Everyone, by now, is familiar with the Pixar name and the high quality animated movies that studio produces, from the original Toy Story to Wall-E. Pixar has become known for the length of time they take to develop a story or nurture a script before even rendering a single pixel of information. They do have the occasional stumble (Cars 2), and are facing some backlash after announcing a fourth Toy Story movie, but for the most part they put out the best of the best in CG animated films.
Disney’s CG animation arm has not been as successful, at least as far as critics are concerned. Most of their animated films are geared more towards the younger crowd… who will want all of the merchandise that goes along with the movie… and scripts usually are too juvenile for adults to bear. But, since Disney has folded Pixar into the company (complete with Pixar’s John Lasseter heading up the animation unit), their CG films have grown up. Their Secret of the Wings was a pretty solid effort considering it was a direct-to-video film with limited theatrical release, and that also seemed to be a test run for the studios best (and most popular) CG animated film yet, Frozen. And now Disney has released a new CG animated film with the curious title of Big Hero 6.
Animation appreciation – There has never been or will never be anyone else like Pee-Wee Herman, the most animated human to ever grace Saturday morning TV. The ingenious creation of comedian and writer Paul Reubens, man-child Pee-Wee Herman appealed to both kids and adults. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: The Complete Series (Shout Factory), which premiered on CBS in 1986, running for five years, was like watching all previous kids’ show hosts – such as Captain Kangaroo, Soupy Sales and Shari Lewis – on an acid trip. Pee-Wee shared his playhouse with a variety of puppets, as well as live characters, including Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne), Captain Carl (the late Phil Hartman), postal employee Reba (S. Epatha Mrkerson), Miss Yvonne, the most beautiful woman in Puppetland (Lynne Marie Stewart), and the usually shirtless Playhouse lifeguard Tito (Roland Rodriguez), who brought more than a little homoerotic tension to the show. The show also made good use of claymation and featured vintage cartoons. The digitally re-mastered eight-disc blu-ray set includes brand-new interviews with members of the cast and crew.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen movies based on toys and games, most notably the Transformers and Battleship movies. There are movies in the works based on the classic board games Monopoly and Candyland as well. Just in time for Halloween, the newest game-to-movie production debuts as Ouija comes to the big screen.
Depending on your personal beliefs, the Ouija board is either just a game or a tool of the Devil used to open a portal to a demonic world. The movie capitalizes on these beliefs that playing with a Ouija board will only lead to bad things.
Recall the film and musical Billy Elliot, the delightful heart-warming story of a young ballet dancer trying to fulfill his dreams with Great Britain’s arduous miners’ strike as the backdrop. That strike, 30 years later, is thrust to the forefront in another sweet movie that also shines a spotlight on courage, humanity, warmth, friendship, and triumph. Pride, a BBC-produced film directed by Matthew Warchus and written by Stephen Beresford, was screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival at which it received a standing ovation. The venerable Charles Theatre, situated in Baltimore’s Station North arts and entertainment district, is presenting this treasure of a film, whereby audiences – gay or straight – should eat it up like an English crumpet.
The ten-year anniversary blu-ray edition reissue of Mysterious Skin (Strand) opens with a new two minute intro by queer filmmaker Gregg Araki that neither adds nor detracts from the film. Mysterious Skin was the indie movie version of a perfect storm. The best film of Araki’s directing career, it was his first time adapting a novel, Scott Heim’s acclaimed first book of fiction, for the big screen. The film also contained Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie’s haunting score. But the real coup, for a low-budget indie, was the amazing cast.
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