Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding Nemo/Finding Dory

Finding Nemo
seen @ Fort Greene Park, Fort Greene, Brooklyn NY

Finding Dory
seen @ Movieworld, Douglaston, Queens

It had been a long time since I had last seen Finding Nemo, and with the sequel, Finding Dory, due soon, I figured it was a good time to revisit this film. The Alamo Drafthouse sponsored the outdoor screening of the former at Fort Greene Park, which made sense, since the theater chain is opening a new location a short distance away in the downtown Brooklyn area.

I've written about Fort Greene before, but not about its park. It's largish; its most distinctive feature being the great column at the top, the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument, a Revolutionary War memorial standing 149 feet high. The park is basically one big hill, and it is steep! Scaling the paths leading upward to the top sometimes reminds me of the summer camp I worked at where once, our bunk was atop a similarly steep hill which we had to traverse every day. I suppose the view from high above is worth the effort, but most of the time I don't need to enjoy the view that much. Otherwise, it's a very nice park.

The set-up for this show was in a clearing to the north (I think) of the monument. Unlike the Central Park screening of Breathless, there were port-o-potties aplenty. No worries about holding my water this time. I arrived a little late, though, so I had to settle for a spot far to the left of the screen. The clearing had a gentle slope to it. Near the bottom, to the left of the inflatable screen, a swarm of kids, and a few adults, played frisbee.

Naturally, for a movie like this, there were lots of families, and kids of all ages everywhere. Normally, I'd consider this a deterrent for an outdoor screening, but I really wanted to see the movie - and all things considered, this crowd turned out to be better behaved than expected despite so many rugrats. Perhaps I was just lucky in picking out the right spot, but the kids around me were only a minimal distraction. I lucked out.

Nemo was as great as I remembered. I've talked about helicopter parenting before, so I won't bring it up here in relation to the movie except to say how rare it is to find an animated kiddie movie where the moral is for adults. But that's Pixar for you.

I found myself thinking about the elaborate screenplay. The escape plan Nemo and his fellow fish in the dentist's tank think up, to pick one example, must have required a tremendous amount of thought as to not only how fish behave, but the layout of the dentist's office, the specific mechanics of the water purifier, and then to have to animate all of it in a way that looks plausible... It's no wonder that Pixar has become the gold standard for animation in North America (though I still hope one day they'll try a more adult dramatic film, like something you'd see in Japan or Europe). I came away from Nemo thinking a movie like that seems almost impossible to top...

...though Dory tries awful hard. Set one year after the events of Nemo, this time Dory decides to go looking for her parents. A review I had read stated that parents of developmentally disabled children would appreciate this movie, and I can totally see that. In flashbacks, we see young Dory with Mom and Dad, being taught memory lessons as a means of coping with her condition. It reminded me of some of the stories I've read about parents of autistic children. 

As an adult (is Dory an adult or just an older kid? Not sure), she relies on this mnemonic stimuli to lead her back to her parents (is it really a spoiler to say she finds them? This is still a Disney movie), with a little help from a bunch of new characters. Like Inside Out, there's a psychological angle to this movie that's fascinating.

The opening short was about a baby bird, among a flock gathered at a beach, learning to compensate with the tide. It's particularly notable for the advances that have apparently been made in animating water. You'd almost never be able to distinguish it from reality. Dory had moments like this as well. It's positively breathtaking to look at. I can't imagine the amount of computational manpower required to achieve such an effect.

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