Showing posts with label Disney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disney. Show all posts

Friday, July 3, 2015

Patriotic Watch: Johnny Tremain (1957)

When I was a wee lad, I remember being a fan of this 1957 Disney production.  Back in the day, Disney did a lot of live-action movies of varying quality (seriously, Disney, where the @#$% is my BluRay edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?), and often featured stories set in the past.

Originally intended as part of the Disneyland TV series, Johnny Tremain ended up better than anyone was figuring, so Walt decided to repackage it for theatrical distribution.



The movie probably left a greater impression on me than I realized, because in rewatching the movie three decades later, I kept saying "oh, yeah, right!" and remembering scenes as they unfolded.  But I doubt I'd thought about the movie for at least the last fifteen years.  I do recall that we watched a lot of Wonderful World of Disney growing up (and early Disney Channel) and read our share of historical fiction, so we got a lot of the G-rated high adventure stuff in our diet that, wonder upon wonders, fit pretty neatly in with the Disney World "Liberty Square" look and feel for history.*  If it was intended to make a tri-corner hat wearing nerd out of me, mission accomplished, Walt.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney Watch: Big Hero 6

Well, wasn't this a very nice superhero story?



We missed this for whatever reason when it hit theaters.  Kind of wish I hadn't because it looks like they were really thinking in terms of 3D projection that my very 2D television did not replicate.

Well, c'est la vie.

Big Hero 6 is maybe the flipped opposite of what DC has been doing with their heroes, and while I am aware the movie did okay ($222 million domestic is impressive, and a total of $652 million internationally is great) I don't think it slipped into the zeitgeist in quite the way it might have.  But I also don't hang around little kids all that much.  So, parents, correct me.

But this is superheroing for the all-ages set in a very good way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cartoon Watch: Three Caballeros (1944)

Lysergic acid diethylamide was first discovered in 1943 and introduced to the public in 1947,but not popularized until the mid-1960's.   So we're going to assume that whatever inspired the 1944 Disney feature length film, Three Caballeros, was more likely a byproduct of a lovely tour of Latin America and either the psilocybin mushroom or the peyote cactus.



For three summers in the mid-1990's, I worked at the Disney Store.  The soundtrack to the store was always a laser disc, or - more specifically - one side of a laser disc that played over and over in about a 45 minute loop.  For at least one of those summers, part of that loop was the titular song to Three Caballeros, performed by Jose Carioca, Panchito and Donald Duck.  I loved that frikkin' song.*  But I'd never seen the movie, and it hasn't ever really been readily available.

This weekend TCM played a bunch of stuff from the Disney vault, and luckily NathanC turned me on to the fact Three Caballeros was playing, so I finally DVR'd it and watched.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello Merges with The Infinite



It seems that original Mouseketeer, beach movie fixture and boomer icon, Annette Funicello, has passed.

 I knew Annette from her 80's-era TV appearances and also as the girl that, apparently, men of my Dad's generation all grew up having a crush on.  Annette Funicello was going through a sort of nostalgia-tour renaissance when I was a kid, in peanut butter commercials, guest appearances, etc.. at a time when we also happened to have the Disney Channel, which would rerun the old Mickey Mouse Club episodes (but not in order, because that would be nuts).  And I was just the kind of kid who was cool enough to think a good afternoon included Mr. Ed and Mickey Mouse Club re-runs.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wreck-It-Ralph, Birthday, Quiet Man, Pam Grier is well liked

I should probably have something smarter to say, as I haven't really posted much on the usual topics the past several days.

On Saturday evening I wasn't feeling up to snuff, so we watched the Disney film Wreck-It-Ralph, which turned out to be a pretty good flick.  While the themes and story are going to hold up, I am concerned that the trappings of the nostalgia and with the concept of a modern game (or kids paying to play games at an arcade at all) it'll fall into Oliver and Co. territory for Disney, a sort of dated product of its time.  Still, at this time, it was a really fun movie that, even if the kids don't quite get all the gags, they can stick with what's offered up on a story and emotional level.  The "over their heads" bits seemed mostly winky stuff towards 80's video games, much as the Toy Story movies might reference a toy from a Gen X'er's youth.  Heck, one of the credit songs is performed by Pac-Man Fever maestros Buckner and Garcia.

Today was my brother's 40th, and we spent most of the day out at my folks' place with a wide variety of characters.  I saw people I hadn't seen in years, including the children I had never met of several of Jason's pals.  Some of those kids are kind of not so little anymore.  Time flies, man.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

All New Mickey & Friends Cartoons!

Made for web consumption and with semi-limited animation, they still get Mickey (and company) right.

It's all in French, but you'll never notice. Outrage over a delayed pastry works in every language.





Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday (Check) Inn


Light blogging ahead.  I hope your holiday gatherings or un-gatherings are going well.

We'll be on the tweeters and facebook throughout.

