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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Brave (29)

Monday
Jun022014

Curio: Heather Theurer's Disney heroines

Alexa here with your weekly art post.  This past weekend was another big win for Disney; clearly the public at large did not have the same trouble talking the family into seeing Maleficient as I did (my daughter didn't want to see that movie about the "scary fairy").  From the trailer I was entranced by the look of it, but I'll have to wait. Reading about the painterly, Pre-Raphaelite stylings of the film reminded me of Heather Theurer. Theurer is a painter who has done a series of oils of Disney heroines, transforming them with a realism akin to the Pre-Raphaelites.  

So far she has completed Cinderella, Mulan, Rapunzel, Lilo, and Merida...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan102014

Princess 'Merida' Chastain

Jessica Chastain as Princess Merida

Annie Leibovitz took this photo of me as Merida from the film "Brave." Out of all the Disney characters, she's probably my favorite, as she takes her destiny in her own hands. That's a modern princess.

Her favorite huh? If not a favorite of convenience perhaps it's a matter of redhead kinship?

Sorry, Ariel! 


Thursday
Sep192013

Whither Pixar?

Tim here, with what we might call, to steal a phrase, a burning question. Or at least a terrified, desperate question with rage tears streaming all down my face:

What the hell is happening with Pixar Animation Studios?

By this point, I imagine most of you have heard the news that The Good Dinosaur, the studio’s second film out in the future, has been pushed from May, 2014, to November, 2015. This coming just a few weeks after the announcement that Bob Peterson, a writer and storyboard artist with the studio since forever, had been taken off what was to have been his solo directorial debut with that same project.

This has had all sorts of fun ramifications for the company, including the inexplicable Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory being pushed to May, 2016, to make room for The Good Dinosaur. 2014, at the moment, will end up as the first calendar year since 2005 without a Pixar feature release, while 2015 will be the first year ever with two (assuming that Disney doesn’t end up announcing that Inside Out is to be rushed out ahead of schedule). The Good Dinosaur doesn’t have an announced director yet, and nobody knows whether or not Peterson is staying with the studio in any capacity.

It will be, of course, two years and change before any of us are actually able to judge whether any of this will be for the good of the film: it’s entirely possible that there really were irreconcilable story problems that needed far too much work and fresh blood than could happen in the initial time frame. One thing that’s almost certain, given how tight-lipped Disney and Pixar are about their internal politics, we’ll never know what Peterson’s The Good Dinosaur was meant to be like. That’s not really what I wanted to rant about, anyway.

The problem is that this isn’t at all new behavior: The Good Dinosaur is at least the fifth Pixar film to have a director changeover midway through production, and the fourth one in a row. 2011’s Cars 2, this year’s Monsters University, and most noisily, 2012’s Brave all went through the same upheaval, and they are all widely, even universally, regarded as being among the worst films in the studio’s output. So if it truly is the case that the executive logic is that those films needed to be “fixed”, the earlier versions must have been problematic indeed – who wants to imagine a version of Cars 2 that was worse than the one released to theaters?

 

It is very hard, in other words, to give the studio any benefit of the doubt at all. It’s been just a handful of years since the run of movies that ended with Toy Story 3 – the platonic ideal of an apparent cash-in sequel that turns out to have been motivated by real artistry and sensitivity – but the days when a commanding majority of critics and animation fans took the name of Pixar as an ironclad guarantee of quality seem like a distant, naïve memory, and developments like this are exactly the wrong sort of thing to restore that kind of faith. Once a creative haven, Pixar has become mired in safety-tested formulas and groupthink, less invested in protecting its brand name from failure than in insulating it from any kind of unconventional thinking. Would Brenda Chapman’s Brave have been any good? Who knows? What’s certain is that it would have felt less like every other Pixar film, and it’s hard not to want to know what that would be like.

 

To be fair, this isn’t just Pixar’s problem. Big-budget filmmaking as a whole feels more indebted to safety-conscious decisions that are designed more with an eye to making sure that new movies feel as much as possible like other movies that were already hits (the careful buffering out of individual personalities in the Harry Potter films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe leap to mind), and the biggest budgets only ever go to sequels, or to adaptations of road-tested stories. In the wake of The Lone Ranger, it’s hard to feel like the studios don’t have a reason for this conservatism, but anodyne, one-size-fits-all movies (now obliged to play in cultures as widely different as the American Midwest and urban China) are boring, even the well-made ones.

