Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 37

Well, I'm still living in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, although it was a shorter night on Monday.

I started with Super Adventure and this one is now my favorite one! It didn't focus too much on the whole preschool education thing (although I think watching all these might have just improved my horrible math skills). There were four episodes on this disc. It's really hard to find only clips of these episodes, most people just post the entire DVD, but for anyone interested:

I only watched one other disc, Around The Clubhouse World. I must have picked the best two because this one also focused more on story than education and I didn't feel so much I was regressing to my two-year old state after watching these. This disc at least had five episodes, so I feel like I at least got my money's worth.

I still have about four more and then there is the newest one that I've preordered, but I'm going to continue on until I'm done with these before I move on.

Since this post is so short, it's rant time Mouseketeers! I HATE HATE HATE Disney's Fast Play. Why do they think that Fast Play is good? I have to make sure I hit the menu button at a specific point or I'm stuck stopping the movie to turn off fast play (and it's different menu buttons depending on the disc, so that's annoying too). Blu-Ray's are even worse because the menu button only pulls up a little navigation bar at the bottom that, unless you move it super quick before the next trailer starts, you've got to start all over. It seems to me that most people either want to watch the movie and then maybe the special features, but it would be nice to choose and not be forced. Why would you only want to watch whatever special features that fast play picks for you? Every single Disney disc since the dawn of the DVD is "enhanced with Disney's Fast Play"...just hearing those words makes me cringe! Disney people...hear my words...GET RID OF FAST PLAY...IT SUCKS!!!

Now on to the totals...

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 75
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 252
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 77
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 1

Monday, June 29, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 35 & 36

It was a very Mickey Mouse Clubhouse weekend and I'm still not through them all! This should also be pretty short since there isn't much to say about them other than, as much as I hate to admit it, I do really like watching them. I'm not going to post any clips of these because I either can't find good ones, or it's the entire episode, and I'm kind of lazy today.
Saturday started with Mickey Saves Santa. This is another one of those disc that only has three episodes instead of the five that should be on it. In the bonus features on most of these discs though, there is a game of some sort, so those must really hog the disc space or something.

The next disc, Mickey's Adventures In Wonderland was at least a full length movie and one episode, so I can't knock the shortness of it.

Quest For The Crystal Mickey actually turned out to be my favorite, even though it was only an episode. The other four episodes on the disc were all adventure-themed, so they were quite enjoyable too.

Minnie's Bow-Tique was my last DVD for the night, I needed some adult movie time so I watched Interstellar and a couple of documentaries about the moons of Saturn...I'm still on the space kick.

I kind of went full guns blazing on Sunday and managed to knock out seven discs starting with Road Rally, which was a full-length feature plus one bonus episode.

I Heart Minnie was next, which was five Minnie-centric episodes (I'm not a fan of Minnie or Daisy, even when I was little, but I suffered through it). There was also a short on the disc, Minnie's Birthday Party, and that's a rare thing for these compilation discs (although I wish there were more - Donald themed please!).

Mickey's Storybook Surprises contained four episodes and wasn't at all what I was expecting, but it was still pretty enjoyable. Some of the storybook stories were hard to figure out what they were basing them on, but when I stopped trying to figure it out and just enjoy them, all became right in the world. I don't know why I insist on overthinking these things.

Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt was a full-length feature and a bonus episode and was pretty much Easter-themed. It's also one of the older ones, so the voice of Mickey was the other guy who has now passed (and a bit of trivia for ya, that guy was married to the woman who voices Minnie, so technically, Mickey and Minnie were married!). The new guy kind of creeps me out a bit and I don't like him at all. Goofy's vocal artists have changed quite a bit over the years too, but Donald has only been two, Clarence "Ducky" Nash who was the first Donald, and Tony Anselmo who took over when Ducky died.

Mickey's Big Splash was four episodes, all water-themed...surprise!

Numbers Roundup was five episodes but had a very pre-preschool feel. There were a few times I felt like chucking it in for the night because this disc was really hard to sit through. Normally, I catch myself calling out things when Mickey says "say it with me" or asks for the answer to a question, but every one of these episodes just kind of grated on my nerves.

So, Minnie's Masquerade was last because I simply couldn't take anymore for the night. Too much Minnie and Daisy was my final straw. I do find it odd that it seems like Daisy swoons a heck of a lot over Mickey and not so much over Donald...what's up with that?

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 75
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 252
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 68
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 1

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Weekly Stitching

I so wanted to finish the second row of Maleficent this week, but with two days of barely any stitching, and none on Friday, there was no way I was going to get through it. It shouldn't take me but a couple days next week if I have good stitch days and then I can move on to something else (Sleeping Beauty Castle is eye-balling me again).

I left off here last weekend:

And got to here tonight for a total of 249.4 hrs so far:
As ticky as I am about using the right photo settings in Disney World, I can't believe it never occurred to me to change it to night portrait for these cross stitch pictures, especially since I always finish at night and it's pretty dark in my house. Oh well, problem fixed now! the actual true color of the project is closer to the first one, but I can see the details better close up than the dark picture shows them, whereas the brighter one shows them all.

I've also got to be really careful about stitching when I have a headache. I go much slower, barely make any progress, and just manage to make my time even higher than it should be. In future, even if it means I have to skip a night due to a headache, then so be it. I've got to stitch faster or I'll never finish even one of the projects this year. It doesn't have to be one of the big ones, but I'd like to finish something besides the two April A to Z Blog challenges and Pea (which got finished at the first of the year, but I worked on it for two years before). and I've still haven't gotten even one of those framed, so I'm really behind schedule.

But, considering that by this time of the year I'm usually knee-deep in Disney World planning and not stitching at all, then I guess I'm still ahead of the game. Disneyland is nothing like Disney World when it comes to planning since you can't book anything there too far ahead. It just means when the time does roll around, I'll be running around like a chicken with my head cut off in full panic mode! Disney World kind of trains you to be a commando tourist and I've been that way for so long, I'm not sure I will even be able to enjoy Disneyland because I'll be trying to march to the beat of my watch instead of looking around. I worry about the silliest things, but it definitely takes my mind off of worrying about the big things...like dealing with LAX or the LA bus tour or the uncertainty of knowing every nook and cranny of Disneyland like I do Disney World. I function on familiarity and any deviation from that can send me off the edge. Hopefully, T-Boo will be able to ground me enough to get through it. Not sure where that rant came from, but I'm obviously starting to build up the fear factor. Ugh...and on a night when I have to go to bed early too. Great.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 33 & 34

Things have been extremely busy the past couple of days and I've gotten a bit behind in all my personal stuff like blogging and stitching. I figured if I didn't go out of routine a bit and get caught up on my Disney movie watching challenge posts, I would get really far behind, so here we are on the weekend.

I went in a pretty unusual direction and started watching my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse videos. These are actually preschool videos, but I find it very relaxing just to hear Donald's voice, even if he's counting or figuring out shapes. And despite the full-on, very simple style of computer animation, it actually works very well in this format and gives life to the characters when flat animation doesn't. It makes me think a lot of the characters in the parks, so again, it's comforting. But don't worry, I don't own the entire collection of all the other Disney Junior shows, so we won't be in preschool-land forever.

There isn't a lot to say about these videos, but there is one really cool feature about these discs...most all the music, including the theme song, was written and sung by one of my favorite college years bands, They Might Be Giants. Since I'm in the mood, here's one of my favorite of their songs:

And then, of course, there is this one, with the "other" animation house:

Although I'm a very Disney-centric person, I spent a large quantity of my childhood watching the Warner Bros cartoons too. Of course, Daffy was my favorite (I must really have a thing for ducks), but that's a conversation for another day...it's time to Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!

I don't remember the order in which these videos go in, and it doesn't really matter with these anyway, so I started with Mickey & Donald Have A Farm simply because it was the one that ended up on top when I pulled out the pile. There isn't a full-length feature on this disc, but rather five episodes of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series, all of which are farm or animal themed.

Then I went with Choo-Choo Express which has a full-length movie and one episode.

Mickey's Treat was next and this disc is a bit of a rip off, although the episodes are really good and Halloween themed. There are only three episodes and one Little Einstein short. Even this song that a 3-year old could have written has a certain sweetness to it.

I finished off the night with Space Adventure because I'm still in a space mood. This was a full-length movie plus one episode.