Whether you're with family or flying solo, I wish you a restful, quiet time.  And cookies.  Lots of cookies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story 2 (1999)

By 1999, "Buzz" and "Woody" had become household names.  It would be another three years before I'd be skipping out on a day of a conference at Disneyland and stop short, realizing that the two characters were as cemented in the minds of most people as Mickey and Donald when 6'5" versions of Buzz and Woody wandered past me at the Happiest Place on Earth.

In 1999, the sequel to Toy Story arrived and was met with a sort of exclamation point of surprise that somehow - against all expectations - a beloved kid's movie had turned in a sequel that was its own story/ film and which pushed the characters forward with genuine narrative purpose.

There's a certain existential undertone to the Toy Story movies that this film acknowledges, and which the 3rd film fully realizes: toys are a disposable part of a human lifecycle and toys are at the mercy of the giants above them.  Childhood doesn't last forever, and children one day put away toys.  The theme is tied in with the idea presented in the second installment in unwanted fourth wheel toy "The Prospector" who never had an opportunity to be loved by a child, sitting on a shelf somewhere, unsold.

But the toy that's been loved and abandoned?  It tells us that sooner or later, all toys meet a tragic fate of some sort or other.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story (1995)

I straight up love the Toy Story franchise, and its taken no small amount of willpower not to start collecting the many, many Toy Story items one can buy at Target.

Yes, the animation from the first installment doesn't always hold up as well as I'd like, but everything about the script, direction and voice acting still works as well today as it did the first time I saw the movie.

Speaking of - so I was in film school in 1995, and my roommate had a bad Thanksgiving break.  I don't remember specifics, but she'd gotten into some tiff with the family.  We went up to the film lab to work on our project and then decided we'd go see this Toy Story thing as it was 9:00 Sunday night and the kids would be skipping that screening as school started in the morning.

The place was still packed.  Curious college kids and others were there, and it was a surprisingly great movie.  But in the mid-90's, there were a lot of surprises when it came to kids' movies.  This was right around when I was telling people "Y'all got to go see this movie, Babe".*  And I knew who Pixar was.  I'd seen some of their shorts.  I just had expected it to have that same hacky vibe one got from all of the installments in the The Santa Clause series.  Harmless, perhaps, but not exactly anything you'd actually recommend to anyone.

But Pixar got it right.  The movie had real character in its made-up world of talking toys, and real things at stake for the characters and even for the unsuspecting Andy.  And the great thing was - they didn't make sequels until they had something to say.  Toy Story 2 built on the world from the first movie and showed us the worst fears of a toy come to life - but kept Jessie's story startlingly human.  And the third film started with the scariest threat of all, only to find the highest highs in any of the three films.

Anyway, I'm a fan.  It's popular entertainment at its best.  We can save the technical discussion for another day.




*If you have anything bad to say about either Babe movie, I will fight you with a pitchfork

Monday, February 27, 2012

Signal Watch Reads - "Donald Duck - Lost in the Andes"

Wow.  You can tell a lot of love went into this book just by picking it up, looking at the binding, the reprint quality, the paper stock and the supplementary material.

I finally finished Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes from Fantagraphics Books over the weekend, and I am busting.  Not just about the actual comics, which were thoroughly enjoyable, but the whole package of the volume.

As I'm learning, you may be a fan of your favorite comic characters, but few American comics characters draw the kind of devotion that you see from Disney Duck fans, especially when it comes to the works of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.  And its not just been here in North America that you see that kind of enthusiasm.  The Ducks are a global phenomena, and I've come to really enjoy some of the work you see originating from Scandanavia as well.



The collection isn't a chronological reprinting of Carl Barks' work, but a sort of greatest hits package from the period with feature length stories such as "The Golden Christmas Tree" and a lot of shorts as well as one page gags, all circa 1948 or so.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Marvel finally starts working on Disney comics

It seems Marvel is going to release a Toy Story limited series later this year. Toy Story, while more Pixar than traditional Disney (although the Disney Store would beg to differ), was also one of the first titles launched by Boom! when they began rolling out Disney properties under their license.

I thought Boom! did a phenomenal job handling the Disney properties. Maybe TOO phenomenal as I spent a lot of money on Disney comics for a spot there as Boom! flooded the kids' section with Pixar and Disney properties, both new and licensed from the European and classic American Disney comics.

They also wisely repacked their comics in inexpensive, kid friendly collections.

Really, it was a lot of fun. And so when Disney purchased Marvel, I knew that a wrench would get thrown in the works.

Now, this is one comic of a four-issue limited series of one property. I am still not able to buy new issues of Mickey, Scrooge or Donald. But I will be watching Marvel in 2012 to see what they try. And, hopefully, it won't mess with the great work Fantagraphics is doing collecting the really old school Disney strips and comics.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SW Advent Calendar: December 6


The Disney Comics gang has a very weird way of decorating their tree.  And that just looks terribly poke-y if you ask me.  Also, where are Donald's nephews?  On the back side of the tree, unloved and unwanted, I suppose.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kid Friendly comics! Snarked and Donald Duck

Snarked!

