Inside Pulse » Walt Disney A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Walt Disney Blu-ray Review: Heavy Traffic Sun, 21 Jul 2013 03:30:33 +0000 Heavy Traffic is a mix media melange that is for entertaining adults not just appeasing families. ]]> Ralph Bakshi must be the first feature animation director who had no dream of being the next Walt Disney or even Max Fleischer when given a chance his films being show in commercial movie theaters. He had no intention of dedicating himself to family friendly movies that would build an empire of theme parks, TV channels and thousands of licensing deals. He didn’t spend hours developing his creations so that they could become thrill rides that exit through the gift shops. What did he want from his feature films? Ralph understood that he could expressed himself through animation without it being watered down to wholesome entertainment. That’s not to say he’s always been anti-kid friendly. He got his start at Terrytoons making Deputy Dawg and Mighty Heroes for the small screen. But when he projected onto the big screen, his animal characters were extreme adults. His adaptation of Robert Crumbs’ Fritz the Cat was rated X hit that got into mainstream theaters. Bakshi followed it up with a more personal film starring humans. Thus Heavy Traffic arrives with a tale of pinball, comic books and interracial love sealed with an X-rated.

Michael Corleone (Joseph Kaufmann) draws away as non-employed underground cartoonist living in New York City back when it was a seedy wonderland. He enjoys spending his days at a nearby arcade. He enjoys encountering the colorful characters lurking in the shadows. He doesn’t have too much ambition since he’s happy to still be living at home with his semi-mobster dad (F Troop‘s Frank DeKova) and mom (Terri Haven). Michael falls into a relationship with Carole (The New Centurions‘ Beverly Hope Atkinson). She’s a bartender who needs a boyfriend as an excuse to quit getting hit on by a guy. However she clicks with Michael. This proves to have its own consequences since Carole is black and Micheal’s father doesn’t want her in the family. He goes to an extreme to end the relationship using his business connections. Michael and Carole decide it’s better to get their own place. He shares with her some of his best comic ideas. The most involving of the stories involves a few characters that would reappear in Bakshi’s Wizards. There’s even characters that resemble Jawas from Star Wars. This was four years before Lucas would take us to that galaxy far, far away. Michael thinks he’s found a producer eager to adapt his work to the big screen, but things fall through with a brilliant disaster. Carole’s attempt to get a straight job also goes bad. Finally the duo are forced to enter a life of crime.

Most animated film pick one style and stick with it. Heavy Traffic is a mix media melange. There’s live action, traditional animation, mixing of animation with live backgrounds and even animated sketches. There are moments where the screen looks like a giant flip book. This is not the Disney way of animation that so many copied over the decades. This mixing of techniques gives layers to the story of Michael. Where is the reality in a story that floats through so many existences? Can this all be merely what he imagines while addicted to playing pinball and hearing “Scarborough Fair” by Sérgio Mendes and Brazil ’66? Luckily you don’t have to ponder it too hard. Bakshi’s images tumble onto the screen from a gritty fever dream. Heavy Traffic proves that Bakshi was comfortable entertaining adults and not appeasing families.

The video is 1.66:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the color and detail in Bakshi’s animation. The various techniques employed can be fully appreciated. The audio is DTS-HD Mono. The audio likes to bounce around from the music to musings, but everything sounds fine with the extra resolution. You might be able to hear the voice of Jaime Farr.

This Blu-ray comes with no bonus features.

Heavy Traffic crystallizes the animated vision of Ralph Bakshi. He’s not happy doing creating saccharine creations for the whole family. He wasn’t there to be the next Disney. He made movies to be Ralph Bakshi. The only disappointing element of the Blu-ray is a lack of bonus features. Although if you desire to learn more about the film, just pick up a copy of Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi book. While the version on the Blu-ray has an R-rating, it’s hard to tell if it’s taken from the ’74 reissue that was slightly snipped by the distributor to lose the X.

Shout! Factory and MGM present Heavy Traffic. Directed by Ralph Bakshi. Screenplay by: Ralph Bakshi. Starring: Joseph Kaufmann, Beverly Hope Atkinson, Frank DeKova and Terri Haven . Running Time: 77 minutes. Rated: R. Released: July 16, 2013. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: My Neighbor Totoro Fri, 07 Jun 2013 00:55:13 +0000 My Neighbor Totoro delves into a weirdness rarely seen in American family animated films. ]]> The desire to be the next Walt Disney has been a major curse for many dreaming animators. The press agents at Disney make it seem easy to follow Walt’s model of family entertainment success. You create likeable characters that kids embrace. A few weeks later, you’ll open a massive theme park so that the kids can hug them and buy all the toys. But what most people forget to notice is Walt nearly went broke at nearly every stage of his career. His formula for success isn’t a Betty Crocker recipe. His biography is the story of a guy who had a hot streak playing Blackjack in Vegas. Not everyone can duplicate him otherwise every filmmaker with a handful of animation cells would be a moguls. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to be the next Walt Disney at certain levels. Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki is one of the few people who has been able to grasp the dream of Walt Disney without recounting his career in a bankruptcy court transcript. His Studio Ghibli has made international hits and won major awards since the mid-’80s. One of his first hits was My Neighbor Totoro which is finally out in a Blu-ray + DVD combo package so you can get absorbed into the image.

