Monday, July 27, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 238 - The End

This week the DFPP team activates their Oscillation Overthruster and powers up their Flux Capacitor as they prepare to ride off into the sunset in their time machine one last time but not before they explain just why friends this is The End.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:
  • "There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story." - Frank Herbert
  • "Everything has to come to an end, sometime." - L. Frank Baum
  • "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "This is the end beautiful friend." - Jim Morrison
  • "End? No, the journey doesn't end here." -  J.R.R. Tolkien
  • "Go on till you come to the end; then stop." - Lewis Carroll

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 237 - Inside Out

This week the DFPP team heads into the mind of a pre-teen to learn just what it is that makes kids tick and finds that sometimes you take the good and take the bad to know what it is you truly have in the 2015 animated adventure Inside Out.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 236 - Chicken Little

This week the DFPP team goes to learn how to shake their tailfeathers from the master when they find themselves in the middle of an alien invasion that can only be stopped by true loves kiss in the 2005 animated adventure Chicken Little.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 235 - Frank and Ollie

This week the DFPP team becomes enthralled with two old men who helped bring about so much of what they enjoy that they just sit back, relax, and listen to all the great anecdotes in the 1995 documentary Frank and Ollie.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 234 - Gus

This week the DFPP team looks into why the worst team ever in football history has suddenly become the best and learn that sometimes it takes just one man’s finger and a kicking mule to save the day in the 1976 comedy Gus.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 233 - Tomorrowland

This week the DFPP team travels interdimensionally to find a strange signal that is interfering with their movie streaming when they discover a city of brainiacs that have been dipping into the tachyons in the 2015 adventure Tomorrowland.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spirited Away Blu-ray Review

The Academy Award winning animated film Spirited Away is considered to be Hayao Miyazaki’s pinnacle work.  Like many of his works, Spirited Away did not have a script, but Miyazaki did write, direct, and provide the storyboards as he went along with the film.  It is about a 10-year old named Chihiro (voiced by Daveigh Chase, Lilo from Lilo and Stitch) and how she is trapped in the Spirit World with her parents and must save them and escape back to the human world.  It is the most successful film in Japanese film history, and Chihiro is considered one of the strongest heroines ever depicted.  Newly remastered, the film is now available on Blu-ray for you to take home and share with your family.

The Blu-ray contains the same Bonus features that were available on the 2003 DVD release.  In addition to the original Trailers and TV spots, these are:

Introduction By John Lasseter has (surprise) John Lasseter introducing the viewer to the movie.  And how he feels it’s Miyazaki’s greatest work, and how great it is that the viewer is getting to watch and enjoy the film.

In The Art Of Spirited Away Jason Marsden (Haku) is the narrator, carrying us through the elements of the film.  In this Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Glen Keane, Pam Coats and others talk about the origins of these elements. How Chihiro is based on a real 10-year old girl from Miyazaki’s life or how scenes like the river cleansing are based on his own real life events.  A note is taken to the little details that Miyazaki includes that other animators might otherwise ignore.  There is a a lot of discussion about how all his films include a flying scene.  They then talk about how cultural differences made adapting the script from Japanese challenging at times, including a mistaking of the “Golden Seal” for being the animal “Seal”.

Behind the Microphone shows the voice actors going through the process of having to synchronize their voice work to the existing film.  And how each actor was able to bring to lie their roles.  One important part of creating the English for the movie was that despite that it needed to be changed to suit American audiences, that it also needed to still capture the essence of Miyazaki’s storytelling.

Original Japanese Storyboards is a condensed version of the film where instead of animation we’re presented with Miyazaki’s storyboards for the film.

Nippon Television Special is a piece in Japanese with English subtitles.  It covers much of the same content as in the other pieces, but with a more cultural point of view.  It is also about the original creation of the film in Japan, and has nothing about the English version.

