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Given that most Hollywood movies are intended mainly to satisfy the tastes of teenage boys, almost anything else is welcome. One of the good things about movies such as Pixar's, which must operate within the constraints of all-ages entertainment, is that they have to exclude much that teenage boys find entertaining, and which, as an adult, I find unpleasant and tiresome.

Further, I have an easier time finding movies that my wife and I can enjoy than movies that my whole family can enjoy, and a reduction in all-family movies to add to adult-only movies would be a net loss for me. I would rather that Pixar stays within their current audience targets.

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But who says any of these the same guys can't make a film for adults, and just do so under some other banner?

If names like Bird and Stanton and Lasseter start showing up on feature films for grownups, I'll be first in line. (Especially if names like Chabon show up on their screenplays!)

And at the same time, I'm as excited to enjoy what in my estimation is a golden age of all-ages filmmaking as I would be for a golden age in any other genre. Artful, excellent, meaningful stories for children are, in some sense, the most important kinds of stories because they capture imaginations in the earliest stages of formation. I'm glad I had parents and a librarian who were careful to direct me to great books, because I still read those books and find meaning and substance in them now. If I was a parent, Pixar would be the primary source of animated entertainment in our house, just as A.A. Milne and Roald Dahl and Bill Peet and J.R.R. Tolkien would have a very special place on our bookshelves. (Oh, how I miss Jim Henson.)

Edited by Overstreet

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Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Further thoughts continued at the thread on 'Pixar: The studio, its history and process'.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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12 pages???!!!

I always thought that us Brits were disadvantaged as there would be reams of discussion about films that were released 6 months prior in the US to the UK. However, I am in the US and saw this on the opening weekend and yet - 12 pages????!!!

Yeah, I ain't gonna read that.

It's fab. I loved it. Haven't laughed so hard in years. Haven't cried so genuinely in years. Also, a tip for anyone that's into that sort of thing: great movie to see when stoned.

Thinking of writing an article on this. Yes, an academic one. I'll prob come back and road test ideas once have actually developed them beyond a vague sense that certain aspects interested me. In the meantime, if anyone knows of any articles about the technologies used in this movie, a pointer would be muchly appreciated. I'm particularly interested in looking into how they created realistic textures of 2d objects (i.e. paper) in 3d. i know naaaaaaaaaaathing about cgi and 3d.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Also, a tip for anyone that's into that sort of thing: great movie to see when stoned.

:D

Points for honesty!

I think that's the first time a film has been praised in such terms on this board in all its... what... seven years?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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gigi wrote:

: 12 pages???!!!

16, if you read them in groups of 15-posts-per-page as I do. :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Overstreet wrote:

: And remember that Pixar is making a movie about adulthood and aging and loss... but they're making it with an audience of children in mind . . .

Well, that would seem to back up Suderman's point that Pixar's latest films have been basically grown-up stories with "kiddie elements grafted on" ... which would seem to back up the claims of critics such as myself (or Alan "There's DreamWorks for that" Jacobs, for that matter) that the movie starts off promisingly but falls back on conventions etc. after that ...

: : When Carl escapes a forced nursing-home intake by spiriting away his old house by helium balloons, he's providing Up with its only real visual idea, one which itself is slightly cribbed from Terry Gilliam's flying-building featurette The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

:

: Huh. Don't know that Gilliam film.

It's the short film that begins Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. I believe it's the one that includes that lovely song that goes: "I'd love to charter an accountant / And sail the wide accountancy / To find, explore / The funds off-shore / And skirt the shoals of bankruptcy / It can be manly in insurance / We'll up your premiums semi-annually / It's all tax-deductible / We're fairly incorruptible / We're sailing the wide accountancy..." (Yes, yes I do sing that song to my friends and family every now and then, why do you ask?)

: So, would you have preferred natives, and all of the inappropriate stereotypes that come with that? I think the dogs are preferable.

