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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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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it

 

 

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Entries in Disney (99)

Thursday
Feb192015

Tim's Toons: Animated also-rans

Tim here. In his official Oscar predictions today, Nathaniel left out Best Animated Feature, but no matter. By this point, you'd have to hunt a while to find anybody predicting a winner other than How to Train Your Dragon 2, with a few Big Hero 6 holdouts just trying to pretend that things will be interesting. (Me, I'm thinking that we're about to see an unexpected explosion of write-in votes to make sure that Mr. Peabody & Sherman can finally get its due).

That level of predictability almost always ends up settling into this particular race (last year was an exception), which can make it hard, sometimes, to recall that the category has had a purpose beyond annually recognizing that yep, Pixar sure does make some pretty fine movies. So instead of prepping for Oscar weekend by celebrating winners, I want to pay tribute to some losers. The beautiful likes of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Song of the Sea are (probably) about the join the 36 films to have so far been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar and lost out, and that's some fine company to be in. Here are some of my personal favorites.

The Triplets of Belleville (2003; lost to Finding Nemo)
Even after 11 years, the jazzy "Bellville Rendez-vous" remains one of the most memorable original songs in 21st Century filmmaking (it also lost a competitive Oscar). It's a brilliant component of a movie that I'm generally inclined to regard with fetishistic adoration, and will start recommending to people on even the slightest pretext. Like this one, for example. It's one of the most essential animated features of the last 15 years, easily, combining warped slapstick humor with an elegiac sense of melancholy, expressed in a scratchy graphic style that turns everyone into a grotesque caricature while given all of them full, vibrant personalities. Not bad for a film with less than a dozen spoken words in its entire running time.

Persepolis (2007; lost to Ratatouille)
Marjane Satrapi's adaptation of her own graphic novel memoir is a little redundant, perhaps. But taken on its own terms, this story of life during the Iranian Revolution, told in soft lines and crisp black-and-white, is terrific animated cinema both aesthetically and politically. Overtly feminist stories and animation for an appreciative adult audience are both rare, combining them is rarer, and using it all in the service of putting a human face to life in Iran that doesn't pander or beg for special pleading makes this one as bold as any animated film I can ever name. And yet it's so sardonic and brisk that it never feels capital-I Important in a boring way. A total success that deserves infinitely more attention than it's ever received in the U.S.

Kung Fu Panda (2008; lost to WALL·E)
When the first How to Train Your Dragon came out in 2010, it was greeted with critical hosannas as the movie that finally proved that DreamWorks Animation could make a movie that as every bit as good as its best competition. But then, the studio had already proven that with this brightly-colored, poppy tribute to Asian landscape paintings and schlocky '70s kung-fu movies. It's silly as hell, and the jokes have all the smirking anachronism of DreamWorks at its worst. But it's also funny and disarmingly sweet, and the company's fixation on all-celebrity voice casting never worked out as well as it did here, with Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, and Ian McShane among the many familiar faces we don't see.

The Princess and the Frog (2009; lost to Up)
The financial success of the following year's Tangled immediately swallowed up the small splash made by Disney's first-ever animated feature centered on an African-American protagonist. And then the behemoth of 2013's Frozen left it almost totally forgotten as the first attempt in a generation to make a classic Disney Princess musical. Neither of which is at all a fair fate for an earnest attempt at correcting the company's long history of representational yuckiness with a warm suite of Randy Newman songs, top-notch voice acting, and beautifully old-school 2-D animation. It's a sop to the studio's fans, sure, but as a fan, I am greatly pleased to have it in my life even now, far more than either of its bigger successors.

What are your favorite nominees to have missed on on the Best Animated Feature Oscar?

Wednesday
Feb112015

Black History Month: Song of the South's Forgotten Oscar

Tim here to kick off a daily miniseries for the team. It might seem disingenuous, if not outright perverse, to begin The Film Experience's rough chronological celebration of Black History Month by taking at peek at one of the most infamously racist movies ever made, but for good or bad, Song of the South (1946) is an important milestone in the all-too-thin history of African-Americans and the Oscars. Seven years after Hattie McDaniel's groundbreaking Best Supporting Actress win for Gone with the Wind (we recently dove deep into that film else we'd start with her) James Baskett became the very first black man to receive an Academy Award, and the last for 16 years.

Not, mind you, a competitive Academy Award. Baskett was the last adult actor to receive an Honorary Oscar for a single performance (rather than for a career), with the inscription:

For his able and heart-warming characterization of Uncle Remus, friend and story teller to the children of the world, in Walt Disney's Song of the South".

[More...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb102015

Mandatory Spider-Man Posting

Is Nicholas Hammond busy?As you undoubtedly have heard, Marvel/Disney closed a deal with Sony last night and now Spider-Man goes totally bi. He'll be splitting his time between two giant corporate overlords in Sony & Disney. Spider-Man's solo franchise will continue at Sony without Andrew Garfield who will finally be freed to make the movies he was meant to make after breaking through in The Social Network (2010). Cue: roughly 8 million extremely obnoxious internet articles about the casting of the new Spider-Man. I'm steeling myself: It will be so much worse than that hideous landfill phenomenon of infinite speculative Doctor Strange casting thinkpieces.

As for the new Spider-Man --  I swear to god if they start with the origin story again I will never stop puking web fluids. Everyone knows it, dumbasses. It'd be like demanding that each Biblical epic start with a two hour Adam & Eve prologue. Peter Parker will get his next solo film on July 28th, 2017 but first he'll debut over in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. The prevailing rumor is that that's within the context of Captain America: Civil War (due May 6th, 2016) which is also the film that will introduce Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther. That film is getting crowded so one hopes they don't lose the title character in a sea of universe-building agenda.

