Saturday, 28 July 2018

The Kids Are All Right (With Disturbing Fiction)

The New York Times has a short interview with Domee Shi, the first woman to make a film for animation studio Pixar. Her film, 'Bao', involves a woman who makes a pork dumpling-son, and then eats him in a moment of weakness (I haven't seen it, but it is apparently running before 'Incredibles 2'). The interview shows that Shi is on the right wavelength and I look forward to seeing her first full--length feature. For my money, kids need weird and dark stories as much as the upbeat, singalong superheroic/princessy stuff.
There used to be lots of really great, dark kids’ movies, like “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Dark Crystal.” I don’t think we should shy away from these dark elements, because they’re a part of this world as much as light elements are, and we want to equip children with the tools that they’ll need in life.
Bang on. To those I would add 'The Watcher in the Woods' with its weird cosmic entity, and 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks', with its witches v. Nazis plot. Not especially dark, of course, by the standards of modern horror. But a lot of what passes for kids' entertainment these days seems needlessly bland, as if someone is trying to generate a global surplus of cuteness.

Judging from this interview, Domee Shee is going to balance things out.
I had an early version that was way more disturbing, where she chews on her son for a while, crying. When I would show it to people, they would be really, really upset by it. I changed it so it would be a quick crime of passion where she just swallows him in one gulp, no chewing.
That's what I like - tasteful compromise. Here's a clip from 'Bao', right at the start of this sampler trailer.

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