Inside Out Director Interview

Filmmaking often comes down to one thing: guiding the audience. What do we see, and when, and why? With Pixar, which has the power to create all its images from nothing, there’s always a process of guiding the audience eye to settle on one particular part of the image, no matter how many appealing details may color the margins.

That image control is part of storytelling guidance, too, and often a cover for the real heart of the matter. Pixar’s films use big concepts — toys that have their own lives we never see, a rat who loves to cook, an adventure in a flying house — as a portal to concepts that are much more difficult to capture in a single image or marketing push.

Inside Out has had a very specifically guided path. We know the film is about the five emotions, Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear, who guide the responses a young girl named Riley has to her changing world. We know Joy is in the lead, but trailers for the film already show us that the core of the movie has Joy and Sadness literally going to the center of their own world — Riley’s mind — on a journey of discovery.

Six weeks ago I went up to Pixar’s campus in Emeryville, CA, to join a few other editors to sit in on sessions with department heads who worked on Inside Out. Our last session was with director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera. The pair discussed the creation of the film, but  Read More »

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Best Stories of the Week

It’s that time of the week again. We’re certainly looking forward to a nice holiday weekend, and if you were too busy to stay on top of all the news this week, we’ve got a round-up of all the stories you need to catch up on.

Below you’ll find a round-up of trailers for summer movies like Pixels, sequels like The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, and the likely awards contender Steve Jobs. We also have updates on Star Trek 3, a controversial point of view on geek culture from Simon Pegg, more Mad Max: Fury Road goodies and some Tomorrowland exploration as well. So without further adieu, let’s check out the best stories of the week. Read More »

Fury Road trivia

Mad Max: Fury Road was over a decade in the making, and hit the screen with a rich backstory. While it’s more fun to let the characters on screen exist with only the information we’re given in the movie, the tales of the creation of Fury Road are so good that we have to dive in.

Below we’ve got eight of our favorite bits of Mad Max: Fury Road trivia, from the insane planning that went into the stunts, to the freedom that digital cinematography allowed in collecting the insane amount of footage that makes up this movie and the fact that the Mad Max: Fury Road blu-ray will feature a black and white version of the film with an isolated score as the only soundtrack. Read More »

Jeff Jensen Tomorrowland Interview

I talk with Jeff Jensen about how he went from a television writer at Entertainment Weekly to collaborating with Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird on the story for Tomorrowland.  I must admit, I planned to go in and talk to Jensen about how the 1952 box was fabricated and how the script influenced the box and how the box influenced the script, but I found myself kind of blindsided with Jensen’s reaction. Jeff continued to pretend that the 1952 box wasn’t a creation of the team behind the film, which threw most of my prepared questions out the window. We still discuss how the box was used to sell executives and early Disney fans on the ideas behind the backstory of the movie.

I talk to Jeff about the early development of the film which saw two dueling ideas, one being a more Harry Potter approach and another more inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We also talk about the amazing Plus Ultra backstory which didn’t fully make it into the film but can be discovered through the tie-in prequel novel Before Tomorrowland he also wrote. Read all this and more in my Jeff Jensen Tomorrowland interview, after the jump.

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Theme Park Movies and Scenes

This weekend, director Brad Bird takes into a whole new world with the Disney sci-fi adventure Tomorrowland. The film starring Britt Robertson and George Clooney is influenced and inspired by the real-life Disney theme park attraction of the same name (even if references to Walt Disney were cut out of the movie). Therefore, this seems like the perfect time to take a look back at some of our favorite theme park movies and scenes from the big screen.

Below we have a countdown of the Top 15 Favorite Theme Park Movies & Scenes. Frankly, there aren’t an overwhelming number of theme park-based movies before you start getting into bad movie territory (such as Beverly Hills Cop III or Final Destination 3). That’s why we’ve included some great scenes from films that might not be entirely set at a theme park. We’ve also expanded the concept to include carnivals, fairs and water parks, because it just makes sense. Check out the list after the jump! Read More »

Brad Bird Tomorrowland interview

A couple weeks back I got a chance to chat briefly with director Brad Bird and talk about his newest film Tomorrowland. I asked for an update on the long-rumored Iron Giant blu-ray release, what it means and doesn’t necessarily mean to be a live-action Disney film, the super slick modern look of Tomorrowland vs. the retro-futurism of ray-guns, how Space Mountain ended up in the movie, and Bird’s earliest memories of Disneyland.

We also talked about how the Space Shuttle Endeavor flying over the Disney Animation building had a huge impact on the film’s story, as well as my favorite sequence in the film (an amazing long “one shot” that lets us explore Tomorrowland for the first time), and I jokingly ask if Brad plans to reprise his role as Edna Mode in Incredibles 2. Read a transcript of my Brad Bird Tomorrowland interview, after the jump.

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Voyage to the Iron Reef review

I’ve always considered myself somewhat of a theme park and amusement park connoisseur, but at heart I’m a Disneyland fanatic. I’ve been a Disneyland annual passholder for as long as I’ve lived in Southern California. I’ve also had a Universal Hollywood annual pass a couple times, and have frequented their fantastic Halloween Horror Nights. But for whatever reason, I’ve never been to Knott’s Berry Farm, outside of eating at Mrs. Knott’s Fried Chicken Restaurant which sits right outside the park. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe its that friends have never seemed interested, and going to theme parks is for me a group experience. It might actually be that I’m a Disney snob and always looked at the park as some kind of small kiddie park. But it is also probably because I’ve never seen photos of a ride that got me interested enough to go there, until last week.

Knott’s Berry Farm’s newest attraction Voyage to the Iron Reef launched last week and the photos of the ride caught my attention. It didn’t look like another repurposed amusement attraction — it looked like a modern technologically-enhanced interactive dark ride akin to what we see from Disney and Universal. So I took a trip to Buena Park, California to encounter the Iron Reef myself. Read my Voyage to the Iron Reef review after the jump.

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Mad Max masculinity

In a typically testosterone-heavy summer movie season, Mad Max: Fury Road stands out for its unapologetic feminist streak. Most obviously, this is manifested in the compelling female characters, and the (apparently, distressingly) radical notion that women are not property.

But the film has just as much to say about men — specifically what masculinity is, and what place it has in our society. At the center of the film are two types of masculinity: the toxic, destructive kind represented by Immortan Joe, and the healthy, productive kind represented by Max. The conflict between them drives the movie, and points a way forward for our world.

(Warning: Major spoilers follow for Mad Max: Fury Road.)  Read More »

Inside Out Tomorrowland Review

The embargo has finally broken for Pixar’s Inside Out and Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, and you can read the buzz reports compiling the early critical reactions at the links above. I’ve seen both films and have decided to write up my thoughts in a virtually spoiler-free reaction. Hit the jump for my thoughts.

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