I only made it through one disc on Friday because of a previous engagement, and that disc was Minnie-rella. There are four episodes on this disc as well as ten Minnie's Bow Toons, which are basically just shorts. I managed to find the whole episode on YouTube.

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 72
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 251
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 30
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 1

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 32

Last night wasn't a good night. I rarely have headaches now since they put me on muscle relaxers (who knew I was such an uptight bitch?), but when I do have them, whoa nelly! Needless to say, I managed to stitch for approximately 20 minutes before I had to give up the goat, so I decided to try to clear off my Hulu queue because my mind wasn't clear enough to focus on animation (my mind runs like mad when I'm watching animation because I'm focusing on the art as well as the story and I just couldn't deal with that last night).

Anyway, I had three episodes of Star Talk with Neil Degrasse Tyson to watch and he finally had two of those episodes about astronomy! In the history of the show so far he had only done one or two episodes about it, so it put me in quite the space mood. I really wanted to just go to bed, but I needed to get through at least one movie or else my challenge would be kaput, so I chose Roving Mars. Before the Disneynature movies took off, there was this documentary and it's my favorite of them all.

I'm not just Disney and Duran Duran obsessed, I'm also quite gaga over astronomy. It all started back during my first trip to Disney World in 1981 because we also went to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. It wasn't much then, just a museum and the launch pad, but I have been DYING to go back ever since (alas, no one wants to go with me and I'm too chicken to go alone). I was quite young at the time and didn't understand a lot of it, but I was in awe at the thought of other worlds and that we might go a travelling one day. I'm not science-smart, so I always knew that astronomy was out of the cards for me, but every once in a while, the urge strikes me hard and I regret not at least trying, especially now.

This is a very exciting time for our space program. We're getting closer and closer to the surface of Ceres and hopefully will soon find out what those bright spots are (I'm in the ice camp), NASA announced that we're finally going to Europa and, most exciting of all, we are less than 3 weeks away from our arrival at Pluto! Every single day I spend more time than I should scouring the astronomy websites waiting for the newest updates from the New Horizons mission to Pluto and we're getting them weekly now. We've learned more about Pluto and it's largest moon Charon in the past month than we have ever known and the discoveries are increasing exponentially every single day. I almost cried when, last week at 50,000,000 km out (that may sound like a lot, but it's five times less than the distance from the Earth to Mars, so not so bad), the LORRI camera showed a hidden Mickey on Pluto! If you pay attention to the very first clip on this video, you'll see it (although you might want to pause it because it disappears in the blink of an eye):

That's why I chose Roving Mars because it's all I have that blends astronomy and Disney together. Granted, it's considered a short by IMDB, but there are also three documentaries on the disc as well and I always watch them altogether along with the movie, so I'm counting them as one movie and creating a new category, documentary. I'm not going to diversify it into live-action or animation because I have a few Disney documentary discs that are a mixture of the two or live action discussing animation and it might get too confusing to separate them.

Roving Mars is about the creation, launch, landing, and deployment of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, one of which is still quite active on the Martian surface even today, over twelve years after their 6-month tour of duty ended. Poor Spirit died about 4 or 5 years ago. Of course, Opportunity is no longer alone and it works together with Curiosity in the ongoing search for life on the red planet.

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 70
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 240
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 17
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 1

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 30 & 31

I guess in a normal 30-day challenge, this would be the end but, since I've really only started to reach the halfway point in my Disney DVD collection, I guess we've got a ways to go yet.

I went light Monday and Tuesday because I really have been taking this a bit too far and watching too many movies at a time (plus, I've already plowed through my favorites, so I'm just at the "getting through it" point). My Sofia The First: The Curse of Princess Ivy disc came in and, considering this disc's princess is Rapunzel, I was kind of excited (kind of sad really that a grown-ass woman is excited over a toddler show). Curse of Princess Ivy was a full-length movie and I was a bit surprised that not only did Mandy Moore actually do Rapunzel's voice, she actually even sang a song! In every other Sofia movie, the princess is there for all of two minutes and I'd say Rapunzel had about 10 minutes of screen time, so all in all, pretty darn cool! And despite the fact that Princess Ivy was a villain and trying to take over Enchancia, I really kind of liked her turning everything black and white because it was this cool silvery color that was really pretty!

There was also three episodes of the show on this disc as well, so more to add to the count.

To round out Monday night, I went with Frozen next. The more I watch this movie, the more I like it, but I'm still not at that "loving it" stage yet. From an animation point, there are a lot of great special effects and the scenery is really quite pretty. I love Olaf, seriously, what a great character! But I still can't get over the whole "princesses don't need princes" mentality. I might agree with Anna giving up her chance to save herself to save her sister, but Elsa laying there like a wounded animal waiting for Hans to split her in half with a sword just walks all over me. Why couldn't Anna just holler at Hans, it would startle him enough to give him pause, Elsa would hear her too and she was raise up, giving Kristoff time to reach Anna for that all important true love's kiss, and Elsa time to knock Hans for a loop. Guess I'm just too old school.

Honestly, my absolute favorite thing about Frozen are the shorts on the disc. The Making Of Frozen is absolutely hilarious and I'm still singing it two days later! But someone needs to show Josh Gad how to brush his tongue...I find myself starring at it more than what is happening around them!

I'm calling this one a live-action short, even though it is basically a music video, simply because I don't want to create yet another category.

And one of the finest cartoons to come out of the Disney Studios in YEARS is Get A Horse. It is absolutely brilliant when they start running in and out of the screen and you can see them shift from black and white to color. Whoever came up with that idea should lead the next animated feature!

I'm running out of princess movies, but I still have a couple few left. Since yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Pocahontas, and I have both of those movies on one disc, that's where I started last night. I'm not a fan of either of these two movies, but let's start with Pocahontas first. The music is fantastic, but the story has always irked me. I also don't care much for Mel Gibson as John Smith. I can't focus on the character because I only see Mel Gibson's face. I'm also not a fan of the animation (surprise).

This is really going to sound petty, but I think I resent Pocahontas more because I'm forced to sit through a very lengthy Pocahontas-themed section in Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. At the time when Fantasmic at WDW was created, Pocahontas was the newest film out, but that was 20 years ago and we're still subjected to it. A lot of people in the audience, especially the kids, don't understand that section. Why they don't update Fantasmic is beyond me. They would save a ton on not paying those dozens of actors to play those parts which would probably cover the cost of redoing the song for the show (or they could just use Disneyland's version).

Then there is Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World. This movie is really weird and a first...the princess doesn't stay in love with her first love, but moves on to another. I'm not sure if it was Disney's way of correcting the glaringly obvious historical inaccuracies of the first one or what, but it made me really not like her because it makes her look wishy-washy. Don't get me started on the scene where Pocahontas is crying like crazy as she's departing for London, then suddenly the tears are gone and she's happy, talk about continuity issues! There is an ironic disclaimer at the end of the movie that says that this was a fictional representation of Pocahontas' life and go elsewhere online if you want the true story. Disney never did that before. Don't get me started on the animation in this one...atrocious!

I found a trailer that includes both and I'm using it because this is the disc I have and I didn't want you suffer through two separate ones:

Again, the special features on the disc are limited, but there is a great behind the scenes doc about Walt's vision for Pocahontas back in the days of Cinderella and why it never came to fruition. They also go through the storyboards for Hiawatha, which is where Pocahontas started to turn later on. Honestly, the storyboarding for Hiawatha was far more interesting than Pocahontas ended up being.

There is a great toon on this disc, one I remember from my childhood called Little Hiawatha, not the full-length feature they were planning, but a Silly Symphony short.

Since it was still kind of early, I decided to do my Mulan two disc set net. I like Mulan...now THAT'S a princess! She kicks butt and still gets the guy (she saves him, he saves her, over and over again with relatively no interaction from family or friends or whatever, it's all about them). That's the direction these princess movies should go in. That way, they can show that women can still be strong, but men still have to be chivalrous to win our hearts. The way it's going now, men are more of an accessory after the fact (don't get me started on Maleficent or Frozen again). I absolutely love the animation on this as well...it's simple but has a very Asian style to it that is quite beautiful. It's soft with tranquil undertones when it needs to be as well as strong and sharp in the tense moments.

This was the first time I had seen any of the behind the scenes stuff on the disc and it was fascinating to see the design process with background and characters and they pretty much reiterated what I had always felt about the movie.

