Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Netflix this: ‘Lady and the Tramp’

July 16, 2009

Picture this: Christmas 1986. My parents, in a festive mood, decide to take the entire family (all seven of us) to the movies. I, of course, am beyond enthusiastic, because any opportunity to see a movie in the theater must be seized. The movie? An American Tail, the (non-Disney) animated adventure of a family of mice emigrating from Russia to America. Was I terribly excited to see it? Not particularly. Hell, it could have been an hour and a half of talking heads and I would have wanted to see it. (Such was/is my obsession with movies; sometimes it doesn’t matter what I watch, just that I’m watching.)

We arrived at the mall, which was quite a drive away from our home. The mall, in my nine-year-old eyes, had the luxury of having two multiplexes within it, one at each end. To our dismay, An American Tail was sold out. We would have to turn around and go home. But that was a fate I could not accept. I was seeing a movie, dammit!

As a kid I would scour the movie listings in the newspaper everyday. If there ever was a movie emergency and we had to go to a movie right then and there, I would save the day and and know the show times. My years of preparation was about to pay off; I knew that Lady and the Tramp was playing at the other theater at the other end of the mall.

I successfully convinced my parents to take the family to that instead, even though we had to wait about an hour for the next show time. Did I remember the movie? No, not really. But that sweet satisfaction of getting what I wanted has lasted all these years.

Fast forward to Summer 2009. I rent Lady and the Tramp from Netflix because I can. And now, nearly 23 years after seeing it for the first time, I discover how wonderful this movie really is.

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release.  Courtesy IMPAwards.com

The theatrical poster from the 1986 re-release. Courtesy IMPAwards.com

What’s it about? Lady and the Tramp tells the rather simple story of a cocker spaniel named Lady (whaaaa?!), who possesses what every dog should: loving owners, a warm house, and a fancy collar with ID, which ensures that if she is lost of caught by the pound, she’ll be returned to her owners.

Lady goes through an identity crisis when her owners, “Jim, Dear” and “Darling,” have a baby and her quality time with the new parents diminishes.

Months later, “Jim Dear” and “Darling” go away on a vacation, leaving the baby with Aunt Sarah, an old, dog-hating woman who believes her Siamese cats are absolute angels, but really cause a lot of problems for Lady. (Thus reinforcing the universal truth: cats are evil.)

Aunt Sarah, under the false impression that Lady has injured her cats, puts a muzzle on the dog, which sends Lady into a panic. She escapes from Sarah, spends some time in the pound, and gets acquainted with Tramp, a Mutt from—you guessed it—the wrong side of the tracks, with whom she falls in love.

What’s good about it? The animation is absolutely beautiful. The animators captured the canine movements so expertly. There’s also so real emotion to this film; if you’ve ever had a dog, you might even get a little choked up.

What’s bad about it? Some parts might be too dark for really young viewers.

Perfect for: Disney fans, dog enthusiasts.

Netflix this: ‘Sleeping Beauty’

October 6, 2008

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more about “Netflix this: “Sleeping Beauty”“, posted with vodpod

I like to think that I’m well-versed in the pop culture canon.  However, from time to time, there are films that I see that I should have seen a long time ago.  Disney’s Sleeping Beauty is one of them.  It’s not like I avoided watching it; the opportunity just never presented itself.  If you have been denied the opportunity to see Sleeping Beauty, Disney has just rereleased the film on DVD and Blu-ray.  Buy it, rent it–just make sure you see it.

What’s it about? For whatever reason, the evil witch Maleficent is snubbed an invite to King Stephan’s celebration for his baby daughter, Aurora.  So naturally, she crashes the party and casts a spell on the baby:  when Aurora’s sixteen she’ll prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.  (Maybe it’s this kind of thing that prevents her from being invited to more parties.)

In an effort to prevent Maleficent’s curse from coming true, Stephan destroys all spinning wheels in the kingdom and sends his daughter into the woods with the three fairies–Flora, Fauna and Merriweather–until she turns sixteen. But Maleficent’s no dummy.  She has it out for Aurora, and she’ll stop at nothing to get her way.

