Walt Disney

Walt Disney

In the sci fi subgenre of children’s time travel news, Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel “A Wrinkle in Time” is making its way to the big screen courtesy of Disney and one of their heaviest hitters of current film lore. Jennifer Lee, the first woman to co-direct an animated Disney feature — that would be 2013′s Frozen, if you want to build a snowman — is set to write the adaptation of the 1962 story, which has lived on in classrooms and the imaginations of kids who just want to casually jump around through space. A Wrinkle in Time is in good hands as Lee also wrote Frozen and 2012′s Wreck-It Ralph. Now she has to craft an adaptation of the story, which follows teenager Meg Murray and her brother Charles Wallace, along with Meg’s friend and love interest Calvin O’Keefe as they search through space and time for the Murrays’ missing father. A brilliant scientist, Mr. Murray went mysteriously missing while working on finding out if the tesseract was real. He really should have just watched a Marvel film or two.

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Mickey Mouse in Plane Crazy

Flight is cool. It’s always been cool. Its sheer physical absurdity and majesty has inspired countless works of art. Look no further than the trio of Oscar-winning cartoons I featured back in April, all of them about birds. Animation is particularly adept at capturing the breathless drama of a creature shooting through the open air. That’s certainly part of why we are now facing a second DisneyToon Studios movie about sentient aircraft. Thanks to the impressive box office success of last year’s Planes, in the face of absolutely dismal reviews, this weekend brings us Planes: Fire and Rescue. The cast list includes not one, but three talking forklifts. That may very well be all that anyone needs to know about the film, and you will be forgiven if you don’t rush out to see it. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seize another opportunity to celebrate the long love affair that animators have had with airplanes. The 1920s were a pioneering decade for both cartoons and aeronautics. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight, landing his “Spirit of St. Louis” in Paris on the evening of March 21st. His biggest fan? Mickey Mouse. America’s favorite rodent wouldn’t make his debut until November of 1928 in the enormously significant and eternally charming Steamboat Willie. Yet the first Mickey short produced was actually Plane Crazy, something of a Lindbergh fan film.

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junglebooktruth-1

As much as I love the classic early Disney animated films, the 2D animation revival of the 80s and 90s, and the modern 3D computer generated films the studio makes today, I have a real soft spot for the rustic animation from the 60s and 70s. Movies like 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, and The Jungle Book have a charm to their style of rough pencil drawings coming through the ink and paint. With The Jungle Book coming out on Blu-ray on February 11, it gave me a chance to revisit this spirited classic, which happens to be the final animated feature that Walt Disney was personally involved with before his death in 1966. Watching this again reminded me of seeing a re-release trailer for the film in the 1980s with a friend, and hearing him exclaim: “There are no bears in the jungle.” This got me thinking… would all the animals in The Jungle Book ever interact in real life?

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netflixbuffering

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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Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison has never been one to mince words, and thankfully he’s not about to start now at the age of 79. The legendary writer and notoriously cantankerous personality recently attended a hoity-toity Los Angeles dinner party at the home of some friends of a friend, and the evening included a screening of Saving Mr. Banks. Ellison’s response to the film is a bit, shall we say, lukewarm. Variety may or may not have passed on the opportunity to print his review, so Ellison has taken to his YouTube channel to offer up his verbal appreciation. The video starts off pleasant enough with the famous and infamous author reminding us that he’s both of those things, sharing some kind words for his hosts, and complimenting this “well made movie” and its stars. Emma Thompson in particular “is absolutely breathtakingly brilliant… blows everybody off the screen,” and Tom Hanks “is equally as good.” And then Ellison calls the film “a refurbishing of Walt Disney’s godlike image which he spent his entire life creating, and it is so fucking manipulative.” Lend Mr. Ellison your ear for ten minutes and watch his whole video below.

