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Posted on Oct 09 2010 by Greg
Just got a message that Disney is offering all three of these long awaited documentaries on DVD in a three-for-one price offer.

These were only shown theatrically in selected cities (and to paraphrase David Letterman, my city was not usually selected).

They're being sold together with a special 49.95 offer here.

The offer also includes special 8x10 lithos. FYI.

Blog, Movies
Posted on Oct 05 2010 by Greg
Disney's Beauty and the Beast has become the quintessential animated musical, chock full of moments that have become iconic -- even to the point of parody -- since its smash debut in 1991. It was the ultimate connection of consummate talents, some who were already legendary and many of which who have become industry giants.

This is the first time in seven years that Beauty and the Beast has been issued on home video, this time in a DVD/Blu-Ray combo that kindly for DVD owners, still offers the superb audio commentary by producer Don Hahn, composer Alan Menken and directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale and three versions of the film, as they appeared on the Platinum Edition.

Once again, this Diamond Edition offers yet another reason to get a Blu-Ray Player if you want to see how great the digital restoration is in all its glory. (As far as I can tell, you can't buy the DVD without getting the Blu-ray discs as well.) If you want to see some new features such as an Alternate Opening, a Deleted Scene, new games, new documentary features and a new music video. You might want to hang onto your Platinum DVD because there are a few features, including some games, that do not appear on the new edition.

Beauty and the Beast is one of those Disney classics that transcends its release date, the age of its audience and the tinge of its lesser imitators. Somehow it all works, and as the artists say themselves, even they didn't know whether it would all work but somehow it did. That's the fascinating, elusive nature of great artistry.

Posted on Oct 03 2010 by Greg

BBC Radio is presenting a short panel discussion about the life and work of Walt Disney that is available for a limited time by clicking here.

As part of the series "Great Lives," the half hour features artist Gerald Scarfe, who actually worked for the Disney company as the production designer of Hercules; Who Framed Roger Rabbit animation director Richard Williams and major entertainment historian Brian Sibley (whose also wrote the current BBC Radio 2 documentary series, The Musical, which is hosted this week by Whoopi Goldberg).

The program approaches its subject with a wry, detached style, with some controversies addressed, but overall the impact of Walt Disney on the world is met with awe and respect.

Blog, Movies
Posted on Sep 22 2010 by Greg
if you're a Disney and Peter Pan fan and you ever had any doubts about whether making Tinker Bell the central character of a Disney film series would work, they should all disappear when you see Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue. I really believe this would be a very successful film if released theatrically, especially this time of year when pickings are lean at the theaters.

The first film, titled Tinker Bell, was largely an origin story, and the second, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, helped develop the supporting characters (especially Terrence) and Tinker Bell's anger issues. This film offers a good balance between our lead fairy and her friends along with a really solid story that never seems padded, a hazard in some direct-to-video films.

Like a Victorian E.T., this new film gives us a chance to see what happens when a young, imaginative child gets the dream of a lifetime -- to meet a fairy. Woven beautifully into the narrative are the young girl's need for her father's attention (who is present for her in body only), the dynamics between the fairy characters (focusing mostly on Vidia, who is nicer in this film but still having the prickly attitude of Veronica Lodge) and the wonderful activity of creating fairy houses (which is showcased in a bonus feature taking place at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival).

The film has a nice, lyrical pace but never lags for a moment, much in the style now identified with Pixar movies (some character designs even have a Pixar look). What are most delightful for fans are the references to the 1953 Disney classic. In the opening moments, Terence brings Tinker Bell to Fairy Camp and says, "There it is, Tinker Bell -- Fairy Camp!" much as Peter Pan said, "There it is Wendy -- second star to the right and straight on 'til morning!" At one point, there is a glimpse of the Darling home from the sky, as well as the iconic Big Ben landing.

This is the least musical of the Disney Fairies films, but the score by Joel McNeely is magnificent -- yet there does not seem to be a soundtrack album! Maybe it will show up as a download.

Visually, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue is a feast and a good excuse to finally get that Blu-Ray player. With a big screen TV you can simulate the look of the film in a movie theater.

Blog, Movies
Posted on Sep 21 2010 by Greg
Jake Gyllenhaal (and his sister Maggie) are the children of Naomi, as in "What About Naomi?"

If you watched the classic original Electric Company back in the '70s (or when it was briefly revived, or on DVD), you know that this was the signature phrase from the brilliant "Love of Chair," a satire of soap operas that was conceived by head writer Paul Dooley. Every installment of this sketch ended with the narrator saying, as the organ music dramatically paused, "And...what about Naomi?"

It was an inside joke. The real Naomi was Children's Television Workshop staffer Naomi Foner, who years later gave birth to the two young stars. What does this have to do with The Prince of Persia? Well, it gives Jake Gyllenhaal a few extra points with me even though this movie somehow falls short of what it could be. He seems like a sincerely good fellow, and even took the time to appear in promos and on talk shows to promote this film, something that some stars who cash huge Disney's paychecks don't bother to do.

As a workout video, The Prince of Persia is better than any of those Jane Fonda VHS tapes. Jake earns his abs in scene after scene. It's a shame that the script did not offer him as much of a challenge. We never really get to know, or really care much about, the lead characters. The first 30 minutes is almost solid exposition, overloaded with political business and intrigue, before the fantasy of the magic dagger and the romance of the lovely and independent Princess and Dastan get underway.

The two leads seem to have some chemistry but an awful lot of epic furniture gets in their way. I have to wonder how the script must have been before it was meddled with by all the chefs, concerned about the obviously huge budget paying off and making sure the kitchen sink wasn't left out.

It's a fine cast with always great performances by Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina, spectacular production values on a level with DeMille and a fine score by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Maybe the summer was too hot here in Florida for me to find the film's setting very appealing. The short documentary included with the DVD (the Blu-Ray also includes a deleted scene and an interactive feature) tells us that the temperatures were over 100 degrees and this discomfort comes across in the film -- though apparently producer Jerry Bruckheimer stayed nice and cool in the studio where he taped his comments with a superimposed background behind him!

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