Last week we watched the animated film Mary and Max after I was reminded (by a fellow tumblr) that I really wanted to see it after seeing trailers for it some time ago. When I saw a post about it I immediately went to look for it on Netflix, and it was even available streaming, so we watched it right away!
I've always enjoyed claymation movies, probably because of all the shorts on Pinwheel on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. Not too long before watching Mary and Max we watched $9.99, which is also an Australian film. Both films are very gritty, well, as gritty as you can make animated clay. Although both films are a little dark in subject matter, $9.99 is much more clearly an adult/art house film.
To quickly summarize Mary & Max, it's about a girl in Melbourne who picks someone at random to become pen pals with since she has no friends. She ends up corresponding with Max, a New Yorker with Asperger syndrome. The move covers about 20 years of their life, starting in the 1970s. One feature of the film that has me considering rewatching it sometime soon is the fact that although it is claymation, a typically colorful form, it's nearly black and white. There are only occasional splashes of color, usually red, and otherwise if there is any color it is very subtle. I noticed this early in the film, and I intended to pay some attention to the use of color throughout the film, but I got too wrapped up in the characters and story to check when and if some portions of the movie were more bright and colorful to correspond with the plot points. At the very least I noticed that Mary's Melborne seemed a little brighter, perhaps sepia, than Max's New York, which is black, white, and red. But I still think it warrants another viewing. The only thing we weren't really crazy about was the soundtrack, which I thought was a little overbearing.
Oh, and one other thing: It does have the ugliest animated cats I've ever seen. I still love them, because yes I am a crazy obsessed cat lady who loves cats and all representations of cats. Although I will admit these are some pretty ugly cats, they are still cute, you know, in a cat way. All cats are cute by default.
Speaking of Claymation, when we moved here I picked up a brochure for the Northwest Film Center and found out they have a class in stop motion animation taught by Will Vinton who is famous for coining the term claymation and also for developing the California Raisins! I used to love their Christmas special. Anyway, it's rather expensive but I did read in The Finder (a magazine Willamette Week puts out each year as sort of a guide to Portland) that one of the things you should do to become a real Portlander is take some classes there, so this might be on the horizon, eventually! At least I hope so.