It’s hard to properly convey how good this film actually is, and how perfectly suited for all audiences it really is.  Please be aware some of the themes depicted in the film are a bit complex and may require some conversation with younger audiences.  Chihiro is a strong heroine who goes through a huge amount of growth during the course of the film.  As with most of Miyazaki’s film this is a coming of age film, and it’s fantasy elements, great humor, and general fun are what make it so good.  If you’re at all interested in this film, then it’s truly a must see.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Cat Returns on Blu-ray

The Cat Returns is an animated adventure by Studio Ghibli that looks at the story of Haru (Anne Hathaway), a young girl who is able to talk with cats.  This ability which she’s hidden from others eventually leads to her rescuing an “odd-eyed” cat named Lune.  She quickly learns that he is the Prince of the Cat Kingdom, and somehow ends up engaged to him.  And an adventure ensues from there.  It’s a fun fantasy film in a way similar to the Wizard of Oz, and today, June 16, it’s available as a newly remastered Blu-ray edition for families to enjoy,

The bonus features on the Blu-ray are identical to those found on the 2005 DVD release of the film.  In addition to the original Japanese Trailers and TV Spots you will also find:

  • Original Japanese Storyboards walks you through the story of the movie using the sketches originally used at Studio Ghibli to lay out the story of the movie.  It is a condensed version of the movie, but does cover the entire plot, so save it for after the movie.

  • Behind The Microphone Anne Hathaway talks about how much fun she had voicing Haru, how she especially enjoyed all of her emotion and how she learned to scream without hurting her voice.  Cary Elwes and Peter Boyle talk about voicing The Baron and Muta, and what it’s like to dub English over an already existing Anime film, including the work involved in aligning syllables to the beats of the characters mouth movements.  Andy Richter, who is very well versed in voice work for animation, talks about voicing Natoru and how different the voice alignment was from the voice work he is normally used to.  Also chiming in are Elliot Gould, Tim Curry, and others.

  • The Making Of The Cat Returns is a piece originally recorded in Japanese at Studio Ghibli and is subtitled in English.  In it you’ll learn how the characters have their origins in another film Whisper of the Heart.  These characters were then to be tied to a Japanese Theme Park attraction, that was tied to manga called “Baron: The Cat Returns”, but the project was shelved.  Eventually, Miyazaki realized he needed to make sure that new blood was in charge of projects at Studio Ghibli and this lead to Hiroyuki Morita becoming the director.

As I indicated above this is a great family movie.  Completely fun and enjoyable with a lot of laughter and silliness to carry you through the story.  As with many Studio Ghibli films this movie is a “coming of age movie” as it really about how Haru needs to break out of her shy shell and move beyond the things in life that are holding her back.  Okay, yeah there’s a lot of talking cats, but you can liken the relationship between Haru and the Baron to other Disney pairs like Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket for example.  The parallels and familiarity are there.  This will make a great movie night for your family.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 232 - Herbie Rides Again

This week the DFPP team decides to check in with an old friendly road machine when they learn that they need to help him thwart a flubbered attempt to destroy the place he calls home in the 1974 comedy Herbie Rides Again.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 231 - George of the Jungle 2

This week the DFPP team heads back out of the jungle while under a spell of hypnosis that causes them try to help prevent a hostile animal takeover from changing the fate of their king in the 2003 comedy George of the Jungle 2.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

McFarland, USA Blu-ray Review

Now on Blu-ray, McFarland, USA is the inspirational story of the town of McFarland, CA, and how it became a town that, while heavily tied to agricultural farm labor, is able to inspire it’s youth to achieve more.  The story revolves around Coach Jim White a.k.a. “Blanco” and how his starting a track team and eventually leading them to the California State Championships brought about this transformation in McFarland.  If you’d like to learn more about the movie itself and it’s story you can listen to Episode 219 of the Disney Film Project Podcast.

The contents of the Blu-ray are few, and focus mostly around the inspirational message of the movie.  With a story that is so rich and full it might have been nice to have some of the background reporting that has existed for many years about McFarland, but I can at the same time see how this might have been considered a divergence from the movie itself.  Here’s what you will find:

McFarland Reflections is a look at the adults who comprised the real life McFarland team.  How actor Kevin Costner learned about the town, school, Coach White, and their story from an article in Sports Illustrated. They talk about brotherhood, growth, and belief, and how Coach White helped them believe in more than just the life they had.  How they it wasn’t just them that were inspired by what he taught them, but that the town was inspired too, and how it changed, and also grew.  They talk about how they all came back to the town and the school in their adult lives to give back to it, and continue to help it grow and evolve to inspire future generations.

Juntos is a music video of a song by Colombian musician Juanes that was made for the movie McFarland and performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards.  Juntos means “together”, and is, as you might expect, a song about togetherness.  It was shot on location in McFarland, where he can be seen performing for the town, meeting the townspeople, and running with the actors who played the team members in the movie.

