Live-action Toy Story

This is simply astonishing.

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Spielberg: The Adventures of Tintin part 1

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The opening titles of The Adventures of Tintin, while not technically part of the screenplay, offer a jaunty, tongue-in-cheek symposium on the action-adventure  genre.  Or, that is to say, on the films of Steven Spielberg.  There’s a boy, he’s got a companion, in this case a dog, and there is danger and bad guys and all manner of vehicular transport, often in competition with each other, and a magical object, in this case a glowing ball, that everyone is after.  This describes the plots of any number of Spielberg movies.  If you wanted, you could expand the titles of Tintin into its own feature, and in fact just describing them would constitute a terrific pitch in most rooms in Hollywood.  What is the glowing ball?  The glowing ball is, of course, the maguffin, the thing around which the action revolves.  For Spielberg, that might be the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, Devil’s Tower, Private Ryan or an enamelware factory.  The point of the maguffin is that it doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that it’s important to everyone in the story.  It could literally be a glowing ball and it would still have the same effect, if exploited properly.  At the end of the Tintin titles, it turns out that the glowing ball is the dot to the “i” in “Spielberg,” which adds the personal touch and brings home the fact that the sequence is, in large part, autobiographical — the chase for the maguffin, whatever it is, is the guiding principle of Spielberg’s life, the glow in his eye, or the light of his “I.”  That the drama of the titles plays out on a typewriter instead of, say, a drawing board, or an editing table, brings that glowing “I” to the writer’s desk, that is, to the screenplay, where a movie always begins, where it must begin.  It’s often been said that Spielberg makes movies about movies, here he acknowledges that openly.

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Some further thoughts on Wreck-it Ralph













Curt Holman writes:

about 30 minutes in, I wondered to myself, “Is this going to be a kid’s film with no ‘real’ bad guy?”

Conceptually, Wreck-it Ralph is a close relative of Toy Story, and a comparison of their respective plots is instructive.  Spoilers obviously follow.

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A note on Wreck-it Ralph












Congratulations to the Disney Animation folks on their brand-new hit. It is charming, witty, funny and entertaining.

Noteworthy to me is Ralph’s in-game backstory.  It’s not really a spoiler, since it’s not really discussed at length in the movie, but I will hide it under the fold nevertheless for the sake of decency.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi part 4

Without ceremony or warning, Bambi must leave his mother lost in the snow and go off — somewhere — with his father.  Wherever he goes off with his father, whatever he learns there, Disney withholds.  The trauma of Bambi’s break with his mother lasts only a moment before it is spring.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi part 3

Summer turns to fall, and fall, for no stated reason, gets glossed over in a rush of colored leaves and turns to winter.  Bambi is still tiny, still a child in this world where the rules constantly shift.  Every time Bambi thinks he’s got the world figured out, no matter how cautious is his step forward, the world immediately slaps him down, changes the rules, makes him a baby again.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi part 2

Spring turns to summer, and Bambi’s mother takes him to The Meadow.  On the way, the still-tiny Bambi informs his mother that they "are not the only deer in the forest."  So the first section of Bambi is about Bambi meeting other animals, but the second section is about Bambi meeting his peers — other deer.  It’s about how Bambi begins to learn his place in society.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi part 1

We start in a forest.  And not just any forest.  A dark, gorgeous, ancient-growth, primeval forest.  This forest, we can see, has been around forever, untouched.  The untouched quality is important: this is not the realm of civilization, this is the realm of nature.

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Favorite screenplays: Bambi

I shouldn’t even be talking about Bambi here.

Check this out: Bambi is 70 minutes long, has only one clearly-defined act break, and has a protagonist who is not only passive, but who wants nothing definable or concrete.  It has no visible antagonist and absolutely, positively, not the slightest rumor of a plot.  It breaks every rule regarding what a compelling cinematic narrative is supposed to be. 

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Wait a minute.

I just realized, not only does the wicked queen order a huntsman to kill Snow White, she orders him to bring back her heart in a box. Not only does she order the huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart in a box, she has a special fancy box built for exactly that purpose, on a moment’s notice.hits counter

I’m trying to imagine the conversation between the wicked queen and the guy she hires to construct the box:

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