Showing posts with label cartoons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartoons. 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.  

Charles Schulz at 100




Today marks the 100th birthday of cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of pop culture force, comic strip and animation favorite Peanuts.  

The Peanuts characters are embedded into American and Western culture in ways that will mean they last for a few more generations at minimum - becoming indelibly associated with holidays thanks to cartoons playing each year for the past nearly 60 years.  These days, the cartoons live on over on Apple+, but there's also plenty of decoration and ornamentation that includes the staple characters, and who doesn't know the beats and moments of the specials, even if just by osmosis?

When Apollo 10 was mounting up, NASA asked to use Snoopy as their safety mascot.  Since, they've adopted Snoopy as a mascot for safety writ large and just kind of in general.  Even as we cross this 100th birthday, there's a Snoopy doll floating around inside Artemis as it circles the moon.  That's pretty amazing.  

Of course it all started with a comic strip, and Schulz drew almost 18,000 installments over 50 years.  He created household names, concepts (Lucy pulling the football away, kite-eating trees), brought diversity to the comics page and delivered a lot of joy into people's lives.  In an era of splintered interests, it's hard to understand how something like a daily comic strip could cross generational, geographic and sociological divides as a surprisingly smart reflection of the world.  

Schulz himself went by "Sparky", a name picked up from a comic strip, Barney Google (Spark Plug was the name of a horse in the strip).  He had comics in his blood and managed to keep his strip on track, and the translations of his characters to other media remarkably consistent.  It's hard to imagine fifty years of work, but he did it.  And the strips still run in papers across the country.

Schulz passed on February 12, 2000, but here we are, with Snoopy circling the moon.  Let's hope there's a Snoopy snack bar when folks are living up there.






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).  

Sunday, November 20, 2022

PODCAST 221: "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (1993) - in memoriam, Kevin Conroy - w/ Stuart and Ryan



Watched:  11/18/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Kevin Altieri, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur



Stuart and Ryan get together to discuss the 1993 animated film that featured the voice talent of Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman to multiple generations. We talk about the performances, art, and craft of the 1990's animated Batman material, and the tremendous impact of the cartoon and Conroy.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Main Title - Shirley Walker, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 


DC Movies Playlist

Friday, November 11, 2022

Kevin Conroy Merges With The Infinite




Here at The Signal Watch, we're absolutely heartbroken to hear that actor Kevin Conroy has passed.  

Conroy voiced Bruce Wayne/ Batman across innumerable cartoons, video games and other projects.  For generations of Bat-fans was the definitive portrayal of the character.  

Thursday, October 6, 2022

PodCast 214: "DC League Of Super Pets" (2022) - A Kryptonian Thought Beast Episode w/ Jamie & Ryan

 


Watched:  10/02/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jared Stern and Samuel J Levine


The podcast goes to the dogs as Jamie and Ryan talk 2022's furriest super-offering. Join us as we sniff around for a take on family fun in Metropolis as Superman's lesser-known pal gets his own feature and DC/ WB tries to kick-start a lucrative super franchise for the kiddos.

SoundCloud

YouTube



DC Movies Playlist

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Cartoon Watch: Beavis & Butthead Do the Universe (2022)


Watched:  07/18/2022
Format:  Paramount+
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Rice, Albert Calleros

I remember watching fireworks on the 4th of July, 1993, and my dad threatening to smack me if I didn't stop muttering "huh huh!  fire.  FIRE!"  So it's a little weird that here, 30 years later, I'm still totally in for watching Beavis & Butthead Do the Universe (2022), which feels *exactly* like Beavis & Butthead of the 1990's.  And it's a reminder of the weird brilliance of the original concept, which used the idiocy of a very recognizable flavor of teen boy to comment on anything under the sun through boner jokes, one word responses and an inability to understand anything other than nachos, boobs, and things sucking or being cool.  

There's a dissertation out there in the wanting about how the show worked as meta-commentary, both in the discussion over videos and in sketches wherein everyone assumed the pair are following and understanding their agenda, but it simply will not process with our heroes.  I'm not sure the show is a prescription for living, but it is definitely saying something about us, what we watch, the world we've built and inhabit.  And that it's incredibly easy for morons to coast alongside us without us really noticing until they've fucked things up, and that does not make us geniuses.  

Also, it is a show about needing TP for one's bunghole.

Anyway - this installment picks up with Beavis and Butthead in high school in 1998 and manages to get them to space camp, then onto the space shuttle where things go south, through a wormhole into 2022.  Where they don't ever really notice they've passed through time, all in pursuit of the shuttle's captain with whom they believe they're going to score.  

Along the way, they go to college, they abuse Apple Pay, they consume nachos, and briefly go to prison.  

Highly recommended.





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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

New League of Super-Pets trailer



Still pretty happy with everything I've seen so far in the trailers and ads for this.  

Hey, we're getting a full DC Super-Pets movie!  That's excellent!


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.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

90's Re-Watch: Cool World (1992)




Watched:  11/07/2021
Format:  HBOmax, I think.  
Viewing:  3rd?
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Ralph Bakshi

In 1992, I made my brother go with me to see Cool World.  It was my chance to jump on the Ralph Bakshi train, it combined animation and live action, and it had Gabriel Byrne and Kim Basinger.  Mostly I remember thinking "this movie is not great" partway through, and being aware that for being the horniest thing I'd seen in movies in a very horny era at the movies, it never seemed to be willing to take anything as far as it could have. Or should have,

Here, 30 years later, I don't think I've changed my mind, and I'm willing to be more honest about it.  I defended the movie a lot because it *tried* something new and different, and served it up to a mainstream audience.  My suspicion is that Paramount ended up defanging the film.  As there often is decades later, there are conflicting versions of events, but I tend to believe the Fritz the Cat guy was not shying away from a Hard-R and the studio flack decided to try and get teens into the movie.  

Friday, October 8, 2021

DCU Animated Watch: Batman - The Long Halloween (2021)




Watched:  Part 1 - 10/02, Part 2 - 10/03
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Chris Palmer

I've not kept it a secret that I haven't thought all that much of the narratives of DC Animated films in several years.  There's been some winners, and some mediocre stuff, and a certain bit of leaning in to the "edge-tacular" stuff that was kicked off by Flashpoint.  

Hence, I haven't really wanted to give anyone any money to watch any of the animated features.  I've paid for a Superman and Wonder Woman movie here and there, and I know I caught a Bat-film or two, but none of it knocked my socks off.  Including some adaptations of some favorite stories straight from the comics.

More out of curiosity than anything, Jamie and I decided to check out Batman: The Long Halloween (2021) on HBOmax.  She also read the comic maybe 15 years ago, so we both had a bit of knowledge about what to expect.  

Frankly, for me, it's probably also been 15 years since I read the book, and so my memory of it, while extremely positive, is wound up with Dark Victory and I don't know what happened in what anymore (ie:  was Dick Grayson in Long Halloween or no?).

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.  

Monday, May 3, 2021

Animation Watch: The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)


Watched:  05/01/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Michael RiandaJeff Rowe 

I'm not going to bother writing this up.  Another terrific Lord & Miller produced animation with a terrific voice cast.  Hysterical, moving, gorgeously animated...  very glad this is out there.  

But I figure everyone with a Netflix account will have seen it, so just go nuts on your own on this one.

I don't have kids, and I got this one.  I imagine a lot of you parents were choking back some feelings watching this one.

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.