Inspiring McFarland is a quick short that is a good teaser for the film itself and its message.  In it, Kevin Costner, Niki Caro, Jim White, and the actors who play the boys talk about how the story of McFarland is inspiring.  How inspiration can breed success, and how the story portrayed in the movie set a standard in the town of McFarland that lives on to this day.

There are then a few Deleted & Extended Scenes where you will find the following scenes
  • Jim White and the football coach argue about him pulling a player early on due to him being injured.  And how the coach doesn’t really care about his players.
  • Victor talks with his cousin about how he quit the running team.  His cousin tells him to “un-quit”.
  • White takes a burger away from Danny, and tries to inspire Victor by showing him a picture of the Eiffel Tower and telling him he could go there some day.
  • White follows Jose home and finds him living alone, without parents, in a condemned house.  He takes Jose home and their friend Dale says he will take in Jose.
  • Thomas and his family watch his father leave to find work in fields outside McFarland.

This is a great Blu-ray release for fans of the movie, the story, both, or for people who missed the movie and would like to see it.  It does come with a digital copy that works with Disney Movies Anywhere which provides additional content not found on the Blu-ray.  It’s a great movie to watch with family, and one I really enjoy.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 230 - George of the Jungle

This week the DFPP team can be found watching out for trees as they head deep into the heart of the jungle to find a long missing child and end up running scared from a CGI elephant in the 1997 comedy George of the Jungle.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Strange Magic DVD Review

Released earlier this year, Strange Magic, is a movie conceived of years ago by George Lucas many years ago as a gift to his daughters.  The basic premise was that everyone deserves somebody to love and that beauty can be found in strange places.  His idea was to tell he love story through music, but rather than supply new songs, he decided to use old love songs from his younger days to convey the mood.  An idea he was carrying forward from American Graffiti.  Shortly after purchasing Lucasfilm, Disney reviewed the existing work on the film and decided to allow it to move to release.

As the movie is no longer in theaters, this film is available for you to purchase on DVD.  If you’re looking for a review of the movie itself please check out Episode 218 of our podcast where we go in depth about the history of the film, and our take on it.  Here’s what you can find on the DVD extras:

Creating The Magic talks about the work that went into creating the movie.  George Lucas talks about it being a story of love, that he did for the fun of it.  He wanted it to be fun and have good music and try to tell a new story with old love songs.  They wanted to have photo-realism combined with stylized animation.  The voice actors talk about what it was like to do their characters, and how Alan Cummings was picked as someone who could be both feared and emphasized with.

Magical Mash Up: Outtakes, Tests and Melodies is a collection of various CGI elements being designed, tested and/or combined with some of the music from the movie.  You get a look at how some things went from storyboards to their actual CGI.  And how some of the music went from studio recordings to movie scenes.  As well as a few extras not seen in the movie.

For the Star Wars fan, after all this is a Lucasfilm release, the trailer for the last season of “The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions” that was originally released on Netflix can be found on the DVD as well.

Even on a DVD, where space is a bit more limited, I feel the extras while interesting from a completist point of view were sparse.  There’s certainly more space on the DVD that could have been filled.  Lucas fans will certainly want to see this movie if they haven’t already, but they might want to look for a good sale.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 229 - Avengers: Age of Ultron

A new threat emerges and the DFPP team will stop at nothing to achieve “peas in a line” as they set out to sing lullabies to rampaging robots while watching their language in the 2015 action adventure Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 228 - Wild Hogs

This week the DFPP team takes to the open road to chase down some rumors about some shenanigans in a small town when they learn of some city bikers who are turning the tide in the 2007 comedy adventure Wild Hogs.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 227 - The World's Greatest Athlete

This week the DFPP team heads to the national track and field competition where they find themselves having to run some magical interference in order to help the best man win in the 1973 comedy The World's Greatest Athlete.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 226 - Freaky Friday (2003)

This week the DFPP team has been sent to recover magic fortune cookies when they discover a mother and daughter who have mind swapped, but at least this time they get a rock concert in the 2003 comedy remake Freaky Friday.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 225 - Freaky Friday

This week the DFPP team is busy tracking a mind swapping device when they have to set things right for a displaced mother and daughter before they deep six each other’s lives with a burnt offering in the 1976 comedy Freaky Friday.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 224 - Cinderella

This week the DFPP team is assigned the task of scouring the kingdom to find the foot that fits the glass slipper when they discover that when a good prince meets a kind girl nothing can keep them apart in the 2015 drama Cinderella.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 223 - Yellowstone Cubs

This week the DFPP team discovers that their supply of marshmallows has been raided by campers in order to feed them to bears so they can get in close enough for a fur filled smooch in the 1963 horror epic Yellowstone Cubs.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 222 - Tall Tale

This week the DFPP team spits into a cyclone to summon the spirits of the wild west in order to help them fight the evils of the train barons and help a young boy sleep through saving his parent’s farm in the 1995 adventure Tall Tale.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Disney Film Project Podcast - Episode 221 - James and the Giant Peach

This week the DFPP team has a hankering for a hunk of peach and sets out to track down the biggest one they can, but discover that it’s infested with giant bugs and small children in the 1996 animated James and the Giant Peach.

