This is why Disney is so fun and fascinating -- you always make a new discovery.
I've always wondered what Broadway show featured "It's Easter Time." Today I just found out that it actually came from a
, for which Willson was musical director.
announced a brand new song premiered for the first time on this show -- "It's Easter Time." And here's the twist: she spoke the opening verse (different from the one on the record), which was about a Martian visiting the Earth's churches and wondering why they were especially crowded on one particular day!
Willson was likely a Disney friend, though he to my knowledge did not compose or conduct anything specifically for
, though I'm sure they must have known each other. However, he did lead a band of literally 76 Trombones down Main Street, U.S.A. at the
Grand Opening in 1971 and posthumously, his Music Man was remade by Disney for TV with
episode somewhere on the net to buy or download. This 90-minute variety spectacular was NBC's last ditch effort to create "appointment radio" with a star-filled show -- but TV won the battle.
IT'S A JOLLY BOLLYWOOD WITH DISNEY
Posted on Aug 25 2011 by Greg
A new Walt Disney Home Entertainment product line has just introduced three live-action Walt Disney Pictures features, all filmed in India in Hindi language with optional English subtitles. Disney initiated an ambitious roster of movie productions in India in recent years, including one animated feature called Roadside Romeo
The recent trio of live-action features -- all released with the full-blown Walt Disney Pictures logo and intro -- are actually quite different in style and tone, all PG family-friendly for the most part (only one is rated PG-13 for violence).
My favorite of the three films is a gentle, offbeat family comedy/drama called Do Dooni Chaar
, which translates as "Two Twice Equals Four." An underpaid, under-appreciated school teacher struggles with family squabbles as he putt-putts to work every day on a broken down scooter. His lame but lovable efforts to impress relatives, deal with his adolescent children and scrape together enough money for a small car (even buying boxes of detergent and, using the law of averages, get a winning prize ticket inside one of the boxes) are amusing and just far out enough to be funny but not so outlandish to be ridiculous..
The film is pretty stark and unsentimental, yet it ends on a very sweet, believable note. Along the way, there are some songs. Music and songs are a staple of Bollywood films, but rather than songs stopping the action and the cast singing and breaking character, the songs are heard on the soundtrack much as they are in American films and TV shows.
My 12-year-old son loved Zokkomon
, which was aimed squarely at his age group. A sort of Karate Kid-meets-Zorro, Jr., this Disney Channel-style feature concerns a small, superstitious village under the corrupt thumb of a greedy despot, whose adopted nephew (shades of Harry Potter) becomes a ghostly superhero that spurs the children into action and helps lead the adults into realizing the truth.
This film could easily be dubbed and shown on Disney XD. Might be a little creepy for very small children, though. The songs in this film were a blend of off- and on-camera singing but they still seem to make sense and accentuate the narrative.
The most lavish of the three films, Once Upon Warrior
, is also the most typical of what "Bollywood" films are "supposed" to be, at least based on my limited knowledge of them and my daughter's observations of films she watches at the home of our Indian neighbors. That makes it a rather unique experience for American audiences unacquainted with the "typical" genre.
Once Upon A Warrior is a full-blown action/adventure/fantasy, drenched in color and detail and played to the hilt by its cast. It comes complete with a dashing, rebellious hero, a lovely and mysterious maiden and a Maleficent-like evil witch to whom power is everything.
The film veers from grim, serious drama to broad comedy, not always seamlessly. Again, I'm looking at it with an inexperienced eye, so perhaps it's just perfect to the Indian audience, to whom it is is primarily directed. There is a lot of action violence, including a scene in which the hero has his eyes stabbed out (we really don't see, but we know), so it's not for everyone.
The songs are the most interesting aspect. This is something I am told is a staple of Bollywood movies, in which the actors seem to completely break out in song and change their attitude as they bop and sing to the bouncy tune. It's a little jarring at times and kind of amusing. But perhaps that is the intent -- we're not supposed to take any of this too seriously, let's take a break and have some fun and dance a bit. It's certainly an entertaining thing to behold.
MARS NEEDS MOMS, BUT DID THIS MOVIE NEED "PERFORMANCE CAPTURE?"
Posted on Aug 19 2011 by Greg
What makes Mars Needs Moms
an unfortunate misfire isn't so much what it is, but what it could have been. The talent was there, with a fine cast, a seasoned group of artists behind the scenes and an interesting idea. I just wonder what might have happened had this been a CG or a live action movie.
Motion capture, or as it is now insistently known, "performance capture," records the actions of the actors and transfers them into what is more akin to the "rotoscoping" process in Gulliver's Travels (1939). It seems best used for non-human creatures, like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or to affect a total dreamlike feeling, as in The Polar Express. Somehow it is emerging more as a tool than a medium.
When I saw Jim Carrey in A Christmas Carol, I really wanted to see his own face, since he was doing such an outstanding job. I felt the same way about Joan Cusack in Mars. Why cover such artistry with a plastic sheet? Kind of like my Aunt Sadie's couch. (Sorry, that was a little harsh.)
The aliens are less disturbing and odd than the humans in Mars Needs Moms. Maybe this process will keep getting better each time, but who knows. What is a fact is that Disney is now taking the words "of Mars" off John Carter of Mars to avoid any comparison. They needn't have worried--it's not the word "Mars" that kept people away, though many of us might have thought of the B-grade sci-fi comedy Mars Needs Women when hearing the title Mars Needs Moms.
The Blu-ray looks marvelous--this is a very elaborate production, so I would not say to avoid it, actually-- and there are a few extras, including footage of the actors before the process was added, which only serves to show how much we should have seen their real faces rather than overlays.
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