What Miyazaki was able to do was combine the charms found not only in Disney’s animated efforts, but their live action films. My Neighbor Totoro has both the cute animated character and the heartwarming family tale. A professor and his two daughters, Mei and Satsuki, move to a house in the countryside to be closer to their mother. She’s recovering at a hospital from an illness. The father does his best to comfort the girls in this strange place. What makes things a little more difficult is rumors that their new house is haunted. The father doesn’t want his daughters to be frightened of the soot spirits. He scares them away with his protective nature. While exploring countryside, Mei discovers magical animals that look like egg-shaped rabbits. They are the Totoro. Turns out that the largest of these creatures is the Keeper of the Forest. He can only be seen by children and only children he wants to see him. This sets off a series of events includes the girls riding in a bus that’s a giant cat and one sister getting lost. The bit crisis arrives when one sister is feared to be trapped in another dimension. It’s a G-rated film so it shouldn’t be too traumatic to younger viewers.

My Neighbor Totoro delves into a weirdness rarely seen in American family animated films. But because the story is grounded in the relationship between the father and his daughters, the odd moments are involving instead of confusing. The family bond allows the audience to accept what could easily be seen nonsense in the hands of a lesser director. Miyazaki understands that while it’s good to have a cute animated character, the movie won’t work if the emotions are false. This is why Miyazaki has been able to keep making his movies at Studio Ghibli. The Totoro are his studio’s logo like Mickey Mouse is for Walt Disney. In a good twist of fate, the Japanese studio has a deal with the Walt Disney company for distribution. It’s not about following Walt’s recipe to achieve success. It’s about creating a movie that’s equally as undeniably tasty as Walt’s most addictive films. Which is what Miyazaki accomplished.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the complete beauty of the rural Japanese landscape when the girls explore the woods. The audio is a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio in English, Japanese and French. The Japanese mix has the most atmosphere. There’s something a little too dry about English dub even with a good voice cast. The subtitles are English and French. You can play the Japanese and read along in English.

DVD contains the movie. This is good for when the kid wants to watch the film in the back seat of the car.

Original Japanese Storyboards
(86 minutes) gives us the entire movie using the pencil sketches of the scenes.

Creating My Neighbor Totoro
(2:58) has Miyzaki explain the story started as a children’s book written when he was frustrated doing TV animation.

Creating the Characters (4:24) discusses how the filmmakers pondered unveiling their huge creation.

The Totoro Experience (2:00) has the producer discuss the success of the film and the characters. Miyzaki admit he didn’t think the film would be a major hit.

Producers Perspective: Creating Ghibli
(1:23) is a quick memory about how it was an ideal time for them to launch their own animation studio in Japan.

The Locations of Totoro (28:38) is a Japanese documentary that explores the area which inspired the scenery. It’s subtitled.

Scoring Miyzaki
(7:18) explores the music that creates the magical elements of the films. The music is as important as the visuals for the director.

Original Japanese Trailer (0:53) are extreme teaser trailers.

Behind the Microphone (5:39) takes us into the audio booth with the American voice actors. Dakota Fanning was so young when she did it.

My Neighbor Totoro is a family drama that smoothly slides into a spiritual fantasy. Two girls and their father explore life in their new country home and discover magical creatures living around them. This is a sweet and spiritual animated film that a fine introduction to Miyazaki’s work.

Disney presents My Neighbor Totoro. Written and Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning and Timothy Daly. Running Time: 86 minutes. Rated: G. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-Ray Review: Babes In Toyland Thu, 17 Jan 2013 21:00:02 +0000 Before Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas brothers (are they a “thing” anymore?) there was Annette Funicello. Annette was the original Disney heartthrob, and always exuded class and taste – obviously a thing of the past. Babes In Toyland is one of the many Disney films starring Annette, and one that, with its eye-popping visuals, rousing music, and practical effects, still withstands the test of time.

Babes In Toyland takes place in a mythical town of nursery rhyme characters. Tom the Piper’s Son and Mary Mary Quite Contrary are getting married and the entire town is throwing a celebration. Well, the entire town with the exception of Barnaby (Ray Bolger), who wants to lay claim to Mary’s fortune. Barnaby and his minions devise an elaborate plot: Kidnap Tom and throw him into the sea, then steal Bo Peep’s sheep, which are the main income for Mary’s household. Then she will be lonely and broke, and will have no choice but to marry Barnaby.

