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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Doc Watch: The Pixar Story (2007)




Watched:  03/01/2021
Format:  Netflix?
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Leslie Iwerks

Biggest complaint:  not enough Michero

A weird movie only in that it's already 14 years old, and it's interviewing Steve Jobs, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Roy Disney and I am sure others who are already passed since.  And, of course, this is well before Lasseter was shown the door.

But it does a phenomenal job of explaining how Pixar even happened.  Which was a wild mix of "right place/ right time" in the sense of chaos theory, and then key people who made some very right choices at the right time - from Lasseter to George Lucas to Steve Jobs to Bob Iger.  Heck, Tom Hanks' involvement and his delight at his involvement is evident.

Looking behind the scenes of what almost went wrong here or there is curious, but I wish they'd spent more time on Pixar story-management processes as part of the secret sauce.  They go into it very briefly and almost obliquely, but it's there.

Anyway, just to see who all was involved is a trip.  And, of course, to know what was coming after just heightens the joy of the thing.  And, of course, I am certain the place is no longer quite as "start-up-y" as the doc captured.  Sooner or later, efficiency needs and people needing to get home to kids is going to kick in.

But now I want to rewatch Monsters, Inc.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Frozen-In Watch: Frozen II (2019)



Watched:  02/14/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  I'm not sure
Decade:  2010's
Director(s):  Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

The weather in Austin is historically cold and we're having a winter storm like we normally only ever see on television in other states.  It just doesn't do this in Texas.  Or, at least, it didn't tell global warming.  These polar vortexes are a real sonuvabitch.

Anyway - we're all super stressed hoping the power stays on and our pipes don't burst and we don't freeze to death in our own homes.  But, ha ha, we probably won't.  So we watched a movie with an ironic title.

(update:  02/16/21 1:35 PM - it did, indeed, freeze.  We lost power.  It's been rough.  Power is back for the moment.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Disney Watch: Treasure Island (1950)

 

Watched: 02/20/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  unknown, but first in a while
Decade:  1950's
Director:   Byron Haskin

To give you guys an idea of the difference between kids movies of the early 1950's (that I watched about 30 years later) and what comes out these days - Walt Disney's Treasure Island (1950) features a guy ordering a "double rum" in the first scene, an old pirate drinks himself to death in the first ten minutes, and then there's cold-blooded murder, mutiny, and people shooting each other and a kid who shoots a guy in the face after getting stabbed with a dagger.

I mean, we saw this movie at school.  

I also checked the novel out of my elementary school library, and it makes the movie look like a walk in the park.  

Now THAT'S adventure!

It's a fascinating movie as Jim Hawkins, our 12-year-old avatar, is a kid caught up in a *very* adult adventure, complete with both the violence and risk of a pirate story, but - watching it as an adult - I'm reminded how flawed the protagonist-type characters are as well.  But, more than that, it walks a gray path for Jim as he is genuinely befriended, to the best of his ability, by Long John Silver - who clearly has a soft-spot for the kid, but will also cut his throat to save his own skin.  

This was one of the first movies I ever saw that included this sort of betrayal, and it was all the weirder to parse watching as a kid, because Jim and John do have a weird buddy-ship even though they're locked in mortal combat, and LJS's minions are *always* ready to gut the kid.  But I do like that Hawkins sees both sides of the coflict, and has complicated interactions with the adults around him.  It's a heck of a way to illustrate a young man discovering the world beyond his door.  



Monday, February 1, 2021

PODCAST: "Soul" (2020) - a Pixar Watch featuring Pixar Lighting Lead Ryan Michero! (and NathanC and me)

 


Watched:  01/30/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2020
Directors:  Pete DocterKemp Powers (co-director)


Ryan and Nathan are joined by Pixar Lighting Lead, Ryan Michero, to talk about "Soul", now available on Disney+. We take a deep dive into the technical wizardry and challenges of "how does one light a conceptual construct?" to discussing the process and storytelling that makes Pixar the best there is. Join us for a conversation with one of the folks who makes the magic happen!
 

Music:
Born to Play - John Batiste, Soul OST
The Great Before/ U Seminar - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Soul OST

Disney History Playlist

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pixar Watch: Soul (2020)




Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Pete DocterKemp Powers

I believe we're going to try to do a podcast on this one, so everyone sit tight.  

