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Pixar unveils latest project

Pixar is going a little older in 2009 than its typical demo. The Disney-owned toon studio's release that year will be "Up," about a 70-year-old man who teams with a wilderness ranger to fight beasts and villains. "Monsters, Inc." director Pete Docter is helming. Pixar vet Bob Peterson is writing the script and will co-direct. Monday's announcement fills in the remaining gap in the animation powerhouse's sked through 2010. After this month's "Ratatouille," it will release "Wall*E" next summer and "Toy Story 3" in summer 2010. . . .

Variety, June 11

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Good catch, Invisible Man. But that's not any more confusing than the fact that both of these albums came out in 2002:

Up and Up, and then, well... there's also Up.

Edited by Overstreet

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Comic-Con 2008: Disney/Pixar, BOLT & UP

The filmmakers behind two upcoming animated epics, Bolt and UP, present footage. One is funny, cute and about a delusional dog. The other is a Miyazaki-esque portrait of an old man and his flying house. Which one went over better, you think? . . .

UP looks like a Pixar-meets-Miyazaki art film version of About Schmidt. It made fanboys run for the exits. . . .

Kevin Kelly, SpoutBlog, July 26

Comic-Con: Disney pitches 'Bolt' and Pixar teases 'Up'

Bolt proved suitably entertaining...then immediately lackluster, once director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc.) came out and debuted a few scenes from Pixar's Up (pictured). An effusive fan likened the picture to the work of the Japanese great Hayao Miyazaki (Castle in the Sky), and such a comparison would be heresy were it not sorta true, based even on the small chunk of footage shown.

Entertainment Weekly, July 26

I'm not so sure such a comparison would be heresy even if it weren't "sorta true." I popped in Spirited Away this weekend as I set to doing some chores around the house and I was surprised that the introduction on the DVD is by Pixar's John Lasseter (I saw the film in the theater and bought the DVD when it came out, but I can't recall the last time I watched it so I have no recollection of that introduction). I immediately thought it was peculiar how different Pixar and Miyazaki films were and how little influence I've seen from Miyazaki on Pixar in spite of Lasseter's obvious affection for the man's work. But that may be just because I've never looked for it.

I haven't seen his name associated at all with Up, but I do see on Lasseter's IMDB page that he is listed as Executive Creative Consultant on Porco Rosso...

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

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Quoted above somewhere:

: If there ever was a hard sell of a Pixar film, this is it.

I can't imagine it being a tougher sell than the story of either a gourmet rat-chef or a bunch of obese people circling a post-apocalyptic Earth. And worldwide both those movies did as well (the former) or better (the latter) than Pixar's last "easy-sell" film (Cars).

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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The poster certainly is pretty. But then, so was A Bug's Life. And Antz, despite falling behind in the design department, was still a better movie overall.

I also can't help thinking about how butterflies look pretty if you stare at their wings, but the moment you look at their faces, the romance is over.

Just keeping my expectations modest, so that the movie itself can blow me away. Hopefully. :)

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The poster certainly is pretty. But then, so was A Bug's Life. And Antz, despite falling behind in the design department, was still a better movie overall.

I also can't help thinking about how butterflies look pretty if you stare at their wings, but the moment you look at their faces, the romance is over.

Just keeping my expectations modest, so that the movie itself can blow me away. Hopefully. :)

See, there's that "pretty pictures" again, like in the Wall-E thread. A failure to communicate?

I'm reminded of the anecdote, best known from Lewis's The Abolition of Man, in which Coleridge stands before a waterfall alongside two tourists, one of whom, to Coleridge's approval, calls the waterfall "sublime," while the other, to Coleridge's disgust, calls it "pretty."

The poster makes my heart leap. I've seen whole movies, not necessarily bad ones, that moved me less than that poster. "Pretty" is too housebroken a word.

The same issue ran through our discussion of Wall-E, I think.

Good grief, going back to A Bug's Life? The one film in the entire Pixar oeuvre (and only their second) without any hint of Pixar magic, the only film they ever made that could practically have been made by DreamWorks or Blue Sky or pretty much anybody. (Say all you like about Cars. It is a very imperfect film, definitely less than great, but also a work of strange and daring whimsy that only Pixar could have made.)

After Wall-E, I've given up on modest expectations. I expect luminous brilliance, if not transcendence, and am fully prepared to crash as hard and painfully as necessary.

