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Oscar Horrors: Kathy Bates in Misery

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Entries in Disney (128)


Review: Queen of Katwe

by Eric Blume

Usually adjectives like “inspirational” and “crowd-pleasing” make most serious moviegoers want to go running straight for the hills, and indeed the trailer for Disney’s Queen of Katwe made me shudder.  This true story of a poor Ugandan girl (played here by newcomer Madina Nalwanga) who becomes a candidate master at chess has all the markers of the usual Disney underdog story, and you expect all the typical manipulation that comes with it. 

But most films aren’t directed by Mira Nair, and she turns Queen of Katwe into something rare:  a true story that plays authentically and simply.  Nair shot this film in the actual slums of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, and her love for the place, the people, and the culture is unmistakable...

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More Early Looks at "Beauty And The Beast"

Chris here with more early looks at next year's live action Beauty and the Beast revamp.

While we've only had the briefest of glimpses at what's in store for Disney's next reimagining/bastardization (potato, potahto) of a favorite, we have already been given enough to incite both excitement and dread. However, what the trailer was missing was any kind of hint of how the characters might visually borrow or differ from the original animated masterpiece. Now it looks like we'll be getting a little of both...

Yep, that's Dan Stevens as the transformed Beast in human form giving a very literal interpretation of the open-chested flowy frock of the original. But the design of Lumiere and Cogsworth (voiced by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen) is, shall we say... certainly different - any concerns of reliance on CGI will not be abated by this reveal. Whether the film will take the approach of "more is more" (Cogsworth is walking filigris) or "less is less" (human Beast wasn't so modest, Mr. Stevens) is still to come.

What do you think of the character design? Would you rather see the characters close to the original or an entire new take?


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.

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A Real Life Gaston

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



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...

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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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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...

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