In a quest to see all of the films nominated for about 20 of the Oscar categories, my wife and I are getting a chance to fill in the movie-going gaps of the last year. And last night, we took another step in that direction.
WIth Toy Story 3, Pixar has another winner. That’s hardly a surprise. Similarly, it’s no surprise that the technology has continued to evolve, with so many textured shots containing complex lighting and effects that it could hardly be called the same genre as the first Toy Story, let alone some of the early Pixar shorts. (By the way, there’s a great DVD out with many of the early Pixar shorts on it; it’s a fun view and illustrative of the evolution of the craft.)
What continues to surprise me is the depth of the storytelling. And how evocative a talismanic object can be. Whether it’s a boy and his cowboy doll, or, as in the case of the movie, the converse, it is easy for those ties to bring significant emotion to the fore. As I reflect on the talismanic items of my youth, I certainly still have many of them around decades later.
As I go through this period of seeing lots of movies in close succession, it’s an opportunity to analyze what makes them effective (or not). But in the case of a movie like Toy Story 3, how do you comment on the on-screen work? Is it acting? Well, voice acting to be sure. And art, definitely. But given that the visuals are all artificial (and, indeed, usually depicting artificial items like dolls and other playthings), it seems like a different art. A visceral form of painting and drawing, perhaps.
But if all good art is visceral, then why does Toy Story 3 move people more than, say, the Mona Lisa? One possibility is that the Mona Lisa is junk. Unlikely. Rather, people don’t develop the kind of relationship with museum art that they do with movie characters — especially those that have recurred in three films over a decade or more. But when the Mona Lisa gets her own cartoon action series, well…