Sunday, August 31, 2008

In space, no one can hear you... clean.

[Blogging from Narita International Airport as I wait for my flight to Chicago. Strangely, this airport isn't particularly tourist-friendly, unless you happen to read and speak Japanese, want to buy high-end duty-free goods- who comes into the airport thinking to buy a Bvlgari ring?- crave ultra-sweet Japanese candy, or are looking for kitschy Japanese souvenirs. I'm sitting at my gate sipping an iced latte- which surprise surprise, is called "iced latte" in Japanese... Am hoping to have an uneventful flight all the way to Detroit, i.e. no birds flying into plane engines and the people at O'Hare don't screw up and delay me for some random reason again. If all goes well, I should be back in AA in 17 hours. Cross fingers...]

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl is captured by strange forces. Boy saves girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl almost loses boy. The couple reunite. They live happily ever after. Yup, at its core Wall-E is a romantic comedy, pure and simple, and I fell in love with it at first gaze into Wall-E's soulful mechanical eyes.

For the first 40 minutes of the movie, there is hardly any dialogue, mostly beeps and chirps between the two protagonists, but this matters little, and you really hardly notice. Because the same people who gave us a piece of baguette in Ratatouille that looked as real as something you'd get at a French boulangerie have given us an animated (non-human) couple with more humanity than most Hollywood actors. Every nuanced emotion- ardor, annoyance, anxiety- is evocatively conveyed, like a Chaplin silent film or Marceau mime, with few words but a whole lot of heart. And by the last 15 minutes of the movie, I couldn't wipe the tears from my eyes fast enough, as if I was watching a heartwrenching 4-hanky weepie...

For those of you who do not stay through the credits at the end of movies, you have to here. You will be duly rewarded because it's one of the best I've ever seen. It was as if an entire other team of animators was put in charge of the credits and it is its own piece of imaginative art. Wall-E might now be my favorite Pixar movie, from its hauntingly eerie vision of a humanless post-apocalyptic Earth (almost I Am Legend-esque, but more poetic) to the sweet purity of Wall-E and Eve's love story, Pixar shows us that animation is way more than cartoon. It's cinematic art.

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