We are living in a golden age of animation.
Every year more and more animated films are made and the best of them are among the best movies being made each year. It is an interesting phenomenon and a sign of the times that the craft of storytelling, the ability to explore deep human emotions, to play with structure, tone, and in general be inventive and creative filmmakers is so much more available to those working with ink and pen and computer than most of what gets made today with real people in the real world.
Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, and Despicable Me were the prime examples of this reality in the commercial world this year.
One of my favorite films of the year, The Illusionist, based on a screenplay by the legendary Jacques Tati, was a beautiful animated work that has also been nominated for an Oscar but is playing to a much smaller art house audience as a foreign film.
Now we can add to those titles another piece of animated magic: Chico and Rita by Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba is a Spanish production of an old fashioned love story that spans decades and features two wonderful characters, a jazz piano player and a singer who meet and fall in love in 1940's old Havana and, in the manner of the bolero, live a lifetime of heartache and separation and regret until their reunion in Las Vegas many years later.
The drawings are spectacular and the original music by 87 year old Bebo Valdes is to die for as Chico travels from Cuba to New York to meet the zoot-suited bad boy percussionist Chano Pozo and play with him and Dizzy Gillespie and other be-bop luminaries.
I can't wait to see it again and to get the soundtrack.
Watch for it!