Edited by SDG

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SDG wrote:

: See, there's that "pretty pictures" again, like in the Wall-E thread. A failure to communicate?

Oh, I think we understand each other. Whether we "get" each other is another question, though, I guess. :)

: I'm reminded of the anecdote, best known from Lewis's The Abolition of Man, in which Coleridge stands before a waterfall alongside two tourists, one of whom, to Coleridge's approval, calls the waterfall "sublime," while the other, to Coleridge's disgust, calls it "pretty."

Hey, that reminds me of a time when I was driving down the Coquihalla with a friend of mine. In that case, HE was the one who said, glibly, that the sunset was "pretty". I had said that the sunset was "beautiful", and I repeated my use of that word after he offered his two bits.

: The poster makes my heart leap. I've seen whole movies, not necessarily bad ones, that moved me less than that poster.

Heh.

Does the poster really add anything to your knowledge of the film that the existing teaser, etc. do not?

In any case, for me, my enjoyment of the poster is tempered by the knowledge that it is basically just an ad for a movie, and it is by no means certain that the movie will deserve this poster.

And for what it's worth, re: that butterfly analogy that I used above, I was thinking mainly of how the cloud of balloons is like the butterfly's wings -- beautiful, etc. -- but the REAL story is what's going on in the house BENEATH those balloons, and we can barely even SEE the house in this poster. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But this poster is only a teaser. We are being teased (in the best possible sense of the word). And my heart can only leap so much when I am being teased (in the best possible sense of the word).

: Good grief, going back to A Bug's Life?

Dude, I could let the menu screen on that DVD play for HOURS if I had to. It's simplicity and tranquility and natural beauty itself (digitally simulated though that beauty may be). And as for the movie, well, they sure got the textures right and everything. I do love that, about that film.

I just mention it because it was the first Pixar film that made me think, "Yeah, they've got the VISUALS down to a fine art, but man, the story isn't quite all that..."

Incidentally, speaking of "story", I am still wondering what Up is really all about. The story synopsis offered in the introductory post to this thread is somewhat different from the synopses offered in subsequent posts. Not irreconcilable, but different. A sign of Pixar's "chaotic" story development process (as that recent Variety article put it), perhaps?

: Say all you like about Cars. It is a very imperfect film, definitely less than great, but also a work of strange and daring whimsy that only Pixar could have made.

If by "strange and daring" you mean "leaden and even mildly offensive", I agree. (Hey, you SAID I could say all I like about Cars!! :) )

: I expect luminous brilliance, if not transcendence, and am fully prepared to crash as hard and painfully as necessary.

Wow.

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After Wall-E, I've given up on modest expectations. I expect luminous brilliance, if not transcendence, and am fully prepared to crash as hard and painfully as necessary.

I second that. And I'm right there with you on Cars too. (And, I hope, Cars 2?)

Edited by Overstreet

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SDG, I do wonder what you found "daring" about Cars - and this is from someone who would defend its worth with no lack of vigor. It is a well-told story, with wit, energy, and compassion -- but what it doesn't do, AFAICT, is break much new ground.

Edited by David Smedberg

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SDG, I do wonder what you found "daring" about Cars - and this is from someone who would defend its worth with no lack of vigor. It is a well-told story, with wit, energy, and compassion -- but what it doesn't do, AFAICT, is break must new ground.

Just passing by, David -- will reply soon. BTW, nice avatar -- National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, right? (We call that mosaic "the Christ of Muscle Beach." :) ) I'm sure it's not Yuri Norstein's "Hedgehog in the Fog." :)

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Right on, SDG. I was having trouble updating my profile earlier, otherwise it would say not only that it is indeed the mosaic "Christ in Majesty" from the National Shrine, but that the reason I chose it is because since my graduation from college I've been working in the shadow of that mosaic. But perhaps more on this news in another thread...

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FWIW, my Cars review.

I think there is daring in the decision to create an entirely automotive parallel world of such silliness and whimsy, a world without drivers, humans or living creatures of any kind, with cow-like tractors (and tractor tipping), insect-like VW Bugs, automorphic landscapes, etc. There is also a certain brio in a finale in which the hero

comes in third

in the big race.

