Friday, April 18, 2014

Favorite Scene Friday! Sleeping Beauty: Birthday Prep

This week Jess from French Toast Sunday has our third entry in our month of animated scenes!

Like many young girls growing up, I watched a lot of Disney movies. Probably my favorite of all the classic Disney movies was Sleeping Beauty. I loved the hidden princess Aurora, the beautiful song “Once Upon a Dream”, one of Disney’s darkest villains Maleficent, gorgeously detailed animation, the silly comedy parts, and the exciting action sequences (I was in elementary school guys…). Part of me wanted to go with the adorable meet cute between Aurora and Prince Phillip where they sing the film’s main theme together. Another great one is one of Disney’s scariest sequences when Aurora enters the secret passage in the castle and finally pricks her finger on the spindle.


However, I bypassed the romance and horror to showcase a funny scene instead. One of my favorite moments comes from the three good fairies who take care of Aurora deep in the forest. To keep the princess safely hidden from Maleficent they haven’t used magic as to not draw attention. On her sixteenth birthday they decide to break out the wands because baking, sewing, and cleaning is just too darn hard for three fairies that have been doing it for over a decade.

First of all, this scene starts with some ridiculous attempts at all of these things. The dress is hideous, the cake is some nasty dough, and that cottage hardly looks presentable. It’s all really silly, but it still makes me laugh when Fauna reads “Two eggs – fold in gently” and literally puts two whole eggs into the mix. It would all be cute enough, but then the magic breaks out and things just get more goofy, when Flora and Merryweather start fighting over the colors of Aurora’s birthday dress. It all takes a darker turn.

Okay, maybe this all would be a lot more entertaining if you were me at 6 years old, but I still think it’s quite the cute scene and gives me a healthy dose of nostalgia.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheap Thrills Interview

Over the weekend some folks here in Jacksonville got the chance to catch Cheap Thrills at Sun-Ray Cinema. The movie follows two old friends, Craig (Pat Healy) and Vince (Ethan Embry), who end up committing progressively crazier tasks in order to win cash from mysterious couple Colin and Violet (played by David Koechner and Sara Paxton). Thrills is a dark comedy but, as the name implies, it's just as easily a thriller and it's not for the faint of heart - I literally gasped in shock towards the end. I had the chance to ask director E.L. Katz a few questions about the movie.

Q: The film explores what main characters Craig and Vince are willing to do for money, and the character Violet obviously enjoys documenting the events of the film with her phone. Is it safe to say that Cheap Thrills is a commentary on our reality show obsessed culture?

Katz: I think that’s one element of it for sure. I think that reality shows can sometimes be so much more screwed up than any sort of horror film or dark comedy, because they have such a twisted world view, and yet it’s presented as just sort of normal mainstream viewing. We get used to watching real people suffer, and be humiliated for the purposes of a shitty show, and we’re not supposed to care.

Q: Did you find yourself having to reign in either the comedy or thriller aspects while you were shooting or did they balance and blend well?

Katz: I really tried to focus on just making everything feel “real” and just trusted that the humor would come through naturally if something was funny… and if it wasn’t, then that was okay too. I never wanted to try to film it as a comedy or anything like that. When it came to the thriller elements, I tried to push things visually a little bit more towards the end of the film… made the lighting slightly darker, would film around corners a little, just tried to make things a little more off-kilter.

Q: Was it more daunting or liberating bringing these different genres together?

Katz: I’ve always wanted to blend these kinds of tones and genres, so if anything it was really freeing. I’d spent so much of my career working on more straight-forward horror, that it was very liberating to throw out the playbook so to speak, and just go a little crazy with it.

Q: How important was it for the two “contestants” to be old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years as opposed to strangers? There seemed to be a conscious theme of facing your past.

Katz: I think the film does have themes about facing who you are, against the expectations of who you might have wanted to be… and being faced with your best friend from a time where everything seemed possible felt like it would service that. Also, it seemed like, Colin and Violet would prefer to find a duo that could perhaps have some baggage that [they] could use to turn the contestants against each-other. It might have been less charged if they were just two strangers off the street.

Q: Is there a particular bit of trivia from the film that you like sharing? 

Katz: We shot the film in 14 days during one of the hottest LA summers in recorded history. 

Cheap Thrills is now in theaters and on demand.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Favorite (Animated) Scene Friday! The Land Before Time: Littlefoot's Mom

Our month of our favorite animated scenes continues! Last week Jay from Life Vs Film brought us a scene from Wall-E, but this week I'm going old school. Some of you may not remember The Land Before Time, but it's one of my favorite animated movies and hearkens back to a time when animated films were gorgeously hand drawn. Unfortunately, I'm sharing not only one of TLBT's saddest scenes, but possibly one of the saddest scenes in any cartoon.

If you're anything like me, you grew up watching this flick (and avoiding its horrible, song-filled sequels [holy shit, apparently they made 12 of them!]). Directed by Don Bluth, the fella that also helmed An American Tale (and would go on to do a ton of other animated flicks), and executive produced by Spielberg, George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall, TLBT tells the story of Littlefoot, an apatosaurus or, "Long Neck", and his group of mismatched dino pals. Littlefoot's group is trying to make it to "The Great Valley" after an earthquake strikes the land. This week's scene focuses on the quake and its emotional aftershocks...

Movies teach us a lot growing up, and death is usually one of the subjects. It may not be pretty, but The Land Before Time didn't shy away from it. I really don't have any firm memories of this scene from when I was a kid, but surely this had to have been the first time I saw a death on screen. The scene still gets to me. When Littlefoot's mom tells him she'll be with him, even if he can't see her...

The Meta Picture via Pinterest

I'm not sure what my deal is with sad cartoon scenes. I promise I'll share something happy later this month. Or, at least, not sad.