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RIP Gene Wilder

"He was everything and his Wonka is such a formative performance for me. RIP." -Ryan T

"Young Frankenstein has got to be one of the best comedy classics of all time. RIP." - Brandz

"A gifted but never overly-showy comedian. I love that he knew just when to exit before he was compartmentalized by Hollywood into a specific type of role. " - Sawyer

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Entries in Disney (126)

Saturday
Aug132016

Review: Pete's Dragon

By Chris Feil

It's at the outset of David Lowery's reinvention of Pete's Dragon that the titular beast is intended more as a puppy to our namesake hero. What follows is a sharp left turn from the original's vaudevillian slapstick, with the "boy and his dog" approach used as a distinguishing characteristic from the aimless original and as an easy emotional access point for the audience. Gone are the musical numbers (though the hipster rock is cranked up to 11) and the buffoonery in favor of something more genuinely wraught straight from the heart.

But more importantly, this iteration of Elliott the dragon serves to stir more than just cutesy, cheap surrogate affection. Lowery is unafraid of scaring the kids and making the grown ups weep along the way. What remains is a family film about coping defenses, especially how we lean on our furry friends in the face of trauma.

This nuanced angle is made plain in the film's stunning prologue, confidently announcing those stark differences from its source and the emotional rollercoaster to come. The film is fascinated by moments of magic in the real world, and luckily Lowery has conjured a film that does just that, from Elliott's reveal to the organic emotions it creates. Yep, we finally have some magic at the movies this summer.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug082016

A Real Life Gaston

Presented without commentary because what is there really to say other than "Do the whole musical!"

 

Friday
Jul292016

Pete's Dragon - 1977 and Now

Our year of the month is 1977! Here's Chris looking back on Pete's Dragon...

As Disney has been increasingly revisiting their classics in live action, big budget form, the resulting films have revealed the evolution of family storytelling over the decades. Cinderella showed an increased emphasis on character, while this year's The Jungle Book was an example of the shift towards realism even in fantastical, unrealistic settings. While these rehashings are becoming old hat already, one of the most exciting films still to come this summer is the remake of 1977's Pete's Dragon.

The recent Disney revamps have extrapolated upon or directly lifted from their original source films, but the first glimpses of Pete's Dragon have already revealed a sharp turn in tone. Again, they are trading in a more modestly minded lark for larger spectacle. If nothing else, the creation of the dragon Elliott embodies the shift from traditional animation to digital imagery.

Rewatching the original is almost a shock as an adult - it's far more absurd and loose than you might remember...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul282016

Ava & Oprah

Kieran, here.  It was recently announced that Ava DuVernay would direct an adaptation of the classic children’s fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time for Disney starring Oprah Winfrey. The script is to be penned by Frozen scribe and co-director Jennifer Lee and will also star Amy Adams and Kevin Hart. Winfrey is also collaborating with DuVernay (off screen) in the capacity of executive producer for the upcoming OWN series “Queen Sugar” staring Rutina Wesley (“True Blood”). 

While A Wrinkle in Time may seem like an odd career zag on paper for nearly everyone involved, pairing Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey together again after 2014’s justifiably lauded Selma should have movie-watchers willing to follow this director-actor duo to the ends of the Earth...

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Tuesday
Jul122016

Q&A: Oscar-Free Dames, Supporting Shortlists, Disney Renaissance

Just answering six reader questions this afternoon for time constraints so we'll do another handful later in the week. Thanks for all the great Qs, readers! Here we go.

GSHAQ: Do you feel the gap is widening between the stories told in mainstream movies and contemporary issues? Oops, that might be an essay. 

NATHANIEL: This question hurts my brain but I'll try. I do fear for the health of cinema which directly addresses contemporary issues. For a long time the movies have preferred past-tense filters for social and political issues, once it's safer since history has sorted out consensus. The best of those past-tense films also address the here and now through their resonant power (see: Selma). And there's something to be said for the facility that good genre films have in addressing the way we live via metaphor (The Babadook, Bridesmaids, and Melancholia are MUCH better films about depression than some earnest dramas that directly take it on) Even superhero films can be reflective of the here and now in spite of (or maybe because of) all their mixed messages and contradictory 'have it both ways' politics. I don't think it's an accident that Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, whatever their disparate qualities, are asking the same questions about Might Equalling Right and whether we have the right checks and balances in place for those in power. These are issues that we're facing in very real ways all over the world. But, that said, we do need a reenergized contemporary cinema. If we can only think about tough issues through metaphor or by dwelling on the past, we have some maturation to do as a society!

