Tag Archives: Pixar

Up.

Not 100% better but well enough to go with family to see Up at the cinema. Thoughts:

a: 3d is turning into an expensive thing for cinemas. Our ticket price was almost doubled for just one more dimension.

b: Odeon cinema telephone booking system = fail. Asking for the middle seats (still available according to the Internet booking but we had a couple of specific needs to request) left us on the left hand side of the cinema. Annoying. as was the cinema staffs justification to wifey who was incensed enough to go out and complain.

c: Pixar does it again and shows a masterclass of how to tell a story and render it beautifully. If I had one small criticism I’d have said the pack of dogs was overkill and the story might have worked better with a group of domesticated animals captured across the journey (that doesn’t give too much away, shan’t go into more detail).

Regardless: loved it. Another beautiful Pixar epic. They are the studio that keeps on giving in a big way.

Slowly going Up…

And no, that doesn’t mean I’ve found a torrent, nor looked for one in fact (I’m not into piracy).

Fab blog post here: http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/05/31/easter-eggs-in-pixars-up/ re: hidden easter eggs in Pixar’s latest film. As documented many times I’m a Pixar fanboy and looking forward to the film. By which I mean I’m waiting. Despite the fact it’s out on one side of the planet.

((if you check out the above link to the easter eggs there are some mild spoilers, possibly. Tbh it didn’t affect anything for me more than, say, the trailers did but hey, the Internet is a lawless country and some of the inhabitants can get mighty testy))…

It did make me think and wonder though: why is there such a delay between opening dates? A Pixar film will sell whatever day it’s out on, why now in the States and yonks away in the UK? The cynical side of me instantly wondered if it was a tester for Disney/Pixar to see how the move to stereo 3d would affect piracy. If you want to see who’s pirating your films you have to test it out and what better to do that with than a cause celebre? (or at least an Internet CC which in other worlds might be seen as something less awful). I doubt this is the reason, I expect there’s a better one…. But so far I’ve seen no reason for why the film release date should be so spread apart in the digital age.

Apart from that? Weird day at work. Lesson observed, went well. Finishing off assignments tonight, despite maybe not being needed tomorrow. Hey now that’s professionalism 🙂

Outraged.

Pixar’s next film (notice I didn’t say Disney Pixar there) comes out in May, which isn’t too long now! Which is really exciting…

May 29th to be exact.

Unless you don’t live in America in which case it’s October 16th if you, like me, are in the UK. So either I hope on a plane or get real patient. Yeah I know there’s a third option but didn’t want to mention that really because it shouldn’t be an option…

Anyhow. Bit of a gap all told 🙁

And one more thing… (for the moment).

Barely took notice of the Oscars… Not something that interests me greatly. However I can rant about a criminal injustice with the best of them so, having just listened to MacBreak weekly can I just agree that Wall-E  (winner, I’ve just read, of the best animated film oscar  which is beyond well deserved and when I have more time I’m going to google Andrew Stantons acceptance speech because I’d love to see what he said, not to mention Ed Catmull getting a technical achievement oscar which, again, is long in coming bearing in mind Pixar have had such a run of amazing films over the past 14 years or so) did not win the best sound in a film. Losing to Batman. 

Now I’ve seen Batman once. Thought it was good, not world shatteringly great and, if you’re one of my art students (hi gang) then you’ll know what I attribute it’s initial flurry of success to. However I remember nothing about the sound bar Batman’s silly voice distorter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: a good film effect is the one that you didn’t realise was an effect but Wall-E was a consumate example of sound design and implementation. The first half of the film should have had sound nominated as the best supporting actor. 

Chalk that one down to Iron.E and fallac.E 

Truly I do not understand the business of commerce pretending to be creativity. And the award for biggest miss goes to…

Listening to the Pixar Story, flat on my back…

Very fascinating audio book… Well worth the purchase should that be up your street (although the narrator is not strictly to my taste having a strange range to his voice and being recorded with the tiniest hint of echo in the mix) and, since I’m on a massive Pixar kick at the moment, it’s cool to get the backstory to the films and the company, especially the history of my favourite films: Ratatouille and Cars.

I’ve got about an hour to go but couldn’t help but say I have no idea whatsoever the critics at the time were blathering on about, complaining about the story and imagery of Cars. It’s still one of my favourites, having the most heart on show of all of the Pixar films imo, and this is coming from someone actively bored by motor sport in general.

On a google search for art of Pixar books this flickr feed came up and contains some very beautiful pieces. I wish I had the space and the money to own some of these books to look at at my leisure, sigh, but the images here will do for my desktop backgrounds for the next year or so.

Art of Pixar stream

Garfield 2? Really?

Now that comment almost got unapproved I can tell thee.

And, on a similar subject, just noticed that last year Cars 2 was announced for 2012. Woot. On reading more of the thread that the (old) news was contained in I noticed that there was a lot of criticism for Cars, more so that any other Pixar project, which surprised me greatly. I can think of negatives that can be laid at the door of their films but mostly tiny, fractional things rather than big, meaty issues. Bugs LIfe had too many characters, Toy Story had no depth perception in the external scenes (almost certainly a technical/time limitation) and so on and so forth. The casualisation of violence in Incredibles – even in the soft way it was portrayed – was suited to the story but not always to the audience I felt, but again that’s more me than others maybe. Nemo is the one I have the most difficulty with as I still believe that the end can be read two ways and that, in ways, makes the film both better and more affectingly sad.