Sicinski's comment here is very fascinating. It brings to mind Chewbacca, who was, on the one hand, a loyal-puppy-dog sort of character, but who was also, on the other hand, one of a number of species-as-racial-other characters who seemed inordinately prone to incurring "life debts" in the service of white masters (see also Jar Jar Binks).

: Would Sicinski condemn the Wallace and Gromit films for following these conventions?

Funny, I thought YOU had a been-there-done-that reaction when you saw the most recent W&G cartoon. :) (I quote: "I hate to say it, but W&G is starting to feel too redundant to me. It just felt like, well... just another W&G caper. I found my attention straying near the end, during the typical frantic finale.")

In any case, W&G are quite explicitly PARODIES of the conventions in question, and it is apparently not so clear that that is the case with Up.

: Personally, I'd like to see Pixar shake off these patterns too, but if they're done well, I don't see why we should complain.

Ah, but ARE they done well? Sicinski calls them "perfunctory". Someone earlier in this thread called them "rushed".

: : Even as I write this, I do feel awkward, since I stand alone with the loonies in the critical community in failing to respond to Up.

:

: Uh-oh. Is he going to pull a Podheretz on us? You are not alone, Mr. Sicinski. Just look around a bit.

Maybe "loonies" is just short-hand for "people who write for right-wing rags" like Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal. :) Of course, right-wingers like Kyle Smith also love Up. I guess the question here is whether anyone on the left dislikes Up. (I say all this having no knowledge of Sicinski's political leanings. I'm simply trying to discern any sort of connection between Podhoretz and Morgenstern, the only two "major" critics I know of that have not particularly cared for this movie.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Likewise, the house, which Carl has taken to calling "Ellie," must eventually be sacrificed in the name of rescuing Russell, meaning that the old man must let go of the past and embrace his "new adventure" in the present and future.

Yeah? So?

I don't think that Carl is literally referring to the house as Ellie, as Sicinski's sentence above might seem to imply. The house is undeniably a metaphorical symbol for Ellie, but I don't think Carl is suffering from any sort of psychosis and thinks it is her. Carl is merely talking to his symbol for Ellie. In fact, there was a humorous bit when Russell figures this out and asks Ellie if he can keep Kevin.

: Personally, I'd like to see Pixar shake off these patterns too, but if they're done well, I don't see why we should complain.

Ah, but ARE they done well? Sicinski calls them "perfunctory". Someone earlier in this thread called them "rushed".

I did say the second half of the film seemed rushed... Particularly after the dinner with Muntz scene. But this is a double-edged criticism. I think I felt it seemed rushed because from that point on it became a series of chase/adventure/emotional wrap-up scenes that did, on some level, feel "perfunctory." But I was having such a great time up until that point enjoying getting to know the characters and the world-building (talking dogs and all) that I hated to see, shall we say, "the beginning of the end" of the film. I would have loved to spend another 30 minutes of film (heck, or more) exploring these characters and their world.

As it is, I wonder if I'll feel more comfortable with the second half on repeat viewings, having seen the entire film once and knowing at what point it begins to wrap-up.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Yeah, I almost quoted *myself*, Peter, on Wallace and Gromit :)

Because of the marked difference between my experience of the two. As far as I'm concerned, the W&G film is an example of going through the motions. They end their story the same way they've ended some of the other W&G adventures... with an out-of-control contraption and acrobatic Rube Goldberg antics in which Gromit is the only one who knows what's really going on. It was all so familiar, the W&G movie didn't make me care one bit about what was going on. I've seen those two characters in situations so incredibly similar that I just felt bored.

But Up's situation, while familiar in that it's a fast-paced, high-stakes conclusion, was still new *enough* to be engaging. What is more, I cared about the characters, and how the action was still integral in playing out the story's thematic progress.

Even though Up's ending was a tribute to old thrill-ride adventure films, it was creative enough, and so invested with storytelling and character, that I really cared. There was a great deal at stake. In the latest W&G, I didn't so much... partly because it was too familiar, and partly because... I mean, really, is there any suspense? Don't we know our heroes will be pretty much unchanged at the end, back to Square One? (Pixar, on the other hand, has taught me that things might indeed take unexpected turns. I really thought that Frederickson might die before it was over.)