I had never watched Mulan II before, but again, I really enjoyed it, especially the whole "what happens after the princess gets her prince" moments. Plus, their friends get to find love too, so it was like a giant love fest with a battle in the middle. You don't even notice that Eddie Murphy isn't Mushu (he was pretty deep in Shrek by that point)...I just LOVE Mushu!

I'm still in kind of princess mode, but I really only have one left, the Little Mermaid series and, considering it's my least favorite, I think I might start in the sub-princess movies, like Tarzan or Hunchback of Notre Dame (I can find princesses in practically every movie). But by the time I get home, there is no telling where my head will be.

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 70
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 240
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 17
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 28 & 29

I've got to try to speed this up a bit even though I watched 6 movies Saturday and an additional 6 plus 6 compilation videos on Sunday. What's going to make this one shorter is the lack of comments I have for all the crappy sequels I had to be exposed to.

Since Lilo & Stitch kind of put me on the path of dogs (Stitch hides himself as Lilo's dog), this weekend was an almost all dogs weekend. So, of course, I started Saturday with the ultimate of Disney dog movies, 101 Dalmatians.

As a kid, I had animation issues with this movie. The sketchy lines and the graphic nature of the backgrounds bothered me to no end. Watching the special features on the disc, you have no idea how relieved I was that Walt shared my misgivings about the animation. He loved the classic style, with Sleeping Beauty being the pinnacle, and I definitely agree with him...it's kind of like comparing the masters to Picasso, or worse, Pollock (don't get me started on Jackson Pollock or I'll never shut up!).

I didn't have much luck with watching this movie as a kid either. The only time I ever saw it in the theater (which, coincidentally, happened to be the first time I ever got to go to the movie by myself), my mother had to come and pull me out because a tornado was coming (a byproduct of living in the South). I wasn't upset about the tornado, I was completely humiliated by getting pulled out (they turned on the overhead lights and everything) and it messed me up for years...the warped mind of an Asper.

I disagree with Marc Davis that Cruella was his greatest work, I still reserve that compliment for Maleficent, but I respect the movie a whole heck of a lot more now and even enjoy the animation.

Watching the sequel, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, further reminded me how special the original animation was. They tried hard to mimic the backgrounds (although I still think they failed on that front), but the cleaned up character lines completely ruined any attempts made to retain background purity. Plus, the story reminded me way too much of Bolt (even though Bolt came later) and I couldn't enjoy it because I felt like I'd "been there" before.

Of course, because I watched these two, I had to watch the two live action ones as well. I have a love/hate relationship with live action remakes, but of all of them, 101 Dalmatians is a lot closer to the spirit of the original than say Maleficent was. I don't really understand why they felt like they needed to change the puppies names (which reminded me of the mice in Cinderella live action), give Anita a job working for Cruella, or Roger's career (from songwriter to video game creator), but the rest of it was pretty spot on. I especially liked Hugh Laurie as Jasper, although his accent kept changing throughout the movie from a bit too posh to closer to animated Jasper and then back again.

Then, to round out the series, 102 Dalmatians. I'm really surprised that Glenn Close would have anything to do with this piece of crap.

I'm adding these two live actions to the live-action total, even though both have qualities of animation about it, especially since sometimes the dogs were CG.

I was so grateful to be done with this series that, because the animated sequel reminded me of Bolt, I watched it next. I always really liked this movie...I mean, come on, a hamster named Rhino? What's not to love?

And there is a Rhino short on the disc as well called "Super Rhino" and it's hilarious!

To change things up, I decided to watch 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I'm not really sure why, I was just feeling a mood. I've never seen this film in its entirety, I've only ever seen bits and pieces. I never got it before and I didn't get it after seeing it all together either. Although I rode the ride back in the day at Disney World, I don't remember it at all, and there's probably a good reason why.

Sunday got me back in a dog mood, starting first with The Fox And The Hound. I saw this movie as a kid, but I don't remember it being the bawl-fest that it is. I do remember that it's the reason why I dislike hunting so much. Bambi ain't got nothin' on this one.

Again, the sequel, The Fox And The Hound 2, completely ignored the fact that Copper and Tod grew up and was nothing but a long flashback to a moment in time during their puppy-hood. I can't help but think that the head of the animation department pulled out a bunch of originals and said to the animators, "take these characters, write me a new story and put it out, doesn't matter if you've seen the original or not, just use the image on the box cover to go by". And come on, a song called "Hound Dude"? Crap is too good a word.

Lady And The Tramp was next (because what dog movie compilation would be complete without it), but if I'm really honest, I've never really cared for this movie and I'm not sure why. The animation is spot on, the voices are great, the characterizations are amazing...it must be the story that just doesn't grip me.

The sequel, Lady And The Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, is a bit too similar to 101 Dalmatians II.

About the only think positive I can say about these sequels to classic movies is that they make the originals look even better.

The last dog movie I watched was Oliver & Company (although technically Oliver is a cat). I know I've seen this one before but I honestly didn't remember it. Of all the movies I watched Sunday though, it was my favorite (probably because it was a take on Oliver Twist and I have a thing for Dickens like I do Austen). It has a bit of TV animation feel to it, but the story was strong enough to carry it, although I think they went a bit overboard with the vocal talent.

What's ironic about this movie is that there is a documentary on the disc that talks about the "new" technique of computer animation, but how hand-drawn would be around for years to come...if they only knew! Oh, and there were two shorts on this disc, including one Pluto.

I still have one or two more dog movies in my collection, but I am definitely not ready for Frankenweenie yet so soon after losing Zach, so I went in yet another direction, Duck Tales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp. Speaking of TV animation, I don't particularly dislike it nearly as much as movie animation. I guess I give allowances for their much smaller budgets and limited production time. This movie does have that TV animated feel, but I would expect that considering it's a movie based on a TV show and it adds to continuity (I like that word and wish the animation world did too).

I do have all four seasons of the show on DVD, but we're not quite there yet.

Since it was starting to get late, I popped in a few compliation DVD's of Disney cartoons, starting first with Vintage Mickey. I was a bit shocked that this video only contained 9 cartoons and no special features but, considering the first one was the original Mickey cartoon, Steamboat Willie, I was OK. Mickey was a bit of a cad back in his old days...playing music on a pig's tits, trying to constantly force Minnie to kiss him (sometimes really aggressively), I can see why there was a need for Donald so that they could soften Mickey up a bit.

For those that have ever played Epic Mickey, you'll recognize a lot of these cartoons.

I tried a bunch of other Donald related DVD's next, but considering I've watched all four Chronological Donald's all ready, there was barely any shorts I could count towards my total. Fun Factory with Donald only had one I hadn't seen already, Fun Factory with Huey, Dewey, and Louie had none, Classic Cartoon Favorites - Best Pals: Donald and Daisy had none, Classic Cartoon Favorites Starring Donald had none, and Starring Chip and Dale only had four.

So, not as long of a post as I expected it to be, yea me!

Live Action: 20
Full-Length Animation: 64
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 238
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 14
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Monday, June 22, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 27

To put it simply, I watched a crap-load of Disney movies this weekend! I'm definitely going to have to split it up, it's just too much to cover in one post and I think Friday needs its own because of the subject. There is one other Disney character that can hold his own against Donald in my book and that character is Stitch. I absolutely ADORE him almost as much as the duck-man, so much so that his stuff takes up quite a large corner of my duck room and, if I had a real house, I'd probably have a Stitch room too.

I'm also one of the few people on earth that love Stitch's Great Escape at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World (the secret is to know when the chili dog burp is coming and hold your breath, that is usually everyone's biggest complaint about it) although the story continuity is off to Stitch fans and it confuses some people, especially little kids. There is a four foot audioanimatronic Stitch standing in front of you, I don't notice the storyline much because I'm geeking out at Stitch! To top it all off, you get to walk out through a gift shop that is very Stitch-merchandise heavy. Granted, they rarely ever have new merchandise (I have got pretty much all of it I wanted throughout the years), but luckily, the Asian market loves Stitch too, so you can always find great new Stitch stuff on eBay.

First up was, of course, the movie that started it all, Lilo & Stitch. I could literally talk about this movie all day. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it even makes me think a bit more positively on my family (and that's a BIG feat). I can relate a lot to Lilo because she acts out a lot like I did as a kid and to Stitch as well because I do have a lot of inner demons that I constantly have to control for the sake of others.

Although there is a lot of computer colorization in the movie (my pet peeve), the backgrounds have a soft watercolor look to them and there is a sense of depth you don't typically see in computer animation. There is also a sense of whimsy in the characters too, especially in their facial expressions.