Upon learning of the sheep’s mysterious disappearance, the children in the household (Bo Peep, Little Boy Blue, and more) venture out into the Forest of No Return, forcing Mary and Tom to go after them. In the forest, the children, Tom and Mary meet a quirky Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his apprentice Grumio (Tommy Kirk), and it is at the toyshop that the final battle between Tom and Barnaby takes place.

With sixteen elaborate musical numbers, Babes In Toyland was nominated for an Oscar (Best Music), a Golden Globe (Best Picture – Musical), and a Grammy (Best Soundtrack Album). My favorite has always been “I Can’t Do The Sum” sung by Mary, but the music overall is just spectacular.

One of my favorite parts of the film are the practical effects. One of Barnaby’s minions is mute and performs tricks similar to that of Harpo Marx, and that type of physical comedy has definitely become a lost art. If only there were more filmmakers that would take advantage of this; it’s something that is thoroughly enchanting, even for young children of this generation.

It’s also delightful to see these iconic Disney actors in these familiar roles. Growing up as a Disney kid, it’s always fun to see Tommy Kirk (Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog) and Kevin “Moochie” Corcoran (Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller), and Annette Funicello is just beautiful in everything she does. Ray Bolger (Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) as Barnaby has always been one of my favorite movie villains, and Ed Wynn (Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins is always fun to watch.

Babes In Toyland is one of those films that you loved as a kid and will be enjoyed by your kids and grandkids, and for generations to come.

This new blu-ray release is stunning. The colors pop, the sound is flawless, but sadly, Disney declined to add any special features that would make this truly a stellar release.

In researching the movie, I discovered that Walt Disney wasn’t happy with the final product of Babes In Toyland, but then made several changes to his movie musical formula with Mary Poppins just a few short years later. I guess Disney studios learned the lessons that Walt wanted them to learn, but Babes In Toyland is still a wonderful, happy film. It has a joy that children’s films just don’t have very often anymore.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Babes In Toyland. Directed by: Jack Donohue. Starring: Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ed Wynn, Ray Bolger. Written by: Joe Rinaldi, Lowell S. Hawley, Ward Kimbell. Running time: 106 minutes. Rating: G. Released: December 11, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm Ltd: New Star Wars Movie! Comic Book Licenses From Dark Horse To Marvel? Wed, 31 Oct 2012 01:00:48 +0000 The world was shocked today with the news that the Walt Disney Company had announced its plans to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd. including the Star Wars franchise for $4.05 billion. The future holds new Star Wars movies starting with Episode 7 in 2015.

The comic book world was also thrown into a loop with this news. Dark Horse Publishing has been publishing Star Wars Comics consistently for 20 years.

Interestingly, Marvel Comics published Star Wars comics in the 1970s/1980s and that comic book company is also now owned by Disney.

Dark Horse President Mike Richardson responded to today’s news by telling that:

“Dark Horse and LucasFilm have a strong partnership which spans over twenty years, and has produced multiple characters and story lines which are now part of the Star Wars lore. Star Wars will be with us for the near future. Obviously, this deal changes the landscape, so we’ll all have to see what it means for the future.”

So it would appear Dark Horse has the publishing rights for Star Wars comic books locked in for the near future, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Marvel Comics assumes the rights when Dark Horse’s deal with Lucasfilm Ltd. runs out. The length of the current agreement between Lucasfilm and Dark Horse is not known.

You may recall that Boom Studios used to publish Disney Comics until Disney bought Marvel Comics. Although, that the carpet was pulled out from under Boom in a seemingly abrupt fashion. Looks like the Dark Horse transition will be more smooth assuming Disney follows past practice in terms of comic books.

Check out Disney’s official news release below on today’s massive news.


Global leader in high-quality family entertainment agrees to acquire world-renowned Lucasfilm Ltd, including legendary STAR WARS franchise.

Acquisition continues Disney’s strategic focus on creating and monetizing the world’s best branded content, innovative technology and global growth to drive long-term shareholder value.

Lucasfilm to join company’s global portfolio of world class brands including Disney, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel and ABC.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.

Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm’s legendary Star Wars franchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks. Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world’s top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney’s strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.

The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney’s very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company’s unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney’s portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company’s ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world’s highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

Note: Additional information and comments from Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, and Jay Rasulo, senior executive vice president and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, regarding Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, are attached.