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Smoking is bad. Chances are, you’re already aware of this fact. If you’ve spent time in the civilized world, you’ve doubtless seen at least one billboard, TV commercial, or warning label announcing this very fact. The reasons are obvious, of course; cigarette smoking is known to cause lung cancer, birth defects and, in rare cases, dangerously funky bad breath. So add this article to the ever-expanding list of products that contain a warning about the dangers of smoking. One product not on the list, however, is Saving Mr. Banks. Odd, considering that Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks in the film), was a lifelong chain smoker and passed away from lung cancer in 1966. But Disney (the company, that is) and their ironclad policies on cigarette smoking have dissipated the thick grey fumes that were the Mickey Mouse creator’s constant companion. After a screening of the film at the 2013, Napa Valley Film Festival, director John Lee Hancock and producer Alison Owen spoke about the restrictions the House of Mouse placed on Saving Mr. Banks. The two anticipated a lengthy set of guidelines for the first major portrayal of Walt Disney in a mainstream film, but in the end, the media giant asked only one thing of the filmmakers. Says Owen, “They told us there could be no smoking.”

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Robopocalypse No More

The idea of the world’s biggest director tackling a film that would feature man vs robot action on a large scale was an exciting one to be sure, but some things just aren’t meant to be apparently. Get ready to taste some conspicuously salty robot tears. Steven Spielberg knows his way around a science fiction film, and no one would argue that he lacks action chops too, but according to the man himself (in a recent 60 Minutes interview) action films no longer appeal to him. That lack of interest may be at least part of the reason why Spielberg has announced that he’s stepping away from what was expected to be his next directorial effort… an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson‘s bestselling novel, “Robopocalypse.”

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Even when it just had a director and two principal actors in place, Disney’s upcoming Saving Mr. Banks already seemed like it was the perfect storm of mainstream appeal. Take director John Lee Hancock, who made mountains of money and received boatloads of acclaim for his sugary sweet The Blind Side, give him two of the most universally loved actors working in Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and put them to work on subject matter involving one of the biggest legends in entertainment history, Walt Disney, and one of the most enduring children’s stories of all time, “Mary Poppins,” and you have to imagine this film’s potential for box office dollars and warmed hearts is unprecedented. It turns out Saving Mr. Banks isn’t just content to get our attention and then sit back and coast on a winning formula though. Variety has a new report that a trio of actors have just signed on to the film in supporting roles, and they’re three of the best supporting players studio dollars can buy. Joining Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers will be Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Ruth Wilson.

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Scenes We Love: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

When I was a kid, my grandmother had a collection of Walt Disney animated films on VHS that could rival any collector’s arsenal. She would always tells that she collected for her grandchildren, so that they would not grow up without seeing the great works of Walt Disney as they were meant to be seen: through the fresh eyes of a child. In a sense, I was raised on films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, always thinking that I was part of some special generation weened on such brilliant animated bliss. As an adult, I’m often reminded that films like Snow White were released in the late 1930s, and it’s likely that many a generation of young kids were raised on these films. They could very well be, in my estimation, one of the great shared experiences that movielovers will ever have. We’ve all seen them and loved them in our own special ways, whether we were born in 1983 or 1943. That said, this weekend brings reminder of Disney’s Snow White, with Universal’s rendition of Snow White and The Huntsman. This new version is bloodier, broodier and Twilightier, yes, but it’s all based on the same fairy tale. In our weekly edition of Scenes We Love, we’re going to go back to that beautifully animated film and sing along with seven little men as they head home from work. It’s a scene that never ceases to put a smile on my face.

