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

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Fairy Tale Watch: Disenchanted (2022)





Watched:  11/24/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Adam Shankman

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. - Orson Welles

There's a lot of good in Disenchanted (2022), but it's a weird film.  Perhaps it's an unnecessary film?  

As much as I, too, wondered how Giselle - she of the cartoon kingdom - was going to adjust as a fish-out-of-water in New York, a fairy tale princess who now has to live in the Big Apple in a place with varying races, religions, opinions, illness, war, injustice...   I'm kind of wondering now - Maybe we didn't need to check in?  Maybe "happily ever after" is the ending this story needed.  After all, this movie starts to push on the edges of what it means to live happily ever after as it continues the tale of Giselle and Robert as it asks "what next?  What about ennui?  What about missing one's homeland and the way in which they were raised?  Isn't life deeply imperfect?"

I don't think it's wrong to limit the challenges of the movie to teen-angst, mean moms, commutes sucking and other suburban and relatable concerns within the control and world of your average schmo.  We have enough to deal with when it comes to the magical challenges of the film that will fill the runtime and primary concerns of the movie's A-plot.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fairy Tale Watch: Enchanted (2007)


Watched:  11/29/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Kevin Lima

Jamie wanted to watch the new straight-to-Disney+ Disenchanted, and I said "I've never seen Enchanted (2007), though."   This led to some small debate.  Jamie had seen it, and thought that we'd seen it together (we had not) and so we had some comedic back and forth before she gave up and let me just put on Enchanted to see if it would ring any bells.  

I had not seen it.

Look, I don't care.  Amy Adams and Idina Menzel are in both movies, so I'd watch whatever.  But it's nice to start at the start.  I'm assuming Jamie saw the first one with her secret boyfriend.

I'm glad Enchanted was still a Disney movie and didn't feel like it needed to go "edgy".  I think I've kind of seen the joke of running sweet characters through a PG-13 meat grinder enough, and, instead, welcome bringing some of that Princess magic to the real world.  Sure, there's a version of this that's double-entredres and boner jokes that one could make and I might chuckle at, but - and maybe I'm a horrible person - but I never feel like they go dark enough if that's what they want to do.  And the results are usually kind of dumb.  As a result, I found charm in the high road version of this film (even if it absolutely winked at the audience on a key idea about the importance of a kiss).  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Disney Watch: Chip n' Dale - Rescue Rangers (2021)




This is a weird one.  It's tough to separate from the weekend twitter meltdowns around the film which have been immediate, loud and remind you 21st Century people are soft, soft @#$%s with some incredibly screwed up priorities, and yet algorithms push these, the worst takes, into your feed.

I didn't watch Rescue Rangers which had an initial run of only 65 episodes, spanning a year and a half between 1989 and 1990.  I'm aware of the show, of course, and starting in 1990 I did watch Tale Spin when I walked in the door from a new school with an earlier release time, but between the timing of the airing of the show and a general disinterest, and being 14 and kinda moving on...  Anyway, back then, to be a nerd did not mean watching everything and hanging onto it forever in quite the way "fandom" insists we do today.

But I am a fan of John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, and guffawed at the trailer for the movie.  It had a nice "I can't believe Disney is letting them do this" vibe, and it was included at no extra cost in my Disney+ subscription.  It looked to be having a nice laugh at a lot of ideas around cartoons, nostalgia, updates and reboots.

There's some strong Roger Rabbit DNA to the film.  Humans and 'Toons co-habitate in this world.  A crime is committed that impacts Toons specifally.  Chip and Dale are actors who played Chip and Dale on their eponymous show (the original Disney shorts are not a part of this world).  All in all, back in the 1990's, we would have called this "postmodernism" in a media studies class.  It's a cute idea for a movie, appeals to older audiences while also pointing the movie and old episodes of the cartoon at kids with a family Disney+ subscription.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

PodCast 194: "Turning Red" (2022) - Pixar Talk w/ Ryan Michero, Maxwell, Nathan C and me




Watched:  04/09/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Domee Shi




With a new Pixar film, Ryan Michero returns to the podcast to fill us in on what he was up to on the film. We get a behind-the-scenes peek at the film, and talk a lot about what makes art, technology and story all work, Pixar-style! And, Ryan S gets mad about ginned up controversies.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Nobody Like U - by Billie Eilish and Finneas and performed by 4*Town
U Know What's Up - by Billie Eilish and Finneas and performed by 4*Town


Pixar Talk Playlist

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Pixar Watch: Turning Red (2022)




Watched:  03/15/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Director:  Domee Shi

I'm going to try to secure Michero to come in and talk about Turning Red (2022), so no lengthy write-up.  

Uh...  so.  How to do this if there will be a podcast?  

I liked it!  You should watch it.  Definitely a great one for the kids hitting late elementary school and up.  It's gonna feel familiar.  For the younger ones, a foretaste of what's coming.