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The Secret World Of Arrietty And Two Other Studio Ghibli Arriving To Blu-ray In May Sat, 14 Apr 2012 14:00:39 +0000 In an early announcement to retailers, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is all set to release three Studio Ghibli titles on the Blu-ray format on May 22nd. The Secret World of Arrietty will make its home video debut on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, while Castle in the Sky and Whisper of the Heart make their debuts on the high-def format. They will join Studio Ghibli titles Ponyo and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind which are already available on the Blu-ray format.

All three titles will be available in the Blu-ray + DVD combo format. Arrietty carries a suggested list price of $39.99 (currently $29.99 at Amazon). The film is presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in both English and Japanese, as well as a French 5.1 Dolby Digital track.

Extras on the the Blu-ray includes “Storyboards,” original “Japanese Trailers and TV Commercials,” the “Summertime” Music Video by Bridgit Mendler and its making-of, and “Arrietty’s Song” Music Video.

Based on the acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers,” by Mary Norton, the titular character in The Secret World of Arrietty is a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, who lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts.

But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger.

Click on any of the images below to pre-order these upcoming Studio Ghibli titles.×120.jpg

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Disney Expects $200 Million Loss For John Carter Mon, 19 Mar 2012 22:08:38 +0000 Looking to keep the stockholders at ease, Disney has issued a short press release regarding John Carter‘s anemic box office gross thus far.

    “In light of the theatrical performance of John Carter ($184 million global box office), we expect the film to generate an operating loss of approximately $200 million during our second fiscal quarter ending March 31. As a result, our current expectation is that the Studio segment will have an operating loss of between $80 and $120 million for the second quarter. As we look forward to the second half of the year, we are excited about the upcoming releases of The Avengers and Brave, which we believe have tremendous potential to drive value for the Studio and the rest of the company.”

The Pulse: Well, those Mickey Mouse guys needed to do something to keep the stockholders from jumping ship to Apple. Honestly, the film division, outside of Pixar, has had problems when it comes to producing tentpole pictures. What’s sad is that John Carter isn’t a bad movie. It’s much better than the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean adventure and Alice in Wonderland, and they went on to gross over $1 billion apiece globally. Go figure.×120.jpg

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Disney Announces 2012 Blu-ray Release Slate Fri, 16 Mar 2012 21:00:36 +0000

Top five most needed Walt Disney titles on Blu-ray. Go.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced a list of over thirty films that they will bring to Blu-ray this year.

Listed in chronological Blu-ray release order, the titles include:

* May 15th, 2012:

  • Father of the Bride / Father of the Bride Part II
  • Bringing Down the House
  • * June 5th, 2012:

  • The Color of Money
  • Cocktail
  • Ransom
  • * June 19th, 2012:

  • Sister Act / Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
  • Evita
  • * July 3rd, 2012:

  • Home on the Range
  • The Horse Whisperer
  • Phenomenon
  • Step Up
  • Treasure Planet
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • * August 7th, 2012:

  • The Aristocats
  • * Fall 2012:

  • Adventures in Babysitting
  • Ed Wood
  • Ghosts of the Abyss 3D
  • Grosse Pointe Blank
  • High Fidelity
  • Judge Dredd
  • Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • Pocahontas / Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World two-movie package
  • The Rescuers / The Rescuers Down Under two-movie package
  • Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
  • The Tigger Movie
  • * Beginning in October 2012:

  • The Absent-Minded Professor
  • Arachnophobia
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Babes in Toyland
  • Beaches
  • Brother Bear
  • Cold Creek Manor
  • Dick Tracy
  • Flubber
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
  • Hocus Pocus
  • The Santa Clause Trilogy
  • Son of Flubber
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • While not all impressive, there are a few films on this list that I am very excited about. Particularly Ed Wood, which is my favorite film ever. Which ones will you be picking up?×120.png

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    Forrest Gump, The Silence Of The Lambs Added To The National Film Registry Wed, 28 Dec 2011 15:00:36 +0000 The War of the Worlds and Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi also among the 25 films to be preserved by the Library of Congress this year.]]> This week, the Library of Congress announced the latest twenty-five films that will enter the National Film Registry. Among those selected are film from John Cassavetes, Howard Hawks, and Billy Wilder.

    Also on the list of 25 films chosen to be preserved are Walt Disney’s Bambi, Charlie Chaplin’s first feature The Kid, and 1988’s Stand and Deliver starring Edward James Olmos.

    Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian of Congress each December names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.

    “These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”

    This year’s batch spans the period from 1912 to 1994 and brings the number of films in the registry to 575.

    Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,228 films were nominated) and conferring with Library film curators and the members of the National Film Preservation Board.

