Art Film Music

On little gestures

Repetitive things usually annoy me: repetitive motions like finger-tapping, repetitive sounds, even spoken choruses in songs when the rhythm of speech fights the beat. (That’s not repetitive, exactly, I guess, but it bothers me in the same way.) One of the things I thought was most charming about WALL-E, though, was the way the animators lingered on the little repetitive motions their characters made — how the characters were given time to be entranced with the movements of their stubby hands or with the lighting of an old Zippo. It’s sort of babylike, sort of animal, that kind of fascination; I’ve seen my cat do the same thing.

Before the movie — which we saw at the Alamo Drafthouse in south Austin — we sat through a number of Pixar shorts, all of which I profoundly disliked. T. kept looking over at me and laughing because I looked miserable. This was mostly because I really hate slapstick, whether cartoon or live-action. I was the sort of kid who watched the first Home Alone movie through my fingers not because I was scared for tiny Macaulay Culkin but because I felt awful for the crooks he was knocking around. But also I think I disliked the shorts because they don’t have those graceful little moments of discovery. They’re designed for visual gags and broad, predictable humor. And transparent cuteness. WALL-E included some visual gags and predictable humor and transparent cuteness, too, but that wasn’t the whole joke. It wasn’t a joke. It was a good movie.

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