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bowen wrote:

: (2) Muntz represented Carl's own destructive obsessiveness made physical, and in terms of dramatic logic Carl's renunciation of his obsession had to be represented by Muntz's death.

Wow.

Like, wow.

I really need to check this bonus feature (I've had the Blu-Ray for weeks, maybe even months by now, but haven't checked out ANY of the bonus features), to see if they address the fact that this outcome was made necessary only because of earlier questionable decisions re: the development (or lack thereof) of Muntz's character.

"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 really need to check this bonus feature (I've had the Blu-Ray for weeks, maybe even months by now, but haven't checked out ANY of the bonus features), to see if they address the fact that this outcome was made necessary only because of earlier questionable decisions re: the development (or lack thereof) of Muntz's character.

In courtrooms, I think they call this assuming facts not in evidence.

Muntz's character is developed from where we saw him in the newsreel in the movie's prologue as his quest for redemption hardens into obsession and then madness, which is where he is when we see him in the third act. (The film strongly implies that he has been killing people because of his paranoid delusions for years.) That's his character arc, from hero to villain. It also dramatically foreshadows, parallels, and represents Carl's own descent. Dramatically I think it is very neat and logical and works well. What you're talking about amounts to making a different movie and I'm not at all convinced a better one.

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bowen wrote:

: Muntz's character is developed from where we saw him in the newsreel in the movie's prologue as his quest for redemption hardens into obsession and then madness, which is where he is when we see him in the third act. (The film strongly implies that he has been killing people because of his paranoid delusions for years.) That's his character arc, from hero to villain.

You call the character "developed" and you say he has an "arc". That is where you and I differ, as per my earlier posts in this thread.

: It also dramatically foreshadows, parallels, and represents Carl's own descent.

Now you're just confirming my own complaint (and Pixar's point) that Muntz has no real character of his own and is basically just the non-Carl.

: What you're talking about amounts to making a different movie . . .

Well, yeah, obviously.

: . . .and I'm not at all convinced a better one.

What was that about assuming facts not in evidence? You can't critique movies that don't exist. ;)

"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 know Armond White gets too much attention as it is (though I do think he has a point with some of the films on his list, which makes his daft explanations all the more frustrating, not to mention his way of comparing pictures), but the following, from his Better Than List for 2009, sent my eyebrows into space:

Cherry Blossoms > Up Doris Dorrie’s strange, sweet tale of a widower challenging the sexual mores

he grew up with is exactly what

Pixar’s corporate-formula widower’s

tale evades.

Mhm. That's EXACTLY what Up was lacking. Here's hoping Pixar gets Solondz onto their next script.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jeffrey Wells:

If the wordless, exquisitely done life-of-a-marriage sequence hadn't been part of Up, would anyone be talking about this animated Pixar film being a likely/credible/deserving Best Picture nominee? We all know the answer.

FWIW, a part of me is sympathetic to this line of argument; the opening montage receives so much attention, and plays such a crucial part in making Up seem so much more mature (and more Oscar-worthy) than other animated films out there, that you could almost be forgiven for thinking that nobody really wants to talk about, much less defend, the talking dogs, for example. As if to underscore this point, the cover art on the screener that Disney sent out for awards consideration bears an image of Karl and Ellie when they are in their 20s or 30s or thereabouts -- an image that comes straight from a narrow segment of the opening montage and says nothing about the fact that Karl is an elderly widow throughout most of the movie who spends most of his time with an annoying (to him at least) boy scout.

And yet... and yet... the film returns to that opening montage frequently, in spirit if not necessarily in detail. To a very great degree, Karl's memories of Ellie are what fuel the film. So I don't think the opening montage can be bracketed off from the rest of the movie quite so neatly.

FWIW, I've seen the film, or at least bits and pieces of it, countless times with my kids over the last few months, and while there are still some bits that don't particularly work for me, they aren't exactly deal-killers either, and they do a decent job of padding the movie out between the consistently effective Karl-and-Ellie moments. Sometimes they are even more than padding. But yeah, the really effective stuff is the stuff that harks back to that opening montage.

"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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FWIW, a part of me is sympathetic to this line of argument; the opening montage receives so much attention, and plays such a crucial part in making Up seem so much more mature (and more Oscar-worthy) than other animated films out there, that you could almost be forgiven for thinking that nobody really wants to talk about, much less defend, the talking dogs, for example.