    Here’s a list of the films named to the 2011 National Film Registry, with descriptions supplied by the Library of Congress:

    Allures (1961)
    Called the master of “cosmic cinema,” Jordan Belson excelled in creating abstract imagery with a spiritual dimension that featured dazzling displays of color, light and ever-moving patterns and objects. Trained as a painter and profoundly influenced by Russian artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky, Belson collaborated in the late 1950s with electronic music composer Henry Jacobs to create elaborate sound and light shows in the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium, an experience that informed his subsequent films. Allures, Belson has stated, “was probably the space-iest film that had been done until then. It creates a feeling of moving into the void.” Inspired by Eastern spiritual thought, the five-minute film (which took a year and a half to make) is, Belson suggests, a “mathematically precise” work intended to express the process of becoming that the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin has named “cosmogenesis.”

    Bambi (1942)
    One of Walt Disney’s timeless classics (and his own personal favorite), this animated coming-of-age tale of a wide-eyed deer’s life in the forest has enchanted generations since its debut nearly 70 years ago. Filled with iconic characters and moments, the film is filled with beautiful images, the result of extensive nature studies by Disney’s animators. Its realistic characters merged human and animal qualities in the time-honored tradition of folklore and fable, enhancing the movie’s resonating, emotional power. Treasured as one of film’s most heart-rending stories of parental love, Bambi also has come to be recognized for its eloquent message of nature conservation.

    The Big Heat (1953)
    One of the great postwar noir films, The Big Heat stars Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and Gloria Graham. Set in a fictional American town, it tells the story of a tough cop (Ford) who takes on a local crime syndicate, exposing tensions within his own corrupt police department as well as insecurities and hypocrisies of domestic life in the 1950s. Filled with atmosphere, fascinating female characters and a jolting — yet not gratuitous — degree of violence, The Big Heat, through its subtly expressive technique and resistance to formulaic denouement, manages to be both stylized and brutally realistic, a signature of its director, Fritz Lang.

    A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
    Catmull created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays a hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film Futureworld, Catmull worked out concepts that have become foundational for the computer graphics that followed.

    Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963)
    American cinema-verite pioneer Robert Drew gathered together a stellar group of filmmakers, including D.A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Gregory Shuker, James Lipscomb and Patricia Powell, to capture on film the dramatic unfolding of an ideological crisis, one that revealed political decision-making at the highest levels. The result, Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, focuses on Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama — his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” confrontation — and the response of President John F. Kennedy. The film shows deliberations between the president and his staff that led to a peaceful resolution, a decision by the president to deliver a major address on civil rights, and a commitment by Wallace to continue his battle in subsequent national election campaigns. The film premiered at the first New York Film Festival and was then shown on ABC. It has proved to be a revealing complement to written histories of the period, providing viewers the rare opportunity to witness historical events from an insider’s perspective.

    The Cry of the Children (1912)
    Recognized as a key work that both reflected and contributed to the pre-World War I child labor reform movement, the two-reel silent melodrama The Cry of the Children takes its title and fatalistic, uncompromising tone of hopelessness from the 1842 poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The Cry of the Children was part of a wave of “social problem” films released during the 1910s on such subjects as drugs and alcohol, white slavery, immigrants and women’s suffrage. Some were sensationalist attempts to exploit lurid topics, while others, like Children, were realistic exposes that championed social reform and demanded change. Shot partially in a working textile factory, Children was recognized by an influential critic of the time as “the boldest, most timely and most effective appeal for the stamping out of the cruelest of all social abuses.”

    A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
    Largely forgotten today, actor John Bunny merits significant historical importance as the American film industry’s earliest comic superstar. A stage actor before the start of his film career in 1910, Bunny starred in more than 150 Vitagraph Studios productions until his death in 1915. Many of his films (affectionately known as “Bunnygraphs”) were gentle “domestic” comedies in which he portrayed a henpecked husband alongside co-star Flora Finch. A Cure for Pokeritis exemplifies the genre, as Finch conspires with similarly displeased wives to break up their husbands’ weekly poker game. When Bunny died in 1915, a New York Times editorial noted that “Thousands who had never heard him speak … recognized him as the living symbol of wholesome merriment.” The paper presciently commented on the importance of preserving motion pictures and sound recordings for future generations: “His loss will be felt all over the country, and the films which preserve his humorous personality in action may in time have a new value. It is a subject worthy of reflection, the value of a perfect record of a departed singer’s voice, of the photographic films perpetuating the drolleries of a comedian who developed such extraordinary capacity for acting before the camera.”