It's certainly Pixar's least effective film after A Bug's Life, which as I say I find pretty much entirely lacking in Pixar magic (not unpleasant, just generic). I do see the Pixar magic at work in Cars, not quite firing on all cylinders perhaps, but still something special there. And talk about visuals! They're artists, those Pixar people.

Does the poster really add anything to your knowledge of the film that the existing teaser, etc. do not?

Well, I saw the poster first, so...

In any case, for me, my enjoyment of the poster is tempered by the knowledge that it is basically just an ad for a movie, and it is by no means certain that the movie will deserve this poster.

Agreed. Perhaps I might say that the poster makes me giddy with anticipation of the movie that does deserve this poster. If the actual movie Pixar releases isn't that movie, I can only lament that film that wasn't. (I could say the same of the terrific last scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which bristled with promise for a sequel that, alas, was something else entirely.)

Dude, I could let the menu screen on that DVD play for HOURS if I had to. It's simplicity and tranquility and natural beauty itself (digitally simulated though that beauty may be). And as for the movie, well, they sure got the textures right and everything. I do love that, about that film.

Fair enough. :)

If by "strange and daring" you mean "leaden and even mildly offensive", I agree. (Hey, you SAID I could say all I like about Cars!! :) )

"Leaden" is an entirely fair critique. While I find the movie's message regarding local cultures and changing thoroughfares half-baked and unconvincing, I can't think of anything I could begin to call "mildly offensive," unless you mean, like Mater and hick stereotypes, or something.

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SDG wrote:

: Well, I saw the poster first, so...

You weren't reading this thread in chronological order, then, I take it. :)

: While I find the movie's message regarding local cultures and changing thoroughfares half-baked and unconvincing, I can't think of anything I could begin to call "mildly offensive," unless you mean, like Mater and hick stereotypes, or something.

Well, to quote what I wrote in the thread for that film:

I appreciated the sacrifice theme -- as I told my editor right after seeing the film, the climactic moment with the sacrifice was good enough that I wished the film leading up to that moment had been worth sitting through -- but the romanticization of small-town life (and the implicit idea that it is somehow wrong, wrong, wrong to build new roads that bypass those towns and therefore make it possible to get from one place to another faster) actually annoyed me.

[ snip ]

Actually, I'm beginning to have second thoughts about that. I'm not sure that that is what the film actually does. I mean, if this is a "small town", it is a small town that depends for its very sense of fulfillment on its ability to sell, sell, sell. It depended on the old highway for its commerce, and when the new highway was built and the commerce dried up, these guys just stayed in that one spot and refused to go where the business was. I am not really sure what sort of message that sends -- but it's still annoying.

Among other things. And when Anders wrote:

You know, as much as I appreciate the message that JO got out of the film, I have to agree with Peter. I found that montage sequence, where Porscha waxes poetic about the lost way of life to be not so much an admonition to enjoy the "curve of the land" but a misguided nostalgia for a way of life that not only may not have existed, but ignores the negatives of that "50's small town America" in ways that rubbed me the wrong way.

I think that it hurt my appreciation of the film significantly.

I replied:

Exactly. I actually felt my boredom turn to annoyance at that point.

For whatever that's worth. It's the implicit moralism behind that part of the film which rankles, as much as anything else.

Incidentally, the wife played A Bug's Life for the twins the other day. I couldn't believe it had been ten years since that film came out.

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Peter, I don't disagree with your criticisms, I don't think. For me they go under the rubric of "half-baked and unconvincing," rather than "mildly offensive," per se. (Unless you're talking, like, aesthetic offense, or something.)

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FWIW, my Cars review.

I think there is daring in the decision to create an entirely automotive parallel world of such silliness and whimsy, a world without drivers, humans or living creatures of any kind, with cow-like tractors (and tractor tipping), insect-like VW Bugs, automorphic landscapes, etc. There is also a certain brio in a finale in which the hero

comes in third

in the big race.

Isn't it more of a requirement than an exceptional achievement for animated comedies to riff off of reality to create a unique fantasy world? What's so daring about that? (Or is it the sheer amount of whimsical fun that impresses you? Lord knows, it wouldn't be a Pixar movie if there wasn't plenty of gratuitous silliness.)

Edited by David Smedberg

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Isn't it more of a requirement than an exceptional achievement for animated comedies to riff off of reality to create a unique fantasy world? What's so daring about that? (Or is it the sheer amount of whimsical fun that impresses you? Lord knows, it wouldn't be a Pixar movie if there wasn't plenty of gratuitous silliness.)

