Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cinderfella

Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Jerry Lewis
Written by Frank Tashlin
Starring Jerry Lewis
Ed Wynn
Judith Anderson
Anna Maria Alberghetti
Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date December 16, 1960
Running time 91 min.

I didn’t know that Jerry Lewis was in town when I bought this from Target on Sunday. All I knew was that I had been wanting it for a little while but was too stingy to pay $30 for it in JB Hifi. Currently this and some other Jerry Lewis films are on sale in Target for $7, which is a bargain.

I must make mention of the film’s director Frank Tashlin. He had quite an interesting career in Hollywood. He started out as an animator and a newspaper strip cartoonist and helped Warner Bros. develop the Looney Tunes brand of humour. He also briefly worked at Disney before going to Columbia briefly to head up their animation department. He returned to Warners where he directed some of the funniest cartoons of all time including the brilliant Puss ‘N’ Booty.

He then left animation for live action, becoming a gag man for Harpo Marx and Lucille Ball before directing movies starring Bob Hope, Doris Day and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He was also an author and wrote a book on animating as well as another children’s book. Phew…

Cinderfella is a typical Jerry Lewis outing with Jerry playing the Cinderella role until his fairy godfather, Ed Wynn, pays him a visit. There are lots of silly gags and Jerry also gets to sing (his voice aint bad either). Overall it’s not a bad way to spend 80 minutes.

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Toy Story 2

Directed by John Lasseter
Co-Directors:Lee Unkrich & Ash Brannon
Produced by Karen Robert Jackson & Helene Plotkin
Written by Andrew Stanton
Rita Hsiao
Doug Chamberlain
Chris Webb
Story:
John Lasseter
Pete Docter
Ash Brannon
Andrew Stanton
Colin Brady
Jimmy Hayward
Story Supervisors:
Dan Jeup
Joe Ranft
Starring Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Joan Cusack
Kelsey Grammer
Don Rickles
Jim Varney
Wallace Shawn
John Ratzenberger
Wayne Knight
John Morris
Laurie Metcalf
Estelle Harris
Andrew Stanton
Music by Randy Newman
Cinematography Sharon Calahan
Editing by Lee Unkrich, Edie Bleiman & David Ian Salter
Studio Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date November 24, 1999
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English

I enjoyed watching Toy Story 2 even more that the original. Again there is some top notch animation from Pixar and the characters are warm and relatable. A lot of the time you forget that they are not real but are images on a screen.

Woody and Buzz are back and teaching the importance of friendship. I like the inclusion of Jesse the cowgirl, as voiced by Joan Cusack and Stinky Pete the Prospector, voiced by Kelsey Grammar.

Again it is a great film by Pixar with really lovable characters. It is very funny and is suspensful at the same time.


Toy Story

Directed by John Lasseter
Produced by Ralph Guggenheim & Bonnie Arnold
Written by John Lasseter
Pete Docter
Andrew Stanton
Joe Ranft
Joss Whedon
Joel Cohen
Alec Sokolow
Starring
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Don Rickles
Jim Varney
Wallace Shawn
John Ratzenberger
Annie Potts
John Morris
Laurie Metcalf
Erik von Detten
Music by Randy Newman
Editing by Robert Gordon & Lee Unkrich
Studio Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date November 22, 1995
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
It’s hard to believe that Toy Story is 15 years old. Woody, Buzz and the gang are still fresh after all that time. Now with Toy Story 3 being released today I thought that I would relive the first two adventures.

Toy Story was the first feature-length CGI animated film and unlike Dreamworks’ Shrek, it doesn’t feel dated at all. I think that this is the great thing about Pixar in that they don’t just concentrate on pop culture references or fart jokes (unlike Dreamworks) but actually create characters that an audience can care for and a story that is engaging. It’s a bit hard to review Toy Story as it is a film that almost everyone has seen and I am sure enjoys. There is a lot of great humour and the characters, such as Woody, have real emotions that we can really empathise with.


Gay Purr-ee

Directed by Abe Levitow
Produced by Henry G. Saperstein & Lee Orgel
Written by Joan Janis & Chuck Jones
Starring Judy Garland
Robert Goulet
Mel Blanc
Music by Harold Arlen & E.Y. “Yip” Harburg
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date October 24, 1962 (USA)
Running time 85 mins.
Language English

This is a film that I have wanted to see for a very long time. It was made by the famed UPA cartoons studio, which modernised animation in the 1950s and usurped Disney’s position as the industries leading light. They also took home several Oscars in that decade and created Mr Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing (with Dr Seuss), but by this films release in 1962 their light had well and truly faded. The studios guiding light, John Hubley had left in the 50s and by 1959 UPA had lost their theatrical distribution contract with Columbia.

This film was also also responsible for Chuck Jones being fired by Warner Bros. Jones had moonlighted for UPA in writing this film, which Warner’s did not appreciate as they had an exclusivity contract with him. Even though Jones is only credited as writing this film some of the character designs, particularly that of Mewsette, look as though they are his style. Many of his team of animators from Warner Bros. were also involved in this project.