    El Mariachi (1992)
    Directed, edited, co-produced and written in two weeks by Rodriguez for $7,000 while a student at the University of Texas, El Mariachi proved a favorite on the film festival circuit. After Columbia Pictures picked it up for distribution, the film helped usher in the independent movie boom of the early 1990s. El Mariachi is an energetic, highly entertaining tale of an itinerant musician, portrayed by co-producer and Rodriguez crony Carlos Gallardo, who arrives at a Mexican border town during a drug war and is mistaken for a hit man who recently escaped from prison. The story, as film historian Charles Ramirez Berg has suggested, plays with expectations common to two popular exploitation genres — the narcotraficante film, a Mexican police genre, and the transnational warrior-action film, itself rooted in Hollywood Westerns. Rodriguez’s success derived from invigorating these genres with creative variants despite the constraints of a shoestring budget. Rodriguez has gone on to become, in Berg’s estimation, “arguably the most successful Latino director ever to work in Hollywood.”

    Faces (1968)
    Writer-director Cassavetes described Faces, considered by many to be his first mature work, as “a barrage of attack on contemporary middle-class America.” The film depicts a married couple, “safe in their suburban home, narrow in their thinking,” he wrote, who experience a breakup that “releases them from the conformity of their existence and forces them into a different context, when all barriers are down.” An example of cinematic excess, Faces places its viewers inside intense lengthy scenes to allow them to discover within its relentless confrontations emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films. In provoking remarkable performances by Lynn Carlin, John Marley and wife Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes created a style of independent filmmaking that has inspired filmmakers around the world.

    Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
    An expressive, sympathetic look at the everyday lives of young Mexican women who create ornamental papier-mache fruits and vegetables, Fruit Factory exemplifies filmmaker Chick Strand’s unique style that deftly blends documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques. After studying anthropology and ethnographic film at the University of California, Strand, who helped noted independent filmmaker Bruce Baillie create the independent film distribution cooperative Canyon Cinema, taught filmmaking for 24 years at Occidental College. She developed a collagist process to create her films, shooting footage of people she encountered over several decades of annual summer stays in Mexico and then editing together individual films. In Fruit Factory, Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, “the spirit of the people.” “I want to know,” Strand wrote, “really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society.”

    Forrest Gump (1994)
    As the title character, Tom Hanks portrays an earnest, guileless “everyman” whose open-heartedness and sense of the unexpected unwittingly draws him into some of the most iconic events of the 1960s and ’70s. A smash hit and the winner of the best picture Oscar, Robert Zemeckis’ “Gump” has been honored for its technological innovations (the digital insertion of Gump into vintage archival footage), its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump (and what he represents in terms of American innocence) to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era’s traumatic history.

    Growing Up Female (1971)
    Among the first films to emerge from the women’s liberation movement, Growing Up Female is a documentary portrait of America on the brink of profound change in its attitudes toward women. Filmed in spring 1970 by Ohio college students Julia Reichert and Jim Klein, Female focuses on six girls and women ages 4 to 34 and the home, school, work and advertising environments that have impacted their identities. Through open-ended interviews and lyrical documentation of their surroundings, the film strived, in Reichert’s words, to “give women a new lens through which to see their own lives.” Widely distributed to libraries, universities, churches and youth groups, the film launched a cooperative of female filmmakers that bypassed traditional distribution mechanisms to get its message communicated.

    Hester Street (1975)
    Joan Micklin Silver’s first feature-length film, Hester Street was an adaption of preeminent Yiddish author Abraham Cahan’s 1896 well-received first novel Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto. In the 1975 film, the writer-director brought to the screen a portrait of Eastern European Jewish life in America that historians have praised for its accuracy of detail and sensitivity to the challenges immigrants faced during their acculturation process. Shot in black-and-white and partly in Yiddish with English subtitles, the independent production, financed with money raised by the filmmaker’s husband, was shunned by Hollywood until it established a reputation at the Cannes Film Festival and in European markets. Hester Street focuses on stresses that occur when a “greenhorn” wife, played by Carol Kane (nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal), and her young son arrive in New York to join her Americanized husband. Silver, one of the first female directors of American features to emerge during the women’s liberation movement, shifted the story’s emphasis from the husband, as in the novel, to the wife. Historian Joyce Antler has written admiringly, “In indicating the hardships experienced by women and their resiliency, as well as the deep strains assimilation posed to masculinity, Hester Street touches on a fundamental cultural challenge confronting immigrants.”

    I, An Actress (1977)
    Underground filmmaker Kuchar and his twin brother, Mike, began making 8mm films as 12-year-old kids in the Bronx, often on their family’s apartment rooftop. Before his death in September, Kuchar created more than 200 outlandish low-budget films filled with absurdist melodrama, crazed dialogue and plots and affection for Hollywood film conventions and genres. A professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Kuchar documented his directing techniques in the hilarious I, An Actress as he encourages an acting student to embellish a melodramatic monologue with increasingly excessive gestures and emotions. Like most of Kuchar’s films, Actress embodies a “camp” sensibility, defined by the cultural critic Susan Sontag as deriving from an aesthetic that valorizes not beauty but “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” John Waters has cited the Kuchars as his “first inspiration” and credited them with giving him “the self-confidence to believe in my own tawdry vision.”