There were some great trailers for the original movie featuring Stitch interrupting some classic movie moments. Luckily, there are a few people out there who love them as much as I do because they have compiled them all into one clip to save me the trouble of posting tons of clips! This is the best one I found:

This scene makes me cry every single time I watch it. I don't know if it's the tone of Stitch's voice or the fact that he's speaking from a place of utter defeat, but it hits me right in the gut:

I've also threatened for years that I'm gonna stitch the Stitch movie poster, it's hilarious! I love how the other Disney characters either have a look of sheer terror or absolute disgust on their faces...priceless! Plus, I'm that "one" in every family, so I can relate.
I found the image on Google images, but it was directed from The Disney Wiki page.

Here's where things get a bit confusing...technically, Stitch The Movie is next, but Lilo & Stitch and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch are now bundled together, so for convenience sake, I watched 2 second. There is also a bit of story issue between all four movies that makes 2 a logical second viewing choice, but I'll get to that later.

Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch is just as good as the original, a Disney sequel rarity. Again, it has as much heart as the original and the story is still strong enough to divert my attention away from the animation (although it's still got that soft watercolor effect that actually works for me).

Now for the sticky mess that is Disney sequels...the actual second movie is Stitch the Movie. It sets up the TV series (which I also loved). Stitch is experiment 626 and this movie deals with the other 625 experiments and Dr. Hamsterviel's evil plot to capture and clone them. Each experiment has a different "super power" (for lack of a better term) making each capture tricky but Lilo & Stitch manage it and the TV show picks up with each episode involving the capture and "relocation" of one of the experiments, or cousins.

Stitch the Movie also introduces my favorite cousin, experiment 625, or Reuben, the sandwich-loving, lazy bum that's more of a hindrance to Dr. Hamsterviel and Captain Gantu than a help. He has some incredibly funny lines and, considering he's Stitch's closest cousin, couldn't be more different.

When Stitch 2 came out, it confused a lot of people because it completely ignored Stitch the Movie as was more of a true sequel to the first. It was an affront to those who loved the TV show too since it used the same storyline as Stitch the Movie. I also love Dr. Hamsterviel as a villain, he's my number three against Maleficent and Hades, so I guess that say's a lot. I just don't understand how a company known for their attention to detail can't remember that they have already done a sequel and it followed "xyz" pattern so, if they make another one, it must also be synchronous. Almost every single sequel I have watched so far has either been an abomination to the first or completely ignored the second (and I had numerous problems with that during the rest of the weekend as you will see tomorrow). I get that different people make the sequels, sometimes even in different countries, but would it kill them to watch the prequel they are following up? UGH! It literally drives me insane! And in a case like Stitch, where you have the same actors all across the board (well, except for Lilo), you'd think they'd stand up and say, "hey, my character went this direction last time, did you forget?".

They tried to fix it with Leroy & Stitch, movie 4, by attempting to meld the two sequels together and continuing on with the cousins after they have all been captured on the TV show. Leroy is experiment 627, cloned by Dr. Hamsterviel in multitude, and he's more powerful than Stitch, so it takes all of the cousins to defeat them. Again, this movie is as strong as the other three, but considering it technically follows Stitch 2, it can get a bit confusing. And, because you learned a lot of the other cousin's abilities from the TV Show, unless you've seen it, you don't get attached to them in the movie because you don't know who they are or why they are there. It's also why I choose to watch 2 after 1 and then Stitch the Movie and Leroy and Stitch because you don't loose too much continuity that way. As good as Leroy & Stitch is, it's definitely a movie for the true Stitch fan, no matter which order you watch it in.

For those that didn't watch the show, you get to meet Angel, the only girl experiment and Stitch's girlfriend. It's why you sometimes see a pink Stitch in the stores...that's Angel.

Leroy & Stitch is also a lot more computer animated and, although the watercolor backgrounds are still there, they are a bit harsher and bright and have lost a lot of their softness. The story is strong enough that I don't notice it too much (but I do notice it).

I don't own the TV show, basically because The Disney Channel rarely puts their series on DVD. I've NEVER understood that! They sometimes put out compilations of the best episodes of some of their series, but never the whole thing. I would have a much larger Disney library if they did! I have such fond memories of the TV show and, now that it's not on anymore, I'm SOL, so to speak. They once did a High School Musical parody music video that was hilarious:

Anyone that has seen HSM might notice that they are spot on with the dance moves...I just LOVE it!

Pleakey is played by Kevin McDonald (another Kids In The Hall alum) and my favorite episode of all was the one where his family comes to visit because his family members were all voiced by almost all the other KITH's including Dave "Flik" Foley. You talk about a fan-girl geek out moment! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find that episode (or even a clip of it). It centers around Pleakley trying to please his mother by making her think he's engaged to Nani, but when his whole family shows up for the "wedding", he's put in a sticky situation. He eventually stands up to his mother in the middle of the ceremony and explains to her that he doesn't need a wife because he has a happy life just as he is.

Parents everywhere went in an uproar when that episode came out because they were freaking out at the very thought that Pleakley might be gay.  It's just sad that people are so focused on such things...Pleakley is just Pleakley, it's not like he changed overnight, he was always that way.  His first name is Wendy, he wears women's clothing and to say he's effeminate is an understatement...he's also a one-eyed alien and a cartoon character! Why is his sexual orientation even an issue? We all grew up with Bert and Ernie and we haven't been scarred for life.  I thought the episode was really sweet and hit home that we don't all fit into the mold our parents want us to, but it doesn't make us less special.  I know that I would have felt much better as an Asper-kid if I would have known that I didn't need to try so damn hard to be "normal" and that's the lesson I got from that episode. Hopefully, others took away what they needed from it.  But I digress, again. There is no arguing with some people, especially those with closed minds.

Leroy & Stitch had a bonus episode of the TV series on the disc as well (if only it had them all), so that affects my counts thus:

Live Action: 17
Full-Length Animation: 55
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 221
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 14
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Sunday, June 21, 2015


I haven't had time this past week to post my TUSAL pic, so I saved it for Stitch Sunday (which just also happened to be the International Hermit & Stitch Weekend). Since I have been doing my Disney Movie watching, I figured that this month's TUSAL should be shown in front of my favorite Disney Movie Club Reward Points collectible:
June15 tusal
I didn't think about it until I was posting the pic, but I should have opened the sculpture up because it's covered with all these neat carvings inside and out and you can arrange them however you see fit. I just arrange them that way so that they will take up less room. Space is not a luxury I have in my duck room.

You'll notice all that beaver gray fuss...yeah, that's all the stupid frogging I had to do on Sleeping Beauty Castle. I had the urge to work on it a bit this weekend too, but I managed to resist and stayed on my path.

Before I get to the IHSW stitching, guess I'd better cover the week first. I've been focusing solely on Maleficent for about two weeks now. I left her off here last Sunday:
And she made it to here Wednesday night:
I didn't stitch Thursday. I have this horrible monster of a bush/tree in front of my house that has to be trimmed constantly or it grows way out of control. It's a hyacinth and was supposed to bloom in 5 to 10 years. It's now in it's 13 year of life and I've yet to see one flower on it. I keep threatening to cut it completely down, but it blocks the front window and I still hope that someday it will bloom. For some reason, clipping the stupid thing makes my hands and arms shake for hours, so I just decided I didn't want to screw up any stitch work and laid off of it for the night.

Come Friday, I was SO ready to start the IHSW! I didn't know it until I loaded the pics tonight, but apparently I got photobombed on Friday's snapshot. I'm usually so absorbed on getting the stitch in focus, I typically don't notice what is going on around me (or around it either).
He's even sticking his tongue out at me, the little bugger! He's following in his late brother's footsteps apparently.
bam bomb
It made me think of Chocolate Mousse at Le Cellier Restaurant at Disney World's Epcot:
2013 (12)-2666

But anyway, I quit a bit early Saturday night because I was pooped! All this fill-in work is murder!
But I did get a close of up of Maleficent's half-face:
By the time I started filling in around her head, I was worried that the background color was going to end up too dark and mess it her up but, as per HAED usual, it's working out just fine:
Tonight's finish puts me at 220.97 hrs in. Right now, I'm really cookin', so I think I'll keep going at least until the row is finished. Once I finish the remainder of the fill-in on the far right side, it should start moving very quickly and I'll be able to add pages 10 and 13 to the finished pile (14 is already there since it's a quarter page).

