I'm in a toon'ful mood. What can I say? After some time with Disney's dogs, how about Pixar's toys?
2011 is the 25th anniversary of Pixar Animation Studios (they opened their doors in February 1986!) so I wanted to look back a bit at their marvelous output. I enlisted some other people from around the web to chime in too, so we'll have the results of an informal poll later on. But to start, let's look at the ten best moments from their first full length feature, TOY STORY (1995). Do these choices line up with yours?
TOP TEN MOMENTS IN TOY STORY (1995)
Hey Etch, Draw!
10. I almost went with Mr Potato Head's "Hey look I'm Picasso" bit but Woody's showdown with Etch-a-Sketch is the best visual gag during the movie's extended opening scene. It's a perfect illustration (nyuck nyuck) of Pixar multiple joke approach. It's three gags in one: visual, verbal, cinematic.
09 INSIDE BUZZ'S VISOR.
Pixar's always been adept at endearing you to their stable of characters. But one of the most confident things about Toy Story -- remarkably confident given that it was their first feature -- is that both Buzz and Woody are pitched as hero and villain at some point. Woody is selfish and bossy (especially in the first half) and they don't really soften that and your first moment "inside" Buzz's persona, a great point of view shot, is from inside his bubble where he's breathing like he's Darth Vader. It's a fun reference but it also sets up the possibility that he's the antagonist that Woody's protagonist believes him to be.
08 YOU'RE A TOY.
Buzz Lightyear seeing himself on TV. A shock to his senses (of self.)
Buzz is greater than Woody and here's why. Woody is a dog; he's desperate for Andy's love and affection 100% of the time, content to follow. Buzz is a cat; he enjoys Andy but his sense of self worth comes from his actual sense of self.
07 "MRS NESBITT"
Poor Buzz. He's never been able to roll with improv like the other toys. My other favorite part of this scene is the headless dolls "Marie Antoinette and her sister"
06 CODE RED
The opening birthday party reconaissance mission. The monkeys and the green aliens have since replaced them as this franchises' favorite multiple character gag, but The Bucket of Soldiers are so endearing in their complete lack of humor. They have some weird old school pull, don't they? The're not brightly colored or showy of personality or funny looking. The mission is everything!
05 Sid performing 'double bypass head surgery.' Buzz's indignant response is so hilariously straight-faced.
I don't believe that man has ever been to medical school.
04 "WILL ANDY PICK ME?"
Sometimes Woody's three film flipflopping between "favorite toy" confidence and disabling insecurity annoys, but this scene, is so beautifully lit (the magic hour) and it makes so much of such a tiny thing (who will Andy take to dinner at the Pizza Palace?) that it sends you right back to any childhood or adolescent (or vulnerable adult) moment where some minor thing was THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERED, LIFE OR DEATH. But it's really the use of the Magic 8 Ball that sends the scene to movie perfection. "Don't Count On It."
Goddamn it that Magic 8 Ball is a bitch.
03 The repeated shot of "ANDY" written on Woody and Buzz's shoes. In permanent ink! Aren't you jealous of every boy named Andy who can watch these movies and pretend it's literally their toys that the movie is about?
02 SID'S COMEUPPANCE
We toys see everything...
...SO PLAY NICE.
The follow up shot of him terrified of his sister's doll is the perfect capper. "Don't you wanna play with Sally?"
01 "THE CLAW"
Subsequent Toy Story's have regurgitated the joke too often, dulling its neon bright genius, but I still had to give this absurdly clever Pizza Planet flourish the top spot. Everything about the sequence works wondrously starting with Buzz Lightyear's entrance, which is the best kind of pop culture comedy. It plays off universally understood genre tropes -- in this case sci-fi -- rather than referencing one specific property and therefore dating itself.
I come in peace.
And then it soars ever higher. "The claw!!!!" Pixar's process must allow for a lot of brainstorming because you rarely feel they haven't explored every comic possibility of a scene or a character or an environment.
One of the unsurpassable joys of moviegoing (and live theater) is the communal rush you can feel when a piece of art is connecting with everyone in the room. I saw Toy Story on opening night at a huge packed theater in Utah with my brother. Had the theater been empty I'm sure we would have laughed heartily. But would the mad euphoria have set in? We were giggling so hard, we couldn't stop; the laughs were ricocheting back and forth like they were made of rubber. (It wasn't until I saw the film a second time that I remembered anything about the next couple of scenes.) It's not only one of my single favorite moviegoing memories, it's one of my single favorite memories of my brother.
Do you remember the first time you saw Toy Story?
The Film Experience's popular series "HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT" returns tomorrow night for a new season, every Wednesday @ 10 PM EST. To play along you just post your favorite shot from that week's movie (write up suggested but not mandatory) and we link up. The more the merrier.
Wed March 16th MEMENTO (10th Anniversary)
Wed March 23rd A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)
Wed March 30th PSYCHO (1960)
Wed April 6th: HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994)
Will you be joining us?
