The Mandalorian Pacing

One of the most common refrains among the men and women who work on high-caliber television shows — specifically television dramas — is that their programs are really just 10-hour movies. (Or 8-hour movies, or however many episodes are in a given season.) TV, at least when you hear how the people who make it discuss it, wants very badly to be seen not as the red-headed stepchild to cinema, but to be cinema itself. 

Often, the comment that the latest buzzy TV show isn’t really a show, but an extremely long movie, ends up being a ridiculous defense against a story that doesn’t get told well in a small-screen medium. If you’re really making a 10-hour movie, that might mean the resulting 10 installments feel incomplete on their own, and thus become a distinct form of poorly conceived TV. With the marquee new Disney+ show, The Mandalorian, however, you genuinely can suggest that its first season feels like a movie. So far, though, it feels like The Mandalorian really ought to have been a movie to begin with.

This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of The Mandalorian.

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Pixar 20th anniversary

When you can help write your own history, you can tell a slightly different story than the truth. Such is the case with Pixar Animation Studios, arguably one of the most influential creative units in all of Hollywood in the 25 years since it released its first feature-length animated film, Toy Story. Pixar is, of course, synonymous with the Walt Disney Company and has been for a long time. Its characters have been seen in films, on TV, and serve as the core elements of a lot of themed attractions and lands at the Disney theme parks worldwide. 

But there was a time, not too long ago, when Pixar was on the outs with Disney to the point where the House of Mouse was more than happy to both sever its distribution deal with Pixar, and take matters into its own hands with sequels of their own. This is the story of Circle 7 Animation.

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The Irishman Violence

You may find it hard to believe, but Martin Scorsese has been in the news recently. On a cynical level, it’s arguably a bit convenient that Scorsese’s fully thought-out and reasonably critical opinions of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and blockbuster cinema as a whole have become such a flashpoint of critical discourse over the last few weeks. His latest feature, The Irishman, has arrived in a handful of theaters around the country before landing in its streaming home, Netflix, on November 27. The new film wades in some familiar waters, specifically the Mafia, and features some of the director’s longtime acting collaborators. Yet most importantly, The Irishman is a firm, conclusive counterargument to one of the criticisms that has always hounded Scorsese: that he endorses the violence he depicts.

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snow white remake director

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures is about to be updated.
  • Ring in the new year at Walt Disney World.
  • Knott’s Berry Farm is bringing back an old-favorite dark ride next year.
  • And more!

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indiana jones 5 details

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Tarzan’s Treehouse closed briefly at Disneyland last week.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure is going through a major refurbishment soon.
  • What’s the new structure in Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
  • And more!

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Noelle trailer

Noelle would seem to have all the necessary elements you’d want to find in a feature comedy: a few recognizable actors, a high-concept premise, a character arc, setpieces, etc. But there’s something just…off about the whole affair, from its opening moments. Maybe the key problem here is that the basic conclusion of the movie is such an obvious, foregone conclusion. Or maybe it’s that the humor is lifeless, or the emotion false and unearned. Whatever it is, Noelle is the kind of Christmas present that has shiny packaging and a whole lot of nothing behind all the wrappings.

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Disney+ vs Apple TV+

What do you want out of a new streaming service? What matters most to you if you’re being wooed to drop a few more dollars a month on some new digital toy? For some of you, the answer might be a smooth, easy-to-navigate layout. Others might want a rich library of titles. (Some of you might feel like that well-used “Why not both?” meme is the answer.)

The two new streaming service unveiled this month, Apple TV+ and Disney+, run the gamut between those two extremes. One of the two services is all about the layout and your ability to swiftly shift from app to app, let alone title to title. The other is all about keeping you locked into the virtual property of the company that oversees it. Apple TV+ and Disney+ are not offering you the same thing. And only one of them is offering you the right thing.

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Frozen II Bruni and Elsa

“Some things never change,” or so go the lyrics in one of the songs in the highly anticipated Disney sequel Frozen II. This follow-up arrives six years after the worldwide phenomenon of Frozen took hold of popular culture, with its songs becoming so unavoidable and ubiquitous almost overnight. Frozen II attempts to carve out a place for itself while delivering the charm, catchy music, and core emotional underpinnings that so inflamed people’s imaginations in 2013. With its eye-popping animation, world-building, and character exploration, Frozen II is nominally a slight improvement on its predecessor. But it’s still limited by the burden of expectations.

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The Good Liar Review

The Good Liar is the latest entry in a slowly expanding subgenre best known as They Don’t Make Movies Like This Anymore dramas. In a time of infinite intellectual property, of franchises and sequels and reboots, The Good Liar is a small oasis in a cinematic desert where once there was more frequent life. This literary adaptation is a nasty little thriller, anchored by two elder-statesmen performers whose presence alone likely willed this film into existence. It’s not without its flaws, but The Good Liar has enough charm and is fresh enough by dint of being so different from what the rest of the multiplex has to offer.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

There’s an old episode of The Simpsons, from its ninth season, that I’ve been thinking a lot about this fall. It’s called “Lisa’s Sax”, and is intended as an origin/flashback of sorts dedicated to Lisa’s beloved musical instrument. The episode is largely set in 1990, and one of the pop-culture references intended to root the episode in that year occurs when we see Homer on the couch watching the David Lynch-created TV drama Twin Peaks. We hear a man compliment the “damn fine coffee” in Twin Peaks, before he begins dancing seductively with an anthropomorphized horse. Homer, watching, says to no one in particular, “Brilliant! …I have no idea what’s going on.”

This is the part where I tell you that this preamble is leading into an essay all about the experience of watching Watchmen, the HBO drama developed by Damon Lindelof that is ostensibly an adaptation, or a remix, or a floor wax and a dessert topping, of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel of the same name. I’ve arrived at the new Watchmen with only so much awareness of the source material. In an act I immediately came to regret, I paid money to see the Zack Snyder film based on the graphic novel, which mostly served as a very effective deterrent to me ever wanting to read the graphic novel. (I understand that it’s apparently different, and better, than the film. But still.) 

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