Walt Disney 4 Hour Biography on PBS

Hey I won’t have time to review the new PBS documentary about Walt Disney but check out my blogging friend Natalie’s review. It was well done and pretty safe. I kind of wish we had heard more from the Disney family but it was still interesting. Most of it was review for me but for the average person you will learn a lot and enjoy it.

The Pixie Dusted Disney Freak


Sometimes I think about how Disney all started by a man and a mouse. I didn’t know much about Walt Disney, but now I do. I watched a four hour biography of the man on PBS which premiered Monday and Tuesday at nine. It had two parts and was very long! I watched most of it in one sitting, and I learned lots of things about him! It was very interesting, and I really enjoyed it!

I learned that he was always in a rush to get things done, and that is why there were a lot of disasters when Disneyland opened on 1955. I also learned that he could be an amazing and very kind friend, but if you crossed him, he would be mean. There is a lot of more facts about him, but those were just some! I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t watched…

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Jungle Book Trailer Review

Hey guys!  I got a chance to watch the Jungle Book trailer today and it was pretty good.  It wasn’t as jaw droppingly awesome as some people had led me to believe out of D23 but it  looked good.  Then again, the folks at D23 saw over 3 minutes of clips including clips of Christopher Walken as Louie and Bill Murray speaking as Baloo.

I’m really excited about this video because I’ve been conquering the behemoth that is Adobe Premiere.  Normally I pick up a software with ease, even software that is tough for others I get very quickly.  But Premiere has been very difficult for me to learn.  I used a few lectures from Lynda.com but mostly through playing around with it and not being intimidated.  Today’s breakthrough was I learned how to place still images within the video and I don’t even need a green screen!  Hooray!!! (I know it might sound like it but it was really hard!).

Here is the actual trailer.

I’m most hopeful they will change the ending because I hate that in the original animated film.  I am also curious how much of the music they are going to use.  I wonder if it will be like in Cinderella where she just hummed a few of the songs but they weren’t ever sung as musical numbers.   If they are going to move away from the  musical they must be embracing the book more because there isn’t a ton of story to the original film.  I just hope they get it right because they are playing with fire because ending aside I love the original film.

What did you guys think of the trailer?  Are you excited or cautiously optimistic like I am?

The Visit

I don’t think I will see this one because I really don’t like found footage movies, Shyamalan or scary movies. Here’s a review from a fellow blogging friend at fastfilmreviews.com so check it out.

Fast Film Reviews

The Visit photo starrating-2stars.jpgThe good news is that The Visit is M. Night Shyamalan’s best film in a decade. The bad news is that it’s still nothing to write home about. The perennial letdown hasn’t directed anything satisfying since 2002’s Signs. As of this writing, that was 13 years ago and with each passing year, the possibility of another gem like The Sixth Sense becomes less and less likely. However The Visit warrants some praise. He’s working with a much lower budget this time around, so the expectation for an “event” movie is gone. This is a much more restrained affair. Additionally, the lighthearted drama frequently veers away from standard horror into outright comedy. The two characteristics are enough to lift this out of the execrable muck from which his work usually descends. However, that still doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable.

Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are two annoyingly precocious teenagers…

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Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet Review

The new film released by Gkids, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, is a tough film for me to review.  It has great stuff wrapped in a not-so great packaging.  There is a side of me that wants to give it a free pass because it is made with such love and devotion, it is in 2D animation and the parts that are good are really good.  But for long segments the The Prophet feels like a Sunday School lesson and so I am torn on it.

The Prophet is based on Kahlil Gibran’s book of poetry called The Prophet, which is a popular book of spiritual affirmations and positive thoughts.  Evidently it was a passion project for Salma Hayek who produced the film.

prophet3To set up for the poetry they have a framing device of a man named Mustafa (voiced by Liam Neeson) who has been on house arrest for stirring up the people and giving them hope.  He is a prophet of some kind, a very Messianic like character.  There is a little girl named Almitra (voiced by Quenzhane Wallis) who has refused to talk for 2 years because of the death of her father.

prophet211These sections reminded me of the old Living Scriptures animated movies we used to watch in Sunday School but even those had an actual story (Daniel and the Lions Den, David and Goliath etc).  This is just a lot of Almitra getting into trouble, authorities moving them around and then Mustafa proselytizing to the people for long segments.

There are 8 shorts within the framing device directed by some of the great artists and animators of our time and those are wonderful but it’s all the other stuff that is tough to sit through.  I’m surprised Lion King director Roger Allers wasn’t able to wring more drama out of it. They were just too long and boring.  Perhaps they should have just done it Fantasia style with a concert and shorts approach?  That would have been much better because you would have gotten right to the cream filling!

Anyway, the 8 shorts are

On Freedom-

animated by Michal Socha, Sound designer Bartek Baranowski.  A beautiful segment with birds and wires symbolizing both being caged and released.

prophet5On Children-

Animated by Nina Paley, Music by Damien Rice. From the creator of Sita Sings the Blues a beautiful short

prophet7On Marriage-

Directed and Designed by Joann Sfar a tango of sorts that was a very strong effort.

prophet2On Work-

Directed, designed and animated by Joan Gratz  (this one was a particular favorite of mine.  It reminded me of Van Gogh painting)

prophet4On Eating and Drinking-

Directed, designed, animated by Bill Plympton (another favorite)

Plympton_ProphetOn Love-

Directed by Tomm Moore.  This one really had a strong narrative and I kind of wish it was a feature not just a short.

prophet11On Good and Evil-

Directed by Mohammed Saeed Harib

prophet14 prophet15I found this segment available online.  It will give you a feel for the picture. 

On Death-
Directed, designed, animated by Paul Brizzi, Gaetan Brizzi.  It reminded me of the same animators efforts on Fantasia 2000.  Beautiful.


The voice cast is all fine.  Liam Neeson is of course good as Mustafa and Salma Hayek is endaring as Kamila.  Even now I’m finding myself saying ‘it was pretty good’ but I’m telling you while I was watching those framing segments were really hard to sit through.

My advice on this film get it on dvd and go to the shorts.  Watching it that way you would have an argument for one of the best of the year.  In a way it is a little bit of a shame they are all together because what a great race we’d have for Best Animated Short with all these greats contributing!

It’s tough to give a grade to a film that is so up and down.  A film that tries so hard even in the sections that don’t work…I love the shorts so overall I’m inclined to be generous towards it I suppose.

Overall Grade- B-

No content problems that I saw.  PG and even Bill Plympton keeps it clean 🙂

Raising Shell: A TMNT History from youtuber The Lawn Gnome

Hey guys my friend on youtube The Lawn Gnome has put together an awesome documentary on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I thought he did a great job and I learned something about our favorite teenage fighting team! If anything it is interesting to see how a crazy idea can become a cultural phenomenon. I mean even terrible movies like the recent offering find their fans and makes a lot of money.  So if you like studying trends and pop culture like I do, you will enjoy the videos even if not a huge turtle fan.

I certainly thought it was worthy of a shoutout and deserves more hits!  If you have a youtube account subscribe to his channel. He has a great Disney series and just reviewed Hunchback of Notre Dame which is a pretty divisive film (hint he liked it a lot).  Definitely one of my favorite youtubers and is so supportive of other channels and is so great about doing tags and shoutouts others send him.

So here’s the series Raising Shell: A TMNT History-

Did the Right Film Win? 2009 Animated Oscars

Hey guys!  So 2009 was a very strong year for animation.  It was a year with 5 films nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and all 5 I enjoy.  There were also strong films that I personally think could have gotten a nomination in another year like Ponyo (I know you’all disagree with me on that one but oh well!), 9 and A Christmas Carol, to name a few.

Not only are the 5 films nominated very strong but they are also really different so I had a lot to say about each.  I ended up making 2 videos about them (my editing software was also giving me all kinds of grief so I got up what I could in 2 batches).  The first video is about Princess and the Frog and Secret of the Kells.

Basically I’m hot and cold on Princess and the Frog.  There is a lot I love about it and then things I really don’t like.  I love the animation, the character of Tiana, vocal performances and 3 of the songs.  I don’t like the voodoo elements, the convoluted story or Prince Naveen.  He is not Tiana’s equal.  All in all, that puts it in the middle of my Disney rankings. It’s certainly worthy of the nomination and worth a watch even with some major flaws.

Secret of the Kells is beautiful and looks like illustrations from a book.  It is only lessened in my opinion because I think Song of the Sea by the same team is much better.  Maybe an unfair comparison but I can’t help it when they are so similar.  Nevertheless, Secret of Kells has a beautiful look to it.  I like the story and the lead character Brendon is very appealing.  The Aisling of the forest is beautiful with stirring music from Kila.

