Readers, I welled up! At a cartoon! Robot Dreams reviewed

Robot Dreams is an animated film from the Spanish writer-director Pablo Berger and while it doesn’t have the production values of something by Pixar or Disney or DreamWorks, it will capture your heart. Sweet, charming, deeply moving…. Readers, I welled up! At a cartoon! This is something we need never speak of again. It is based on the graphic novel by Sara Varon and stars absolutely no one, as there are no voices to voice. There is sound but no dialogue, like Mr Bean, although the similarity ends there. It is set in the 1980s in a New York populated by anthropomorphic animals. Hail a taxi and your driver may

Why intellectuals love Disney

This month marks the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s company. The first cartoons it was founded to produce – the animation/live-action shorts Alice Comedies – are largely forgotten, eclipsed not least by the resounding success of Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse grabbed much of the attention from the get-go, including that of several philosophers, sociologists and critical theorists, who perceived in him an emblem of the best and worst of the modern age. Also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year is the founding text of western Marxism, Georg Lukacs’s History and Class Consciousness. A generation of disaffected, bourgeois intellectuals, adherents of what came to be known as the Frankfurt School (100

Brilliant and distinctive but also relentless: William Kentridge, at the RA, reviewed

William Kentridge’s work has a way of sticking in the mind. I can remember all my brief encounters with it, from my first delighted sight of one of his charcoal-drawn animations, ‘Monument’ (1990), in the Whitechapel’s 2004 exhibition Faces in the Crowd to my awestruck confrontation with his eight-channel video installation I am not me, the horse is not mine (2008) in Tate Modern’s Tanks in 2012. That marked a high point for the Tanks, since when they’ve tanked. Kentridge’s is a face you don’t forget, partly because it often appears in his own animations in the guise of his beaky alter ego Soho Eckstein, partly because of the trademark

Disney’s rococo roots

Extensive research went into the writing of this piece. First, I lay on the sofa watching Disney’s Cinderella. Then, Beauty and the Beast. Then, because I’m assiduous about these things, Frozen. The singalong version. I wish I could tell you that the sofa was a rococo number with ormolu mounts and a pink satin seat, but that would upholster the truth. My excuse – who needs one? – was the Wallace Collection’s delightful exhibition Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts. It’s not often that I leave a show smiling, humming and near enough twirling my way through the West End. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. What a clever and original exhibition

The best thing on TV ever: Rick and Morty, Season 5, reviewed

I’ve been trying to avoid the house TV room as much as possible recently because it tends to be occupied by family members watching Wimbledon and the Euros. My adamantine principles prevent me looking at either: I won’t watch Wimbledon because of the masks and socially distanced interviews and I refuse to watch any sport where the players all kneel before the match in homage to race-baiting Marxist separatists. So it came as a huge relief when Boy, finally home from uni, switched over to Rick and Morty. My immediate response was: ‘What is this noisy, in-your-face, in-joke young person’s crap you are inflicting on me, hateful progeny of mine.’

It’ll please small kids, but they’re never to be trusted: Raya and the Last Dragon reviewed

Raya and the Last Dragon has everything you might want nowadays from a major Disney film — feisty kick-ass heroine, non-white representation, a narrative that isn’t hung up on romance — but no one involved appears to have asked themselves: do we have an interesting story? Do we have any fresh ideas? Is it fun? This may please very small kiddies who don’t know any better, and there are plenty of them about, but Raya’s not a classic in the making. It’s gorgeously depicted, needless to say, but disappointingly unanimated in all other ways. While this film may please small kiddies, remember: they are not to be trusted. Ever The

The genius of stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen

Modern Two in Edinburgh reopens this week, and what more fitting subject for a show in a time of global catastrophe than Ray Harryhausen, titan of cinema, creator of beasts, destroyer of cities, king of adventure? If you were near a screen at any point during the Cold War, you almost certainly watched Harryhausen movies. The tentacled Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, so realistic it was awarded an X certificate upon arrival in Britain; the mythical marvels of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad; and the vicious skeletons of Jason and the Argonauts captivated generations of viewers. These indelible creations, all handmade by one man, the animator, special-effects pioneer and producer Ray

The perfect film for family viewing: Belleville Rendez-Vous revisited

The selection of a film for family viewing is a precise and delicate art, particularly with us all now confined to quarters in intergenerational lockdown. Should the film-picker misjudge the terrain on ‘scenes of a sexual nature’, the entire family will be condemned to sit, agonised, through the dreaded onset of rhythmic heavy breathing and beyond, until finally someone cracks and mumbles ‘this is a bit racy’ while reaching for the fast-forward button. On the other hand, some of the full-throttle kids’ films seem designed to test adult sanity to its limit. I made the mistake once of watching Rugrats in Paris with a hangover, and when the maniacally squeaky