July 25, 2014

The World That I See: Reads and Listens #23

Walt Disney in the EPCOT film.

When I’m organizing my ideas on blog posts, I’m questioning how far to stray from reviewing movies. Covering dramatic television shows like Deadwood is one thing, but discussing theme parks may go too far in an alternate direction. I’ve enjoyed connecting with other Disney theme park fanatics recently, and one of them is Estelle from the This Happy Place blog. This week, I contributed my second guest post for her site about Disney attractions that I’ve yet to experience around the world. I’m not sure that I’ll be heading to Japan anytime soon, but a guy can dream, right? If you’re interested in Disney and its theme parks, you should definitely check out Estelle’s blog. I’ve discovered a fun community of bloggers that love the parks but recognize where they need improvements. I’m less interested in reading pieces that obsess over the “magic” and don't concede that everything Disney touches does not turn to gold. They're fans but also seem like normal people.

Here are some other interesting blogs that are definitely worth your time:

I’ll start this week with two oral histories of films with very different production experiences. The first is Jordan Hoffman’s extensive look at Galaxy Quest, which continues to surprise many viewers with its clever take on a show that has a lot of similarities with Star Trek. The insight on Tim Allen and his larger-than-life personality on the set doesn’t surprise me, and it’s clear that everyone has fond memories of working on a movie that did a lot better than expected. I’m a big fan of this type of oral history, and this MTV piece gets input from all the major figures in the talented cast.

Less happy but equally compelling is Amy Nicholson’s look at the very long production of Eyes Wide Shut for Vanity Fair. Stanley Kubrick is known for extreme behavior on the set, yet his efforts to create a certain mood are still astounding. I recognize the greatness of his films, but there is a point where the term “control freak” doesn’t do it justice. His efforts to separate Cruise and Kidman and dig into their actual relationship move towards sociopathic behavior. I’m impressed that both actors would put up with all the head games, especially since they were husband and wife at the time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The Dissolve is featuring Terminator 2 this week, and that film sticks in my mind as the first R-rated movie that I saw in the theaters (I was 15). Beyond that distinction, it also stands up well in the action department. I’d put it below the original Terminator film, but it’s a small drop-off between them. Tasha Robinson’s piece on T2 explores the way the marketing betrayed one of the most intriguing plot points. It telegraphed Arnold’s switch to the protector, which makes sense in selling the film. However, that move removed the impact of what could have been a huge revelation. It’s an intriguing post that covers the history while giving a unique perspective on the massive sequel.

I’m continually amazed that there isn’t a documentary about Walt Disney that provides a more balanced take on his history. That’s why it’s so exciting that PBS’ American Experience will be featuring him in a four-hour (!), two-night film in fall 2015. The running time is the key in showing more than the expected notes like Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, and the animated features. I’ve read Neil Gabler’s massive biography of Disney, but there’s so much information that it’s difficult to retain much of it. The visual medium is the right way to show his impact and give us an insight about this life. Here's a brief description from the PBS site:

"Directed and produced by Sarah Colt (“Henry Ford,” “RFK”) and written by Mark Zwonitzer (“JFK,” “Triangle Fire”), the film features rare archival footage from the Disney vaults, scenes from some of his greatest films, and includes interviews with animators and artists who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Imagineers who helped design Disneyland."

This sounds awesome.

2 comments:

  1. A million thanks for the Galaxy Quest link, that was wonderful.

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    1. No problem! Reading through it took up a lot of my time yesterday.

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