I had a super-busy Disney Movie weekend and it quite literally went to the dogs, but we'll get to that tomorrow!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 24 - 26

It's time to play Speed Racer now. Since I started the Fantasia post, I've been debating how to handle days 24 and 25. Technically, Fantasia is really nothing but a collection of shorts that are melded together into one piece, but it was created as one piece at one time. Tuesday and Wednesday's selections are the same with one specific difference, most were designed to be shorts first, then packaged together. So the issue is, do I count them as shorts, or as one full-length animated feature? Well, there is no easy answer to that, so I guess we'll just find out together.

Even though Fantasia was a flop for Walt, he really actually didn't give up, he just changed the format up a bit. There were a few films he put out in the 40's and 50's, with a definite Fantasia-esque flair, but with popular music versus classical and a more traditional, simpler style of animation without all the bells a whistles (so to speak).

I started Tuesday night with Melody Time. This wasn't the first of these films and it wouldn't be the last, but it's my favorite of the ones I have, so I decided to watch it first. Actually, I did have a specific reason why I wanted to watch it, ever since Ichabod and Mr. Toad, I've been cravin' me some Pecos Bill somethin' awful and it happens to be on this disc. There are some other amazing pieces, a couple of which are very Mary Blair, one of Disney's great artists (think Small World). She has a very definitive style that is quite graphic, but with a lot of whimsy. This is the best example of her essence:

But on to Pecos. I know every word by heart, every fluctuation in animation style, every little nuance of the pen strokes, well, to say I'm obsessed would probably be putting it mildly and I really can't explain why. As a general rule, cowboys and the west aren't really my thing. There are hundreds of more technical pieces, pieces with better soundtracks, even pieces that are probably more entertaining, but there is just something about Pecos.

It starts off with a trip through the desert as the tumbleweeds blow, the coyotes howl, and a little partridge family makes their way through. Then you come to a clearing filled with the likes of Roy Rogers, Trigger, Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, Bobby Driscoll and Luanna Patten (the two kids from Song of the South...they were in a lot of Disney pieces back in the day, about like Haley Joel Osment voiced almost every single boy for Disney in the 90's and 00's). But anyway, the gang all sitting around a campfire singing songs and telling stories. Luanna asked Roy why the coyotes howl at the moon and thus, the story of Pecos, the roughest, toughest critter in the west, begins.

There is one thing about Pecos that really burns my hide (for some reason, even talkin' about Pecos, brings out my Southern accent somethin' fierce!), the fact that later publications of the cartoon has been edited to remove the cigarette from Bill's mouth. I don't smoke, never have, never will, but it's part of the original artwork and should have been left alone. It was the 40's for goodness sake! But I guess there is no need to rehash censorship yet again, what's done is done. I wish I could have found the whole thing for you, but unfortunately, I couldn't even find a decent clip, so I guess this is the best I can do:

I'm so far gone when it comes to this cartoon that my favorite meal at Disney World is Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, a sub-par counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. I have numerous taco salads from there every single visit and, if I actually pay attention to what I'm eating, it's really like cafeteria food, but I don't care, it's Pecos food! I've shown this before, but I'm feeling like sharing again. The Disney geeks know who Lou Mongello from WDW Radio is, but here is the coolest clip of him giving background about the knick-knacks scattered about the restaurant:

Even though Melody Time is made up of 7 shorts, I'm going to call it one full-length film because it has a very Fantasia-like flow to it. But there are also three separate bonus shorts on the disc, including a Donald Duck take on Johnny Appleseed (another Mary Blair inspired short that's on the disc) called Donald Applecore and, thank goodness, I managed to find it on YouTube in its entirety!

Because I was on such a Pecos high, I decided to stay in the same vein and watch Tall Tale: The Adventures Of Pecos Bill because it is a Disney movie too. I'm not a real fan of this movie overall. I love the premise of Pecos, John Henry, and Paul Bunyan helping out a boy, but I'm not a Patrick Swayze fan (I know, blasphemy, right?) and that kid couldn't act his way out of a paper bag. I manged to find yet another crappy quality trailer, but it's ironic because it makes the movie look far more exciting than it actually is.

I found another, non-Disney Pecos movie on Amazon Prime (I was REALLY having a Pecos night) that was some kind of weird Shelley Duvall story with Steve Guttenberg and Rebecca DeMornay in it, and it pretty much cured my Pecos craving for the night because it was HORRIBLE! Even as a child's production it sucked. I'm not even going to go in search of this on YouTube because I don't want to see it in my history.

But come Wednesday, I was still in the Fanstasia-ish/Pecos Bill frame of mind, so I went with Disney's American Legends next. Now, where the others are an obvious cohesive blending of shorts, this disc is strictly four shorts on a disc, each introduced by James Earl Jones, so this one is going to be added to the shorts total. Johnny Appleseed is shown again on this disc as well as John Henry's story, Paul Bunyan, and Casey Jones.

Here is where I have to complain a bit on animation. I love the story of John Henry, have since I was little, but whoever allowed this piece to go out like this hopefully didn't last long at the Disney Company. I can forgive loose sketch lines on the likes of Jungle Book, Robin Hood or, in the extreme form, 101 Dalmatians, but actually showing grid lines on the faces is just WRONG!!

For those that don't know, when you draw a face, real or animated, you start first with a circle, then you split that circle in half lengthwise and width-wise, essentially splitting it into four quadrants. Then you draw another horizontal line in the middle of the bottom half and another horizontal line to split the final bottom half (does that make sense?). The vertical line represents the midline of the face, the middle horizontal line is the eyes, the second horizontal is the nose/bottom of ear line, and the last line is the mouth. If you draw faces this way, it is very hard to fail. Every feature is lined up perfectly every single time and pretty much all artists, portrait or animation, draw this way. Even animal characters like Donald and Mickey have grid lines. I tried to find an example to show you, so I hope THIS helps.

I drives me batty to watch John Henry because every character has flashes of that gridline showing up on their faces as well as their bodies (because there is a whole other grid set for that). It's awful and distracting and just plain LAZY! Otherwise, it's a great segment to stitch to because the music is great (if nothing else). If you look close, you can see glimpses of it on this trailer:

But I was still in the compilation mood, even after the disaster that is John Henry, so Make Mine Music was next. Technically, this one did come before Melody Time, but I don't like it as much, so I watched it last. Again, it is a cohesive melding of the shorts, so I'm considering this one film. Where Melody Time is primarily all popular music, this group mixes things up a bit with all different styles of music. A few of the pieces have a more Fantasia-feel as well because they are just music and animation, no story per-se or speaking parts. I couldn't find a trailer for it, but I did find a pretty good quality clip of my favorite short in the piece, All The Cats Join In. I have a thing for animation that includes a pencil or paint brush still in the progress of creating the piece (there are a lot of those in the cartoons of the 40's and 50's).

There are also three shorts on this disc including the 1935 Mickey Mouse Silly Symphony cartoon, The Band Concert. Classic Mickey and Donald at their finest!

Come Thursday, it was time to change gears (at least for now, I have other compilations I'll get to later). Bedknobs and Broomsticks was my only selection for Thursday simply because I needed to get caught up on these reviews! I know that Mary Poppins is supposed to be the seminal mixed-medium film, but I hold Bedknobs in a much higher regard than I do Mary Poppins (although not nearly as high as Pete's Dragon, that will always be my favorite). I do love Mary, but that scene with the lady and the birds, Tuppence A Bag, used to terrify me as a kid and it's the reason why I'm scared of birds today. Bedknobs doesn't have any scary moments and about the only scene that irks me is the Portobello Road scene simply because that drag that song out WAY too long and it gets a bit tedious.

Plus, when I think of Angela Lansbury, I don't think of her as Mrs. Potts, I think of her as Miss Price and I always expect Mrs. Potts to go "Traguna macoides tracorum satis dee" (I actually had to look up the spelling of this, so I cheated a bit). Guess it just goes to show how old I actually am (although, in my defense, I was only one when this movie came out!).

Yea! We're caught up now (until the weekend when I always get behind). I wish I could say I've reached halfway, but I haven't even scratched the surface yet. On with the totals:

Live Action: 17
Full-Length Animation: 51
Mixed-Medium: 4
Animated Shorts: 221
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 13
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 22 part 3 & Day 23

I have REALLY got to finish Sunday's Disney movie viewing already! I am seriously behind. So let's speed it up a bit now.

