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May 27, 2009

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Match Cuts Glenn

Great to hear Up doesn't disappoint! Would it be fair to put Pixar as a company in the same sentence as Chaplin, Hitchcock, Godard, etc. in terms of iconic influence? I wonder if critics are ready to make that leap.

Benjamin Strong

Wow, hats off for working in musings on The Fall (aka the best band ever) into a Pixar review. Actually, Carl and MES have a lot in common, curmudgeon wise. To quote MES from the most recent Fall album: "I'm a 50 year old man-uh, whadda you gonna do about it-uh?!"

And yeah, UP is wonderful.

Steven Santos

It is getting to the point where the annual Pixar film is one of the 2 or 3 summmer movies I have any desire to see. Despite constantly being tagged as children's movies or cartoons, their films speak just as much to adults, moreso than the arrested development of the sequels and franchise reboots that are cluttering the theaters out there.

I definitely feel they should be noted for their iconic influence, as Match Cuts Glenn mentions. I think their films have stood the test of time so far and have some of the best visual storytelling of the last 15 years.

JC

Did you see it in 3D, Glenn? I was going to indulge that format with my nieces on Friday, my first 3D film ever in a conventional movie theater...

Ctrl-Alt

Makes me want to re-read Elkin's The Magic Kingdom.

Brian

The Fall? Really? Such pretentious, tuneless garbage.

Dave McDougall

Glenn - that 4th paragraph is killer. Thanks.

Ctrl-Alt

The Fall aren't pretentious. But the people who don't like them are.

Christian

Never liked The Fall for sonic reasons. Tho I see why people would. UP looks great and Pixar should be a hallowed name at this point, the quality of their stuff is so staggeringly unique and heartfelt.

lazarus

Doesn't "Ellie" look EXACTLY like the cowgirl in Toy Story 2? Just sayin'.

Also, I remember reading about that cave-tubing excursion when planning my trip to Belize. It looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm bummed out I passed it up, but I think it involved having to take a small plane to that area, which is pretty high up on my list of Things Not To Do.

JC

You could also argue that Ellie sort of resembles Elastigirl from The Incredibles...but certainly Jessie The Cowgirl from Toy Story 2, minus the hat.

swhitty

I loved the film too, Glenn, and had the same Nick Park thought, although I haven't enjoyed Pixar consistently enough to have gotten blase quite yet -- didn't rave over Ratatouille and Cars left me in neutral, if I can descend into Shalit-approved Blurbese.

But as to the the similarities of Ellie to other Pixar femmes -- could it be possible that someone high up at the studio has a fixation? Not a full-blown, Quentin T, oh-my-god-can-I-take-some-more-pictures-of-your-size-11s fixation, but just a strong fondness for a certain, tom-boyish type?

It's not unheard of. I mean, there are the Hitchcock blondes, of course. And I think of Tim Burton's films in which the heroine -- whether it's Winona, Christina, Helena, or that stop-motion ghoul in "Nightmare" -- almost invariably has a high domed forehead, pale complexion, huge eyes and curls.

My guess? He saw Elsa Lanchester in "Bride of Frankenstein" at an early, impressionable, and highly sexed age and never quite got over it.

Could be the same with our cowgirl/Incredible/Ellie prototype...

Match Cuts Glenn

How full of crap is Armond White? Trick question.

Paul Johnson

As someone who rather disliked A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, I think it would be rather nice to see someone not named Armond White attempt a probing, thoughtful and suitably mean take down of Pixar. But as someone who liked or loved Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, I'm not especially inclined to do so myself. All I will say is they haven't produced a work as beautiful or poetic as the early Disney features (Snow White through Bambi), although had Wall-E's second half matched its first, they would have. Also, their short films, clever though they are, don't come close to matching the anarchic brilliance of the best of Fleischer, Avery, or Jones. So in other words, I'm not quite ready to rank them amongst the immortals, but that's not to say that won't change in the near future, especially if they ever manage a work that sustains the intensity of the best parts of Wall-E.

All of which also pretty much sums up my feelings about the Fall. Just change out the film titles with various Fall albums (in particular, change Wall-E to This Nation's Saving Grace) and in place of references to other animators put various Punk bands. The only difference being that I don't have much hope Mark E. Smith has a bona fide masterpiece in him at this late date.

Max

Okay, this is completely not the right place to comment on this, but I need to get this off my back and feel like you're the right man to talk to.

Have you seen Rex Reed's review of Pontypool, Bruce McDonald's new excellent horror film? Looking past the fact that some people won't like it (it's at a 70% on Tomatometer, but Lisa Schwartzbaum nailed it with her 'A' review), is there anyone who dislikes things with more unearned arrogance and hatefulness than Reed? Up to this point I felt everyone had their right to an opinion but I really feel as though Reed's should have his taken away.

Beyond the dismissive way he condemns the plot, he first writes "The acting is so abominable that the cast is better off unmentioned." The supporting work may not be the strongest, but Stephen McHattie is positively tour-de-force in this movie. It's worth seeking out to see him (and great to see him, albeit briefly, in Watchmen as Hollis Mason).

But also, the way he trashes all Canadian film in one fell swoop is quite awe-inspiring. Well, a FEW fell swoops.

"The title ... means “something’s gonna happen.” Nothing ever does (it’s a Canadian movie, after all)."

"Like most Canadian movies (this is a rude generalization that I have learned, through time and experience, is worth making), it has no tension, meter or structure, and is utterly pointless. "

Even for Reed, this is too fucking much. Isn't this the kind of shit that had his Oldboy review taken off the site? Okay, I guess he doesn't mock Canada as a nation, just our film. And I know the output isn't that strong, but to condemn ALL Canadian work, like the work of Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Francois Girard Denys Arcard, the recent films C.R.A.Z.Y and the excellent doc RiP!: A Remix Manifesto, and so matter-of-factly just makes you a piece of shit.

