series (not the newer ones). Batman will probably remain my favorite animated show, next to Reboot (which is somewhat different in terms of the CGI).

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Scanner Darkly pt 2

April 9th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

Now that I’ve seen all of scanner darkly I have to say I didn’t particularly care for it. I thought it was inventive and intriguing, and the animation an interesting effect, but I was reminded so much of a David Lynch movie throughout (more logical than a Lynch movie). I didn’t dislike it as much as much as a David Lynch movie thanks in part to the inventiveness of the visuals, but the story was just not my cup of tea.

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A Scanner Darkly

April 5th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I had no idea what to expect when this movie started, what followed was perhaps one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen (not necessarily in a bad way). The animation sort of grated against my senses, sometimes seeming incredibly real, and at other times incredibly cartoonish. I admire the craftsmanship that must have gone into turning everything into a cartoon/real hybrid. The plot remains somewhat of a conundrum to me, but I realize I don’t have the whole picture yet. Robert Downey Jr. certainly makes the drug-like fantasy very engaging and very entertaining, I just don’t know what to think about it quite yet.

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Iron Giant

March 21st, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

This was my first viewing of the Iron Giant, and I have to say it’s just as brilliant as people say it is. I really did find myself tearing up at the end. I had a similar reaction to Beauty and the Beast recently. I really find myself relating to the position of the robot as a social outsider trying to find acceptance in an oftentimes unwilling society. I think many people can relate to the robot in this way, which is what makes this such a powerful and emotionally grounded bit of science fiction. Brad Bird took the concept of a large robot and used it as a mirror to study society from a historical perspective as well as drawing on universal issues of humanity. Such a fantastic idea of a large alien creature, is just that fantastic (in a fantasy sense) and grounding it with the notions of human friendship and  the social outcast make this concept feel more real and approachable emotionally.

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William’s Bell has rung again on Fringe

March 20th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I cannot say how thrilled I am that Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell has returned from the great beyond at least in some form. True he is possessing Olivia and all we’re seeing in reality is another of Anna Torv’s marvelous performances, but the idea is quite compelling, especially given that during the cliffhanger ending, it is that comlications have arisen. I also felt Fringe did a great job of uniting its two main plot threads; the story of the woman who can’t die and is trying to be with her lost family and that of Bell’s return via a ’soul magnate.’ This episode really brought one of the shows overarching themes, that of the soul and destiny, into play in a big way. Here’s hoping that we’ll get to see the real Mr. Nimoy before long.

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Now it’s time for…

March 18th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I hadn’t seen Rocky and Bullwinkle for quite some time before this week. I hadn’t watched it too often, but I found the animation, like Gerald McBoing Boing to be distracting at first, as I’ve never been a tremendous fan of the more modernist approach to animation, but as with Gerald the style and format of the show grew on me. I think the format of the show and the animation was very effective in conveying the dry humour and the satire that was intended to go over the heads of its younger audience. I was surprised at just how much satire there was and how many things I hadn’t understood at the time. After watching a marathon of episodes however, the show did grow a bit tiresome as a serial experience.

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Gerald McBoing Boing

March 14th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

Before this week I had never seen a Gerald McBoing Boing cartoon. But now I’ve seen him in my exco and in class. At first I wasn’t really game for the modernist and jazzy animation style, I tend to gravitate more towards CGI films and shows like Pixar films and stop motion as well as the wonderfully rendered 2D animation of Disney. However, I found myself really being drawn in to the style as I watched different episodes. The story is so simple yet is also quite elegant and graceful. I think that despite the simplicity of the lines, the animation is really very beautiful and very surreal, however, the story is really what gives this visuals life. The story perfectly complements the style. Story and visual connection are vital of course, and I think in this case the story could only have been told in this way.

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Rango of the Caribbean/desert

March 8th, 2011 by Benjamin Tobin · Uncategorized

I just saw Rango last night. Suffice to say I enjoyed the quirky weird insanity of it. Verbinski clearly borrowed a good deal of imagery from his Pirates days, as well as his actors.The animation was simply beautiful. I was reminded a great deal of the early Disney and Loony toons escapades but placed in an even darker and more surreal environment (Johnny Depp sitting by the road with a headless barbie or the man with no name in the salt plains of utah with a golf cart full of golden globes for example). I really found myself responding to the humor of the film and the surreal imagery. The story, bearing many similar elements to the third Pirates of the Caribbean (Including a corrupt politician striving to rid a  region of the world of it’s fantastic and mythic elements), was fairly cliche in many respects, but Verbinski was able to blend cliche, wild cartoon antics, certain unique plot elements, and amazing visuals to create a really interesting and highly entertaining experience.

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