Thursday, April 30, 2009

"The right reading for this is the one I'm giving."


Orson Welles is generally regarded as one the greatest monolithic figures in cinema. From the sheer cinematic brilliance of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, his performances in Kane, The Third Man, and one of my favorites A Touch of Evil.


He was even Unicron in the 1984 Transformers: The Movie, at a time when he himself had grown especially planet-sized.

He's the inspiration for a White Stripes song.

However, Welles (perhaps in no small part for deciding to seemingly target media magnate and all around captain of industry William Randolph Hearst for his masterpiece Citizen Kane, or his general bristly personality and enormous ego,) ended up slowly sliding into less and less prestigious work, symbolically culminating in his voice-over work.

Which, you may or may not be aware, was routinely lambasted by voice actor and Welles impersonator Maurice LaMarche on some of the shows he frequented in the 90s.

Whenever I'm feeling down, I like to listen to these outtakes and get a good laugh in.

And, although Welles' career foundered after an initial burst of brilliance, he is widely remembered despite that for those particular works than his latter decline. Either way, kind of uplifting.



Monday, April 20, 2009

Top 5 Walt Disney Psychedelic Movie Moments

psy·che·del·ic adj
weird, distorted, wildly colorful, or otherwise resembling images or sounds experienced by somebody under the influence of a psychedelic drug

Although a union-busting, possibly racist and anti-Semitic, Commie-hating, just right-of-center corporate jerk, Walt Disney definitely knew how to drop random surreal dream sequences into his movies. As much a product of the 20th century (and Modernism) as Disney is, it’s not surprising to see those touches of more avant-garde influence touching on the overall studio oeuvre (cf. Fantastia.) Here are five of my favorite moments, plus one bonus mention.

Honorable Mention
“Hellfire,” The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Barring the frantic, more Warner Brothers inspired, antics of the “A Friend Like Me” sequence in Aladdin, this is about as trippy as it gets for more contemporary (at least post 70s) Disney, although it’s decidedly more of a “bad trip.” Especially notice what the robes turn into at 3:25.

5. “Heffalumps and Woozles,” The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

I’ve wanted to argue it’s a metaphor for Communist paranoia (“because they come in every shape and size!”) but, any way you slice it, Pooh’s honey-based paranoia is palpable here in the rapacious Heffalumps and Woozles. Although it seems like a half-watered down version of the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence, this is definitely noteworthy.

4. Donald going insane, Der Furher’s Face

Trapped in a Fascist nightmare world, Donald Duck eventually goes insane before waking up (and overjoyed, of course, to see that he isn’t trapped in “Naziland,” but is in fact in the good old USA.) Now overlooked because of the at times callow racial stereotyping (and the “Donald Duck as Hitler” image from this sequence,) this is definitely one of the better examples of this trend.

It is also definitely a “bad trip.”

3. Ending Overture Sequence Alice in Wonderland

Picking one “bizarre surreal moment” in Alice in Wonderland is definitely fun. This basically recaps the entire movie at high speed.

2. “Pink Elephants on Parade,” Dumbo

Although Dumbo is supposed to be drunk here, I suppose we should count ourselves lucky that none of us have accidentally drank whatever he did.

“What’ll I do?! What’ll I say?!” Yeah. Another bad trip.

1. “You Belong to my Heart,” The Three Caballeros

After watching Disney’s “good neighbor” propaganda films (Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros) back-to-back with my girlfriend, we (she getting her masters in psychology, and me being somewhat psychoanalytically focused anyway,) came to the conclusion this is the climax of Donald Duck’s psychosexual crisis since, lacking genitals, he can’t actually consummate his desires for the myriad Latin girls he spends the movie chasing.

Language actually begins breaking down here describing just what is going on, other than women’s faces exploding from flowers, dancing cacti, and turns of events best seen to be believed.

In short, don’t drink the Kool-Ade at the Disney animation studios, unless you’re prepared to see some of this.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fools Day!

I was going to come up with some kind of elaborate blog-related prank, but I settled on this instead.