Until the last couple of years, I’d have never called any Pixar film “boring”. Even Cars 2 can’t be rightfully described that way, though most other negative adjectives fit just fine. And maybe this is all paranoia: maybe The Good Dinosaur really did have huge problems, and the final result is now going to be better than any of us can possibly imagine. But that’s not what Pixar’s rhetoric is saying. Instead, they’re telling us that they needed to beat The Good Dinosaur into a form that everybody could sign off on, admitting in almost so many words that this personal project had to be run through a committee in order to make sure it felt like everything else the studio has made. Maybe the results will be worth it, but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s going to be good for the imagination of the film’s creators or the imagination of its audience, and it’s the continuation of a trend that’s made the former best movie studio of the 2000s feel increasingly industrialized and lifelessly market-driven.

Sunday
May052013

Early Bird Oscar Predix: The Toons

Last year's Animated Oscar race is going to be a tough act to follow. In what was arguably the most competitive race of all 12 years of Oscar's newest category, there was precious little agreement about who might win and even less about who deserved to; Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and Wreck-It Ralph all had their loyal camps (Pirates! A Band of Misfits was the only "just happy to be nominated" contestant.) At the very last minute, buzz-wise, it appeared to boil down to Disney vs. Disney/Pixar. Big-fisted Ralph fought big-haired Merida and the Scottish lass won.

But what does 2013 have in store for us? It's looking like a much leaner year, and a least at first glance, a far less animated (heh) one. Monsters University might just be emblematic of what's going on. The prequel to the inaugural loser of this very category (Monsters Inc) is, like all the rest, part of a franchise or would-be-franchise and also a noisy colorful 3D CGI fest for very young children. That's about all there seems to be from The Croods on through Free Birds in which two turkeys (voiced by Owen Wilson & Woody Harrelson) travel back in time to stop the first Thanksgiving. There's less variety both in types of audiences sought and in types of animated styles.

For different styles and tones of animation we'll have to look to foreign films. Pray and pray hard that Hayao Miyazaki's latest The Wind Rises crosses the Ocean in time. I don't know if it's finished since news has been sparse but Ana Y Bruno is a Mexican film about a little girl who meets a goblin (or some such) in the psych ward of her mother's hospitable (?). But even with foreign films they're often just trying to be Hollywood blockbusters. I haven't seen more than a still from South Africa's Khumba! about a half-striped zebra but it looks very much like a Madagascar-spinoff. And one of it's characters is "Bradley, a self-obsessed, flamboyant ostrich." Uhoh. Should we alert GLAAD?

Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises" is bowing this summer in Japan

The film that I'm most excited about Song of the Sea, a follow up from the team who made the jaw-droppingly gorgeous The Secret of Kells, will not be ready for this year's race. Big sigh. Which is not to say that this year's race will be lacking in previous Oscar players. One interesting possible development, depending on which films achieve eligiblity is the presence of former Best Foreign Film nominees as directors of new animated features. The Argentinian director of Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes, Juan José Campanellahas made a toon called Metegol (aka Foosball) about a foosball team come to life and the Mexican director Carlos Carrera whose drama The Crime of Father Amaro was Oscar nominated is behind the aforementioned Ana

We hope that GKids, the new off-the-beaten path animated distributor, brings us something interesting again but for now my crystal ball says it's Disney vs. Disney/Pixar again this year (Round Two). I'm predicting that the final battle will come down to Frozen (based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale 'The Snow Queen') vs. Monsters University. Only this time maybe Disney will beat Pixar... forcing Mike and Sulley to remain Oscarless. Oscar voters will continue to live with their greatest shame: preferring Shrek to Monsters, Inc.


In the absence of a Pixar original (I'll stop weeping that they've joined the rest of Hollywood in franchise laziness and just live with it though I reserve the right to spit at Toy Story 4 whenever that rolls around given that its existence would forever tarnish the finality . What other choice do I have?) the film I'm most eager to see is definitely Frozen. I loved Tangled (which went unnominated in a narrower field of three) and I'm hoping that their latest musical fairytale -- this one has Kristen Bell and Broadway musical alumni Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff doing the voicework -- is a worthy follow up.

RELATED: New Animated Feature Oscar Chart

Wednesday
Feb202013

it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye...

Brave archery set. It's safe for ages 3 and up...

...unless one of your children is named Kevin. In which case We Need To Talk About Him.