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Entries in Pixar (53)

Monday
May182015

Inside Out at Cannes: the critics approve

We have a new Pixar film!

Two years after Monsters University failed to actively offend or actively entertain most of the world, the studio's 15th feature, Inside Out premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival today. The consensus of critical opinion is that it's a strong work if not quite among the studio's best. While nobody I've found has tried to compare it to the recent run of not-that-greats including Cars 2 and Brave, it seems fair to assume it's a return to form.

Here's a quick tour of some of the reviews so far, in descending order of enthusiasm:

"...promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story."
-Peter Debruge, Variety


"This is a humane and heart-wrenchingly beautiful film from Docter; even measured alongside Pixar’s numerous great pictures, it stands out as one of the studio’s very best."
-Robbie Collin, The Telegraph


"It hasn’t anything as genuinely emotionally devastating as Up, or the subtlety and inspired subversion of Monsters Inc. and the Toy Stories which it certainly resembles at various stages. But it is certainly a terrifically likeable, ebullient and seductive piece of entertainment."
-Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian


"It can feel didactic in a way that the let-the-pictures-tell-the-story elegance of "Toy Story" and Docter's own "Up" never did... However, once the gigantic machine is up and running, these issues mostly fall away like booster engines from a space rocket."
-Jessica Kiang, Indiewire


"It’s an audacious concept, and Docter’s imagination, along with those of his numerous collaborators, is adventurous and genially daft enough to put it over."
-Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

Those of us stuck hundreds of miles from the Croisette have to wait a while yet to make up our own minds - Inside Out hits the States on June 19. These early reviews have done a mostly good job of calming down the little voice inside my own head that's been terrified that Pixar would be stuck in a gear of high-achieving mediocrity for the rest of time, though "hey, this is a fun and good movie!" isn't quite the overriding level of passion that the studio used to produce from film after film after film.

The Voice Cast in Cannes

Still, it augurs well that, at a minimum, we're going to have a pretty snazzy piece of creative and moving entertainment at this time next month. It's a great feeling to actually be looking forward to a Pixar movie for a change, and not nervously counting down to the release date while praying "please don't suck". "Not one of their all-time masterpieces" will be good enough to get through these last few weeks of waiting!

Wednesday
Apr082015

April Foolish Oscar Discussion: Animated Features

These two specialized categories can be perplexing from the outside, documentaries moreso, as to what is eligible, why it's eligible, and what motivates people to vote as they do. The official eligibility lists don't arrive until later in the year but for now on the new charts we'll add documentary titles as they make some kind of mark and we'll dive right into animated features, which apart from the foreign produced entries, are much easier to track.

Pixar vs Pixar this year?

This upcoming Oscar season, Walt Disney Studios Animation will be out of the mix after two consecutive wins. Their next features Zootopia and Moana, which both look quite promising, aren't due until March and November of 2016. To fill that giant vacuum, Pixar will likely come roaring back after an uncharacteristic absence last year with two titles Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur

But the contest that's most curious might not be a contest... at least in terms of Oscar. We have two features that are trading on collective international nostalgia for 2D classic properties: The Little Prince and Peanuts Movie. But they're both getting the CG or mixed media approach. That's not so odd since contemporary cinema loves to regurgitate and "update" (shudder) but what's unusual is that both films are clearly trying to mix the endearing flat linework and visual style of these beloved gems into newly three dimensional worlds. A safe bet: these films, particularly The Little Prince which looks "schizophrenic", will be divisive. 

Check out the charts! Which of these films are you most curious about and do you agree with the April Foolish guesswork? 

