Annecy 2013 – Day 1

Today was all about The Blue Umbrellla and Monsters University, the two films that kicked off the festival. My experience of these movies was hampered by that fact I was given a tempremental pair of 3D glasses. With every slight move of my head the movie went out of focus, which needless to say was pretty annoying (I’m also starting to wonder if the 3D novelty is perhaps starting to wear off).

Putting aside the frustrating 3D experience, I can say with some certainty that while Monsters University was a solid movie, it didn’t blow me away. The problem with Pixar movies is that they have set the bar so high for themselves, that anything less than spectacular is really disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was funny, entertaining, well-paced, and beautiful (really beautiful)… but when you fold it into the mix with every other Pixar movie ever made it feels decidedly average.

Monsters UniversityMonsters University

Don’t let that discourage you from heading to the cinema to see this movie though. And I’ll tell you why. Because The Blue Umbrella, Pixar’s new short that is playing alongside Monsters University, is really something special. I’ve written about The Blue Umbrella previously, and had very high expectations. Well, Pixar delivered. The film is, visually, unlike anything they have produced before. It is super realistic. Yet it still feels like a Pixar movie. And the story is just as impressive as the photorealism. It’s really hard to get an audience to care about characters in a short. There’s no time to get to know them. Yet in The Blue Umbrella, within the space of a few minutes, Pixar make you really care about the fate of an umbrella. It’s genius. Hats off to director Saschka Unseld on this one.

The Blue UmbrellaThe Blue Umbrella

Another stand out film from today was a short in competition called Lonely Bones by Rosto from The Netherlands. The film is a fucked up mix of 2D, 3D and live action. It depicts some kind of weird human sacrifice in front of a green screen, and if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure what it all meant. What I do know is that I was mesmerised from start to finish, and that I’d like to see the film again. Definitely the best short of the competition so far (for me) although I’ve yet to see Landreth’s new short, which I am really looking forward to.

Lonely BonesLonely Bones

I also enjoyed Les Voiles du partage (Wind of Share) by Pierre Mousquet and Jérôme Cauwe from Belgium, and Scroogin on a Greg by Will Anderson from the UK (see below). A lot of the films at Annecy are typically deep and experimental, so it was nice to see a couple of fun shorts thrown into the mix. Both were well received by the audience too.

Tomorrow I’m seeing the new Mickey Mouse short. Super excited about this one! Stay tuned for details…