There is a bit of other star power in this film. Three decades before it became trendy for major Hollywood stars to do the voices in animated films Judy Garland did the voice of Mewsette. Robert Goulet and Red Buttons play the other leading characters Juane Tom and Robespierre while Paul Frees who was no stranger to voicing animated characters, played the part of Meowrice. The songs in the film which are quite catchy were written by the team of Arlen and Harburg who a couple of decades earlier wrote the songs for another Judy Garland vehicle, The Wizard Of Oz.

The film is quite entertaining but not quite as good as the fare that Disney was making at that time. There is a bit of the UPA pretensions that they were making art rather than making a cartoon, but these are actually enjoyable. The backgrounds are really nice to look at and the little lecture on the different artists from the turn of last century was kind of cool too.


Movies To See

I have decided that this winter I am going to get out and see a few movies. I think that the last time that I went to the cinema was back in February to see Avatar. I do plan to see Toy Story 3 and perhaps Shrek Forever After, but there are a few other films that I would like to see too, that won’t be shown at the local Village or Hoyts multiplex.

The ACMI cinemas are showing a lot of old horror films this winter. I think that it is to correspond with the Tim Burton exhibition that they will have and that these are all either films that inspired Burton or simply films he likes. Tickets are all $14.

I may be able to see the 1941 version of The Wolfman next Friday at 9.30pm, if I finish work a little early.

On Friday July 9th at 7.30 Todd Browning’s Freaks is screening. This is a movie I have always wanted to see but I don’t think that I will be able to make the screening due to work.

On Saturday July 10th at 2pm, Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Arognauts will be screening, while on the same day at 4:15 it will be Frankenstein.

On Saturday July 17th Forbidden Planet with Robbie the Robot is on, which will satisfy my current fetish for 1950s sci-fi. It’s screening at 2pm.

Melbourne Docklands are also screening free movies under the stars on their big screen. This Monday they have Citizen Kane while upcoming films include Goldfinger, North By Northwest, Rear Window, Some Like It Hot, Dr. No, Westside Story, Return Of The Pink Panther and Bridge On The River Kwai. If it is not too cold or pouring with rain I will definitely try to see a free of these films.


Reach For The Sky

Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Daniel M. Angel
Written by Paul Brickhill, Lewis Gilbert & Vernon Harris
Starring Kenneth More
Muriel Pavlow
Lyndon Brook
Lee Patterson
Alexander Knox
Music by John Addison
Cinematography Jack Asher
Distributed by Rank
Release date United Kingdom 10 July 1956 (London)
United States 30 April 1957 (NYC)
Running time 136 Minutes

Reach For The Sky is the inspirational true story of Flight Commander Douglas Bader, who despite losing both his legs in a flying accident was able to become a hero of the Battle Of Britain, and then spent four years as a German prisoner of war.

Once upon a time this film, which was the most popular British film of 1956, would have always been shown on Australian TV. I remember seeing it many times on a Sunday afternoon, but it would be over 25 years since I can remember it last being on TV. (Perhaps ABC2 shows it nowadays late at night?!) Fortunately it has been recently released onto DVD by Magna Pacific, through their connection with Britain’s Granada International. It forms a part of their Silver Screen Collection, and is one part of a 3 DVD set, with The Heroes Of Telemark (starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris) and Malta Story.

I found rewatching Reach For The Sky to be a good experience. It is a very British film and I found Kenneth More’s portrayal of Bader to be a little clichéd, with all of the stiff upper lipped fighting spirit and courage that he showed. The crash that crippled Bader is well staged as are the WWII battle scenes, even if they do use some original and stock footage. Overall the film is a  very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.


BaadAsssss Cinema

Directed by Isaac Julien
Produced by Paula Jalfon, Colin MacCabe & Caroline Kaplan
Written by Isaac Julien & Adam Finch
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Pam Grier
Quentin Tarantino
Distributed by Independent Film Channel
Release date August 14, 2002
Running time 60 minutes
Language English

Baadasssss Cinema is a documentary that discusses the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, and particularly looks at the post popular films such as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Black Caesar, Superfly and Coffy. People interviewed include Fred Williamson, Mario Van Peebles, Qeuntin Taratino and the lovely Pam Grier, who talk about the impact that the films had on the black community and on popular culture.
Personally I’ve always liked blaxploitation films (those that I have seen anyway). They are very visual, like the film equivalent of a comic book, with their over the top fashion, violence, stereotypes, great music and bad acting. How can you not love a genre of movie that features something as ridiculous as Pam Grier pulling a gun that was hidden in her afro before shooting the bad guys. It is this sort of thing that makes these films so much fun to watch.
BaadAsssss Cinema also briefly goes into detail about the blaxploitation crossovers that happened as well, such as the blaxploitation/horror films like Blacula (Dracula’s black soul brother) and also the blaxploitation/kung fu crossovers. It was very interesting and gave me a hunger to see more of these incredible blaxploitation films.