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Saving Mr. Banks is a Kelly Marcel-penned Black List script that details the 14 years it took Walt Disney to convince author P.L. Travers to give him the movie rights to her Mary Poppins character. The result of the lengthy courtship was, of course, the Julie Andrews-starring 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. That movie has made Disney a whole lot of money over the years, so it makes sense that they would be looking to produce any sort of acclaimed script that manages to cash in on Poppins’ mainstream name recognition; especially one that features their company’s founder, Walt Disney, as the main character. To that end, Disney has acquired Marvel’s script and hired The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock to direct. That’s all old news though. The new news about this project is that casting has started, and they’re looking at some pretty huge names to play Disney and Travers. According to Variety, Hancock and company are talking to none other than Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson to fill the roles. Just let that sink in for a moment — Tom Hanks may play Walt Disney in a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. Have you ever heard of anything that will make a more violent grab for the hearts and wallets of everyone’s parents and grandparents than that?

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Despite heavy popular and critical love toward The Blind Side, director John Lee Hancock has been cautious to start a new project. He’s signed on for several, including a Denzel Washington-starring uplift-fest called American Can, but he’s been too busy sharing his insights and tips on the festival circuit to get behind the camera. He also typically takes a few years between projects, so it isn’t surprising. However, it’ll be a surprise to see which of his potential films ends up becoming more than kinetic energy, especially now that he’s added another. Deadline Debenhams is reporting that the American popular auteur is close to signing on for Saving Mr. Banks, the script from Kelly Marcel which chronicles Walt Disney’s fruitful attempt to secure the rights for the P.L. Travers book that went on to become Mary Poppins. Yes, Disney is going to make a movie about Disney. Hancock is a great choice here, especially with as saccharine as something like this could be. He’ll no doubt lend is unique ability to shovel down sweetness without causing diabetes if he gets the gig.

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Every year, the National Film Registry announces 25 films that it will toss gently into its vault for safe keeping. This year, they’ve chosen a hell of a list, but (like every year), the movies saved act as a reminder that even in a digital world where it seems unfathomable that we’d lose art, we’re still losing art. The task of actively preserving films is an honorable, laudable one, and it’s in all of our best interests to see movies like these kept safe so that future generations (and those attending Butt-Numb-a-Thon 55) will be able to screen them as they were meant to be seen. So what 25 movies made the cut this year? Let’s explore:

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Paramount

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things, movie related and otherwise, that will entertain you, astound you and most likely give you that much needed late-night push toward deep, restful sleep. We begin tonight with the new logo Paramount Pictures has released for their 100th anniversary celebration. I caught it this evening on a massive IMAX screen in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which was quite awesome. But more on that later. Up first, some trivia: Did you know that the original Paramount mountain was based on a doodle by W.W. Hodkinson and that the live-action logo is based on Peru’s Artesonraju? Wikipedia did.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. The management of this theater is proud to suggest this movie for every member of every family everywhere. It’s fascinating to think of how dark and frightening this movie is despite all the musical interludes, the trademark Disney animation, and all the fairies prancing around making mops do their cleaning work for them. Yes, it’s the story of Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, and a kiss that can break a coma. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. There’s something brilliant about the voice over work for trailers in the 1950s, and this is a great example of it. Remember how Snow White thrilled you? How Cinderella won your heart? Here’s Walt Disney‘s third cartoon heroine come to life, and chasing a very tardy white rabbit. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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OAM-SongoftheSouth

Normally I’d be selling you on how an ancient movie is still enjoyable today or that a modern audience can still be moved by pictures made over half a century ago, but I’m not so sure Song of the South really deserves all that much praise for its own artistic merit.

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WaltDisneySouthAmericaElGrupo

In the mid-1930s, Walt Disney put down his pens and pencils to head to South America to battle Nazis. While completely misleading, that sentence is factually accurate, and there’s a documentary coming out Friday to fill in the details. Check out the trailer inside.

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disney-marvel-2

If you didn’t have a chance to keep up with all of this Disney buying Marvel business, don’t worry, as we’ve got you covered…

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Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

If the thought of High School Musical makes your stomach turn, you’ll want to avoid this film. However, the movie speaks directly to its demographic and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.

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Disney has announced that they’re going Blu-ray on our asses, bringing their platinum standard over to the new format with some quite impressive improvements.

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