If there's a sequel to Up that repeats the same dramatic beats as this one, believe me, I'll be disappointed. But Toy Story 2 proved that Pixar's capable of making sequels that do more than recycle the original. So I'm willing to be optimistic about future Pixar sequels. For now.

Edited by Overstreet

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Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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When Carl escapes a forced nursing-home intake by spiriting away his old house by helium balloons, he's providing Up with its only real visual idea, one which itself is slightly cribbed from Terry Gilliam's flying-building featurette The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

Huh. Don't know that Gilliam film.

The building doesn't fly in the Gilliam film. It sets sail and becomes a pirate ship. It's very nautical.

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One of these days, I'll get around to seeing that film. I can't believe I have their other features, including Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and the complete televison series but have never seen Meaning of Life...

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Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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And so it's all the more frustrating that, when the main story kicks in, we're essentially treated to a slight variation of the "curmudgeon softened by moppet" story, remapped through exactly the sort of second-tier Spielberg that we'd expect those Charles Muntz adventure stories to implant in an impressionable mind. (And why not? Spielberg has long cited his childhood matinee experiences with Alan Quatermain serials as his inspiration for the Indiana Jones series, although luckily Spielberg had the talent and good sense to improve on his forebears' efforts.)

The story is very Spielbergian, sure. I'm okay with that. But it's not just about "curmudgeon softened by moppet." It's also about letting go of the past, the process of grieving, and how we respond to they mysteries in our lives. Do we just "scrapbook and collect souvenirs"? Or do we learn from those experiences and move on, leaving all that "stuff" behind?

I don't think it is a Curmudgeon softened by moppet story at all.

Carl in fact is unmoved by Russell at the story's critical moment and abandons him and Kevin in order to stay with the house. The pivot for the story is actually when he sees Ellie's adventure book and sees Ellie's note to him. (Which can be faulted for being a little too direct in expressing one of the movie's ideas, but that is a different issue.) It is only after that that he has the emotional freedom to relate to anyone else. THAT is where we see the transformation in Carl, and Russell had nothing whatever to do with bringing it about. Russell's significance, in terms of the story of Carl's character, is to give the audience a chance to see how Carl has changed through Carl's actions regarding Russell, not as the agent who changes Carl's character.

One of these days, I'll get around to seeing that film. I can't believe I have their other features, including Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and the complete televison series but have never seen Meaning of Life...

I thought that most of The Meaning of Life was, frankly, not worth seeing. I wish it were otherwise.

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Overstreet wrote:

: Because of the marked difference between my experience of the two. As far as I'm concerned, the W&G film is an example of going through the motions.

And many people feel the same way about certain aspects of Up. So, there you go.

FWIW, it seems to me that the W&G films have been getting more "mature" lately, but in a bawdier-humour sort of way, rather than by trying to plumb the depths of old age and widowhood (can we use the word "widowhood" when talking about a widower rather than a widow?), etc. And for me, the bawdier aspects of the more recent W&G films have spoiled a series that was previously quite suitable for the entire family. (Though I'm sure some families will disagree with me on that one.)

But to the extent that W&G have been deviating from their earlier format, at least, I would say they're not ENTIRELY going through the motions.

: (Pixar, on the other hand, has taught me that things might indeed take unexpected turns. I really thought that Frederickson might die before it was over.)

Really? I don't know if that means you have less faith in Pixar than I or more faith in Pixar than I. :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And many people feel the same way about certain aspects of Up. So, there you go.

"So, there you go"...?

[Never mind. Comments withdrawn. I don't think it's going to be productive to get into what you mean by this. It should be clear from my comments that I understand "many people" feel differently than me. But I'm tired of this, so I'm moving on.]