But, yes, very good.  Recommended.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Disney+ Watch: Godmothered (2020)




Watched:  12/6/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Sharon Maguire

Definitely a "fun for the whole family" all-ages offering from Disney+, Godmothered (2020) has a semi-complicated set-up that melts into a fairly standard magical comedy, but which I think more or less works, even if it's not exactly ground-breaking.

Apparently Fairy Godmothers come from The Motherland, a mystical realm where fairies train for seemingly centuries before being sent out on assignment.  But the trick is - no one has asked for help from a Fairy Godmother in centuries, and there's only really been one new fairy to sign up for the gig in the past few decades. And so - they're maybe going to shut it all down (the Motherland is run by Jane Curtain, who appears to be having fun).

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Disney Attempt-at-Spooky Watch: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)


 

Watched:  10/04/2020
Format: Disney+
Viewing:  I'm calling it a first for the whole movie
Decade:  1940's
Director:  James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kenney

So, we were hunting around for something spooky to watch on Disney+, and I saw they had The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949).  I'd never seen the movie in its entirety.  If I ever saw the Wind in the Willows bit that makes up the first half, I don't recall it at all.   

However, the Ichabod Crane part based on Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow is for good reasons, a Halloween staple.  And, I've seen it a dozen times or so before.  

Taken as a whole, this movie is very weird and unnecessary.  It's clearly two stories that have nothing to do with each other slapped together with a wildly awkward framing device of a library of real books and voice over by, first, Basil Rathbone and then Bing Crosby, which tells me something about how much the left hand and right were talking to each other as this came together.  

As a kid, my first real exposure to Mr. Toad was via the Disney World attraction, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which was - I ain't gonna lie - super f'ing fun. My memory was that the ride was chaotic and goofy as hell.  And I understood it was based on a fancy toad who got his hands on a car.  

Well, the movie version is... kind of annoying.  I don't really have another word for it.  Unlike most Disney, there's no character development, and Toad just seems like a problem for everyone around him.  Like, that one friend who is now on drugs and you're all supposed to make sure he doesn't harm themself or anyone else.  The animation is pretty good, and it gave us the weasels that pop up in Roger Rabbit, but...  yeah.  This is the rare Disney animation that I just have no affection for - but weirdly like the ride.

And Ichabod itself is also strangely... boring.  And there's no one to actually like.  But, when you do get to the actual Sleepy Hollow scene, it's amazing work.  But 5 minutes or so is not enough to carry a whole movie.

What I guess is that Walt, post-WWII, was just not all that into the animation studio stuff anymore, and you can feel his hand off the wheel in the storytelling department - something that would plague them til Little Mermaid.  It's not horrible stuff, but it feels like someone let the animators just animate whatever they felt like rather than working toward a cohesive story, for two whole stories.  

But, again, that Headless Horseman.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

PODCAST: "Fantasia" (1940) and "Fantasia 2000" (1999) - a Disney History PodCast w/ NathanC and Ryan

 


Watched:  Fantasia 09/08 and Fantasia 2000 09/10/20
Format:  Disney +
Viewing:  Unknown/ Fourth
Decade:  1940's and 1990's
Director:  multiple on each


More places to listen 

When does animation become become more than popular entertainment? What are the boundaries of art that separate Beethoven and cartoon alligators? What is high-brow entertainment and funny business for the whole family? Walt Disney had a vision to elevate the form of animation and create an entirely new experience. Today, we know the result as "Fantasia", which returned in 1999 with a sequel of sorts in "Fantasia 2000". NathanC and Ryan return to talk all about a pair of Disney classics! 