It's true that movies made in the right-now about the right-now can age quickly (see movies we've recently discussed like Working Girl)  but if they're any good -- and sometimes even when they aren't -- they make great time capsules about the way we were, the things we valued, and the issues that laid claim to our collective mental real estate.  

BVR: Rank the animated movies from the Disney Renaissance (1989-1999). Extra: which is the most underrated?

NATHANIEL: This is cheating and asking for a top ten list but here's a NON commital answer after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun072016

Schuyler Sister, Disney Princess?

With Hamilton fever not relenting any time soon, we're starting to get excited for Lin-Manuel Miranda's next projects, including the resucitated In the Heights movie adaptation and Mary Poppins sequel with Emily Blunt. But we won't have to wait years for his next musical feat: he's partnered with Disney for the music on November's animated Moana.

But he's taking some Hamilton family with him: castmate and Schuyler Sister Phillipa Soo has joined the vocal cast which also includes Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and newcomer Auli'i Cravalho.

The casting doesn't come with details on her character beyond "villager", with much of the South Pacific-set animated film still under wraps, but surely you're thinking what I'm thinking. Could Soo be following the likes of Idina Menzel and Jodi Benson from Broadway leading lady to Disney princess? Besides, aren't Schuyler Sisters already the girl power heroes we always hope new Disney princesses will be?

Call it a stretch with as little as we know about the film (and she's not the title character - *shrug* details), but considering the composer connection, we can at least expect some gorgeous music to come from the actress. She faces stiff competition for Lead Actress in a Musical at the Tonys this Sunday, but might we even see her performing at the Oscars come 2017? Miranda shares scoring duties with Opetaia Foa'i and Mark Mancini, and could already be safe bets for Original Song nominees thanks to Disney and Hamilton's combined cache. If Soo got one of the film's key songs, it would be quite a thrilling (and fast) reunion.

Moana Opens this Thanksgiving! What other Hamilton cast member would you like to see join the Disney ranks?

Tuesday
May242016

Nothing Compares 2 Link

MNPP picks 5 favorites from Roger Deakins great filmography - love the write up
i09 Netflix is going to be the exclusive home for Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar movies when it comes to streaming
The Guardian looks back at the career of Burt Kwouk (RIP) who played Cato in The Pink Panther franchise
Variety looks at the top Emmy races. Where are we guaranteed movement in the often stagnant fields?

• Hypable Disney's gay erasure problem (not the pop band) and why the hashtags #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend are so popular. (Captain America already has a boyfriend, of course, but why did Disney include that Sharon Carter kiss?)
Flickering Myth Chris Nolan's Dunkirk shoot has begun (photos from the set). Since he's sick of not being Oscar nominated for directing he's making a World War II picture instead of sticking with sci-fi, magicians, or Batpeople
• Playbill the 61st annual Obie Awards, a prestigious off Broadway prize, have been announced. Winners include Red Speedo (which we briefly wrote about), the musical Dear Evan Hansen, and two shows that have transferred to Broadway and are now up for Tonys: The Humans and Eclipsed
Boy Culture on the Madonna Prince tribute at the BBMAs and subsequent fallout - there's always fallout. Haters gonna hate
MTV Teo Bugbee on the new "tasteful?" nudity in Game of Thrones. I feel bullied by the internet in regards to this show (i don't watch it and don't like it whenever I casually see part of an episode) but this piece is great

In Nostalgia We Trust
Have you seen the new Star Trek Beyond poster? It's pretty but wouldn't this tactic have made more sense for the initial reboot than for a third sequel?  Also just how long until we reach peak nostalgia as a culture? Everything is just old things repackaged.

Yes, we've always had remakes and franchises all the way back to the early talkies but it seems much more dominant now, the whole pie rather than two pieces.