What’s good about it? This film is absolutely beautiful.  There is an artistry to the animation that you just don’t see in today’s CG-driven world.  The backgrounds are sumptuous; the highly stylized animation is brimming with vitality; the colors are rich and vibrant.  What is most impressive with Sleeping Beauty is that it was made without the help of computers; we are witness to human perfection.  When was the last time you witnessed perfection?

What’s bad about it? Like many of Disney’s early animated features, plot comes second to the visuals.  And with Sleeping Beauty, you’re really not sure who the protagonist is.  (Yes, Aurora is titular character, but she really doesn’t do much.  And we never really know why Maleficent is so evil.)  But who cares?  This is homemade eye candy.  Savor it.

I was surprised, however, as how much dark imagery there is.  Maleficent’s malevolence is the stuff kids’ nightmares are made of.

Perfect for: animation/Disney enthusiasts.


Best. Trailers. Ever.

August 6, 2008

I often express my frustration with trailers. It’s not that the trailer itself sucks, it’s that sometimes after I see the advertised film I realize that the best parts were in the trailer. I feel let down.

I don’t blame the people who make trailers. Their job is to get people excited about the movie. And I’ll admit that in my career in film marketing I have on more than one occasion made a movie seem more awesome than it really is. (But in my defense, sometimes I didn’t have much to work with. Ah, independent film.)

So what, you may ask, do I think is a good trailer? Here are five examples in no particular order. (Keep in mind that my love for these trailers may not correlate with my love for the actual film.)

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA

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This is a FANTASTIC trailer! In three minutes, you know everything you need to know. We are introduced to the main characters (and the important supporting ones) and we know the setup. I wish more films took this approach to marketing their films.

STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE

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This trailer was released Thanksgiving 1998. Anticipation was high for the first Star Wars film in 16 years and…well, at least the trailer is good. It invokes a sense of wonder like the original Star Wars film did: what you’re seeing in something new and exciting. We also didn’t know who or what Jar Jar Binks was. Ignorance was bliss.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE

This is one of those trailers that is really cool because all the shots work so well for a trailer but don’t necessarily work in the finished product (because they seem to be made for a trailer). It’s loud and fun and has LOTS of edits. This trailer probably took three years off the editor’s life.

THE INCREDIBLES

This teaser was shown in front of Finding Nemo. It sets up the premise–superhero back in action–so simply. It’s funny and accurately sells the movie even though none of this footage ended up in the actual film.

COMEDIAN

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant!

Review: ‘Wall-E’

June 30, 2008

Pixar doesn’t make bad films. They don’t know how. I personally didn’t care for Cars (I have zero interest in automobiles, talking or otherwise) or Rataouille (I can’t handle rats), but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. The animation is always top notch, and the writing–particularly the character development–is always good, if not great (or, in the case of The Incredibles, exceptional).

Wall-E, Pixar’s ninth theatrical release, did for me what so few movies are capable of: I was completely engulfed in the world of the film. I was completely entertained, and for two hours my film critic brain turned off.

I achieved movie zen.

Wall-E PosterWhat’s it about? In the 28th Century, Earth is an abandoned wasteland that cannot support human life. Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth class) is the last working robot, still doing what he was programmed to do 700 years ago: clean up earth. (He’s nowhere near finished.)

Over the centuries, Wall-E has developed a personality. He’s obsessed with the 1969 musical Hello, Dolly! and spends his days sifting through the garbage for things he may have use of.

But mostly, Wall-E is lonely. Everything changes, however, when a ship sent from Space lands on Earth, and another robot appears.

What’s good about it? Everything. The animation is breathtaking, and for the majority of the film, there’s little if no dialogue. But the film is far from boring. Wall-E is such a compelling character filled with heart I couldn’t help but root for him. It also says a lot for a movie when I don’t want it to end. Wall-E raises the bar for computer animated movies, and makes Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda (a film I liked) pale in comparison.

What’s bad about it? If you hate having a good time at the movies, skip this.

Perfect for: Everyone. Really.