Last season on Hit Me: Requiem for a Dream (2000), Se7en (1995), Black Narcissus (1947), Pandora's Box (1929), Bring it On (2000), A Face in the Crowd (1957), Showgirls (1995), Mean Girls (2004), Night of the Hunter (1955), X-Men (2000) and Angels in America (2003).
Alexa here. When I played with paper dolls as a child, the hours passed like minutes. The same is true of watching a great film, so the marriage of the two thrills me more than it probably should. I've posted on some great cinematic paper dolls before (Alex Kittle's Some Like It Hot doll was a particularly strong example), and lately I've come upon even more. Here are some of my new favorites.
Claudia Varosio, whose film poster prints I've heralded before, has started creating paper doll prints. Here's her Margot Tenenbaum, along with Vincent Gallo from Buffalo 66 (complete with bowling ball).
As part of Reader Appreciation Month, we're featuring mini-interviews with You, The Film Experience crowd. Today, we've got Leehee, originally from Israel -- her name means "she is for me". I love that! I contacted Leehee because she was so happy about that post on The Black Swan (1942).
Nathaniel: Do you remember your first moviegoing experience or obsession?
Leehee: The first movie that I vividly remember seeing on the big screen was "Anne of Green Gables" when I was about 6... But my first obsession was with the first VHS tape I owned The Parent Trap (1961) . My twin sister and I watched it every.single.day for about a year....and it kind of drove our mom crazy! I wanted to be Hayley Mills and have Maureen O'Hara as my mom *so* bad.
What's your movie diet like right about now?
I try and go to the movie theater at least once a week if not more (when there are movies to see!); I recently subscribed to netflix so I could watch movies online; and I have an unhealthy habit of buying DVD's (I own over 600).
Your 3 Favorite Actresses. Go!
They make a movie of your life. Tell us about it.
The movie of my life will be called "Behind the Smile". It will be directed by Barbra Streisand and star Kate Winslet as me. :-)
TwitVid Jake Gylllenhaal and Pee Wee Herman. tee hee.
Cinesnatch runs down that Streep Tease show in LA for you. It sounds fun. I especially love the idea of a one-man conversation between multiple Meryl characters. Hopefully I'll get to see it next time I'm in LA. Whenever that is...
Business Spectactor Speaking of Meryl Streep, this is how you know someone's cinema achievements (of any sort) have totally entered the realm of the popular mythic, when they're brought up in totally non-cinema related ways. Streep as defense of aging executives! Haha
Awards Daily I keep meaning to link up to this article on astrology and Oscar. Super interesting chart if you're into signs, baby. And it's all about Aries apparently.
The House Next Door Gregg Araki's new muse Thomas Dekker.
Twitch has a piece on how the PG-13 rating killed the films it was meant to protect, the films aimed at very young teenagers.
Senses of Cinema here's an interesting piece on Leo McCarey, his 1937 Oscar win and his preference for his drama Make Way For Tomorrow over his indisputable screwball classic The Awful Truth. I haven't seen Make Way... but I've never though artists were the best judge of their own art.
Rants of a Diva has an Oscar winning dream.
Serious Film has great advice for screenwriters of romantic comedies.
Capital New York. A fine review of Certified Copy starring Juliette Binoche though I'd urge you to see the movie first before reading it. It's a must-see film but one of the most beautiful things about it is the sense of evolving surprise as the film keeps shifting. So maybe read no reviews at all until afterwards. Then you'll want to read them all.
Finally La Daily Musto shares the news that that Barbra Streisand version of Gypsy that we were all excited / worried / shocked about has been cancelled already. Just as we'd gotten used to the idea. Apparently Stephen Sondheim is to blame. So here is Babs singing one of her best songs about nostalgia for what once was or what could have been.
Take it away Babs.
I love the guy bouncing up and down in the audience as she starts (notice him to the far right?). Babs fans were very excitable from the very start!
When I heard it was Pi Day, excuse me ∏ Day, I knew I had to celebrate on account of my peculiar love of anything celluloid numbery in the movies as evidenced by "first and last" and anything time-stampey. Peculiar because I am terrible at and completely uninterested in math. But how to celebrate? Since Pi = 3.14159265 I added up all those numbers and divided them by three. So herewith a 12 screenshot puzzle. How did I choose the screenshots?
- I randomly pulled discs a from my shelf and took a screengrab of their 3.14 mark.
- I randomly pointed to DVDS on my instant watch queue and took a screengrab of the 3.14 mark.
- If any of those were television shows I chose the 3rd episode somewhere during the 14th minute. Get it? Yes, I am crazy.
point something. Because Darren Aronofsky didn't come in to the picture I had to throw in one of those, too.
First come. First serve. Please only guess one movie in each comment to give other people a shot... and if it's TV you gotta name the season at least. Extra points for choosing the right episode title too.
All the puzzles have been solved by TFE's visually savvy readerhip, but after the jump you can still play. Check your answers with the highlightable text!