Cars however was a labour of love and, I felt, strong in nearly all areas. I avoided it at the cinema, assuming – wrongly – that it was a rip off of Doc Hollywood and, although I can’t remember the time itself, but given the choice of going to the cinema I think I was on one of my low ebbs watching things with my son next to me. So I missed it and caught up with it on DVD and realised just how good it was. So a sequel, bearing in mind also the merchandise from the original film which I understand is still strong, always seemed on the cards. A rematch between Chick and Lightning always seemed to be the logical progression as well. Surprised it’s been so long in coming.

Talking about sequels: Sylver 3 is on the way and, I realise, that for a blog about books and writing this does very little about both so a brief word about that if I may:

Messenger came out late last year and it’s been busy fitting that and other things in. Work wise I still have two part time jobs that think they’re both full time but, ((spoiler alert)) one finishes, mostly, in April. I haven’t told everyone involved with that decision just yet, but aim to do so soon as April is pretty close all things considered. I also had the added complication of a family illness and other issues to deal with so the end of 08 was… roller coastery. One project that I was emotionally attached to found itself shelved and, on top of everything else, that was a bit of a bummer.

Which led to a certain amount of creative block in the tail end of the year. Sylver 3 was the thing I was working on and, even though only 10% of it was needing fixing it still couldn’t come.

The past few days (hmm checks notes, from the 9th) the fixe to the issues have all fallen onto the page and it’s been great. I had to cut one part of the book – which’ll find itself into a following project in some way as it’s one of my favourite … well, most haunting parts of the story anyhow, but it can wait and deserves the room to breathe all on its own. So at least one question that people want answered in Sylver 3 will not be, I mention that now. Also two questions that people should have been asking but have not done so yet won’t be answered…. Everything else is tied up though.

((in fact I’m pleased that one puzzle from Sylver 2, fully explained but hidden in the background, was only picked up by one person who asked me what was going on with one of the characters… I was getting worried at the time if it was too obtuse but the person who noticed had picked up on all of the clues and knew exactly what was up. So that’s cool. Also – to re-add one hint that’s been given a couple of times – we all know the name of ‘the bad guy’, the one who’s going to bring an end to everything if he/she has his/her way – because it’s been in the books from a pretty early point yet, so far, no-ones sussed it and nobodies asked if he/she is going to act out his/her motivation… ))

You know what I can’t wait to see what people think of the next Sylver book I really can’t.

But, getting back to what’s currently on the slate I saw someone reading Messenger (available now from Play, Amazon, Wesley Owen etc 🙂 ) and I was delighted. It was really cool to see it out and about and, again, I want to know more of what people think about it. Some have come back to me and said that a couple of the net-isms (Messenger is written entirely in instant messenger speak) were confusing but it’s surprised me how much the story has been communicated between people who see it as a different language. Nice, but, again, would prefer to see it a little more noticed… Sometimes I feel like a little fish in a huge pond with few people noticing my efforts, although I dare say that’s true of many people all over the place…. 

Anyhow, time to take a break, been editing since early on and, on a half term break that’s not really fair. Time to down keys and spend some time playing…

But really… Garfield 2? Not watched it (although do own it surprisingly – son boy was very fond of Garfield 1) but classic sequel? really? My mood on it may be coloured by the fact that one summer group all of the kids called me Garfield (including my Goddaughter grrr) so I tended to avoid mention of the other orange cat. That said: on mondays, lasagne and sleep he and I are in complete agreement so maybe I should give it a chance.

Toy Story at the Electric Theatre.

On the big screen? Oh yes.

That said I’m fully expecting to see it’s dated, a little anyway, but Pixar are still the go to group for animation (hence Disney panicking and buying them when they said they were going it alone) and testament to that fact is that we all watched Ratatouille yesterday and are watching Monsters Inc today. Wall-E is a family favourite and, while teaching animation the other day, I used Incredibles as an example of best practice (in many terms – primarily foreshadowing, anticipation and taking a story and honing it down to a minute long version during the credits sequence).

Not to mention that Toy Story 2 is the best sequel EVER  🙂 Bugs LIfe has fabulous bad guys (although is the messiest of the Pixar line up) and Cars is possibly my favourite film ever.

Have I missed one? Nemo! 

Ah…. Hmmm…. I love Nemo, but the end makes me indescribably sad for a couple of reasons which I won’t share but can’t dismiss. 

Any more? Hmm Ts, Bl, Ts2, Mi, Fn, I, C, R, W-e… Think that’s it. That’s the chemical lineup for ace stuff incidentally. 

Different subject: I also showed students the Thief and the Cobbler (well, parts of and the making of) and THAT is something I would love to see on the big screen. One day…

Wall-E is autistic.

OK the title gave away the subject: no point doing the slow dance into the bombshell, there it is.

