Skip’s Quips: Assorted Ramblings on ‘Watership Down’

Blog Sketch 082813Why I don’t have certain classic movies on DVD at home is beyond me.

Watership Down is one of those missing from my rather lackluster collection. Why? This great, un-Disney-esque cartoon about the (often-scary) trials and tribulations of a migrating rabbit colony is one of my favorite animated features, yet for some reason, I don’t have it at home for my viewing pleasure. And sometimes I get a hankering for it – the atmospheric mythology of the bunnies, the expert vocal performances of actors ranging from John Hurt to Zero Mostel, the evocative score by Angela Morley. It’s a unique film, the type of thing that they don’t make anymore … in part because it’s sometimes very bloody (strange for a cartoon of that era) and certainly not for children. But it’s tremendously moving, and it’s got a lot to offer viewers open to something new and different.

I only read part of the novel by Richard Adams on which the movie was based, so I’m not sure how true to the book it was. A great film, however, stands on its own, in my opinion, and Watership Down does exactly that. At some point, I do expect to buy the DVD for myself. But first I must catch it.

Sorry. A bit of ill-chosen rabbity humor, there. I’ll stop now while I’m behind.

Skip’s Quips: Building a Case for ‘The Lego Movie’

Blog Sketch 082813What audience is The Lego Movie trying to reach?

I only ask because, after seeing it last night, I’m thinking most of it will be over the head of your average 7-year-old.

It’s a pretty subversive flick, believe it or not. Full of frenetic jokes that only elder folk such as myself will get. And it doesn’t get all Hollywood sentimental until the end, though it seems like an organic conclusion.

But what are we to make about humorous references to “illiteracy” in a fantasy-themed Legoland or a male character eyeing a female one as she’s talking and only hearing “blah, blah, blah” or someone paying $37 for “overpriced” coffee?

I’ll tell you one thing: The kids in the theater where I saw this film weren’t laughing constantly. In fact, oftentimes they were pretty subdued. And I don’t think a children’s cartoon is supposed to do that.

Unless, say, it’s Watership Down … which isn’t really for children, anyway.

So where is The Lego Movie going? Hit or miss? It’s difficult to say. It’s going to have to get that adult audience, too, if it’s going to be successful. I’m not sure children are going to want to come back to see it.

But what do I know? I didn’t think that about Bambi, either.

Skip’s Quips: Top Little-Known Scores That Make Their Movies Sing

Sometimes I read my colleague Setter’s movie reviews and think: “This dude’s truly Mr. Overanalysis.”

But his last post on film scores made me wonder if I take movie music for granted. It’s so ingrained in our cinema lexicon that we almost start when watching a flick without it.

I look at a score as a flavor enhancer–like salt or pepper. A bit too much, and a movie’s unpalatable. Too little, and it feels like you’re missing something.

Just the right amount, however, and you’ve got a tasty meal. And it could be one you never thought you’d like.

The following is a short list of unsung films that are bolstered greatly by their sumptuous scores…and wouldn’t have been first choice for my cinema viewing otherwise. (Order not included.)

Far from the Madding Crowd


Odd Man Out

Watership Down


The Devil and Daniel Webster

Time Bandits

I Know Where I’m Going!

A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven