Magical Movies Tour: Fantasia

This was the second time I watched Fantasia since getting Disney+, and it probably won’t be the last. (Unlike Pinnochio, which I really didn’t like much at all on adult revisit) It’s a really beautiful and interesting film, a delightful anthology of music and creativity that’s a wonderful love letter to the way the performing and creative arts communicate with one another.

The pacing surprised me when I revisited it. I felt as a kid that it was an endless wait to get to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” but it’s only the third segment! I also always loved “The Rite Of Spring” and now I think it’s kind of ugly and dull. I’m no longer a nightmare inclined kid, so I can see “Night On Bald Mountain” and “Ave Maria” as stunning dual images of the supernatural rather than you know, the most terrifying thing ever and a boring parade of lights.

There are so many things that I think get overlooked. I’m sure when designing Hercules Disney Animation when back to “The Pastoral Symphony” because while not identical, so much of the design matches up. “The Nutcracker Suite” images here are still the ones I see in my head when I hear the music. Those fairies spreading dewfall and dancing flowers are much more ingrained than any ballerina.

Fantasia’s initial financial failure is so sad to me. It’s such a special and beautiful film. I actually never saw the sequel Fantasia 2000 so when we get to it in a few months, I’m actually pretty excited to revisit the concept. I may just watch it this week too, in addition to Dumbo, which is, incidentally, our next movie! I’m not sure what I’ll have to say about Dumbo…but I bet it’s racism.

 

Magical Movies Tour: Pinnochio

As someone who love Disney in all it’s forms. (All praise to the Mouse!) I found myself stunned by watching Pinnochio another one I hadn’t watched since I was little. While there’s the light through line of Pinnochio wanting to become a real boy, and Geppetto searching for him on his adventures, it’s much more episodic than anything else, we go from scrape, to scrape, thatat Pinnochio and Jiminy get into.

But I was also blown away by how despite not knowing the movie that well, I knew every word to every one of these songs, because they’re used ad nauseum in the parks. “When You Wish Upon A Star” obviously, but also, “Hi Diddly Dee,” and “I’ve Got No Strings” just all over the place.

Jiminy Cricket is an interesting character, I like that he’s a little bit more of a scoundrel than I remembered, or at least, kind of a bum. He’s looking for some level of “becoming real” as well, or at least a place of belonging. The Blue Fairy sees this in him and grants him purpose, he’s a conscience. He’s terrible at this job but he’s trying his best.

The animation is once again, mind blowingly lovely, the transformation of the boys into Donkeys is terrifying, as is Monstro the whale, but in general everything looks so smooth and beautiful, the dancing in particular is a marvel and such a step up from Snow White, which I know was something that Disney himself was very adamant about, he wanted there to be revolutionary and new animation in each film.

While I didn’t enjoy Pinnochio as much as I did Snow White, seeing the way the animation moved forward was cool, and I love the music here, truly love it.

Next week, even more music! It’s time to talk about Fantasia. I actually watched this the first weekend that Disney+ was available, but I’m excited to watch it again. It’s remarkably beautiful.

Magical Movies Tour: Snow White And The Seven Dwarves

Welcome my friends to the Magical Movies Tour! For the next fourteen months we’re going to be watching all of the Walt Disney Animations Studios Movies. To be specific, these are the Walt Disney Animation, NOT Pixar, and only the theatrical releases. Maybe I’ll dive into those at a different time, but just the Disney Studios stuff at the moment.

And where better to start than Snow White And The Seven Dwarves, the beginning (and we will be proceeding chronologically from there). So, here we go.

I was nervous going into Snow White which I don’t think I’d watched all the way through since I was a kid, and I’d always written off as “annoying” and “simplistic” and “not particularly good.”

About five minutes in when I realized how wrong I was about the film. Aside from the revolutionary and incredibly beautiful animation, the music is lovely and Snow White herself is a better character than I’ve ever considered, while she is certainly more reactive than proactive, I’m OK with that. Making the Dwarves individualized rather than a collective was a genius decision on Walt Disney’s part. And each of the seven gets a moment to shine.

And then there’s this music. There are good, good songs in this movie. “I’m Wishing,” “Whistle While You Work,” “Dig Dig Dig & Heigh Ho” are all bangers in the musical theater/Disney tradition. Not to mention, “Someday My Prince Will Come,” which is a truly lovely “I Want” song. I was so charmed by this movie watching it again, truly. If I had to choose something to criticize I would say that the first act is a little choppy.

There’s nearly no exposition to the Queen’s jealousy, or Snow White’s trip to the woods with the Huntsman, or the magic mirror. It just jumps from place to place. The Prince also appears and disappears. I don’t mind gaps in exposition, especially in fairy tales, but it’s conspicuous and makes the first act hard to follow. However once the Dwarves enter the proceedings, the movie is nearly perfect.