Fantasia 2000 is not like it's predecessor in it's accomplishment to showcase the Disney animation department's talent, as a matter of fact, from an animation standpoint, it shows the early failures of what was still the early days of CG animation. They may have spent more time on the special effects for this version, but I didn't "feel" them at all and could barely even tell they were there most times. What makes this version notable is that each segment is still very high on musical quality, including one very surprisingly different selection of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (which also happens to be my favorite animation-wise of the pieces...it has a very graphical style that works). I managed to find a clip of snip-its from this section:

I really like that each segment is introduced by the likes of Steve Martin, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, Penn & Teller, James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, etc. It added a sense of occasion and you get the feeling that they aren't there simply to do the job, but actually "get" the process and are proud to be part.

On the negative side, I'm not sure why they felt they needed to incorporate The Sorcerer's Apprentice as part of this movie too. It just seems as though they are trying to boost this film up with the level of the original by adding the most popular piece. Plus, when you compare the animation styles of everything else on this selection to Apprentice, you can really seen where modern animation falls flat and I think it hurts the cred of the other pieces more.

Some of the pieces I just didn't understand, like the animators were being weird for the sake of being weird. Flying whales? Why? And other sections were basically just copies of pieces from the first film like the changing of the seasons. Then there was the truly weird Firebird Suite piece that made me think of naked fairies meet Chernabog. It was almost like they were trying too hard to be as original as the original.

Of course, my favorite one (animation excluded) is the Donald/Noah's ark bit. Using Pomp and Circumstance as the musical piece was sheer genius and I can focus enough on Donald himself to not notice the crappy animation of the animals. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a clip of this anywhere on YouTube, so we're relegated to the trailer:

While watching this one, I kind of realized that I had put it up higher on the pedestal in my mind than it actually deserves, probably because of the legend of its predecessor and probably partly because of Donald. About the only thing really noteworthy on this entire disc is the background story of the friendship between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. I knew about their history slightly, but I didn't know the details and the documentary on this disc was really detailed. They also finished the piece that Disney and Dali were creating together before Walt gave him the old heave-ho and, considering how the documentary made you scared to watch it because Dali is a bit on the strange side, the actual work turned out beautifully. That piece, at least, I did understand (although it is extremely Dali-esque).

There is one really bad thing about this DVD...I have the Blu-Ray combo pack of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 on the same disc. The audio is horribly out of sync on Fantasia 2000 and I had to keep pausing and un-pausing it to get the lips and the sound to match. Apparently, it was an issue on all the discs of this type that were created, so I don't feel so bad about my copy, but it still sucks nonetheless because that disc set was EX-PEN-SIVE!!

OK, on to Monday. I'll try to keep this short, but it's going to hard considering my first selection for Monday night, Hercules. By the time Hercules came out, my dislike of the whole "second gen" of Disney movies was at an all-time high, so much so, that I had never even seen The Lion King up that point because I just couldn't bear yet another one. I'm not sure how I ended up watching Hercules in the first place...I still collected Disney movies at that point, but rarely ever watched the new ones, so I'm not sure what drew me to it, but I am SOOO glad I did! There was actual ART in this piece despite being mostly computer colorization. The character outlines were mainly all done with as few lines as possible with most of the exterior lines being one complete line from head to tail. I was simply captivated by this (and still am).

But it's not all about the animation with this movie, there is a very dry sense of humor throughout the entire movie, most of which provided by James Woods as Hades (the most brilliant casting in all of Disney history, and I don't even like the guy in other movies). And Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Fewer as Pain and Panic respectively...absolute perfection! I get a bigger kick out of the three of them playing off of each other more than I probably enjoy the rest of the story line. And even Hades' full CG hair doesn't really bother me, in fact, it probably adds to the character. Found this neat clip of him getting mad (apparently a lot!).

I can't forget the music in this one either because it's probably my favorite from that entire generation of movies and I Won't Say I'm In Love is probably one of my most favorite Disney songs of all time (non-park). I did find a good clip of it, and Disney park fans might notice the nod to The Haunted Mansion (there are Disney park gags throughout the entire rest of the movie as well):

Oh, and I guess we need the trailer, unfortunately, this is a horrible quality clip, but it was the only actual trailer I could find. Why do people post sections of the movie and label the clip "trailer"? Is it to try to get past the copyright laws? I don't know, but it drives me insane!

This is another one of those discs that I wish had a wealth of special features on it, especially since I have a newest Blu-Ray version of it, but it just doesn't. Surely they could have plucked something from the archive to add to it, but alas, may in its next vault extraction.

Sadly, the sequel to Hercules, Hercules: Zero To Hero, has never been released on DVD and since I don't have my VCR connected to my TV right now (I'm not even sure where it is), I couldn't watch it. But I always remember liking it. It doesn't hold very true to the original, it's about Herc's teenage years in god school, but it was still good (and they subsequently made a Disney Channel series out of it, which was also good). I still have a few things on VHS only so, once I'm through with all the DVD's and Blu-Ray's, I'll whip out the old VCR.

The best thing about Hercules is that it made me want to re-look at the second gen Disney movies, some for the first time and some for the second time. Some I loved instantly, like Lion King, others I've come to appreciate over time like Beauty & Beast and The Little Mermaid (but probably more for their importance to Disney history than anything).

Then I went in an entirely different direction and watched A Bug's Life. This is probably my least favorite of all the Pixar movies, although I love It's Tough To Be A Bug at Disney World and I adore Dave Foley (I'm a longtime Kids In The Hall fan and a lot of them have done Disney voices). This is also another one of those Disney/Pixar - Dreamworks showdown movies because they came out with Antz around the same time (but for the record, I really didn't like Antz).

One thing of note, there is an interesting behind the scenes development feature on this disc that has a relatively young (and healthy) Steve Jobs in it when he was the head of Pixar. I was kind of shocked to see him like that.

There were no shorts on my disc, but there were some really funny outtakes of the animated characters that were hilarious, which I found here:

Guess I better cut off here and do Tuesday and Wednesday tomorrow.

Live Action: 16
Full-Length Animation: 49
Mixed-Medium: 3
Animated Shorts: 215
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 13
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 22 Part 2

I held off on posting reviews on Fantasia (and Fantasia 2000) simply because, even though Sleeping Beauty is my all-time favorite Disney movie, Fantasia is my all-time animation fan-girl movie crush. I have been in love with this movie as long as I can remember and it influenced a lot of my early art styles (when I was still actually did art). It's not like other Disney movies that comes out of the vault every 7 years, these two are very rarely released, usually only when a new format becomes available, and rarely ever stay out of the vault for more than a month or two. You can still buy it (I've seen it on Amazon), but they are usually foreign releases or worse, knock offs, so beware. Both movies are really a collection of shorts tied together, but we're gonna call them an entire movie.

People either love Fantasia or hate it, I rarely ever run across anyone who says, "yeah, it's OK" and everyone has probably seen a bit of it and not known it, especially Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice (and no, I don't mean that piece of crap with Nicholas Cage). There are those who know who Chernabog is, but doesn't know where he comes from...as well as the ballerina swans, the hippo and the crocodile, etc. These are faces that most Disney park visitors know, thanks to the Spectromagic parade. These were taken in 2009, so forgive the quality, but here is a sample:

I watched Fantasia first thing in the morning because I wanted to actually watch it and not fuddle it with stitching. I wouldn't have gotten much stitching done anyway because I'm like a moth to a flame when it comes to this movie. I saved Fantasia 2000 for the end of the night when I was done stitching, so again, I could give it my full attention. I've put it off long enough, lets get on with it already!

Walt had such high hopes for Fantasia, he meant it to be a regular series and the Disney Family Museum has a notebook of future additions to new Fantasia movies that is quite thick. The public, however, just didn't get Walt's vision and future plans were scrapped. I've never quite understood that because I "got it" as a very small child (and still get it, probably even more so today). It's not all about the blending of animation and synchronized music, it's about the technology and experimentation of different forms of mediums to achieve nirvana and to allow his artists to shine bright (or at least that's how I've always interpreted it). Animation isn't all drawings on cells, the camera angles, lighting effects and even special effects all add to the process and often taken longer than the actual animation. This movie was the pinnacle of that process and it's just a real shame that it's considered one of his failures.