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - J.S. Bach
Ave Maria - Franz Schubert

Nathan's Fantasia buddies:


Ryan's Fantasia (and assorted Disney) pals:




Disney History Playlist:



Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Doc Watch: Howard (2018)



Watched:  08/10/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Don Hahn

Let me start by saying: in a lot of ways Disney+ is much better than I ever expected.  I've enjoyed the Disney "from the vaults" content, catching new material, behind the scenes at parks, movies, etc... with One Day at Disney and two series - one on the making of The Mandalorian and an exceptional doc series on the making of Frozen 2

And, of course, then the release of Hamilton.  I haven't watched Black is King yet, but that's a pretty big line in the sand for the Disney brand to put out on their flagship, no-doubt-this-is-Disney streaming service when Disney has usually just avoided anything that invites cultural critique.*

But Disney+ putting a doc about Howard Ashman, a gay man who died of complications from AIDs at the height of the epidemic, and being honest and open about his sexuality and struggle with the disease, is... kind of mind-blowing.  There's something about the platform of their own streaming service and that you've already paid your money to have it that seems to have freed up the Disney Corp to tell some stories well worth telling I don't know we'd see if they didn't have this avenue.

The doc, itself, is the life story of Howard Ashman who - paired with Alan Menken - wrote the musical numbers for Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  He also wrote and originally produced Little Shop of Horrors - which was his big breakout hit off-Broadway. 

It's really a pretty great story, well told, and has the heart-breaking knowledge of what happened to Ashman in the back of your head.  And, sadly, the fact he was the musical partner of Menken and that he died of AIDS was all I'd known about him until watching the doc. 

I don't want to get into details too much, but as loving as it is, it isn't shy about who Howard Ashman was and doesn't make him into a saint - while illustrating pretty clearly what sort of mind he had that helped push the Disney cartoon back into prestige territory (and why Disney was flailing at the time he showed up).

For fans of animation, musical theater, or Disney-history - well worth the viewing. 




*Disney tends to get lambasted no matter what they do, and I've stood there and listened to lines of people parrot back the criticisms of Aladdin, Lion King and Little Mermaid during 3 summers at The Disney Store.  I would invariably listen and then say "well, I make $4.50 an hour working here and while I'll tell my manager...  really, your best bet is writing the studio in California."



Monday, April 6, 2020

Disney Watch: Timmy Failure - Mistakes Were Made (2020)




Watched:  04/04/2020
Viewing:  First
Format:  Disney+
Decade:  2020's
Director: Tom McCarthy


My guess is that you're sleeping on Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (2020).  This would be a mistake.  This will be one of the finest movies you could watch this year.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Lockdown Watch: Frozen 2 (2019)


Watched:  03/16/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  third
Decade:  2010's

One of my favorites from last year, I went ahead and picked this up on BluRay.

And, you know what, I think I continue to like this movie more every time I watch it.

Frozen 2 is a funny thing to like as a near 45 year old dude.  I'm used to picking up an action figure or whatnot when I like an Avengers movie.  Heck, I have an Ant-Man and The Wasp t-shirt.  But, you know, as much as I don't care what cashiers think when I'm buying my usual dumb stuff, there's not much Frozen 2 stuff I thought would make sense for *me*.  So, I bought the BluRay.  And the extras are really excellent.  So, heads-up if you have a chance to watch them.  It's fascinating to see how story is developed at Disney these days.

But do feel free to point me at Frozen II plastic stuff I can own that is not, like, an Elsa wig or 12" doll.

Anyway, refer to my last write-up on this.

And, frankly, I find this scene amazing.





Friday, January 3, 2020

Dog Watch: Togo (2019)


Watched:  01/03/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Disney Watch: Frozen II (2019)



Watched:  12/30/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

Not to be overly dramatic, but after seeing Frozen II (2019) the first time, I knew I'd need to watch it again before I'd do my usual posting.

The reviews were kind of lukewarm, so going in, I had my expectations set for "it'll be okay", and so... when the movie ended and I was having all the reactions I deeply *want* to have after seeing a movie, I'll admit that I kinda-sorta didn't trust my own reaction and figured it would fade after a day of thinking about (or forgetting about) the movie. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Disney Watch: Tangled (2010)



Watched:  12/29/2019
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010

I don't know that I need to write up Tangled (2010).  But here's what I think:

This movie is a letter of permission for some young women to realize that maybe their relationship with their parents is kinda toxic.

By that I do not mean that all young women have a toxic relationship with their moms, but dang... there is a reason that this movie ends with a young woman cutting off her girlish long locks as she severs her relationship with the woman who has been gaslighting her and filling her head with bad ideas for her entire life.  And I think we've all sorta known that young woman who went to college, realized maybe the world was not the place she'd been taught, and wound up shaving their head by second semester. 