May 6th, 2016 is a tight turnaround. The ink is still drying on the contract and presumably Sony and Marvel and Disney (that's a lot of executives to please) will all have to agree on a new direction, and a new actor, and that actor's pay scale over multiple films in both supporting and leading roles for seven years (the longest you can book an actor for). And they'll have to do that this summer since Civil War will have to start filming soon to make its release date; visual effects pictures don't come together as quick as Clint Eastwood movies.

For presumably non-competitive corporate appeasement reasons, this Spider-Man deal is pushing most of the post Civil War movies previously slated back about four months.

Saturday
Feb072015

75th Anniversary: Pinocchio

Tim here. Today marks the 75th anniversary of Pinocchio, the second feature film released by Walt Disney Studios, and in this animation buff’s eyes, the high water mark in that company’s history (I’m hedging in the interest of good taste. In fact, it’s my pick for the greatest achievement in all of narrative animation). Along with Fantasia, later in 1940, it’s the bright, shining example of what the Disney animators could achieve when given the most resources, support, and artistic freedom that they would ever enjoy.

Lots more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb052015

Best Animated Short - The Nominees

Tim here, with a look at one of those Oscar categories that always screws up everybody's office pool. It's time for the Best Animated Short Film nominees, now playing in a theater... maybe not "near" you, depending on where you live. But they're supposedly hitting VOD in the next couple of weeks, along with the live-action and documentary shorts. Anyway, let's dive right in!

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan102015

Who you gonna call? Linkbusters

Vanity Fair Melissa McCarthy and other funny ladies in talks for Ghostbusters reboot. I'm rooting for Jillian Bell myself who is mentioned. Yay.
Buzzfeed a definitive ranking of Disney Prince butts - as great as it sounds though I'd place Prince Phillip higher because my imagination works (I love that former Prince BD Wong even replied to his ranking on Twitter)
Vulture let us all worship Charlize Theron who has demanded (and been given) equal pay to her male co-star for The Huntsman. It's not like people went to the first movie for Hemsworth...Insane. Sexism by the numbers.
The Film Grapevine Birdman and the unexpected virtue of Contrivance
A Socialite Life Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone photobomb someone actually trying to take a photo of them

Slate on why Wes Anderson movies have never been popular with the Academy Awards before (presumably) now. Fairly good reasoning
MNPP Wet Hot American Summer will become a Netflix series and the original cast is all returning
RogerEbert.com on the women in Selma: the unsung heroines of the movement
THR Samuel Goldwyn Jr dies 
Theater Mania The Color Purple is coming back to Broadway (already?) with Jennifer Hudson as Shug 

Good Long Reads
IndieWire great piece on the definitions of patriotism and exceedingly pro-gun messaging of American Sniper. Please do not let this film be nominated for Best Picture. It's just not what we need right now...especially given how many people have been killed by guns lately in the States...and still no gun reform.
Grantland Wesley Morris on Selma. Love this sprawling, provocative review / thinkpiece. I've been totally appalled and confused myself at the way the media has latched on to the Lyndon B Johnson depiction but Morris makes a great point here that helps clarify, for me, the anger and nitpicking:

A quick survey of film history suggests that the depiction of racial themes in America has always been the province of white directors, whether it’s something as spectacularly diabolical as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation or the antebellum revenge of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. These great-man movies tend to reflect the aspirations and identities of the people who make them, which is how so many stories ostensibly about black life wind up with white interpolators. DuVernay understands the fraught, imbalanced legacy a film like this pulls her into, and she’s been as fair as she needs to be. This is not a film that undermines or questions Johnson’s ultimate contributions to the improvement of black life in this country. (It very easily could have mentioned the two decades in Congress he spent opposing civil rights legislation.) Inasmuch as there are villains, they are Wallace, Hoover, and Selma’s sheriff, Jim Clark. But because this isn’t Johnson’s story, those accustomed to seeing the president as hero (or protagonist) ultimately seem dismayed by how little of the president there is here.

The bold is mine, not Morris's. People who are angry about Lyndon B Johnson's depiction really ought to look beyond the myth and think about reality. And once they do, rather than be disappointed, they should be as generous as DuVernay is who depicts him as an imperfect man who makes a great progressive decision which changes history.

Thursday
Dec042014

Thoughts I Had... While Looking at Cate Blanchett's 'Cinderella' Poster

Take it away Margaret...

 

  • If you've got (1) Blanchett looking imperious, or better yet (2) Blanchett looking imperious in a fabulous hat, I'm already sold. I sort of hope the whole movie is just Cate posing with glacial elegance in an increasingly imposing series of chapeaux.
  • Now that she's bagged Oscar #2, the time might just be right for her to try some camped-up villainy. 
         * pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist, pretending Indiana Jones 4 doesn't exist *
  • I love Cate as a redhead. Reahhhlly I do.
  • And oh look, It's DAISEH from Downton Abbey! Hi, Daiseh! I stopped watching your show in season 2 but I think it's safe to say whatever Julian Fellowes is doing with you, you deserve better.
  • Merciful heavens, the florals are strong with this one. Is that supposed to be what makes them wicked? A heavy hand with competing patterns?
  • Something about the stepsisters being decked out in those bright shades of pink and yellow makes me think of the Power Rangers. I will now be taking volunteers to write the treatment for a Cinderella/Power Rangers crossover.
  • The Oscar campaign for Most Costume Design 2015 starts now. Our gal Sandy Powell should start drafting gloriously blunt acceptance sound bytes now.
  • Not sure what to make of the March release date. Certainly when a big studio picture with no major competition opens in March it has potential to take off into an enormous hit (à la Eyesore in Wonderland or Oz the Great and Powerful) but by that same token it's often where weaker films get sent when they can't hold up against the blockbusters..

What does this new poster bring to your mind?