Listen, download, etc.

Show notes:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Into the Woods Blu-ray Review

Into the Woods is a musical written by Stephen Sondheim that was was recently adapted by Disney into a movie that was released this past holiday season.  Having never seen the play I had stayed away from trailers and other material about the film before seeing in the theater and I came away liking it very much.  The story, by James Lapine, intertwines a handful of fairy tales into a single tale that is magical, mysterious, funny, curious, dark, and whimsical.  Now available on Blu-ray for you to take home and enjoy.

One of they key elements of Into the Woods is that it is a musical, and a great creator always tries to enhance his work.  For the movie, Sondheim wrote an entirely new song for the Witch, played by Meryl Streep, called “She’ll Be Back” - a song about denial and loss.  And the entire piece, while filmed and edited, was eventually cut from the film.  Had it remained it, it would have been sung right after Rapunzel leaves the witch alone at the fallen tower after telling the witch she never wants to see her again.  The entire piece can be watched on the Blu-ray.

There’s Something About The Woods has the cast and crew of the movie talk about the woods themselves and how they set the mood for the story.  It goes into how they recreated parts of the woods as a set that encompasses all the parts of the woods where they designed the trees there to have shapes that make them “dance” along with the story and music.  Sondheim talks about woods near his property where he wrote the songs for the play and how he designed them to enhance the story.  The cast discusses how Rob Marshall was a perfect choice due to his love of film, musicals, and the play itself and how the costumes are designed to evoke each fairy tale on it’s own and yet mesh together.

In The Cast As Good As Gold the cast talks about what it was like to become and be a part of the cast for Into the Woods.  Rob Marshall talks about bringing the cast together as a family, and how important that is to him in his creative process.  The cast themselves keep coming back to that same point as well as discussing how much they all enjoyed working together and their characters.  Even the cow.

There is a section on the Blu-ray called Deeper Into The Woods which contains some material that was released prior to the film with some edits, additions, and changes:

  • From Stage To Screen is a discussion about how both Sondheim and Lapine worked to adapt the play, both the music and the story, in order to better serve the way a movie carries a story differently than stage.

  • The Magic Of The Woods talks about how the music carries the story as a whole, and how much of a challenge this was for the cast to live up to because it’s Sondheim.  We also learn how the music was enhanced by moving to a 60 piece orchestra for recordings.  As well as how the songs we hear are all mixings of on and off stage recordings that use of editing to combine disparate elements.

  • Designing The Woods delves into how “The Woods” itself is a character in the film and how important that is to set the mood.  We learn how the crew handled the integration of the real woods with the stage woods they created on a soundstage.  And how together The Woods they created encompasses the various parts of the story and brings it all together.

  • The Costumes Of The Woods is about Colleen Atwood and her ability to create perfect costume pieces.  They explain how each grouping of costumes represents a different time period and how each character’s costume has a theme.  For example, how the Witch’s costume is designed to “be the woods”.  We also learn that it was Johnny Depp said he wanted to play Tex Avery’s Wolf in a Zoot Suit, and how that concept was adapted to his costume.  There is also some information on Peter King and Roy Helland bringing the perfect hairstyles and makeup to enhance the costumes.

In addition there is also an Audio Commentary track for the film, which can be both watched and subtitled in a numerous array of languages.  For fans of the songs, there is a section titled Music & Lyrics where you can watch just the songs of the movie without having to fast forward all of which have special subtitles so you can sing along.  The Blu-ray also has a quick trailer for the upcoming DCOM Descendants.

As you can see from above, this Blu-ray is well designed to attract both new and old fans of Into the Woods.  You can learn so much about how the stage production was adapted into the movie.  And newer fans who might not yet know the songs as well as fans of the musical, can spend the time learning and enjoying them.  This is a very well packaged Blu-ray and is a welcome addition to my collection.