The animation is legitimately some of the most beautiful ever created, stunning and scary and charming. I keep coming back to that word, but really, that’s the best one for the film, charming. This is a charming film, with personality to spare. No wonder it spawned an empire.

Next week we’re going to watch Pinnochio. 

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian“Chapter 8: Redemption”

I’m assuming that Mando is off to find Luke Skywalker (although the ending of this episode is something else)

Let’s go back. After learning that Moff Gideon’s Storm Troopers Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally (!) are guarding Baby Yoda, Mando, Cara, Griff and IG-85 go to get the baby. Moff Gideon knows who they all are, and it’s really creepy, also, Cara notes that he was supposed to have been executed for war crimes so what’s happening there?

Anyway, they fight him and flee, Mando is wounded and IG-85 heals him which is the work around we get for him to remove his helmet. He can’t remove it in front of a living being, IG reminds him that he’s not a living being. So he gets healed, and we see Pedro Pascal’s beautiful wonderful face. HOORAY!

After looking for the Mandolorians, and learning they were slaughtered by the client, Mando has a conversation with the armorer, who tells him that Baby Yoda needs to be returned to his people. Mando is skeptical before being told that this is the way, he agrees.

I present a hypothetical scene that happened in my head:

Me: So I guess they’re going to be looking for Luke’s new Jedi academy. If we learn that Kylo Ren killed Baby Yoda I will find Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau and slap them across the face.

The Mandolorian: Reenie, you seem to have forgotten something, there are other Jedi at this point in history besides Luke and Leia.

*Moff Gideon Emerges from his ship with The Dark Saber*

Me: AHSOKA AND EZRA! FILONI YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN YOU BEAUTIFUL BASTARD.

End Scene

Look, I’m all for finding the home planet of the Yodas. I will be very into that, if that’s where we’re going. But I think, by adding such a specific detail from Mandalore, as the Dark Saber, which was so important to Clone Wars and Rebels and the stories of this culture, when you’re looking for Jedi in order to surrender the baby, perhaps it could be to a young Jedi who disappeared into the unknown regions on a Space Whale, and one Not A Jedi who has reached Force Nirvana via time travel and confronting her evil former master.

What I’m saying is, I think Mando should hand Baby Yoda over to Ahsoka and Ezra and then he and Sabine can argue Mandolorian code adhearance like a couple of Rabbis.

I’m still not sure about the overall storytelling of The Mandolorian, I appreciated almost everything it did, but I don’t know that 8 episodes works for what they were doing. Twelve would have been better. My two favorite episodes, Episode 2 & Episode 7 were both directed by Deborah Chow, which I think is pretty important for me personally, since she’s going to be running Obi-Wan and I like what she does. Hooray!

That said, we won’t know this for over a year. We know season 2 is coming next fall, in the meantime, I’m not leaving this world behind. The past six months have given me so much and I’m not ready to move along. The next Fangirl Loves Star Wars will be in a few weeks, where we’ll talk about The Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 7: The Reckoning”

PROTECT LITTLE BABY YODA! YOU MUST PROTECT HIM!

I’ve mentioned that there are elements of The Mandolorian that aren’t clicking with me on Monday. But this second episode of the week. (SO MUCH Star Wars THIS WEEK!) feels stronger. I like the team that Mando puts together in an attempt to outwit The Client and save LBY and himself from running around with a price on his head. The return of Cara Dune and IG-11 is good. Their plan to get The Client off their butts is a good one, except it turns out the imperial presence around him on Nevarro has been beefed up.

Also it turns out, The Client isn’t in charge at all, it’s Moff Kargin (GIANCARLO ESPESITO) pulling the strings. While we’ve been trained that there’s nearly always a man behind the curtain with Imperial types, I’m glad the big bad has been revealed.

And watching this episode and being in to it. (THAT ENDING! Thank god we only have a few days to wait and see what’s happening. Also the sneak peak of The Rise Of Skywalker we get was also great. The movie is getting mixed reviews, but if there’s more of Poe making reckless decisions while flying the Falcon I’m all in.) I realized that while I like the old fashioned TV approach to the story here, that is each episode being relatively self contained, except for the ones that aren’t, (Monsters of The Week/Myth Arc, if you will!) it’s not an approach that’s particularly effective with only 8 episodes.

I love episodic TV and miss it very much, but frankly, you need at least 12 to make it work and that’s in the HBO one hour episodes each sense, for 40 to 45 minute episodes you need 20 or more for it to do what it does best. When you only 5 or so hours verses thirteen, and 2.5 of those hours aren’t contributing to the narrative, everything feels like wheel spinning.

And also, I’m just not feeling this show. Maybe this project was a mistake, maybe I’ve OD’d. (It’s happened before, remember last year when I barely did any Superhero stuff because I’d done too much the year before? Or the beginning of this year when I couldn’t even look at a speculative fiction book?) I don’t know, tonight might tell. I’ve never walked out of a Star Wars movie anything but totally hyped. (Yes, even Episodes I and II, second viewings were immediate let downs there, but I was psyched on first viewing.)  I doubt this will be different.