Fantasia is conducted by Leopold Stokowski, a very famous composer at the time (1940) and, although I don't know much about classical music, I know enough that I could tell you could really feel the passion in Mussorgsky's Night On Bald Mountain (the Chernabog bit) more than in any other instance I've heard it, so the dude must have been good. It's also one of my favorite versions of Schubert's Ave Maria (which is at the end of Chernabog). I can't speak much on the other pieces, although I know them all, but those two fragments of music I know well and love even more because of Fantasia and my love of the Chernabog section, but that comes at the end.

Even the opening is quite extraordinary. As you watch the orchestra assemble, they are blacked out, their shadows highlighted large against the backdrop, and it adds to the overall grandness of the picture. Then it shifts into a synchronized light show on a backdrop of clouds that kind of prep you for the magic that is to come, all to the music of Bach (and I'm actually listening to Toccata & Fugue in D Minor while I'm typing this...three days later I'm still a bit in love again). I always get excited over this bit because it not only signals whats to come, but the technical details involved in filming this (not even counting the animation) where absolutely amazing for the 40's. I did manage to find part of the clip, the second half:

When I was a kid, I referred to this next section as the "naked fairies" section, but it is more than that. I'm not a fan of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, in fact, I do actually avoid it like the plaque come Christmastime (a lot of my coworkers and bosses do the local production of it). Come to think of it, I'm not a fan to Tchaikovsky at all (well other than Sleeping Beauty). But the animation piece actually references the changing of the seasons. Sunday night I still only saw naked fairies (can someone blush in the privacy of their own home?) but it also reminded me of another childhood obsession of mine, bubbles. I drew them more than anything else I ever did in my artistic career, I even found ways to incorporate them in my college projects! I don't know if it was the symmetry or the highlights and shading, or the fact that you can draw them in repetitive bunches and it satiates my Asper-ness, but whatever it was, I've had the desire to draw bubbles ever since and I haven't drawn anything since I dropped out of college! I did manage to find a clip of this section and most Disney park people will recognize these little guys, they usually appear as topiaries around Epcot:

Now we come to The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Even the most casual of Disney fan knows this section and the nerdiest of Disney geeks will be quick to tell you that the Sorcerer's name, Yensid, is Disney spelled backwards. We see Sorcerer Mickey all through the parks, especially in both coasts versions of Fantasmic (guess what the word Fantasmic is a a play on?) and, for those who have seen Fantasmic, who doesn't cheer when Sorcerer Mickey appears at the end on top of the mountain? We always do!
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Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of high-quality Fantasia clips on YouTube so, although I did find the entire Sorcerer's Apprentice clip, the quality is poor.

Another one of my favorite pieces is the next section which is basically a visual representation of the origins of Earth, ironically with Stravinsky's Rite of Spring as the accompanying music selection. It's not meant to be a synchronized piece to the music exactly, but more of an interpretive kind of symbiosis. I really wanted to find the entire clip, but I did find a rather good quality clip of two dinosaurs locked in battle, one of the best scenes:

They take an intermission after this point, but don't panic and hit the fast-forward button when you see the 15 minute banner, that really only lasts about a minute. As the orchestra piles back in, there is an impromptu jazz session between certain instruments:

that is until the announcer arrives back to introduce the "soundtrack". This is another one of my favorite pieces because the animation on the "soundtrack" is nothing short of amazing partly because of it's synchronicity and partly because of the appearance of simplicity (although it's far from simple). I couldn't find a clip in English that didn't have subtitles, so please forgive:

Beethoven is next and another one of those nudity/bubbles sequences. Does nudity and bubbles go together and I've always somehow missed that? I don't know, but this is a very fantasy-laden sequence with Greek gods and goddesses and various mythological creatures. This is another one of those pieces that is more stylized to the music rather than exact synchronization and it works well here. It also is more "animated" than the other sequences (well, other than Mickey) and it has a more Disney-esque feel rather than a more artistic. As a kid, I was always obsessed with the donkey-corn (a donkey with a unicorn horn) and I can remember asking my parents why there weren't more donkey-corns in the books because they were so much more cuter than the unicorns!

Dance of the Hours is next and it's quite animated like the Greek piece (I have nicknames for them all), but it's my most favorite of the two, probably because a gator falls in love with a hippo...I mean, come on! How cool is that? It starts with ballerina swans, moves on to Hyacinth (the hippo) and her ladies, goes to dancing elephants and BUBBLES, and finally we see Hyacinth and Ben Ali Gator fall in love. I absolute love it when she constantly pulls her sheer, very tiny tutu down to try to cover her exposed butt. Pure animator genius! But here is the most famous scene that most people know:

Lastly is Chernabog's big debut in Night On Bald Mountain. This is my absolute favorite piece, hands down...the animation is perfect, the special effects are literally memorizing and I get lost in the music. You'd think that Satan raising his minions from hell would be scary to a small child, but I was always fascinated by it (pink elephants were quite terrifying, but not demons). This is also the shortest of the pieces because, as the sun comes up and old Chernie looses his grip on the night, it transitions into Ave Maria as the world awakens. I did manage to find both sections of the clip on YouTube, just not together.

I also have always wondered where the character names come from...it's not like they are part of the piece. Is it nicknames the animators give them? Or is it, like in the case of Suzy and Perla, Cinderella's female mice, where the fans name them and it sticks? Things that make you go hmmm....

Well, I didn't expect to ramble on this long, so I guess there will have to be a part 3 for Fantasia 2000. I don't have as much glowing praise to shower on it, so it should be shorter (theoretically). For those that have never seen Fantasia, give it a shot. Like I said, you'll either love it or hate it, but I really hope you do love it!

Live Action: 16
Full-Length Animation: 46 (haven't counted Fantasia 2000 yet)
Mixed-Medium: 3
Animated Shorts: 214
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 13
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 22 Part 1

I'm going to split this up into two parts since it's probably going to get long when I start talking about Fantasia. I did technically watch Fantasia first, but let's cover all the other ones before I dive in to the big "F".

I thought my theme for the day was going to be the classics and their crappy direct-to-video sequels, but after my first set, I was done with that idea. I was still kind of riding that 60's-70's animation style high, so I went with Jungle Book. This is another one of those great classics that I watched dozens of times in my childhood. I adore this movie, probably more so for the music versus the story, but I adore it nonetheless. As much as I love Baloo, I think it's the Beatlesesqueness (is that a word?) nature of the vultures that makes me laugh every single time. Unfortunately, no one was nice enough to share the link to the scene I love on YouTube, so we're relegated to the trailer.

It was the last film that Walt touched, so there are a ton of special features on the disc that are almost better than the movie! I love hearing the history of the animation on a film, but this disc is more special because there are also a lot of the last memories of Walt from the animators.

Next came Jungle Book 2. This movie is cute, from a story standpoint. The music, the animation, and the vocal changes were just sad and almost insulting to the original. Granted, there was nothing they could do about the recasting because a lot of the original actors were long gone, it has been 30+ years, but there is no excuse for the rest of it. Luckily, I was stitching while "watching", so I tried to not pay too close attention. I like John Goodman as Sully, but whatever casting director thought he would make a good Baloo should be taken out back and whipped with a switch!

Thus ended my quest to watch classics and their modern sequels. I didn't think I could take another one, so I moved in yet another direction, Finding Nemo. If Hercules was the movie that changed my mind about the loss of hand-drawn animation, Finding Nemo was the movie that changed my mind about full-on computer animation. Although the stories were strong with other earlier Pixar movies, the animation was cold. Nemo was not only brilliantly animated, but the missing warmth was added to both the characters and the backgrounds enough to make me finally love the medium. I can literally get lost in looking at Bruce's skin and I absolutely love everything about Dory! They couldn't have cast her better if they tried, Ellen Degeneres was perfect and I can't wait for Finding Dory!

There was one short on this disc, but for the life of me I don't remember what it was now.

Since I was loving where I was, I went with Ratatouille next. Again, this is another great Pixar movie both in animation and story. They really did a good job on the Parisian background (not that I've ever been there, but it's what I imagined it was). I don't think this movie gets the credit it deserves and I wish our Disney World had the cool ride that Disneyland Paris has, but I digress...on with the trailer.

There are two shorts on this disc and a really cool interview with Brad Bird (the director) and a famous chef (I don't know who he was). The interviews were separate, but they were asking them questions about their fields and it was really funny how they pretty much gave the same answers!