I have a few theories about why it took place in 2002, but will try to verify.  


Monday, January 10, 2022

Disney Watch: Encanto (2021)




Watched:  01/08/2022
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Directors:  Jared Bush/ Byron Howard/ Charise Castro Smith

Disney has really doubled down on the "here's a big ol' metaphor, but we're also going to explicitly spell it out" style of storytelling that Pixar's been doing for a while.  That's not a dig.  You're playing to an all-ages audience that needs some hand-holding, and in general, for who these movies are for, I think it works.

I'm not surprised I liked Encanto (2021).  I'm honestly far more surprised when I am not onboard with a Disney film or find it just "meh".  After deconstructing the idea of the Princess movie with Frozen and Tangled, and doing some fun character stuff with Wreck It Ralph, essentially doing a family dramedy is a good pivot.  And it's kind of remarkable we're in an era where we aren't depending on wicked stepmothers and cheesed-off sorceresses to tell a story.  Sometimes the conflict can be person vs. themselves.  But this one also has baked in protagonist vs. society and fate, I guess.  

There's a lot going on.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Disney+ Watch: Jungle Cruise (2021)




Watched:  11/15/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Jaume Collett-Serra

This is part of why it's nice to have Disney+.  

Before COVID, I think maybe I would have talked myself into paying to see Jungle Cruise (2021) in the theater.  I'm partial to Emily Blunt, I more or less like Dwayne Johnson.  The Disney park ride of The Jungle Cruise is a highlight of every trip I've ever had when I hit one of the Disney parks - it's wrapped up in nostalgia, certainly, but it's a fun thing to go do.  

I was a little put off that the jungle cruise of the film was not in Africa, as that would mean no elephants, my childhood favorite part of the ride, but... you know.  It's fine.  

Monday, November 8, 2021

Disney Watch: Cruella (2021)




Watched:  11/06/2021
Format:  Disney+ in JAL's yard
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Craig Gillespie

We got together with JAL and Co to watch a movie projected on the big screen in his backyard.  With a kid in play, and because we're highly likely to watch PG movies anyway, we defaulted to a family-friendly suggestion of Cruella (2021), which received weirdly inconsistent reviews and reaction on social media from what I saw, to the point where people seemed to be watching 2 or more different movies, which was enough to make me curious.  

I've not been overly interested in Disney's live-action remakes or prequels, and so had made no special effort to see Cruella upon it's release.  I like 101 Dalmatians (the animated version) well enough, but mostly out of nostalgia and loving the character animation more than me thinking it's the world's best film.  And I wasn't overly concerned about who Cruella De Vil was and how she came to be.

But, you know, I'm game for whatever.

I... loved this movie?  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Disney Store is No More - 3 Summers in the Sweater

this probably isn't my store, but it's incredibly similar


My first two jobs were working for cartoon mice.

The first job, when I was 16, was at Chuck E. Cheese.  You can read up on that life-altering event at an old post at the first blogsite.  

I don't think I ever got around to writing about the three summers I worked for Mickey at The Disney Store in Houston, Texas.  Well, it seems The Disney Store is no more.  But in the summers on 1993- 1995, and Christmas of 1993, I worked part-time at the satellite representation of the happiest place on Earth.  

It's been a very, very long time since this gig, and as I age, memories tend to grow fonder.  Mostly, these days, I think about how that goofy job where I wore a cardigan and long pants in Houston summer of 98 degree days with 95% humidity, and I wonder how I'm not dead.  But I also think of it as the place that taught me the most about how to put on a game face with co-workers and customers alike, and you get better/ best results out of both.  It's not just stuff I use to this day on the job, it's stuff people pay huge money for in real life Disney Customer Service academies.  No foolin'.  

Saturday, August 7, 2021

PODCAST: "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and "Loki" (2021) - Marvel Television PodCast w/ Jamie and Ryan



Format:  Disney+
Decade:  2020's
Director(s):  Kari Skogland  and Kate Herron



Jamie and Ryan catch up on two Marvel shows that made their way to Disney+, looking forward from the Infinity Saga, and maybe... sideways from the Infinity Saga? It's a far-ranging discussion of Marvel's efforts to bring their characters to living rooms everywhere, one week at a time. Maybe too much discussion for one podcast, but you get what you pay for.




Music:
Louisiana HeroHenry Jackman, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier OST
TVA Natalie Holt, Loki OST


Marvel at Signal Watch:


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Disney Watch: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)




Watched:  07/18/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  
Don Hall
Carlos López Estrada
Paul Briggs
John Ripa

I had very much wanted to see Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) in the theater.  Disney and Pixar are creating big-screen-worthy films left and right, and I already have two Pixar films under my belt since December that I will see if they're re-released post-COVID.