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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"So there you go" has less syllables and is therefore pithier than "So there are differences of opinion on this matter, and the point I'm trying to underscore here is that your reaction to the latest W&G ('too redundant', 'typical frantic finale', etc.) happens to match the reaction of some/many/whatever people to the latest Pixar, so such reactions obviously can't be dismissed out of hand, unless you wish to dismiss your own reaction to the latest W&G out of hand, too."

"So there you go" certainly wasn't meant to imply any sort of "final answer", unless I suppose one wants to say that "There is no final answer!" is the final answer.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I don't think Jeff is trying to "dismiss" anything out of hand, Peter.

OTOH, Jeff, your point-by-point response to Sicinski doesn't always sound like you're saying "I know this is his response, but mine was different," and that does sort of invite Peter's cross-examination (his Sicinski's advocate, as it were).

If we're going to subject negative reviews to point-by-point responses, then positive reviews and responses are fair game too.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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I have to agree with Bowen on Meaning of Life. Hands down the worst Python film. Revolting and sick, with no point to make that's worth what you have to sit through. And I say this as a devoted Python fan. Watch the Gilliam short at the beginning and then take the DVD out of your player.

Oh yeah, this is a thread about Up. Haven't seen it yet. But every artist goes through the motions at some points. The motions themselves can still be interesting. I wrote an entry in my blog about seeing Clarence Gatemouth Brown perform; he was in his late 60s at the time, I'd guess, and seemed content to play his current record note for note instead of taking any chances. But, y'know, there aren't many guitarists who could play a Gatemouth record note for note. If he were a classical guitarist, that's exactly what his audience would expect to hear.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

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FWIW, I don't find "going through the motions" a helpful way to describe Up even in the Exciting Final Act.

From Russell making like Harry Potter on a leaf-blower with balloons to the aerial rendezvous of Carl's house and Muntz's dirigible … from the creaking standoff of two old men with bad backs brandishing weapons they can't swing to Carl's inspired use of his dentures as a projectile rather than masticatory weapon … from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen to the continued inventive use of that garden hose (e.g., Dug cranking the handle to "dock" the house and the dirigible) … and finally to the startling abandonment of the house at the brink of escape … Up's Exciting Final Act is chock-full of things that I've either never seen before, or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively.

As for the rest of the film ... I've seen talking dogs before, but never talking dogs like this. I've seen cute animated sidekicks, but nothing outside a Miyazaki with a personality approaching Kevin.

In general, Up strikes me as arguably Pixar's most audacious film (only Wall-E competes). Audacity alone doesn't make a film great, but it opens the door to a lot of good will, and when it works well it earns gratitude as well as admiration.

(In passing, I am pleased to be a part of any conversation that gives me an excuse to say "masticatory." Thank you.)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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SDG wrote:

: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

That's the one shot that caused me to add "or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively." But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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: . . . from the priceless shot of Muntz gaping at Russell slowly sliding past on the dirigible windscreen . . .

FWIW, that shot already seemed kind of been-there-done-that to me when it appeared in the trailer.

That's the one shot that caused me to add "or at most rarely if ever seen done so inventively." But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?

That shot is amazing. It's not like it's photo-realistic animation, but watching it gave me the almost freaky impression that I was watching an actual human rather than a CGI character. The eyes are just perfect.

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Because Cars has been mentioned several times in this thread, I thought I'd post a user review from someone who didn't like Up that was posted on a group blog I write for from time to time.

http://www.rabbitroom.com/?p=2655

Wow. A movie should not get this much positive review without a cranky critic entering his 2 cents. I did NOT like UP. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but the artsyness and sentimentality didn
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SDG wrote:

: But beyond your response to the trailer, where exactly have you Been There and Done That?

Can't think of a specific example, right now. But a bad guy yelling "Where are they!" and then suddenly having his nemesis pass by right in front of his eyes, in an awkward or embarrassing manner, just makes me say, a la Luke Skywalker, "There's something familiar about this place, it feels like..." And then Yoda interrupts me before I can say anything specific. (And then the revisionist prequels come out and reveal that I was never at Dagobah in the first place anyway, so that feeling of familiarity was just an illusion.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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