    The Iron Horse (1924)
    John Ford’s epic Western established his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors. Intended by Fox studios to rival Paramount’s 1923 epic The Covered Wagon, Ford’s silent film employed more than 5,000 extras, advertised authenticity in its attention to realistic detail and provided him with the opportunity to create iconic visual images of the Old West, inspired by such master painters as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. A tale of national unity achieved after the Civil War through the construction of the transcontinental railroad, Iron Horse celebrated the contributions of Irish, Italian and Chinese immigrants, though the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country legally was severely restricted at the time of its production. Iron Horse introduced to American and world audiences a reverential, elegiac mythology that has influenced many subsequent Westerns.

    The Kid (1921)
    Chaplin’s first full-length feature, the silent classic is an artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy. The tale of a foundling (Jackie Coogan, soon to be a major child star) taken in by The Little Tramp, The Kid represents a high point in Chaplin’s evolving cinematic style, proving he could sustain his artistry beyond the length of his usual short subjects and could deftly elicit a variety of emotions from his audiences by skillfully blending slapstick and pathos.

    The Lost Weekend (1945)
    A landmark social-problem film, The Lost Weekend provided audiences with an uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism. Directed by Wilder and co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, the film melded an expressionistic film-noir style with documentary realism to immerse viewers in the harrowing experiences of an aspiring New York writer willing to do almost anything for a drink. Despite opposition from his studio, the Hays Office and the liquor industry, Wilder created a film ranked as one of the best of the decade that won Academy Awards for best picture, direction, screenplay and actor (Milland) and established Wilder as one of America’s leading filmmakers.

    The Negro Soldier (1944)
    Produced by Frank Capra’s renowned World War II U.S. Army filming unit, The Negro Soldier showcased the contributions of blacks to American society and their heroism in the nation’s wars, portraying them in a dignified, realistic and far less stereotypical manner than they had been depicted in previous Hollywood films. Considered by film historian Thomas Cripps as “a watershed in the use of film to promote racial tolerance,” Negro Soldier was produced in reaction to instances of discrimination against African-Americans stationed in the South. Written by Carlton Moss, a young black writer for radio and the Federal Theatre Project, directed by Stuart Heisler and scored by Dmitri Tiomkin, the film highlights the role of the church in the black community and charts the progress of a black soldier through basic training and officer’s candidate school before he enters into combat. It became mandatory viewing for all soldiers in American replacement centers from spring 1944 until the war’s end.

    Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
    Fayard and Harold Nicholas, renowned for their innovative and exuberant dance routines, began in vaudeville in the late 1920s before headlining at the Cotton Club in Harlem, starring on Broadway and performing in Hollywood films. Fred Astaire is reported to have called their dance sequence in 1943’s Stormy Weather the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. Their home movies capture a golden age of show business — with extraordinary footage of Broadway, Harlem and Hollywood — and document the middle-class African-American life of that era, images made rare by the considerable cost of home-movie equipment during the Great Depression. Highlights include the only footage shot inside the Cotton Club, the only footage of famous Broadway shows like Babes in Arms, home movies of an all African-American regiment during World War II, films of street life in Harlem in the 1930s and the family’s cross-country tour in 1934.

    Norma Rae (1979)
    Highlighted by Field’s Oscar-winning performance, Norma Rae is the tale of an unlikely activist. A poorly educated single mother, Norma Rae Webster works at a Southern textile mill, where her attempt to better working conditions through unionization, though undermined by her factory bosses, ultimately succeeds after her courageous stand on the factory floor wins the support of her co-workers. The film is less a polemical pro-union statement than a treatise about maturation, personal willpower, fairness and the empowerment of women. Directed by Martin Ritt, Norma Rae was based on the real-life efforts of Crystal Lee Sutton to unionize the J.P. Stevens Mills in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., which finally agreed to allow union representation one year after the film’s release.

    Porgy and Bess (1959)
    Composer Gershwin considered his masterpiece Porgy and Bess to be a “folk opera.” Gershwin’s score reflected traditional songs he encountered in visits to Charleston, S.C., and in Gullah revival meetings he attended on nearby James Island. Controversy has stalked the production history of the opera that Gershwin created with DuBose Heyward, who had written the original novel and play (with his wife, Dorothy) and penned lyrics with Gershwin’s brother Ira. The lavish film version was produced in the late 1950s as the civil rights movement gained momentum, and a number of African-American actors turned down roles they considered demeaning. Harry Belafonte, who refused the part of Porgy, explained, “In this period of our social development, I doubt that it is healthy to expose certain images of the Negro. In a period of calm, perhaps this picture could be viewed historically.” Dissension also resulted when producer Samuel Goldwyn dismissed Rouben Mamoulian, who had directed the play and musical on Broadway, and replaced him with Otto Preminger. Produced in Todd-AO, a state-of-the-art widescreen and stereophonic sound recording process, with an all-star cast that included Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll, Porgy and Bess, now considered an “overlooked masterpiece” by one contemporary scholar, rarely has been screened in the ensuing years.

