Disney

Frozen Disney Movie

There are few movies that stay so firmly in the public discourse this long after their release. Even with the boost of awards season, we’re focused on what Summer 2014 will bring instead of pouring new thoughts about Gravity or 12 Years a Slave into old wineskins. Yet here we are with yet another editorial on the Frozen pro-gay agenda, this one from Akash Nikolas taking the ho-hum angle by attempting to link classic Disney films like Dumbo — and really an entire history of the studio — to LGBT supporting subtext. Frozen‘s pro-gay? What isn’t? By giving a queer reading of multiple movies from multiple eras Nikolas has achieved something clever, using hyperbole to point out how any movie featuring a character who learns to be comfortable with himself or herself can be read as a metaphor for homosexuality. Because of course it can. But coming out of the closet (or the genie bottle, of the ice castle) isn’t the sole visual metaphor in these movies. Emergence from a timid existence to embrace/learn your unique talent/destiny is a hallmark of the hero’s journey, and in every case (even Frozen) is so broad that it could mean absolutely anything. Feel isolated because jocks tease you for being in the school play? Let it go. Alienated because you’re a hardcore Republican living in Austin? Let it go. Lonely because you love playing jazz but none of your friends think it’s cool? Let it go with syncopation. It’s fascinating that have latched onto the concept of Frozen being pro-gay because of a very general, well-worn theme […]

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Random Media

One of the most surprising films to be released in 2013 was not a massive blockbuster. Instead, it was Escape from Tomorrow, an independent film effort, much of which was shot in the Walt Disney parks without permission from the company. Even though it was meant as a parody of the “Happiest Place on Earth,” lots of people thought that Escape from Tomorrow would never get released. However, after being championed by clearance counsel Michael Donaldson, the film was released. Ignored by the Disney company so as to not give additional attention to the movie with the Streisand Effect, Escape from Tomorrow was eventually released to a certain degree of success in theaters and video on demand. Writer/director Randy Moore sat down with his cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham in January of 2014 to record the commentary of the film they had shot in the fall of 2010 (with pick-ups in the spring of 2011), which is included on the DVD release of the film.

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The Incredibles

Get ready to lose your mind and run around your living room a hundred times in a minute. According to Variety, Disney used its annual shareholders meeting to confirm that they were planning The Incredibles 2. They’re also planning a third Cars movie, the announcement of which coming alongside the return of the Parr family is a lesson in polar opposites. On the one side, there’s another license to print money whose fandom remains squarely under the height requirement to participate in the cooler rides at the amusement park. On the other side, there’s the most popular answer to every Reddit post asking, “What awesome movie deserves a sequel but hasn’t gotten one yet?” All anyone knows right now is that they want to make The Incredibles 2 and that Brad Bird is writing the script. An excellent start. Will Bird be back as director? Maybe. Will Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson or the rest of the cast return? Unclear. Obviously, all of those people showing up to the drawing board would be encouraging for fans. Bird is currently filming Tomorrowland, and he’s also got 1906 in the mix, but there’s definitely room on the table to take a new spandex adventure across the finish line, too.

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Dumbo

Typical of early Disney animation, Dumbo isn’t a finely crafted story but rather a film that examines greater ideas in a touching emotional context. It also features a scene in which a mouse and an elephant get blind drunk, hallucinate, and end up waking up in the cartoon ghetto with a hangover. What’s not to love about that? However, all racist crows and animal alcoholism aside, Dumbo is an inspiring film about a biological misfit who uses his disadvantage to become a hero. Born (or rather delivered by the lazy stork) with comically large ears, Jumbo Jr. is shunned by most of the elephants in the circus. However, after getting some confidence care of a magical feather, he discovers he can use those massive ears to fly. As much as I love this movie and recognize the image of a flying elephant as an indelible icon of Disney animation, this got me thinking: Could Dumbo really fly with ears like that?

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Ursula in The Little Mermaid

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Children of Men Baby Scene

Fresh off his Oscar win on Sunday, Gravity visual effects supervisor Tim Webber joins us to talk about his work with Alfonso Cuaron and explain how we can build our own CGI babies at home. Plus, we discuss how soon is too soon when it comes to real-life tragedy adaptations, and Josh Spiegel from Mousterpiece Cinema helps us debate the state of children’s movies (while envisioning a high octane version of Winnie The Pooh). You should follow Josh (@mousterpiece), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #51 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Frozen Princess Elsa

Disneyphiles rejoice. In conjunction with the digital release of the massively successful Frozen, and the arrival of Thor: The Dark World on DVD/Blu-ray, Disney has launched its own movie streaming service, where fans will be treated to a full catalogue of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel releases, to the tune of more than four hundred titles up for purchase. Called Disney Movies Anywhere, as the name suggests, the multi-platform streaming service is tailored for mobility, currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and web, and even your television via Apple TV through AirPlay or iCloud. The new cloud-based app service, powered by iTunes, is currently offering a limited time free digital download of Pixar’s massive 2004 hit, The Incredibles, when users sign up and connect their iTunes account. In addition, digital codes provided in Disney DVD/Blu-ray releases since 2008 will be redeemable upon joining of the service. Using the service will come with a variety of perks, including exclusive featurettes on a large number of titles, bonus features, and a Disney Movie Rewards points system earned via purchase of digital content.

