The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is an absolutely beautiful movie. It makes you laugh all the time and cry in the very end. The male leading character who acted by Ralph Fiennes has a strong personality and attitude. The character is so vivid and believable. As the story goes, I feel that it is him leading the story instead of story leading him.

The shots in this movie is also brilliant and creative.

Those two scenes are both about escape and chasing. There is also one part in the chasing section is quite nice, which they are in the snow field and the chasing road sets up as a game pathway. In this case, the camera move can have reference from video game and add more fun elements to the film.

Meanwhile, the rhythm of the plot gives me some inspiration. Wes Anderson knows how to get the audience attention and make the audience to relax a little while and then grab their nerve.  Stories with a historical or art background always make an artificial story more convincible. This is what I have learned from the Grand Budapest hotel.

East of Eden

I’m  currently working on the body language and facial acting projects. James Dean’s movement and facial acting has a strong attitude and highly recognizable. Andy Warhol did a series of printmaking of James Dean, which I saw that in Miami. His printmaking works are all based on people who own a distinctive style. The printmaking shows a classic James Dean look – tight jeans and black jacket, which defines the word “teenager” and “rebel”.

I also went to the Opera house recently to watch the Ballet show “Giselle”. I had interest for ballet since I was a kid. When I studied ballet at that time, I quitted because I am not flexible enough. But since that, I started to love ballet performance and got intrigued by the elegant movement. Maybe it’s the same reason that some boys like to watch basketball games. In psychology, it says people will automatically put themselves into the game or shows, when they are watching it. This sort of empathy may bring their a fake feeling that they are can be as good as people in the shows. And perhaps, that’s also the reason why people still love James Dean now. Every boy wants to be him and every girl wants to date him. He’s fulfilling people’s fantasy the whole time.

Mamoru Hosoda

Recently, I’ve been checking Mamoru Hosoda’s animation films. I grew up with his animation – Digimon Adventure.

His animations  empathize  with the audience in a powerful way. When I was in primary school, I watched the Digimon Adventure and I was at the same age with those leading character kids. The story was so really, even it tells a surreal world. I was sincerely believe I would be the “chosen kid” in it (maybe similar to British kids want to go to Hogwarts). However, it never came true.

The girl who leapt through time is an animation film by Hosoda which left me a deep impression.

I can see Doctor Strange may get ideas or reference from this film. Today when I was in the life drawing class, the model who was very good and professional finished a pose, but I thought she was still making a pose, and at a certain moment, I had a sudden illusion that time actually stopped for me. After that, we start to do slow motion drawings. I was so into her movement, and the more concentration I was, the more I feel of “time stopping” and became very dizzy. This doesn’t make any sense, right? But after the life drawing class, I guess the film may have a strong influence by really life, even though the story is totally fictional.

Journal – some thoughts in study

I keep writing a journal everyday on my note book. Basically, I write what I have learned for the day and what I found its hard and inspirations. I would like to keep all my feelings and thoughts toward the study proceed in mind. It is also helpful for me to do an introspection in a short time.

Studying different things is all the same. The way of studying English, Drawing and Animation. When I do life drawing every week, I will think about how to improve it and find the best way to use lines.

I’m currently reading the The House on the Strand. The topic is slightly similar to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Both of them are talking about accidentally step into a strange world which parallels to the current life. Through reading novels, I want to focus on the logic of building stories, which is what I’m lacking.

 

Bouncing Character

Recently, I watched some series by Frame Order. The style of this animation company is dark humor and I am inspired by this a lot.

YouTube Preview Image

The style of the character design is simple and clear. And all the characters in it are a little bit silly but cute and innocent. Meanwhile it has its own style in it. The characters have no necks and the background is all by watercolor which enable audience focus on the story. Since I did painting for two years, I really want to try an oil painting background in my future project.

This is a painting by Paul Signac. I want to create a background with this kinds of texture. There is a Chinese writer named Eileen Chang, here is a paragraph in her novel named Red Rose, White Rose.

“There were two women in Zhenbao’s life: one he called his white rose, the other his red rose. One was a spotless wife, the other a passionate mistress. Isn’t that just how the average man describe a chaste widow’s devotion to her husband’s memory – as spotless, and passionate too? Maybe every man has had two such women – at least two. Marry a red rose and eventually she’ll be a mosquito-blood streak smeared on the wall, while the white one is “moonlight in front of my bed.” Marry a white rose, and before long she’ll be a grain of sticky rice that’s gotten stuck to your clothes; the red one, by then, is a scarlet beauty mark just over your heart.

I found this part is quiet interesting and I am working on a script and storyboard based on this paragraph.

As for my graduation film, I plan to do a documentary based on Classic Mountains and Seas. Talk about monsters and animals in the ancient China.