 

Monday
Nov242014

Disney Pixar News Roundup

Good morning everyone, Manuel here bringing some news on the animation front.Hot off the heels of the announcement that Disney Animation and Pixar Studios were getting their own presidents (Andrew Millstein and Jim Morris, respectively), it seemed appropriate to check in on both studios:

2014 marked the first year since 2005 when we didn’t get a new Pixar release. And while there’s been talk of the seemingly unstoppable studio faltering (with talks of yet another project changing directorial hands) they’re revving up the marketing push for 2015’s Inside Out, the latest from Up’s Pete Docter. The film, which follows five emotions in the mind of a young girl definitely has a plot description worthy of classic Pixar films. The voice cast alone should get you excited as we'll get Lewis Black as Anger, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Bill Hader as Fear, Phyllis Smith as Sadness and more importantly: Amy Poehler as Joy! In addition to these character posters, Pixar released five videos introducing us to the emotions at the heart (or mind?) of the film, where you can see these guys in action.

While Pixar’s output has been (arguably) showing diminishing returns, the same cannot be said for Disney Animation studios which is on a roll it hopes will continue for the next few years. They’ve recently released new artwork for their 2016 films: in March we'll get Zootopia from Tangled’s Byron Howard, is a buddy-comedy about a fast-talking fox on the lamb teaming up with a self-righteous rabbit cop while in November we'll get Moana, from Ron Clements and Jon Musker (the folks responsible for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules) which centers on the eponymous protagonist as she searches for a fabled South-Pacific island.

Are you angry, disgusted, fearful, joyful or saddened by these news? Are you looking forward to getting a new Ron ‘n Jon flick in the near-future, and can we hope it will live up to their legacy?

Friday
Oct032014

Linkside Out

All the news stories we didn't get to and/or articles we like with a wee slant toward the stage this morning... itching to see a show again.

Guardian on the homophobic charges against the MPAA. That über obnoxious organization has struck again. Pride is the second gay movie this year without sex scenes or nudity to be slapped with an R rating.
/Film The Twilight Saga may well be back after some short films. When I first heard this news I groaned and rolled my eyes but then I read the plan and it's sort of a support young female filmmakers thing so it sounds kind of cool, actually. Pit that Twilight is so obnoxious 
The Playlist ranks all 35 of David Fincher's music videos. I used to be so obsessed with him because of Madonna. It's possible that I already linked this? I don't know. But their rankings are fairly good.


Vulture says it's been an amazing year for animation. We just haven't realized it yet. It's all those hard to find foreign toons, it is
Rope of Silicon is doing a Best Movies series and looks back at David Fincher's Se7en. That would probably be on my 100 movies list, too
Cinephilia and Beyond looks at Bob Fosse's masterpiece (one of 'em) All That Jazz
My New Plaid Pants bookmarked! Jason tells us about a Montgomery Clift documentary that I didn't even know about
Variety Jane Fonda and Viola Davis are charitable people. They look great together at an annual Rape Foundation brunch

Netflix, the Disrupter
New York Times on the Crouching Tiger sequel Netflix / IMAX deal
CHUD Netflix going into the business of Adam Sandler movies 
Variety wonders what Netflix's motives our with their recent feature film announcements 

Imelda Staunton rehearsing. Photo by Johan PerrsonOn Stage and Film Interest
Broadway World Imelda Staunton is in theaters now in Pride (and she's delightful in it) but she's also returning to the stage. She's in rehearsals for that mammoth role of Mama Rose in a London production of Gypsy. See photo left. 
The Hairpin wonderful personal essay on seeing Lindsay Lohan's stage debut in Speed the Plow
NYC Theater Interesting. The Laura Pels Theater on 46th street will be doing a stripped down production of Into the Woods while the movie plays in theaters. December 18th through March 2015
Theater Mania Audra McDonald might do a film musical!!! She's rumored to be involved in the stage to screen transfer of Michael John Lachiusa's Hello Again. If only someone would push his Wild Party musical to the screen
Playbill Ewan MacGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal just made their Broadway debuts in The Real Thing 
Variety Normally movies that become stage musicals are semi-recent hits. But next Spring Broadway will get Doctor Zhivago, once a super-sized smash movie hit from 1965. The song score combines talent from two fine musicals (The Secret Garden and Grey Gardens) so I'm excited.
Theater Mania David Burtka (NPH's other half) will be doing a cabaret show at my favorite cabaret spot directed by Neil Patrick Harris. I imagine this is the type of thing that people will judge harshly just hearing about it like "connections!" but I've seen Burtka in two stage productions and he's very talented

Three hot & short exit videos to wrap

1. We'll start with the best one. Making a Marie Antoinette style dress out of Sofia Coppolla's Marie Antoinette script. Love this.