Starting with a couple of caveats:

1: I don’t mean the comment as either insulting or derogatory. I also don’t really mean it as a flamegate: the opening to a series of arguments over a subject whether I believe in the truth of it or not. In the simplest reading of the words that’s what I mean…

2: I am a total fanboy when it comes to Pixar films. I’ve got the majority of the DVD’s, a couple of the toys and bubble baths and so on and so forth. Again, this is not aimed as being a hidden argument or criticism. The story of Wall-E is touching and beautifully rendered (in both senses of the word) so, again, no criticism implied.

3: My son is on the autistic spectrum, high in some areas, low in others. He requires and receives special education and… well… You can possibly guess the rest.

Wall-E was a phenomenal film. I loved it from start to finish, as I knew I would, and, as soon as the film was finished, both of my children asked for the DVD, innocently unaware that I would have bought it anyway. During a family holiday we had all taken an afternoon out to see Wall-E on the ‘big TV’ as it’s called in our world and we all came out with big smiles and, for both my wife and I, a certain thoughtfulness. My main question was whether the majority of the audience knew that an unlikely hero had made it onto the screen in more ways than one and just how remarkable the hero was.

A short while later we returned home from holiday – these things a fraught experience at times because a change of routine – while welcome for some people – is a huge burden on autists. We struggle on because it’s good to try and break some routines and my daughter needs things to feel normal, sometimes, even though our lives are often far removed from that particular mirage. Hence a holiday, despite the fact that we know three of the ten or so days will be a minefield and that it gives complete strangers the chance to look at us and judge us as bad parents.

One of the first things I did when the list of needs had been addressed was to do a search for reviews of the film. I assumed that someone would be asking the same questions that I was: how had such a unique characteristic been captured so beautifully? Had anyone realised the honesty of autism that the film portrayed in such a positive way? The lack of any answers, or more to the point any similar questions, surprised me. 

Caveat 4: in my experience I find that it’s fairly normal for parents of autistic children to project the normalities and consequences of autism onto any or all seemingly normal facets of life. Autism was, at one point, referred to as ‘extreme maleness’ and there’s a truth to that still. Many people who I know and love can be mildly autistic in some of their habits and oddities, I am too, in ways. None of us like a routine broken, many of us misunderstand certain social understandings when they are first introduced to us, it’s easy to be so sure we’ve explained something adequately only to be faced with the reality of our self centered instructions, many people watch and re-watch a dvd or video to take comfort from the secure repetition and so on… The problem is that the word is such a weighted one it’s hard to use in a normal context: much like cancer the word autism has become a fashion label for fear delivering a parcel of well known misunderstandings far greater than any real information, unless you live in or around that world… It amazes me to find how many people have relatives, friends, relations who are on the spectrum yet misunderstand some of the more usual facets of it.

Which brings us to the evidence for the assertion: why do I believe Wall-E is autistic? 

In brief: Wall-E – and I mean the central character rather than the film in total – is echolalic: he speaks in echoed patterns rather than understood meaning. He is socially unaware – maintaining the routines and regimes of the world he has locked himself into rather than adapting to the social norms of others. He is kind an naive, innocent and childlike, despite being a much older model than his behaviour might point to.

There’s more: he plays and replays a favourite video, understanding the world through the context of an invented and unlived fantasy rather than the world which is in front of him… He collects strange objects which have no meaning other than to himself and he loves, cares for a categorises these objects with a fondness that goes over and above a simple collection. His best friend, until the arrival of EVE, is a non-verbal insect which Wall-E finds comfort in being around despite the lack of interaction on a verbal level… In fact it is the lack of trying to understand verbal commands that would make Wall-E so comfortable with the insect in the first place. If he were an autistic child.

He meets and befriends people, whether they want to be accepted or not, not aware of when they want to maintain a distance from his actions and simply conform to type. He accepts and responds to the help of a similarly unique bunch of characters – all shunned for not being able to stick to the accepted rules of the society they live in… There’s more, lots more, although as the DVD is out in a few short days I dare say there’ll be time to add to this and edit it. There’s also, I’m told, a short film which continues the story which I’m interested in catching.

I’m not, in any way, trying to diminish the achievement of Pixar in creating such a unique character as Wall-E. In fact the opposite is more the case. I found it an affirming message when confronted by so much that focuses on the negatives of autism. I found it reminded me of the things I love about my son, especially when that is a hard thing to keep sight of, and I found it something that I’m sure he and I will watch over and over and we will both enjoy for our own reasons. To have such a sympathetic character so beautifully portrayed is an incredible achievement – something which I feel Pixar should have been more praised for yet we seem to simply expect it of them.

The film is out on monday in the UK on DVD. I’ll be using it to teach others about the intricacies of the autistic mind when and if I need to do so as it puts so much across in the most subtle and heartfelt of ways. Mostly I’ll be watching it with my son, probably quite a few times, and enjoying the closeness that it brings us because, for the first time that we sit together and watch something it truly will be closer to our world than anything we’ve watched to date…

… and the irony is that it was a sci-fi film rendered on super-computers that managed to send the message home.