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Ron Howard

With director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) dropping out of the project due to scheduling issues related to post-production duties on his latest film, Birdman, Warner Bros. has approached Ron Howard to take the helm on their live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. The script, written by screenwriter Callie Kloves, is an adaptation from novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling’s short stories featuring feral jungle child, Mowgli, and his animal pals Bagheera and Baloo, and the ever awful Bengal tiger, Shere Khan.

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Maleficent

The promise of Maleficent is that it redirects our view on the nasty villain who forced Princess Aurora into an egregiously long nap. Drawing on the legacy of other baddie-contextualizing work like “Grendel” and “Wicked,” it theoretically turns a wicked witch into the central character of the story to provide a meaningful, understandable reason as to why she’s a horrible, terrible beast woman. But the trailer doesn’t bode well for that promise. Or at least the CGI doesn’t.

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Mary Poppins author DL Travers with Walt Disney and Julie Andrews

There’s a scene late in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks in which author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) barges into Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) office, livid about the fact that the company’s proposed adaptation of her intellectual property “Mary Poppins” may contain a moment of animation integrated into live action, which Disney promised her would not occur. Travers catches Disney putting a cigarette out into an ashtray, blindsided that she caught him in this uncouth moment. Disney says something out loud about not wanting to be seen with a cigarette in his hand, and the scene moves on. We never see the cigarette touch Disney’s lips. There is no still image that exists of Hanks-as-Disney smoking. Yet the Disney-produced film acknowledges that Disney himself smoked and hid that fact from the public eye during the 1960s. Saving Mr. Banks admits openly that there is a distance between the man and the myth, the everyday Walt Disney and his heavily regulated public image. The film makes a gesture of transparency in this direction, yet not enough to actually show the contradiction between the myth and the man. We never see that cigarette hit his mouth. This moment isn’t really all that important on its own, but it is in terms of what it represents: that Saving Mr. Banks is a film which acknowledges the negotiations and compromises that go into making and reinforcing the image of “Disney,” while also exercising careful maintenance of the identity of the Disney brand.

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nightmare-commentary1

When it was released twenty years ago, The Nightmare Before Christmas was not an immediate success. However, over the following two decades, it has become one of the most beloved holiday movies, and composer Danny Elfman admits that autograph seekers inevitably have The Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise for him to sign above all other films he has worked on. When the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD was released in 2008, Elfman joined in with producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick to record a commentary track. This track, along with many of the other bonus features, is also included on the 3D Blu-ray, which was released in 2011 (and likely all other annual releases as Disney moves forward). Seeing as we’re at the half-way point between Halloween and Christmas, and since it is the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, it seemed appropriate to revisit the film and hear what the filmmakers had to say about the production.

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banks

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Hollywood

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell pulls back the curtain on the Hollywood conspiracy machine… You may already be a film industry cynic. Maybe you think Hollywood is a barren wasteland, devoid of creativity and originality. Maybe you’re sick of seeing talented people get ignored and vapid hacks get splashed all over the trades. Maybe you’re tired of 3D everything and having to re-buy your movies every five to ten years. I’m not here to dissuade you of any of that. Hell no, I’m here to make it worse. Get ready, because this is some of the rottenest shit of which the film industry is capable. These are the things so terrible that Hollywood has to cover them up, lest God see their sin and smite them accordingly (and keep various government entities and lawyers off their backs, of course). If you still had any kind thoughts toward Hollywood, I suggest you prepare yourself for crushing disappointment. But first, I’d like to give a very huge shout out and thank you to writers C. Coville and Maxwell Yezpitelok for their help on this article. You guys are great! And now back to the shit storm, already in progress:

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banks

Director John Lee Hancock won the hearts of much of North America with 2009′s The Blind Side. Whether the movie was enjoyable or not, there’s no denying the impact it had that year. Come December there’s a chance Hancock’s newest film, Saving Mr. Banks, will strike the same chord with audiences. It’s certainly deserving of that same success. Author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the woman behind Mary Poppins, has been turning down Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) advances for over twenty years. It’s the book rights he’s interested in, but she’s afraid he’ll turn it into another one of his goofy animated movies instead of appreciating the personal story Travers wrote it as. After discovering that she’s running out of money, Travers begins to change her tune. From that point on, we see plenty of back and forth between her and Walt, screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and the two men behind the picture’s music, Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). The scenes with Travers, the Sherman brothers, and DaGradi sum up the movie. During their creative meetings with Travers, they have to win her over with costume designs, songs, and every nut and bolt of the script. All of their scenes are in a small contained room, and each one of them is a delight. They’re funny and sharp. There’s nothing grand about these moments but they’re naturally charismatic, thanks to the actors’ collective charm.