For some time, Disney has been making Princess movies from all over the planet, from Frozen, to Moana, to Tangled and now Raya and the Last Dragon.  I admit to some confusion in this film because the film skips around a wide swatch of Southeast Asia and the various islands and archipelagos, but it's all Disney Fantasy Land, so I think marrying yourself to any particular culture here is as useless as figuring out which Scandinavian country where Frozen takes place.  But, nonetheless, you may find yourself saying "is this Vietnam, or Thailand, or...?"

Anyway, I was surprised in a very good way that RatLD turned out to be an action/adventure picture - really the first in the modern Disney era.  Expect no song and dance sequences - this is a straight adventure where the Maguffin is "friendship".  Because Disney.  But, yeah, Disney has definitely done non-musical movies in recent years with the Wreck-It-Ralph movies, Zootopia and Big Hero 6, but if you see "princess" and think "what is her 'I Want' song?", you will be disappointed.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

PODCAST: "Luca" (2021) - it's Pixar Talk with Ryan Michero, JAL and Ryan S



Ryan Michero is back to go shed some light on the latest Pixar film! We go deep on our transformative journey, talking about Ryan M's work on the film, as well as what makes this one a bit different, and, therefore, special. And, what's Pixar like during pandemic times? Sadly, I forgot to ask any questions about the cat. I loved that cat.




Music:

Portorosso - Dan Romer, Luca OST
Un Baccio a MezzanoteQuartetto Cetra


Pixar Talk:

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Pixar Watch: Luca (2021)




Watched:  06/26/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Enrico Casarosa

Sometimes when I see a Pixar movie, I'm pretty sure I'll need to watch it one or two more times before I can do anything but say "wow, that was amazing".  Luca (2021) is one more Pixar movie to elicit this response from me, and, once again, it gets a "wow" on every level.  Story, design, music... you name it, this movie hits all the buttons.  

Not every Pixar film has done this for me, but certainly Soul and Luca were sorely needed movies for my brain here over the past year.  While Soul spoke to me, now, as an adult, and my concerns about "what the hell, exactly, am I doing with my life?", Luca was both a reminder of the value of pushing boundaries that we did as kids as we looked beyond our own yards for what else was out there, and as an adult - maybe that same need continues to exist?  Even when people just want to protect us?

By now you've likely seen the trailers - and while I was dazzled by the look and feel I saw, I wasn't sure what the story would be, or if there would be enough story.  One of my criticisms of other animation or kids' film efforts is that they become too fixated on gags and easy laughs and character and story just feels recycled and that, in turn, makes the jokes a little hacky.

Luca avoids the trap, and tells the story of two boys from under the sea who come to land, and a small port town in coastal Italy where they dream of obtaining a Vespa and riding off into the sunset to explore the world.  A world neither knows a dang thing about - one because he's a sheltered homebody, and the other a stray, abandoned and playing it safe on his island, thinking he's got it sorted out.  

Soon, a new friend starts opening doors for them, gets them involved in a triathlon, and a hunt for sea monsters ensues.  I ain't spoiling anymore.

I'm hoping to grab Ryan M again and do a podcast on Luca soon, so I can ask about making the movie in the pandemic, and then gush about the design of the film, from character (which is very non-Disney) to the town to the underwater sequences to the dream sequences... but first I need to get in touch with the guy.  So, maybe?  Soonish?  In the meantime, go watch Luca.  




Thursday, June 10, 2021

Disney Watch: 101 Dalmatians (1961)



Watched:  06/09/2021
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  oh, man.  Who knows?
Decade:  1960's
Directors:  


You ever wonder what people from Dalmatia think about dogs being known better than people from their land?  Like, you live somewhere for thousands of years, and no one can find you on a map, but someone mentions a spotted dog and everyone gets really excited.

Anyway, I also get very excited thinking about spotted dogs, and growing up, this one was a favorite.  It had (a) talking dogs, (b) adventure, and (c) a very funny cat.   I found Cruella DeVil one of the better Disney villains, and since I'm not paying $30 to watch the new Cruella movie, I figured I'd rewatch this one and then maybe the Glenn Close movies.  

The movie is from the period at Disney in which Walt was still alive, but he wasn't really paying much attention to the animated films.  He had his amusement parks, some live action films going, and was letting animation just do its thing.  The Nine Old Men were running things, as near as I can tell.

If I'm being honest, as much as I love the film, you can feel that the story department was given a backseat to the animation department.  The movie is gorgeous, a huge technical achievement, and has phenomenal character animation.  But it's also got some bits that just go on too long and unneeded sequences that you can tell they just really enjoyed making.  The end result is a fairly brief film that has beats that can really drag.  

But, yeah, I still very much like it, but sometimes you do wonder "what is happening here?"  It's not as bad as The Aristocats, which I find unwatchably dull, but...  I do have notes.  

But if I ever get a cat again, I'm naming it Sgt. Tibbs.  

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

NPR Fresh Air episode


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).