The next video has the remaining 3 films- Fantastic Mr.  Fox, Coraline and Up.  You all have heard my thoughts on Up ad nauseam but I did get a little emotional when talking about it and how it reminds me of my Grandpa who I love.  It’s a special movie to me and I filmed the review several times but each time I started to tear up.  That was my honest response so I left it in. 🙂

Fantastic Mr Fox is a very creative film directed by Wes Anderson.  I love the world building and the story is a lot of fun based on Roald Dahl’s book.  I really like the characters like Ash, Mr and Mrs Fox.  The story is unpredictable even for someone who has read the book and it is extremely creative.  It is actually my favorite Wes Anderson film and while I don’t find it super funny I do enjoy it.

Coraline is a film from Liaka and I liked it much more this g0-around.  I always enjoyed it but for whatever reason I really was charmed while watching it this week.  It is directed by Henry Sellick who did Nightmare Before Christmas and it has the same dark tone and style of that film.  I love the character of Coraline.  She is sincere, quirky, endearing, inquisitive and in the end loving.  She ends up getting presented with another version of her family through this magic portal and it leads to some big scares but also a huge heart.  I love that she comes to accept her parents for who they are, even though they aren’t very good people in a lot of ways.  She still loves them anyway.  It’s really surprising and visually inventive.

In this case, I clearly think the right film won because Up is my favorite movie.  If I was going to pick a second place I would pick Coraline, but I can see people’s arguments for all 5.  What would you pick?  Thanks so much for your comments and for watching the videos.  It has been a great series both on the channel and this blog and next up is 2010 where my Tangled got snubbed (wa, wa, wa,….).  I look forward to watching the Illusionist for the first time.  Thanks!

Learning to Drive Review

learning to drive2Today I decided to not see M Night Shyamalan’s new movie The Visit (I don’t like horror movies) and opted for a smaller film- Learning to Drive.  I went into it not knowing much and I left feeling it was just okay. (hey you win some, you lose some, and some are just okay).

Learning to Drive stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a woman who is dumped by her cheating husband and is forced to learn how to drive (living in Manhattan she hasn’t had to learn).  Her driving teacher is a Sikh man named Darwan played by Ben Kingsley.

The actors are what make this movie work as well as it does.  I really liked Clarkson who seemed just like a middle-aged New York yuppie trying to figure out her new life.  It really worked.  Kingsley is also very good as a practical but kind-hearted man.  It was neat to see a Sikh man as the lead as that is a religion and culture I admittedly know very little about.

Learning-to-DriveFor a lot of the movie they are in the car, doing the driving lessons and talking.  That part worked pretty well.  I like when movies are about ordinary life.  (I guess that is why I loved Boyhood so much!).  This is just two people talking in a car.  Love that.

I liked that they were only friends and we get stories from both of their lives.  Both characters are equally developed and focused on.  And it is kind of an interesting dynamic to have Wendy’s relationship falling apart at the same time that Darwan marries a woman he has never met in an arranged marriage.

learning to drive3I also liked the scenes with Grace Gummer as Wendy’s daughter Tasha.  You get the feeling that the marriage held it all together until the daughter was out of the house and it all fell apart.

learning to drive5There is also an interesting message that even reading can be harmful when it distracts you from the people in your life.

All that said, the movie struggles with tone.  There are scenes that feel like a romantic comedy.  Then others that get very serious.  And others that are a silly sex-romp.  It earns its R rating and all of that content is completely unnecessary and actually a distraction (at least for me) from the good stuff.

Also the ending was kind of a letdown. A character does something that I didn’t think fit with his or her character in the rest of the movie.

Director Isabel Coixet has worked with both Clarkson and Kingsley in the past and you can sense that kind of familiarity.  It felt like watching some of her friends live their lives.  I just wish the script by Sara Kernochan had been more focused and like I said had more control of its tone.

So learning to drive has some good stuff but problems as well. I’m not sure how helpful that review is but it’s what I thought!

As far as content there is some crude humor, profanity, and strong sexuality albeit brief.

Overall Grade- C just for the good performances and the few other things I liked.

Content Grade- C- (adults and mature teens only).

Did the Right Film Win? 2008 Animated Oscars

Hey guys! My next video in my analysis of the Animated Oscars is up.  This is 2008 and for a lot of you my thoughts won’t be a surprise as I have reviewed both Wall-e and Bolt on this blog.  I went on a little bit in this video but if you like it I’d love a thumbs up.  Thanks!