I rather liked the dogs. Some of the biggest laughs I had during this film were with the dog scenes. I believe SDG noted before here the perfection which, with especially Doug, they nailed the dog-to-master relationship. Even the dogs flying and serving dinner bits, hilarious as they are to children and silly as they may seem to some critics, bring to mind in a subtly humorous way the Dogs Playing Poker paintings by C. M. Coolidge.

That the film manages to take so many diverse elements and blend them together in such a way that those who do find things to criticize can still heartily admire the opening montage* speaks volumes.

We sometimes speak of films' rewatchability. I can think of few films, outside of a few other Pixar offerings, that a young child will find pleasure watching and then rewatching again and again as they grow older, in this case I think until old-age, and be able to admire and reevaluate it at each stage of their lives.

I wouldn't at all be opposed to this being nominated or even winning a best picture from the Academy Awards.

*The montage is a cliche by now... But bringing this up, I think of this film's montage and Toy Story 2's with Jessie. I can't think of many modern-day montages that just plain work. These do, and this one enormously.

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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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: I rather liked the dogs. Some of the biggest laughs I had during this film were with the dog scenes.

But were the dogs the sort of thing likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations? Do they make the film seem more mature, more "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time", than other cartoons?

: . . . bring to mind in a subtly humorous way the Dogs Playing Poker paintings by C. M. Coolidge.

Subtly? If memory serves, there's an explicit nod to that painting. :)

: I wouldn't at all be opposed to this being nominated or even winning a best picture from the Academy Awards.

I wouldn't oppose a nomination either, especially in a ten-movie field. (It will, indeed, make my own top ten for the year.) Winning, though, would be a bit much.

"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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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: . . . bring to mind in a subtly humorous way the Dogs Playing Poker paintings by C. M. Coolidge.

Subtly? If memory serves, there's an explicit nod to that painting. :)

I must have missed that, or noted it and forgot - it's been a few months now since I've seen it.

: I wouldn't at all be opposed to this being nominated or even winning a best picture from the Academy Awards.

I wouldn't oppose a nomination either, especially in a ten-movie field. (It will, indeed, make my own top ten for the year.) Winning, though, would be a bit much.

And nominated it is! Does this make it the 1st CG animated film to ever be nominated and 2nd animated film to ever get nominated along with Beauty and the Beast?

"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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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: And nominated it is! Does this make it the 1st CG animated film to ever be nominated . . .

Some might say it's tied for first, with Avatar. :)

: . . . and 2nd animated film to ever get nominated along with Beauty and the Beast?

Yep, Beauty and the Beast is the only previous animated film that has ever been nominated for Best Picture. Now begins the debate over whether Up would have made the cut if there had been only five nominees this year, as there had been when Beauty and the Beast was nominated (and in every year going back to the mid-1940s).

"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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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

Some might say it's tied for first, with Avatar. :)

Avatar is certainly an interesting case. The use of performance capture takes it into a strange hybrid place; the characters aren't "animated" at all in the traditional sense, where an animator creates the character's performance; the performance comes from the actor. It will be a long time, though, before I think such a performance is likely to get any recognition in acting awards.

Yep, Beauty and the Beast is the only previous animated film that has ever been nominated for Best Picture. Now begins the debate over whether Up would have made the cut if there had been only five nominees this year, as there had been when Beauty and the Beast was nominated (and in every year going back to the mid-1940s).

We can also debate whether Beauty and the Beast would have been nominated if there had been a Best Animated Feature award that year. The academy has no love of animation; too many of its members would be out of work if all films were animated. (Not that I'm suggesting such a fear is motivating them; rather that they have no sense of collective ownership of animated films; to most academy voters, animation as something "other people" do rather than something WE do.)

Edited by bowen
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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: I rather liked the dogs. Some of the biggest laughs I had during this film were with the dog scenes.

But were the dogs the sort of thing likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations? Do they make the film seem more mature, more "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time", than other cartoons?

Well, Beauty and the Beast had a singing teapot and dancing furniture.

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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: I rather liked the dogs. Some of the biggest laughs I had during this film were with the dog scenes.

But were the dogs the sort of thing likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations? Do they make the film seem more mature, more "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time", than other cartoons?