2. Here's the first teaser for Inside Out, Pixar's 2015 release. And Pixar would like to remind you that they made it and that they made all those other movies you love to. BTW they were made by Pixar and did I mention that Pixar made this?

 

3. Inherent Vice's trailer which you've probably seen. We would have done a Yes No Maybe So on this one except that the New York Film Festival is in full swing which will render it immediately disposable since there'll be a review this weekend. The voiceover in this trailer reminds me of Annaleigh Ashford (from Masters of Sex) but she's not in the movie. I wonder who the voice belongs to?

Friday
May022014

First Round Oscar Predix: Animated Feature

The first chart is up and we're starting with the toons since they're the easiest to tackle given a limited slate of contenders. Not that "easy" is a word one should use when surveying the current state of animation which is, shall we say, robust. Give or take live action superheroes, it's the single most popular film genre in the US marketplace. We'd prefer to call animation a "medium" which is more accurate given that there's no reason why there couldn't be animated dramas, noirs, westerns, horror flicks, thrillers, etcetera but in the US at least animation is not a medium but a genre (the computer generated family action comedy... with or without musical numbers).

Is Laika Animation still too unique for Oscar or are they 'thisclose' to finally winning? Could The Boxtrolls be their breakthrough?

In terms of the Oscar race ahead, I've already heard whisperings (including my own preemie voice) that this will be a slim or "weak" year but let's not get ahead of ourselves. That's what everyone was saying last year and everyone turned out to be wrong. Last year's shortlist was hardly an embarassment; Frozen, Ernest & Celestine, and The Wind Rises would be a fairly worthy trio of nominees in any year and The Croods wasn't half bad. (I never saw Despicable Me 2 but its popularity with the public was indisputable)

While I still think there's very little cause for this particular category to exist given the expanded Best Picture field, the animated genre produces its fair share of strong movies annually with most of the major studios upping their games steadily after nearly 20 years of watching Pixar horde all the loot & respect. The problem in current perception may well be Pixar itself. They've finally proven themselves fallible critically and awards-wise (they missed even a nomination in 2 of the last 3 Oscar battles) and 2015 is the first year in a decade without a new Pixar film in release. That was bound to cast weird shadows on "The State of Animation." But the sky isn't falling. If you love animation there are still a lot of films to look forward to.

first look at a fictional San Francisco in "Big Hero 6"

 

The Chart!
Which of these films are you most looking forward to and what you think will become of animation in the next few years? Do you think the race will be hotly contested this year or we'll have another slam dunk like Frozen?

Tuesday
Mar182014

New Pixar sequels announced, one more incredible than the other

Disney announced today that Pixar has more sequels in the pipeline after Finding Dory in 2016. For our sins, one of them is Cars 3, because as long as the company can make the GDP of several small nations by selling Lightning McQueen lunchboxes, there's no compelling reason to stop making Cars films, apparently. The good news is that Cars 2 probably sets the bar low enough that the next film in the franchise ought to be able to blast right over it without much trouble.

By far the better news, though, is that the studio is also gearing up for The Incredibles 2, a sequel to the one Pixar film that seems rich with possibilites to have its plot expanded upon. And Brad Bird is on hand to write the screenplay, at least, which is pretty much the only thing they had to say to keep me, for one, more than a little optimistic.

No dates are announced, but the studio has a full slate through Thanksgiving, 2016, so we likely have a solid three years of alternating hopefulness with troubling stories about last-minute director replacements or more.

Anyone besides me genuinely excited for The Incredibles 2? Can anyone muster up something even a little nice to say about Cars 3?