There is some phenomenal character animation in this movie in the classic Disney tradition - I mean, Maximus is a frikkin' delight - and I really enjoy the number by all the tough-guys singing about their dreams.  The new stuff was in the effects - sure - but the movement and camera work in the movie is kinda breathtaking when you watch Rapunzel zipping around like Spider-Man on her own hair.  They really make the space inside the tower work, as well as in the construction-site sequence.

But, yeah, this movie is going to hold up for a very, very long time as it works with timeless themes, for both Rapunzel and Flynn, and the animation may look marginally dated by Frozen II standards, but I'll argue the Disney styling will keep it fresh for decades. 


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Disney Watch: Frozen 2 (2019)


Watched:  11/23/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

I liked it a great deal.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Disney Watch: Frozen (2013)



Watched:  11/20/2019
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2010's

I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time.  I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.

Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat.  I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked.  It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms...  That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).

Thursday, November 7, 2019

WTF was that? Watch: The Little Mermaid - Live!



Watched:  11/06/2019
Format:  TV broadcast on ABC
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

This "show" was some rough going, and I hope it's not how anyone would introduce their child to The Little Mermaid, stage musicals or entertainment in general.

In honor of the 30th Anniversary of the animated The Little Mermaid, Disney, for reasons that remain totally unclear, decided to show the original The Little Mermaid, but when the movie reached the musical numbers, cut over to actors performing the numbers on a stage in front of their big movie screen.

Look, I've seen The Little Mermaid maybe twice and neither of those times occurred in the past 20 years.  As with about 1 in 2 Disney movies, I just don't really click to the movie about a young, dumb mermaid in love with a guy she only met when he was wet and unconscious.  I skipped TLM at the theater because I thought it was for very young children, and missed the memo that this movie the thing to tell people Disney was no longer making kinda bad movies.  I finally saw it summer 1992, thought it was better than I expected, but was more into what Disney was doing when I did hit the theater for Beauty and the Beast in '91.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Poppins Watch: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)



Watched:  07/13/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2010's

Y'all, I @#$%ing love Mary Poppins. 

I already talked a bit about this movie back in December when we went to go see it as a holiday-timed family outing. 

Honestly, as much as I liked it the first time, on a second viewing, I liked it even more.  Once you're past the "what am I looking at?" aspect of such a big production and get over everything they're throwing at you and can process it as a movie with a story and things happening and songs you're not hearing one after another for the first time and dance sequences you're just trying to process...

Honestly, it's really a very well put together bit of entertainment and a fine companion piece to the original.  And I like it quite a bit. 

Yes, you can still both absolutely map the movie scene for scene as a remake of the original, but it is, in fact, a sequel, so it also has a new plot and new problems and works in elements of the original as plot points, creating some terrific continuity.  I *liked* the songs the first time, and on a second viewing, I really liked the tunes.  They may not have the immediate impact of soft-rock favorites in the manner of Moana or Frozen, and they remain so much in the vein of the Sherman Bros., we aren't going to get a Broadway showstopper akin to Let It Go, but the song-craft is still tremendous and the songs almost as powerful as carrying the story forward as Moana

And, of course, Emily Blunt's take on Mary Poppins is...  well, she's pretty great.

Anyway - I won't belabor it.  I rewatched the film, enjoyed it again, and will watch it again in the future.  This movie could have been a trainwreck and dimished the original - instead, the level of attention of detail in recreating the world of a movie from 60 years prior and updating it to a different period is phenomenal.  Not to mention the recreation of Disney's 2D circa 1960 animation house style brought into this new film.  The spirit is so much the same from head to tail on this movie, it's an astounding feat.

And whether it's the Julie Andrews original film or this belated follow-up, I still @#$%ing love Mary Poppins.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Disney Watch: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)


Watched:  03/01/2019
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

No write up.  I'm a bit under the weather, but I really enjoyed it.  And I can't believe Disney went off-script with their own IP to that degree.  A lot of good stuff.  And, of course, Vanellope's song - just brilliant.

Late Edit:  Our own NathanC wrote a great review over at the TPR site, so go check that out.