David, I wound up writing enough in response to this that I thought it ought to go in the Cars thread.

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Isn't it more of a requirement than an exceptional achievement for animated comedies to riff off of reality to create a unique fantasy world? What's so daring about that? (Or is it the sheer amount of whimsical fun that impresses you? Lord knows, it wouldn't be a Pixar movie if there wasn't plenty of gratuitous silliness.)

Well, yeah, but to create an engaging, convincing fantasy world of cars that talk to one another in a world without drivers would be a formidable challenge for any storyteller... especially one who hopes for box office success. To make engaging, sympathetic, even soulful characters in that context? That's a tall order indeed. And then to fashion a story that speaks not only to imaginations but also to hearts and minds? Wildly ambitious.

And in my experience of Cars: Check, check, check. And yes: $CHECK!$

I found that montage sequence, where Porscha waxes poetic about the lost way of life to be not so much an admonition to enjoy the "curve of the land" but a misguided nostalgia for a way of life that not only may not have existed, but ignores the negatives of that "50's small town America" in ways that rubbed me the wrong way.

Yeah, I'm hoping Cars 2 will dig into the problem of McCarthyism, and the deep-rooted racial prejudice and sexism of the 50s. Because America has clearly forgotten all about those things. And where's the allusion to the conviction of Alger Hiss? When will Pixar stand up and acknowledge Truman's support for the development of the hydrogen bomb?

I'm confident that 7-year-olds across this country saw right through the blind, bone-headed, rah-rah, right-wing propaganda of this movie.

Seriously... come on. Sure, there were serious problems in the 50s. And anybody who glorifies that decade as some lost golden age is guilty of gross oversimplification. But as with any era, it had its virtues. Through change and time, we've lost some of those finer points. That loss is worth acknowledging. There was value in the "winding road" that kept us in touch with the character and soul of the country, as freeways allow us to bypass our own nation in our hurry to access what we want.

There's a moment in Up the Yangtze in which American tourists gaze at the landscape, where industrial progress has displaced two million people, and one American woman thanks her Chinese tour guide for doing a good job and remaining 'unobtrusive". She wants to experience China as she imagines it, without encountering actual Chinese people, because that might be awkward and cause her to actually think and engage with people. This is the kind of monster we become when countries become fashioned to serve the consumer, erasing the important experience that comes from engaging with our surroundings, the landscapes, and the people who work that land. "Paving paradise, putting up parking lots" ... that song isn't about nostalgia. We are losing -- have already lost -- something vital in this country. We've lost the understanding that any journey is greatly enriched by its invitation to engage with, experience, and understand the nature and the people that live within that distance. And in doing so, we've become impatient and insensitive.

To acknowledge this, without digging up references to all of the problems of that time, is not irresponsible or naive or destructively nostalgic. I don't see anything in Cars that claims the 50s represent the kingdom of God. But what's wrong with acknowledging the slow fading of a certain kind of innocence... or better, what's wrong with acknowledging a loss of understanding and appreciation?

That is the heart of Cars. It's about how a loss of intimacy with our neighbors leads to a loss of perspective (being able to see and appreciate the beauty of the land) and a loss of compassion (being able to see, understand, and appreciate the communities all around us.)

The movie cuts through my skepticism and moves me. It also does so with wit and imagination that I would never qualify as "gratuitous silliness."

That's why I love Pixar. And while there are several other Pixar films I admire much, much more than Cars... that is further praise for Pixar, not a put-down for Cars.

I would never give this film anything less than a hearty recommendation for families seeking entertainment that is thought-provoking and beautifully crafted.

Edited by Overstreet

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The movie cuts through my skepticism and moves me. It also does so with wit and imagination that I would never qualify as "gratuitous silliness."

Well, FWIW, I considered it a high compliment. ::blush:: By gratuitous I meant not unwanted but unforced, freely given and freely received.

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Someone has seen a preview:

The rough-cut version of the film that was presented to us was mixed with storyboard, rough and finished animation. The movie plot was completely original but somewhat dark with many adult themes (aging, loss, separation and unfinished promises). Both my wife and I welled up at a few scenes and there is a memorable montage that depicts a couple

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