Overall, I think all 3 of the nominees in 2008 are strong; although, Kung fu Panda was not as strong as I remembered it on the rewatch.  I even gave it 2 chances and it didn’t wow me.  Particularly the humor isn’t my favorite, but it’s fine.  I can see why others love it and it’s not bad.  Just didn’t love it as much as I did when it first came out.

Bolt is an enjoyable film, if a bit forgettable.  The set-up takes too long but the characters are likable and overall it is entertaining.  I think it was a huge step in the right direction for Disney’s CG films and helped give them the confidence to make better films like Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen and Tangled.

Wall-e is Pixar’s most bold and daring film.  It’s beautiful and I actually love both the silent film and science fiction sections.  Unlike Kung fu Panda it’s a movie that I appreciate new things about it each time I watch it.  I love how the Captain’s eyes are opened and he see’s the fuller life he could live.  It’s really quite moving and tense as they fight the computer to live a better life.  And then scenes like the space ballet with Wall-e and Eve is just breathtaking.  I think it is the most beautiful artistry of Pixar’s history and the best CG has given us from any studio.

So in this case I clearly think the right film won.  What about you?

Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos Review

un galloI have a goal to see all the animated films released each year and 2015 is no exception.  I thought I had a good handle on the films coming out but was surprised today when looking at the box office to see an animated film that had flown under my radar.  It is a Mexican film called Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos.  Being Monday is my movie day I went out gave it a watch.

Gallo (as I will call it) is made by Huevocartoon Producciones and it is done with mostly CG with some 2D dream sequences thrown in (kind of strange the characters dream in 2D?).  Over all, I thought the animation looked pretty good especially considering a 5 million budget.  It’s bright and colorful and tells the story pretty well.  It’s really hard to believe Dreamwork’s Home cost 135 million and I certainly liked this better than that…(Isn’t that just insanity that one movie can cost 130 million more not including marketing than another!).

Anyway, Gallo features a bevy of Mexican stars doing voice performances and to my ear at least they all did a fine job.  The music by Zacarias M de la Riva was also pretty good.

un gallo5Gallo is about on the level of Minions for me.  The plot isn’t that great and it had way too much adult humor but there was some things to like.  Over all, I thought it was average movie. I’m glad I saw it.

It’s about a rooster named Toto who is the runt of the litter but always dreamed of fighting in the cock fights downtown (evidently cock fights are legal in Mexico).  These cock fights are actually done with gloves like a boxing match. There’s a star fighter named Bankivoide and a former star fighter called The Red Rooster.

un gallo8A sort of weird element to the film is that the eggs all have personalities and talk.  I was a little bit late so I may have missed an explanation but it didn’t seem like these eggs were ever going to crack which I found strange.  There is also a piece of bacon that moves and talks which was strange. You think a processed slice piece of meat, even if it is pork, might make the chickens a little uncomfortable.

You do see the owner of the farm and her husband has died and they are behind on the mortgage.  Unfortunately this brings us the tired plot we’ve seen a million times of ‘save the farm’. Sigh…

un gallo3The animals decide to enter Red Rooster in a cock fight to win back the money to save the farm but when they challenge Bankivoide the Godfather Egg (yes, you read right) says Toto must enter the fight.

un gallo6They accept the offer and Red Rooster tries to find a duck who beat him when he was a fighter.  This leads to a strange section with a rapping Snoop Duck…The star duck has died but his trainer egg is around and he agrees to train Toto.

un gallo9There is also a sexy chicken that looks like a peacock who sets vultures on Toto and the gang so that they won’t beat Bankivoide.

It’s very predictable and silly but just nutty enough to be mildly entertaining.  However, the kids in my audience did not seem to enjoy it and kept having to go in and out, up and down the aisles (was a little annoying!).

un gallo5As a movie fan there were some pretty good in-jokes and references to other movies that made me laugh.  The script isn’t that bad. It’s just in the service of a super corny, played-out story.un gallo4

And there are a lot of inappropriate jokes.  We get jokes like the sexy bird singing about a rooster ‘hitting my sweet spot’ and lots of jokes about cocks and breasts that were completely uncalled for.  It will probably over most little kids heads but that is no excuse.  I hate that kind of content in children’s films.

un gallo10

If your kids speak Spanish then it might be a good experience for them to hear a movie in their language, or if they are trying to learn Spanish it could be a useful tool.  It’s right on that level of Minions.  Bright, colorful, a few laughs and weird choices to keep me semi-interested.  It’s not one to rush out to see but if you get a chance give it a watch.

Here is the trailer to give you more of an idea.

Overall Grade- C, Content- B-