my name is mayukh sen and i'm a student at stanford university studying film, history, and creative writing (or something like that). i happen to like jane fonda. a lot. CONTACT: email@example.com
Monday, May 21, 2012 10:40 PM
I've belonged to the cult of Miyazaki since fifth grade, so, naturally, I'm not as fervent a Pixar devotee as many in my generation are. I had the luxury of seeing Kiki’s Delivery Service at the age of, I don't know, eight, and I spent much of my time in middle school extolling its virtues over the imminent, sickeningly benign watchability of Finding Nemo. Nowadays, it seems there’s a sharp dichotomy between the two studios within cinephilia (or, at least, the pocket of cinephilia that respects animated films as an art form – my late mentor Damien Bona, for example, despised them). You either like Pixar, which means you’re a bumbling American idiot, or you worship Miyazaki, the sign of a truly developed palate. In hindsight, I don’t exactly subscribe to the notion that Miyazaki’s illustrative, pseudo-surrealistic works are inherently superior to Pixar’s, because Miyazaki can often lose touch with the most basic of emotions in trying to craft these exotic, chaotic worlds.
And this is precisely why I treasure Monsters, Inc.. Through Boo, its frustratingly adorable central character, the film conveys a deep, affecting sensitivity I've scarcely seen in the studio’s other works. Pete Docter invests this "there's a metropolis in my closet!" gimmick with humanity. Boo is thrown into a world where she’s seen as a contaminant, an unwanted alien, but she's too young to even have a slight awareness of that basic truth. So she traverses this scary, horrifyingly unknown-to-her place with an refreshing spontaneity. She doesn't know any better, because she's just a kid. She hasn't lived through experiences that can inform her otherwise, ones that can tell her that the world she's approaching is harsh and unforgiving; she is a far cry from the hyper-cerebral, maddeningly self-aware person the world instructs us to be.
Docter treats the "outside world" (I understand I'm being broad here) as a scary, brutal, oppressive place that children, in all their impulsively ignorant glory, approach with wonder. It’s not unlike what Malick did very well this past year in The Tree of Life – this sense of contradiction, of not having properly-developed conceptions of what is objectively "wrong" versus what is "right", of how we simply act upon our curiosity because that's all we're armed with when we're so new to the world. For Boo, childhood is a time when these binaries between good and bad that we develop so logically, so moralistically as we grow old aren’t yet set in stone. It is her sense of delight that propels her to see the honest, good-natured intentions in a world filled with corruption. She is pure. Boo does not think; she just exists, she "is", she feels.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I mildly enjoy this film, which I first saw in theaters when I was nine years old. While I have a number of reservations with it, Boo isn't one of them. She's the film’s consistent force of gravity. Docter treats childhood in an impressively adult manner, crafting the world Boo enters into one that's at once both distressing and inviting. Pixar’s best films are the ones in which they begin to question what we, as humans, lose when we grow up – what we abandon in this transition to cynical, jaded adulthood. What's so gently sad about Boo is that we know she'll grow out of this odd, fantastic fixation she has on some anthropomorphic creature that's a product of her storybook mind. As she grows older, she'll no longer be the judge – the world around her will definitively teach her who is and isn't a monster.
BEST ACTRESS 1986Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married
Sigourney Weaver, Aliens
Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart
Jane Fonda, The Morning After
Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God
(SOME OF) MY FAVORITE BEST ACTRESS LOSERS, POST-1970Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judy Davis, A Passage to India
Jane Fonda, Julia
Valerie Perrine, Lenny
Susan Sarandon, Atlantic City
Liv Ullmann, The Emigrants
Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman
Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment
CreditsLayout by daphne/cadmium.
Banner/Icons by collapsingnight.
Winona drawing from Fanpop.