Don Bluth

the small one

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. I can’t actually confirm that Frozen co-director Chris Buck had a hand on The Small One, an animated short released 35 years ago this month. Only his Wikipedia entry connects him to the film, noting that it was uncredited work. And he’s not included in any extended credits to be found for the production, which is known to have involved other new recruits like Henry Selick and Jerry Rees. In one interview, Buck acknowledges that he was a trainee at the studio starting in the summer of 1978 but that his first assignment was as an “in-betweener” for The Fox and the Hound. Well, maybe he still breathed in an area in which Don Bluth and his team were making this little-remembered movie. If it’s not really either his short start or his earliest work for Disney, which he’s worked for on and off over the decades, just skip ahead to another possibility I’m featuring this week. This is still a good time to look at The Small One, regardless. The anniversary of its debut will be December 15th, the date it arrived in theaters attached to a re-release of Pinocchio. The pairing seems a bit strange considering The Small One is about a cute little donkey, whose drawn appearance resembles the jackasses in the 1940 classic, and the latter is the stuff of nightmares. For kids […]

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nibbler trailer

Do we need another documentary involving an arcade game rivalry from the 1980s? Yes, especially if it actually ends up being better than The King of Kong. That way, we can forget that Seth Gordon ever got our hopes up about his career. Also, the competitive nature of a later, potentially greater film of this kind fits perfectly with the subject matter. This new project is called Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, and I’ve been told directly that it began before anyone had heard about Kong. That means it’s been in the works for at least six or seven years*. Which makes sense, because directors Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy were still working as editors on Battlestar Galactica when they first discovered the game Nibbler. What is Nibbler, you ask? Yeah, I didn’t know either. And according to the Man vs. Snake trailer, not a lot of people do. It’s a game that looks like Pac-Man but there’s a snake instead of ghosts. More importantly, it’s the first game on which a player could reach 1 billion points. And in 1984, a young man named Timothy McVey (yeah the joke has been made, a lot) achieved that incredible milestone on one quarter — of course, it took him 44.5 hours! For the next 25 years, it was thought that he had the highest score on any video game ever. Turns out, an Italian kickboxer named Enrico Zanetti had beaten his record (cue Rocky IV music). […]

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
A-


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