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Two recent films - Off in the distance
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The Bellinghman
Date: 2007-12-30 23:10
Subject: Two recent films
Security: Public
In the last few days, we saw two films at the cinema.

Firstly, Bee Movie.

This was an enjoyable-enough animation effort from Jerry Seinfeld and Dreamworks. Well, at least for the first two thirds, it worked quite well. And then, we had the unusual occurrence of an usher coming round and asking us to hand over our intelligence for the rest of the film. Oh dearie me. I can only assume that Seinfeld (the writer of the story) is a city dweller who knows less than nothing about nature. Not that such ignorance is of itself terminal, it's just that the primary rule for a writer is don't write about something you know nothing about (it's often phrased differently, but this is the true version). If our brains hadn't been temporarily been removed, I think we'd have held a stand up demonstration in Screen 3.

(Not that anyone would have noticed - with the arrival of the totally automatic projection system, the last person who might have noticed was gone. We were alone in that showing.)

And secondly, Disney's Enchanted. Anyone having seen the trailers will know the premise. Simple, yet beautiful maiden living alone in the forest, attended by the local wildlife to whom she sings, and which in true Snow White style do her housework for her. But impossibly handsome Prince encounters her, immediately proposes, and the wedding is set for the next day. Oops, the evil stepmother Queen doesn't like the idea - she'll lose her power. So she pushes young Giselle down the palace well to get rid of her.

And Giselle comes out the other end, popping up in Times Square. Suddenly real rather than animated.

The film is a delight. Of course the impossibly noble and handsome Prince leaps down the well after her to rescue her. As does a chipmunk. And a villainous Timothy Spall, sent by the Queen to try to hinder the Prince. Meanwhile, the innocent Giselle tries to cope with New York as if it were just another fairytale kingdom. The various tropes are played with, and frequently subverted - for example, when getting the local wildlife to help clean, Giselle has to make do not with the bluebirds and rabbits of her forest, but with the wildlife available in central New York.

Oh, and the chipmunk - done with perfectly-blending CGI - was hilarious.

Not the best film of the year for us (we preferred Stardust and Ratatouille), but one of the better ones: if Disney could keep to this quality or better, then they'd remake their reputation. With the departure of Pixar, they need to get their name on something good, and PotC has pretty well expired.

ETA: I'm informed that I wasn't paying enough attention, and that Disney actually bought Pixar last year. Oops.
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MEG: mercury
User: djelibeybi
Date: 2007-12-30 21:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:mercury
We've seen trailers for Enchanted and toyed with the idea of going to see it. Your review has persuaded me.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-12-31 06:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Enjoy. We certainly did.
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sphyg
User: sphyg
Date: 2007-12-31 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Likewise. Although everyone else I've tried to persuade has laughed at me ;/
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Run away to DreamWidth. Come with me.
User: reddragdiva
Date: 2007-12-30 22:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sounds like Steve Jobs engineered a reverse takeover.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-12-31 06:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Quite a reverse leverage, then. But Disney had been wandering in the wilderness for a while, even with PotC.
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Run away to DreamWidth. Come with me.
User: reddragdiva
Date: 2007-12-31 09:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm thinking of the similar reverse takeover of Apple by NeXT. "Pay us $400 million to take you over." Mind you, he didn't parachute in the entire upper echelons of Pixar to run Disney.
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User: silly_swordsman
Date: 2007-12-31 12:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I had the exact same reaction to Bee Movie, and it completely sunk what had, until then, been a quite amusing film.

I've resisted Enchanted on the grounds of suspected tweeness and trying too hard to be clever and subversive, but maybe I should give in to the yaysayers at home.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2007-12-31 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think Enchanted actually avoids tweeness by a decent margin. Of course your mileage may vary, but although there was a small child involved, her involvement was mostly peripheral. Also the central character of Giselle is in deep danger of being deeply annoying, but Amy Adams instead plays her with complete charm and conviction - not easy at all, and with a less talented actress, the result could have collapsed into a horrible sentimental mess.

As for trying too hard to be clever and subversive, for the most part (and again, in my opinion), it's not a problem. Once the structure of the story is set up, it runs the result fairly straight within the internal logic of the fairytale. It's certainly not as deliberately subversive as the Shrek series, or Hoodwinked, which I think is to its advantage. On the other hand, it is in a post-modern world, and it does play with the collision between 'reality' and fiction. Without that absolutely wonderful performance from Amy Adams, it could have gone badly wrong. (But Susan Sarandon is woefully underused.)

It's a good film, with a truly great one (a la Princess Bride) almost getting out.
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