Well, Beauty and the Beast had a singing teapot and dancing furniture.

QFT.

That's just how eye roll.

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morgan1098 wrote:

: Well, Beauty and the Beast had a singing teapot and dancing furniture.

Which is perfectly in keeping with both the existing cinematic treatment of this story (cf. Jean Cocteau, perhaps others) and the filmmakers' roots in Broadway musical theatre (with Busby Berkeley-style choreography). What is Up's excuse?

"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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: Well, Beauty and the Beast had a singing teapot and dancing furniture.

Which is perfectly in keeping with both the existing cinematic treatment of this story (cf. Jean Cocteau, perhaps others) and the filmmakers' roots in Broadway musical theatre (with Busby Berkeley-style choreography). What is Up's excuse?

Does this have to be a question at this late date?

A minute ago the question seemed to be "were the dogs the sort of thing likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations? Do they make the film seem more mature, more 'ready for the grown-ups table at awards time', than other cartoons?" Now suddenly they need an "excuse."

I don't recall anyone implying that singing teapots and dancing furniture needed an "excuse," only observing that, as with talking dogs, it does not seem to be the case that the effect of introducing singing teapots and dancing furniture into a film is particularly like to make it "seem more mature" and "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time."

What is "likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations" may or may not be an interesting political or psychological question; it is of no critical significance that I can see, nor do I think that anyone owes anyone "excuses" for creative choices failing to attract such talk. I couldn't give a flying flip about the grown-ups table and debating whether talking dogs do or don't belong there. I'd rather sit at the kiddie table and watch Ponyo again (which was apparently less grown-up table ready than The Princess and the Frog).

Edited by SDG

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

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Darryl A. Armstrong wrote:

: I rather liked the dogs. Some of the biggest laughs I had during this film were with the dog scenes.

But were the dogs the sort of thing likely to attract talk of Oscar nominations? Do they make the film seem more mature, more "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time", than other cartoons?

A pox on the idea that what children like must be beneath adults. To quote C. S. Lewis:

"Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adults themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence.... When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

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SDG wrote:

: I don't recall anyone implying that singing teapots and dancing furniture needed an "excuse," only observing that, as with talking dogs, it does not seem to be the case that the effect of introducing singing teapots and dancing furniture into a film is particularly like to make it "seem more mature" and "ready for the grown-ups table at awards time."

And I responded to that point. Don't get hung up on a single word deployed for rhetorical effect.

The basic point here is that Beauty and the Beast was an extension -- indeed, a fusion -- of two existing traditions, one concerning the narrative of the movie itself, and the other concerning the Broadway-musical format that Alan Menken and Howard Ashman brought to Disney cartoons during that era. (Actually, you could say that the movie represents a fusion of THREE existing traditions, if you count Disney animation as a separate tradition unto itself.)

Up does not bring together any existing traditions in such a way -- or if it does, no one has yet responded to my point by trying to demonstrate that it does. Instead, it seems more like a pastiche of demographically sensitive ideas, some transcendent and some utterly conventional at best. And the utterly conventional elements are, ironically, the ones that make it less like an Oscar winner.

If you don't give a flying flip about the Oscars, that's fine. No one said you had to. But then, if that is the case, I'm not sure why you'd feel you had any stake in a discussion of the movie's merits as an Oscar nominee.

Oh, and "grown-up table" chat concerns the Best Picture category, NOT the Best Animated Feature category, which has always existed in a weird middle ground between kid movies and artsy fare. Interestingly, the very pastiche-y nature of Up, combined with its commercial success, kind of makes it a perfect nominee for the Best Animated Feature category.

"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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Peter, if your comments were only about the buzzworthiness of talking dogs and not the critical merits, then I withdraw my comments. My point was what I take to be the spirit of bowen's comments above.

I don't say I don't care about the Oscars, only that calculations about how Oscar voters think and questions about grownup tables and such don't go to my esteem of the film in question.

I did take your term "excuse" as a reflection on the film itself. In the context of the thread history, it didn't occur to me to take it any other way. Even based on your latest post I'm not clear whether you're asking about the film per se or Academy member perceptions.