Fuck Rex Reed.

Sorry for this exceedingly long rant in such an inappropriate location. Just wondering if you've read the article, or seen Pontypool (I think it'd be up your alley). I think Up looks great, and enjoyed your review (especially your acknowledgment of the fact that it seems boring to praise Pixar, and the contradiction because they really ARE that good).

Dan Coyle

Rex Reed is still reviewing movies?

Fuck, Rex Reed is still ALIVE?

John Nolte, who's known to hold his grudges (he threw a temper tantrum over Wall-E), just gave the Up a huge blow job over at big Hollywood. Even said Asner deserves an Oscar nomination.

John Nolte. Said Ed Asner. Deserves an Oscar Nominaton.

This thing's GOT to be as good as they say.

JC

So right now it's just Armond White and Joe Morgenstern giving Up negative reviews? I figure it'll get around eleven in total.

Owain Wilson

I seem to be one of the few moviegoers who does not love Pixar. For me, the problem is that every one of their films is exactly the same, with the exception of The Incredibles and maybe Ratatouille (which I haven't seen).

There's a funny little society operating right under our noses, and we aren't even aware of it. One day, a spunky member of this society finds themselves out in the real world so their little pals bust out on a rescue mission.

Which Pixar film am I talking about? It could be Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc. or Finding Nemo, and to a slightly lesser extent Cars and Wall-E.

It's the same every time, and it's boring. I know those wacky Pixar guys with their humourous Hawaiian shirts and day-glo work spaces are extremely clever and produce beautifully crafted movies, but the acclaim heaped upon their imaginations is a little over the top.

But that's just me.

Jason M.

Ironically, one of the criticisms that White levels against UP is that:

"artistic standards get trumped by a special feature: sentimentality."

Seems like a strange critique for a guy who seems to worship Spielberg, most of whose movies could be summed up by that very critique. But perhaps I am expecting consistency where I have no right to...

Glenn Kenny

Armond White's review of "Up" is an apt demonstration of the old adage "There's no prick like a stupid prick." Well played, as they say.

Pete Segall

Are the lack of spaces between White's serial commas his own syntactic laziness or a further symptom of the Press's generally shambolic operation? I mean, the site as a whole looks like something somebody slapped together on a Geocities template around 3:30 this morning, but at the same time White reads like someone whose idea(s?) just kind of seeped out of him, half-formed and turgid but as refined as it'll ever get. It's a genuine puzzler.

Match Cuts Glenn

@ Owain Wilson - By placing all of the Pixar films under one umbrella generalization, I think you're missing the nuances of these beautiful films. Sure, they have commonalities, but the genius of Pixar lies in the subtle details of the characters, time and place, all very different from each other. Of all the Pixar films, Cars is by far the worst, and Ratatouille suffers from a terrible middle act, but other than that they are mostly pure gold. And these films are everything but boring.

Owain Wilson

@Match Cuts Glenn - I'm not really placing them under one umbrella generalization, but that was my main point about them and all I had time to write!

I don't find them all boring, but when film after film is basically the same as the last one - nuances notwithstanding - it's hard to feel enthusiastic about them.

But I totally understand why everyone loves them. I'm crazy about James Bond which makes me a total hypocrite when it comes to complaining about repetition.

Ctrl-Alt

I think some of you are forgetting that Pixar movies are made with children in mind. I think it would be funny to hear some of you try and explain to my 4 year old daughter why Monsters, Inc. isn't really as good as she thinks it is. Seriously, some of you need to lighten up.

Ryan Kelly

So because they're 'children's' films they deserve to be taken less seriously? That's not only a dubious line of thought, it's insulting to children.

LondonLee

Oddly enough, the supposedly weak Cars is my two-year-olds favorite Pixar movie (she's seen them all). She saw it for the first time the other week and was spellbound.

Ctrl-Alt

Dude, why are you so belligerent all the time? How am I being insulting to children? All I'm saying is that if you have ever seen the joy a child gets out of watching all of these movies then I don't think you would be so apt to call them overrated. And I am referring to the collective you that thinks these movies are not as good as everyone says they are, not YOU, RYAN KELLY. I mean, what are you talking about? Go have a drink or something. Get over yourself. Go take as many things seriously as you want. No one is stopping you.

vadim

From Rex Reed's review of WHAT GOES UP in the same PONTYPOOL debacle: "What Goes Up features a sub-mental script and paralytic direction (both by Jonathan Glatzer, a name to erase forever from your Facebook)."

What I want to know is, does Rex always friend the people who make the movies he reviews before seeing the movie?

Ryan Kelly

Sorry, don't mean to be belligerent. Text only conveys so much. If I've been a jerk to you now or before, or if it came off that way, I'm sorry.

But the idea that we should hold children's films to a lower standard is one that genuinely plotzes me. And it's exactly why so many children's films are crap. We should never settle for less. If anything, they should be held to a higher standard. During Disney's early years, Walt never would have half-assed a movie because it was supposed to be for kids.

And I never said that I don't like Pixar. I do think they're kind of sell-outs, and their last two features (not counting "Up") I found most disappointing. But "Toy Story" is easily among the studio's best, I think. But in no way should they be above criticism. And I've taken my little brother to just about every Pixar movie and will do the same for "Up", albeit begrudgingly. But suddenly I or anyone else can't have an opinion on it? Dare I say, that's exactly part of the backlash against Pixar--- any complaints or criticism about the movie's they make is met with responses of "Oh, you're a crank, it's just for kids".

Now, as for the drink, that's not such a bad idea!

Owain Wilson

So the adults who love them are taking them too seriously, and the adults who don't like them are taking them too seriously ... ?

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