    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
    Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and director Jonathan Demme won accolades for this chilling thriller based upon a book by Thomas Harris. Foster plays rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling, who must tap into the disturbed mind of imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to aid her search for a murderer and torturer at large. A film whose violence is as much psychological as graphic, Silence of the Lambs — winner of Academy Awards for best picture, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay — has been celebrated for its superb lead performances, its blending of crime and horror genres and its taut direction that brought to the screen one of film’s greatest villains and some of its most memorable imagery.

    Stand and Deliver (1988)
    Based on a true story, Stand and Deliver stars Edward James Olmos in an Oscar-nominated performance as crusading educator Jaime Escalante. A math teacher in East Los Angeles, Escalante inspired his underprivileged students to undertake an intensive program in calculus, achieve high test scores and improve their sense of self-worth. Co-produced by Olmos and directed by Cuban-born Ramon Menendez, Stand and Deliver became one of the most popular of a new wave of narrative feature films produced in the 1980s by Latino filmmakers. The film celebrates in a direct, approachable and impactful way values of self-betterment through hard work and power through knowledge.

    Twentieth Century (1934)
    A satire on the theatrical milieu and its oversized egos, Twentieth Century marked the first of director Hawks’ frenetic comedies that had leading actors of the day “make damn fools of themselves,” in Hawks’ words, in a genre that became affectionately known as screwball comedy. Hawks had writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who penned the original play, craft dialogue scenes in which lines overlapped as in ordinary conversations but still remained understandable, a style he continued in later films. This sophisticated farce about the tempestuous romance of an egocentric impresario and the star he creates did not fare well on its release but has come to be recognized as one of the era’s finest comedies, one that gave Barrymore his last great film role and Lombard her first.

    The War of the Worlds (1953)
    Released at the height of Cold War hysteria, producer Pal’s lavishly designed take on H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel of alien invasion was provocatively transplanted from Victorian England to a mid-20th century Southern California small town in this film version. Capitalizing on the apocalyptic paranoia of the atomic age, Barre Lyndon’s screenplay wryly replaces Wells’ original commentary on the British class system with religious metaphor. Directed by Byron Haskin, formerly a special effects cameraman, the critically and commercially successful film chronicles an apparent meteor crash discovered by a local scientist (Gene Barry) that turns out to be a Martian spacecraft. Gordon Jennings, who died shortly before the film’s release, avoided stereotypical flying saucer-style creations in his Academy Award-winning special effects described by reviewers as soul-chilling, hackle-raising and not for the faint of heart.×120.jpg

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    Four Disney And Pixar Favorites To Get 3D Releases In 2012 & 2013 Tue, 04 Oct 2011 20:00:52 +0000 Because of the success of The Lion King 3D, Walt Disney Studios has announced plans for four more of its animated classics to get the same treatment. The following titles from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios will be released in 2012 and 2013:

    Beauty and the Beast – January 13, 2012
    Finding Nemo – September 14, 2012
    Monsters, Inc. – January 18, 2013
    The Little Mermaid – September 13, 2013×120.png

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    Guillermo del Toro Wouldn’t Lie, Starting Stop-Motion Pinocchio Feature Thu, 17 Feb 2011 18:30:03 +0000 Sixty-one years after Walt Disney gave us the animated classic, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has decided now is the time to update the wooden boy for a whole new audience.

    The director, who has given us such visual extravaganzas like Pan’s Labyrinth will be teaming up with The Jim Henson Company and Pathe to begin a 3D stop-motion animated adaptation of the Carlo Colodi fairy tale. Gris Grimly will co-direct with Mark Gustafson, and production will begin later this year.

    Grimly illustrated a 2002 book of Colodi’s tale that formed the basis for a project that is years in the making.

    The intended audience for this Pinocchio is ages 10 and up. Whereas Labyrinth was a grown-up fairy tale, this version will be a little bit scarier than the Disney film.

    Australian rock musician and film composer Nick Cave, who also wrote the Aussie western The Proposition, has signed on to be music consultant and the puppets and 3D elements will be developed with McKinnon and Saunders, the UK-based facility that worked on The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and the upcoming Frankenweenie.

    Del Toro supplied Deadline Hollywood with the following photos which give an idea of how the film will look.×120.jpg

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