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cinderella

Disney, as a company, is one of the best that’s ever existed when it comes to matters of marketing and branding. Everyone knows the Disney logo, everyone knows the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s ears, and, thanks to the merchandising and advertising blitz that’s taken place over the last couple decades, pretty much every little girl you’ve ever met can instantly deduce which Disney Princess they’re looking at just with a quick glimpse at the color of her hair and the dress she’s wearing. Because of this, it was kind of interesting to speculate what the new Lily James-starring, Kenneth Branagh-directed live action remake of Cinderella was going to look like. Disney hasn’t ever really done a live action feature of one of their iconic cartoon properties yet. Would Branagh be under strict restrictions to follow the visual template laid out by the company’s animated classic? Or would such a respected director have more freedom to offer up his own visual and narrative interpretation of the Cinderella story? Well, Disney put out a press release about Cinderella along with the first still taken during the film’s shooting today [via /Film], and from the looks of things it seems like they’re going to be sticking pretty closely to the Cinderella everyone knows and loves.

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trailer escape from tomorrow

If there’s one way to get your park-hopper pass revoked for good, it’s filming a movie, especially one that paints the company in such a depressing light, at Disneyland and Walt Disney World without permission. How Randy Moore, the writer and director of Escape From Tomorrow, hasn’t been sued yet by the wonderful world of Disney remains a mystery, but that might change after they get a whiff of the first trailer for the Sundance hit (read Allison Loring’s review) as it prepares for its theatrical release. In short, Roy Abramsohn plays Jim, a man on his last day of vacation with his family at the Walt Disney World resort. When he gets bad news over the phone from his boss, it triggers something that causes him to spiral out of control and see things that may or may not be there. His child’s eyes turn demonic and black, fellow parkgoers turn into Tinkerbells, fireworks become explosions — a man’s head turns into the Epcot Spaceship Earth sphere. Just check out the trailer for yourself:

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BIG HERO 6

Despite the recent bout of sequel and prequelitis that Pixar has suffered (arguably from a Patient Zero named Disney), the ships seem to be creatively righting themselves. They’re also apparently tethering themselves to the Golden Gate bridge in order to watch the sunset. The picture above is from Big Hero 6, which is one of many projects that The Mouse opened up about during this year’s D23 conference. It’s one of the biggest signals of Marvel sensibilities merging with Disney — an exciting prospect that could bring some fantastic comic book properties to the big screen beyond the post-Avengers plans through, gulp, 2021. There’s a world out there of comic heroes that may not be right for live-action, and it’s encouraging to see that Disney understands that potential and is willing to take a chance. There are some innovative ideas here, nestled in a comfortable nest of old favorites (and, yes, a few cash-grabs). Luckily for now they all look gorgeous.

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William Fichtner Lone Ranger

William Fichtner isn’t an actor afraid to go big. Maybe that comes with the territory of being a character actor, but no one can ever accuse Fichtner of playing it safe. There are many examples, and perhaps some others better than this one, but take a moment to reflect upon the Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito comedy vehicle, What’s the Worst that Can Happen?. Not exactly a comedy classic, but, even if you only vaguely remember that movie, you definitely remember Fichtner’s performance as a flamboyant detective. It’s the kind of performance that breathes life into a scene. The same can be said for Disney’s The Lone Ranger. Bartholomew”Butch” Cavendish is a villain with a mustache itching to be twirled, but, as Fichtner put it, he refused to do any twirling of the sort. That’s right, no twirling of any kind. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to have fun in another Jerry Bruckheimer production, making for his fourth feature with the Hollywood big shot.

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Olaf Frozen

Channeling DreamWorks’ favorite nut-hunting squirrel, Disney has released a mini-cartoon to serve as the teaser trailer for Frozen from director Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up). As the story of a pair of adventurers trying to end a magic-induced winter, it’s unfortunately not an animated remake of Adam Green’s ski lift horror flick from 2010. Hopefully Disney will get on that soon. Kristen Bell voices Anna, the hero who partners with Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff) to end Elsa the Snow Queen’s (Idina Menzel) reign of wondrously beautiful icy conditions. None of them are in the trailer, though. Instead, we’re treated to Olaf, a wacky snowman (Josh Gad) who gets in a fight with a reindeer over his delicious, delicious nose. Enjoy the slapstick on ice:

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pixar-logo-fsr

Fans of Disney and Pixar Animation might want to pull out their day planners (or, fine, their iCals) and mark down some important dates in the coming years. Yes, years, as the studios have now announced release dates for eight films over the next five years, with each animation arm lining up four new films in the coming years. Just which films make up these new releases? Well, that’s not something we know just yet, but does it even matter? New Pixar! There are still, however, plenty of patterns to be found in the news (beyond the most obvious one, which is that all eight films will be released in 3D), like that most dates are placed in June (like Brave, Cars 2, Toy Story 3, and the upcoming Monsters University) and November (like Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled, and this year’s Frozen), which THR reminds us have proven successful release times for both Disney and Pixar in the past. After all, even the most bloated summer blockbuster season needs an animated outing for the kids, and hitting that Thanksgiving weekend is nothing but gravy for the box office.

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