What can I say? After a month or more of not writing, Duvall's inspired me to pick up the electronic pen again. That, and I'm a bit tipsy.
Anyway, I've been meaning to write this post for some time, but my thoughts don't seem to coalesce meaningfully. GF and I saw "Ratatouille," which was absolutely great. Excellent animation, which then recedes as you get absorbed by the plot. As a sign of all this, I actually felt hungry after seeing a movie about rats in the kitchen.
But, I was wondering if the director, Brad Bird, was softening on his somewhat Objectivist tone laid out in "The Incredibles." There, the catch phrase was "when everyone is special, nobody is", which is oddly depressing for a Disney venture (except for the fake ending at the end of Pirates 3 - which, by the way, don't see). In Ratatouille, the phrase is "anyone can cook", but as none other than Peter O'Toole intones, the meaning is not that anybody can cook. Rather, it's that truly great cooking can come from anywhere.
A softer tone to be sure. But I wonder if Brad sells the power of learning and practice too short. After all, the "natural endowments" of the brain are increasingly being shown to be a product of application and hard work, not "natural" abilities. But Bird tends to cast these things as significant, but perhaps not important. *spoilers* Remy, the main rat, has a natural gift, it is implied. But the female sous chef - who has worked her ass off to get where she is - is several times upstaged by Remy or him controlling his human puppet. And while I don't doubt that genius can be a matter of inspiration, it's also very much a product of knowing enough to do something with that inspiration.
Which is not to say that I didn't find the movie compelling, funny, and entertaining. And yes, I choked up a little at the penultimate scene. But, what is Bird thinking? What is going in his head? How has his thinking evolved between these two movies? And what does this bode for the third? I like his movies because he doesn't pander to the Disney crowd. It's no original Transformers movie, but it's a far cry from Cinderella. I don't want him to lose his edge, but I'd certainly like him to be a bit more introspective about what his message is and the wider context it plays in. That may be too much for a cartoon, even one being directed by as skilled an individual as Bird, but it is one thing which, for me, would move his films from "good for adults, but you can take your kids to it" to "good for both kids and adults."