 

Representation Book Review

The introduction part discusses representation’s form toward all kinds of media and various uses. In taking a look at the theories of representation, people in the animation filed would learn the meaning, procedure and importance in doing the work.

Animation is a reflect of culture which produced by people and shown to people who speak different languages. It is also a sum of the great culture ideas. “In language, we use signs and symbols – whether they are sounds, written words, electronically produced images, musical notes, even objects – to stand for represent to other people our concepts, ideas and feelings.” (01) People speak different languages think in different ways. This is the reason that why every country has a drawing style, and expression style in animation. For example, we people mentions China, the first thing comes to their heads is ink, which is the main style of Chinese calligraphy and paintings.

Culture representation offers people a way to take on identities of  animation. The  name of the Animation and even the character’s name may have a deeper background meaning in the native country. Taking Big Fish&Begonia as an example, the main character “Kun” named from a famous Chinese mythology. His father Dayu saved submerged China and becomes the “water god”. As his son, Kun becomes the next water god. This story is a representation of Chinese ancestors imagination. When it came on the big screens around world, it is a method of spreading Chinese culture and the same time.  Above all, cultural meanings are not only “in the head”. They organize and regulate social practices, influence our conduct and consequently have real, practical effects. (03)

Moreover, Animation is a way of cultural practices. They way we represent animation is, on the same time, giving animation a meaning. We use frameworks of interpretation to show our audience how we understand our surroundings and the whole kinds of life. It can be found in many animations, the director puts his or her own wishes and thoughts in his or her works and characters. For instance, The Wind Rises is a Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It talks a story in the World War II which reflects Mr Miyazaki’s love toward peace and regrets of wars. It other Miyazaki’s animations, people can also find his love for childhood and children, such as My Neighbor Totoro, which is a pure children films.

These days, in the modern mass media, animation propagate between different cultures on a scale and with a speed hitherto unknown in history. On this year’s London Film Festival, we are able to see many foreigner animations from other countries. The Big Bad Fox is from France. The Big Fish &Begonia is from China and the Lu Over the Wall is from Japan. These wonderful feature animation films enable people to have a chance to appreciate other animations and cultures. I was impressed by The Big Bad Fox, in this French animation, it has a character basic on rhinopithecus, which is  a Chinese animal, and it even speaks Chinese in the French film. This kind of culture interaction also be promoted by more artists.

 

 

Portfolio

http://cargocollective.com/xuanchen

The link above is my portfolio website. Please take a look.

 

 

Sun Wukong

Sun  Wukong is the most significant animation character in China. It has been 60 years since the first character appear in the scene. In 2015, the first 3D version of him appears in the Money King: Hero is Back.

There are tons of reasons that why the Money King is so popular. He is the main character in the 16th century Chinese classical novel Journey to the West and he owns many supernatural powers which caught both adults and children’s attention. For me, the figure and characteristic of Wukong is very close to a real human being. He can be strong and protective, at the same time also arrogant and bad-tempered.

The movie Money King: Hero is Back is regarded as the most successful 3D works in China currently. The whole movie is very dedicated and introducing many Chinese classic cultures, such as the shadow puppet.

Although there are plenty of arts works of the money king, such as tv animation series, short movies, puppet movies… The new 3D films create a whole new story and from a brand new point of view with the traditional sense of the character. In the old version, Wukong has a monk mentor , however the new version is a 5 years old little monk “mentor”. The huge distinct of the appearance and ages creates many fun little stories. And way of the little monk is taking care the big ones makes the connections between the two main characters more complicated and more moving. In a movie, it is always interesting that letting the little one  protects the strong one, isn’t it?

Highly recommended.

National Style

Recently, I have read Animation in China: History, aesthetics, media by Sean Macdonald.

There is a phrase mentioned in the book which is “national style”. The author analyzes many articles discussed Chinese national style in animation and motion pictures. However, martial arts seems like the main stream and plays a majority of roles in the Chinese film and television industry due to the large amount of Hong Kong Kung fu movies and TV series.

Jay Leyda claimed PRC filmmakers “had learned so little from their arts of the past.” The positive side is that people in Chinese industry began to dig into Chinese culture instead of keeping creating Kung Fu creatures. Big Fish & Begonia which is an animation tells a story of a mystical realm that exists beneath the human world which is based on a story in Classic of Mountains and Seas. I personally highly recommend Classic of Mountains and Seas. This book existed since the 4th century BC and contains many ancient Chinese mythology and weird creatures which is a wonderful resource for character design and story telling. Some animals it recorded now found in every corner of the world. For instance, it even described alligator snapping turtle which is now found in Florida, the United States and Zebra from Africa. Thousands of years ago, those creatures were living in China.

I believe that in every country there are plenty of culture and mythologies have been shown in the screen. And people are suppose to break the “national style” and keep finding and searching more interesting things in their own history and traditional culture for building the creative works.