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Squirrels and Devils

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Squirrels and Devils

In this week’s New York Press, I rave about Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. This cartoon fable offers one comic-epic splendor after another; at its best, it recalls the Chuck Jones classic What’s Opera, Doc? in its ability to both mock and satisfy the conventions of its source material—in this case, the symbolically charged epic journey movie. “This is not just a decent sequel, it’s a cartoon animal comedy about fear of annihilation; in essence, War of the Worlds for kids.”

The biographical documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston unnecessarily hypes its mentally ill musician-artist hero as a genius, but director Jeff Feuerzeig still delivers a penetrating and often stylistically striking nonfiction feature. “Bending the very structure of the film to reflect Johnston’s worldview—which was fractured over time by schizophrenia and assorted drugs—’The Devil’ feels like something a brilliant schizophrenic might produce during a rare period of clarity,” I write. “Johnston’s signature image, a bloody eyeball pulled free of its socket, describes the filmmaker’s aesthetic: a hellishly funny vision, unmoored from reason’s shell.”

Also in the film section, Armond White praises She’s the Man and dismisses Brick. Meanwhile, Jennifer Merin interviews the latter’s director, Rian Johnson, who says, “I fully expect the Coen Brothers to take legal action when they see ’Brick’ because I stole so much from them. But they stole from Leone, so we’re okay.”