I watched Fantasia 2000 last, but let's save that one as an add-on to Part 2. Here are the new totals (minus Fantasia and Fantasia 2000):

Live Action: 16
Full-Length Animation: 45
Mixed-Medium: 3
Animated Shorts: 214
Live Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Animated Series: 13
Mixed-Medium Series: 2

Monday, June 15, 2015

Disney Movies - Day 20 & 21

This was a very busy weekend on the Disney front, so much so, that Day 22 will probably have to be divided into two parts thanks to Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. But Friday and Saturday are first, so let's get started!

After dissing my friend Kate's favorite Disney movie of all time, Beauty & The Beast, I figured I needed to make it up to her somehow. Granted, this is kind of a weak make-up, but it's the effort that should count, right? When she was here visiting, she mentioned that she had seen one of the Sofia The First movies and was pleasantly surprised, so I figured, since I had all of them, it was time to finally open their cases and give them a shot. Now, before I even started, I knew a bit of their history, that they were movies based on the Disney Junior TV show, so I wasn't expecting much animation-wise and had already decided to not even look at the animation quality. Of course, I had trouble sticking to that (and the animation was HORRIBLE to say the least), but I did try.

Some of you may be wondering why I would even buy such a series, considering I am an adult with no children and I can't even use the "animation is art" excuse since it's just a TV show where the animation is FAR from being considered "art". Well, there is a lot of Sofia merchandise in Disney World and each disc has a different "real" Disney princess on it, so I justified it that way. I always like to be knowledgeable about the Disney canon, even if it's preschool stuff. Don't even get me started on my collection of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD's...it might take me an entire week to watch all of those!

I should also mention that these discs are only available in DVD format, not Blu-Ray. Disney typically does this with the lesser direct to video releases and pretty much always does it with their Junior line. I figure it's because the discs don't have any special features of note like behind the scenes (they are mainly relegated to sing-alongs). Besides, why release a crappy-quality animation product on a hi-def medium? DVD suits these discs just fine.

First up was Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess. Kate was SO right! I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. The story was really good and, as a product of a blended family as well, I felt a kinship with both Sofia and Amber and their struggles to deal with being in a new environment with a new family. Every single song was really high quality for a TV character as well and they were very catchy, in fact, after only hearing them once, most of them are still in my head. I was able to curb my criticism of the animation because I was stitching while watching, but the story and music was so strong, you really didn't need to actually watch it.

Cinderella was the "real" princess in this movie, summoned by Sofia's magical amulet whenever she needs help (since all princesses are connected through it). I kind of liked the idea of that and I could definitely see where that would be appealing to little girls.

Sofia The First: Ready To Be A Princess (with Jasmine) was next. Expecting another movie, I was a bit shocked to find that this disc only contained five episodes of the series instead of a full-length feature. I thought they were all movies, but I soon discovered that only two of them were. Then I realized that watching these was going to cause another conundrum...do I count them as shorts or as series? If I count them as series, then it means I have numerous other cartoon series that I would now have to watch because they are part of my Disney collection. I wasn't planning on including series or documentaries in my count, but I guess now I've kind of blown that and I have a new category.

But back to this DVD, again, I was pleasantly surprised, even by the series! Each episode was better than the last, the music was as consistently good as the animation was consistently bad, but I wasn't looking at the animation (too closely). There are no trailers for this disc since it's just a collection of TV episodes.

As an aside, where documentaries are concerned, I have several that are full-length, so I guess they are now getting added to the fray, but I've watched almost all of the special features on most of the discs so far and a lot of those are upwards of an hour long. I won't be going back and adding to the total simply because there would be no way I could figure it all up without going back over every single disc I have already watched. I do count the shorts, but not the other stuff. As an animation buff, most of these disc has some amazing stories and histories about the creation of these movies and I adore hearing the stories (and seeing glimpses of Walt). We'll just assume that I'm watching the special features and leave it at that.

Then it was Sofia The First: The Floating Place (with Ariel). There was a full-length feature on this disc as well as four TV series episodes. Again, strong storylines and great music and I was really enjoying these characters, especially Grover, who might be a rabbit, but reminded me a lot of Bam! We actually do have a trailer for this one, since there is a full-length feature on the disc (even if it was a made for TV feature):

The last one I managed for Friday night was Sofia The First: The Enchanted Feast (with Snow White). Again, just a compilation of five TV series episodes, but still strong both story-wise and song-wise. I figured it's luck would have to eventually run out, but not yet.

Saturday morning started with the last disc I had, Sofia The First: Holiday In Enchancia. Not a full-feature but rather five episodes of the series, one of which featured Aurora, this was probably my favorite of the series (and not just because of Aurora). Which reminds me, I probably should mention that each disc features a specific princess, but they only appear in one episode on the disc and usually only for a couple of minutes instead of throughout the entire thing, just in case you are expecting Disney princess immersion.

After watching the final disc, I did go to Disney Movie Club to make sure I had them all, but I didn't, so I ordered the newest disc, Sofia The First: The Curse Of Princess Ivy, and I should have it in a couple of weeks.

I tried to watch my Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities disc next, but about two minutes into it I realized that it wouldn't work because most all of them are silent and you really can't stitch and watch at the same time, I needed more of a background movie (because I was on a stitching frenzy this weekend). Oh, and FYI, these Disney Treasure disc links are only so expensive because they are out of print...I didn't pay anywhere near this for these discs. Most ranged between $35 and $50 and now they range from $100 to $1000. It's just a real shame that the company doesn't still make these.

Since my other bloggy friend Tiffany sent me a very interesting article on the making of Alice In Wonderland, that movie has been on my mind as well, so I decided to watch it next. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. As far as animation goes, I absolutely love it...it's classic Disney animation so, of course I would. But it's also a movie I've never understood and I often joke you have to be stoned to get it. Since I'm never stoned, I don't get it.

But the disc also had a Mickey Mouse short and Walt's first TV show, One Hour In Wonderland, so it's not an entire waste. I found this little clip of Bobby Driscoll from Song Of The South fame (and Disney's original kid star gone bad - he died young due to a history of drug abuse) and Kathryn Beaumont (the voice of Alice and Wendy). I think, since this was the beginning of Walt's TV series career, this one should also be a new category, Mixed-Medium Series (since there was animation included), but that means that I'll need to change the numbers up because A Day In The Life of Donald Duck was also part of the Disneyland series, so that would go in this category as well. Here is the clip:

And, since I'm feeling clip happy, this is the clip they played (and a lot of Disney park visitors might recognize a lot of the scenes in this clip, it's all over Splash Mountain):

Next, I opted not to watch the live-action Alice In Wonderland, but instead decided to watch Pinocchio, Disney's second full-length animated film. I'm not that big of a fan of this story, but oh my the animation! You can tell they definitely learned from their mistakes on Snow White and this is one amazingly beautiful film! Don't even get me started on the myriad of special features on this disc.

Since I was apparently in a classics mood, Dumbo came next. This another one of those love/hate relationship movies. The animation is more simple on this film, but that actually works. Where this movie looses me is the pink elephants...they scared me silly as a child and still kind of do! As a matter of fact, I had a nightmare about them Saturday night. Somebody was definitely doing some drug when they worked up that scene, it's one of the most terrifying in all of Disney movie history! I wanted to find a good clip of it to show you, but after about three different tries, I couldn't find one that was shareable, so here's the trailer instead (I'll probably have nightmares just from looking for a pink elephant clip!):

Next, I went in a bit different direction, but still classic, with Robin Hood. Despite the complete left turn in animation style, I do still love this movie. When I was younger, the animation actually bugged me a lot more than it does now. The lack of cleaning up the lines used to make it feel unfinished and sloppy, but now it adds character. Of all the Robin Hood movies out there, this one is by far my favorite, second only to the old Errol Flynn one.

There was one short on this disc as well that I wasn't even aware of, so added bonus! This is one of those discs that I wish was full of special features, but it's quite lacking in that department.

And the final one is The Sword In The Stone. This is another one of those flops that I absolutely love. The fighting between Merlin and Madam Mim is, in a word, genius. Again, I was disappointed at the lack of bonus features, but what can you do?

Starting Sunday, I begin with Fantasia and ended with Fantasia 2000. These are two movies that deserve a post of their own, so more tomorrow!

Live-Action: 16
Full-Length Animation: 41
Mixed-Medium: 3
Animated Shorts: 211
Live-Action Shorts: 5
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Animated Series: 13

Geez, the category list is getting enormous!