I finally read the first two issues of Roger Langridge's Snarked.  Well, I read issue 0 and issue 1.

Playing off the public domain status of Lewis Carroll's stories, Langridge has grabbed the briefly mentioned Walrus and The Carpenter and decided to spin a story from what we know of them from the poem (told by Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Through the Looking Glass).  If you can still track down issue 0, its pretty chock full.  Not just of story, but of the source material Langridge will hope you're familiar with as he mines Carroll's material for his own purposes.

He includes pictures by John Tenniel, Carroll's artistic accomplice, in appropriate places, but the art is the same mad cap, cartoony style I really liked in his work on The Muppets comics (also from Boom).

I suspect that, with issue 1, Langridge plans to make this a closed story, that has a beginning, middle and end.  Originally, I'd believed it would be a gag book, or have one-off stories per issue, but instead it seems we're headed off on a bit of an adventure.

You see, the Red Queen has passed, leaving two children Princess Scarlett and Prince Russell IV (aka: Rusty), but now the Red King has disappeared whilst on a sea-faring voyage.  And the kids (a) would like to find their father and (b) get away from the folks who want to seize power.  Our friend The Cheshire Cat has an idea who can help them, even if The Walrus and The Carpenter seem to be, by all indications, cheaters, liars and cons.

The Walrus, The Carpenter and the offspring of the Red Queen & King
Good stuff.

The writing is sharp, the characters archetypes but cleverly done, and its a book that you can hand a kid, but I suspect you'd want to sit and read it with them.  Its pretty fun, and the language is very well thought out.

And if you have a picture of what a "snark" (the much discussed but unseen beastie) looks like, you may send it in.

I think this is one of those books you're going to wish you'd jumped on early.

Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol 1. and 2 (and more)

Oh, so!

Yes, I've been reading Donald Duck again.  I know, I know.  I came to Disney comics so late, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

I've had both these volumes for a while, but I just dug them out of my stack of comics I haven't yet read, and I plowed through them with pretty great speed.

I don't think Boom! will be carrying on printing these books now that Disney owns Marvel comics (a shame, because Marvel's collections edition has never seemed as together as I'd like) and Boom! was just really getting themselves together on their Disney collections front.  AND it was a nice compliment to the really fancy (but expensive) work Fantagraphics was doing on their archive collections.

Hubris, thy name is Donald
The two Donald volumes are pretty reasonably priced ($14.99 cover for a lot of comics) and contain pretty good stories in both.  I finally got to read a Plain Awful story in Volume 1, and the Uncle Scrooge/ Donald go into space to collect satellites story in Volume 2 had me rolling.  Both volumes contain work of the American creator, Don Rosa, who is one of two comics creators associated with Disney's ducks that all comics people should know (along with Carl Barks).  And coming off reading the Disney Four Color Treasury, it was nice to transition to the more modern Ducks era.

Its tough to explain the appeal of a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic to the uninitiated, except to say that Duckberg is a very well realized place of goofiness and big hearted skinflint trillionaires and good-hearted crooks like the Beagle Boys, and its fun to see Donald in one story wrestling with space flight and in another trying to get the nephews to school.

Don Rosa is, in my estimation, one of the most creative talents in comics, with great understanding of narrative, gags, character, etc... and its just a huge pleasure to read his work.  And I suppose it says something about how under the radar the comics must have been for Disney for this to be one of the areas where any single creator was able to make a name for themselves.

 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Last Night on Earth at Downtown Disney

In college, I recall some friends and I worked on a piecemeal screenplay that took place on the last night on Earth. I don't really remember if anyone else turned their pages in or not. All I recall about one of my sections was that it was called "An Expotition to the North Pole" in honor of the Winnie-The-Pooh story by AA Milne. Memories are hazy, but it was intended to be a sort of cheerful tale of people deciding that they would decide they'd found enlightenment because they didn't have a lot of time and this was probably good enough, what with the world ending and nobody around to judge, anyway, come tomorrow.

So there's, of course, some small possibility that we aren't going to make it past tomorrow. Or whatever random date in 2012 the Mayans predicted some Q-named serpent sun god would come and invoke Ragnarok or whatever. I don't know. I suspect that the folks making the prediction are incorrect, and if they did stumble upon their onw Da Vinci Code, I confess that I hope The Rapture doesn't happen until after 1:00 PM Central Time, because I should be back in Austin by then. Should it happen between 12:00 AM and 9:25 AM Eastern, I shall still be in Florida, and Orlando seems like an odd place to try to find yourself as the angels are summoning seven-headed, ten-horned beasts. Forget about being at a Holiday Inn just outside the Gates of The Happiest Place on Earth.