That said if they don’t save that baby next week, I will be very upset. I love that baby.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian: Chapter 6: “The Prisoner”

“The Prisoner” is what I personally wanted The Mandolorian to be from the beginning, because as I’ve noted a thousand times, I love a heist. I love getting a crew together, I love the conflicting goals, I love the way they tend to twist and turn. And also, this had some fun cameos. Bill Burr! Natalia Tea! (Tonks/Asha) Clancy Brown! Matt Lantner (The Voice of Anakin from Clone Wars!) Mark Boone (Bobby Elvis from Sons Of Anarchy!) Dave Filoni himself!

Mando goes to get the Razor Crest repaired and finds himself sucked in when old friend Ran recruits him with a bunch of other scum to break a prisoner out of a new republic prison cruiser, one of them X’ian and Mando have clearly fucked and it’s awesome. Anyway, the team gets aboard the chip they break in and things go sideways. They betray Mando. (SHOCKED, Shocked I tell you!) and he strikes back. (Your winnings, sir?)

Shocked.gif

It’s a Casablanca joke. Watch a movie

Anyway, after returning to base with the titular prisoner, Mando also leaves his tracking fob with those who would have seen him blown up and a crew of X-Wings show up and blow up the place and Mando and Baby Yoda fly away home.

Seriously, it’s all pretty rote. The show in general had been pretty rote but well executed. I’d rather well executed rote-ness than poorly executed vision. (I mean I’d rather both, but I’ve got Watchmen so I can’t ask too much of genre TV at moment.) (Speaking of HOLY CRAP Y’ALL! HOW GOOD WAS WATCHMEN?) I’m sure on rewatch I’ll have more to say. But I wish that things would have congealed a bit by now. I know we’re getting a season two, and while I love that we’re also getting a good episodic Sci-Fi show with a premiere budget, I’d like a bit more of an arc. When Arrow has more thematic cohesion in it’s eighth and final than your $15 million per episode, billion dollar IP, I don’t see all being well.

While we were getting dressed for Mary’s wedding, Cha, Joanna and I discussed the show and what we’re looking for from Star Wars. We landed on a Rogue One/The Last Jedi, Solo/The Force Awakens divide, and we all land squarely on the Solo/TFA side. The Mandolorian, for as great as it is, and it’s very good, is much  more on the Rogue One/The Last Jedi side. With the exception of LBY it’s done very little that touches my heart. In case the past six months haven’t made it clear, I want Star Wars to be in my heart.

On Friday, we’ll talk about the end of the Skywalker Saga with The Rise Of Skywalker. I’m hopeful and excited for the movie, it looks spectacular and I’ll take spectacle in heaps from my Star Wars. I have tickets for Thursday Night and Saturday afternoon, so one Friday we’ll do the Movie Season review and Monday’s Fangirl Loves Star Wars will cover both Mandolorian and The Rise Of Skywalker.

May The Force Be With You.

The Next Right Thing

If Disney is going to keep throwing out movies where Princesses sing awesome songs and fulfill the hero’s journey, I’m gonna keep watching them. Or watch what I can of them through the tears.

Frozen 2 follows through on the first movies promise in a number of ways. For one thing, Anna and Elsa are front and center, telling their own story, feeling their own feelings, saving each other and everyone around them with the power of their love and bond. Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell are to be commended for the work they’ve done with these characters. The songs are very good. Nothing quite as catchy as “For The First Time In Forever” or “Let It Go,” but “Into The Unknown,” “Show Yourself,” and “The Next Right Thing,” have more narrative power. And hey! Kristoff got a song all to himself. “Lost In The Woods” is delightful but I’d listen to Jonathan Groff sing scales for three minutes so I might be too receptive an audience for that one.

The rest of the movie is very good. It’s visually stunning, and like I said, hero’s journey, for both sisters. I’m into it. There’s also a scene where Elsa sings about embracing your true self and stops the destruction fueled by colonialist lies with a flurry of rainbow glitter.

Which is the gayest shit ever and I’m so happy it exists.

Rankings!

  1. Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
  2. Jo Jo Rabbit
  3. Frozen 2
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  5. Avengers: Endgame
  6. Rocketman
  7. Detective Pikachu
  8. Zombieland: Double Tap
  9. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
  10. Downton Abbey
  11. Joker

Trailers

Onward looks DOPE AS HELL. Seriously. I’m a sucker for “what happens when fantasy societies evolve” as a conceit.

Soul also looks great. I’m down for what’s going on at Pixar these days it seems.

Trolls: World Tour: I am every distracted whenever I see this trailer because I keep trying to figure out if that “Drop Button” is a McElroy. Do we know yet? I believe people thought it was Griffin. (This shows how much I care about this movie. Which is not at all, if there aren’t McElroys.)

There were others but nothing really stuck…