Incidentally, I believe I've already noted that the "lost world" adventure tradition does offer at least one precedent for the conceit of an animal who communicates verbally with a voice synthesizer, i.e., CONGO, based on Michael Crichton's THE LOST WORLD. Oh, and CLOUDY riffs on this too, with Steve the monkey! I can't believe I only just put that together (or at least if I thought of it before I forgot).

Edited by SDG

“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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SDG wrote:

: I don't say I don't care about the Oscars, only that calculations about how Oscar voters think and questions about grownup tables and such don't go to my esteem of the film in question.

They don't go to mine either. But I think we can agree that there is a generally agreed-upon "type" of Best Picture Oscar winner, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a range of "types", and that what puts Up in contention in the Best Picture category are the elements which conform to that "type" and not the elements which don't. My whole point here has been that the elements which DO conform to that "type" -- namely the opening montage and everything that refers back to it -- are very good indeed, and that the elements which DON'T conform to that "type" are not particularly bothersome, though a film that had nothing BUT the latter set of elements would never be considered Best Picture material.

I used the term "excuse" only in response to someone's suggestion that Beauty and the Beast, the only previous animated film to be nominated for Best Picture, had elements which do not conform to the Oscar "type". To that, I can only reply that the elements in question are actually well-established along lines of genre and previous critically-acclaimed adaptations of the story in question; the whole point is that Beauty and the Beast took the familiar and made it better than it had been in a long, long time. You might say that Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated for Best Picture ten years earlier for a similar reason; the not-so-"mature" bits are built into the genre, but the film itself is a superior, indeed somewhat "grown-up", specimen of that genre. Up, on the other hand, has no particular genre. So whereas Beauty and the Beast, Raiders of the Lost Ark and similar films have certain built-in justifications for being seated at the grown-ups' table, as it were, Up does not. Any justification or "excuse" for the elements that do not conform to the Oscar "type" have to come from somewhere else.

Ryan H. wrote:

: Um, wasn't CONGO based on Michael Crichton's CONGO?

It was indeed. I have both that book and The Lost World (though I have only read the latter; Congo came in a three-novel omnibus with Sphere and Eaters of the Dead, and it was Eaters of the Dead that I wanted to read).

And needless to say, Congo post-dates the 1930s by quite a bit. Quite a bit indeed. :)

"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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Um, wasn't CONGO based on Michael Crichton's CONGO?

If you want to get technical and all. Also, The Lost World was Crichton's mercenary sequel to Jurassic Park, and the almost-in-name-only basis for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. (I read them both about 15 years ago.)

I guess I mentally conflated them last night (lying in bed typing on my iPhone as my last waking act!) because it had previously occurred to me that Congo is a "Lost World" story (and The Lost World isn't), and I had been struck by the echo of the genre of Congo in the title of another Crichton novel. Why can't reality be neater?

And needless to say, Congo post-dates the 1930s by quite a bit. Quite a bit indeed. :)

So does the bulk of Up. We know when Muntz's dogs got their robot walkers and bathers; do we know when they got their collars?

“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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SDG wrote:

: I guess I mentally conflated them last night (lying in bed typing on my iPhone as my last waking act!) . . .

For some reason I like this image. :)

: : And needless to say, Congo post-dates the 1930s by quite a bit. Quite a bit indeed. :)

:

: So does the bulk of Up. We know when Muntz's dogs got their robot walkers and bathers; do we know when they got their collars?

Are we given any reason to believe that Muntz has ever left Paradise Falls? Granted, it would be very odd if he had gone there with a good 70 years or so of supplies, but then, this sort of oddity is not unusual for Pixar (see also WALL-E, and the apparently unlimited resources of the Axiom there).

"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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  • 1 month later...

La Masion en Petit Cubes, the Oscar winning short made in 2008. I wonder if this was in any way an influence on the opening for UP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8JkfJ0JTx0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phGOYLeehA4&feature=related

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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Interesting. When did this first play? I would guess that Up was already in its late stages by the time this short became accessible. But the old man's room certainly does make me think of Carl's place.

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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Interesting. When did this first play? I would guess that Up was already in its late stages by the time this short became accessible. But the old man's room certainly does make me think of Carl's place.

Here's the IMDb link. The actual name is Tsumiki no ie, and started playing festivals in 2008. I happened to watch it today on Sundance ON Demand, and was struck by how this story is basically a reverse telling of Carl and Ellie's story (with a few differences).

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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  • 1 month later...

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