Posted tagged ‘BFI’

Up – Thanks to Total Film (and my sister)

September 17, 2009

Last week I was lucky enough to attend an advance preview of the new Pixar film Up. Even better was the fact that it was playing at the British Film Institute. Better still, it was free. The cherry on top of all this magnificence was that it was in 3D. I’ve got to thank my sister for winning the tickets in a Total Film competition. Well done to Total Film for being a quality film publication. *cheesy thumbs up*

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So. I arrive at the BFI (British Film Institute) at noon to collect my tickets. The woman behind the counter is very confused. I explain, slowly, how I won the tickets in a competition. She is more confused. She asks if I have a reference number. I apologise that I don’t have one, and produce the email I was sent from Total Film. This was a mistake. Upon seeing the email her entire sense of the world disintegrates. Desperate to get rid of me she sends me to another desk. They have no idea what I am talking about and direct me to the box office (where I just came from). After this poor girl asks three of her colleagues for help, they collectively decide the best thing for me to do is come back later. I return at seventeen-hundred hours and a Pixar employee hands me a shiny pair of tickets. They can do anything.

On the way to the cinema screen we (my friend Tori and I) see two BFI staff trying to cram about a thousand balloons into a lift that is only made for a very petite person. Tried to get a picture but it came out very blurred. They must have been wearing portable shame-cloaking devices. I’d love one of those.

The 3D glasses were delivered in mighty chests that I thought would contain the director and producer. I was disappointed to see them containing the sensible and necessary glasses. But there was more to the glasses than met the eye. They were part of the Decepticon army. Front and centre on the Disney glasses was the Decepticon logo. Why was it there? My theory is that its an infra-red splodge to track audience eye movements.

The other strange feature of the glasses was a small circular disc on one of the legs. Clearly there to read your thoughts. Put that in tandem with tracking your eye movements and you have some powerful market research on your hands. A lot of people complained that their glasses didn’t work. I don’t know how they could not work but some people managed it. One child protested the whole way film that it had yet to go 3D. Despite these issues, Tor and I agreed these were the most comfortable glasses yet. Tor wears glasses herself and said she almost for the other pair was there. Isn’t that nice?

3d glasses

480 words in, time to talk about the movie. Before that, let’s talk about the story. The most important part of any film is that it has a good story (take note Michael Bay). Up had one of the most compelling stories I’ve seen. On paper you could see a lot of stock elements. Grumpy old man paired with irritatingly happy youngster. Comedy. Throw in some animal sidekicks for comic relief and action elements. Let it simmer gently for 90 minutes. You get so much more than that, and a lot of that is down to Ellie.

Ellie is Carl’s wife. They meet as children and discover they are both fuelled by the spirit of adventure. I really don’t want to spoil it but Pixar uses a montage even better than the one in Wall-E to show their relationship develop. For the whole sequence they barely speak, another tool learnt from Wall-E. And yet we are left with a character who the whole audience had limitless affection for. You see emo-kids covered in Nightmare Before Christmas badges now, in five years they will be wearing Ellie badges.

ellie badge

Onto the bad guy. And what a bad guy. I thought Colonel Hans Landa (Christopher Waltz) would easily walk away with bad guy of the year but Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) really throws down the gauntlet. It’s a good olde fashioned Chris-Off. Waltz plays the scheming and ruthless Jew Hunter. Plummer shoots a nine year old boy with an elephant gun. Several times. In a kid’s film. And Russell (the little child) is cute. He loves exploring, chocolate and Kevin. You can’t shoot a child that innocent. The point is that Charles Muntz is a scary character that really adds jeopardy to the story.

Dug does not. Dug is a talking dog. Comic relief is rarely done as well as it is here. He is voiced by writer Bob Peterson, he also voices the bad dog: Alpha. Watch the clip below.

Up takes a lot of influence from the Arthur Conan Doyle novel: The Lost World. Or so IMDB tells me. I haven’t read The Lost World. What I have done is seen the Looney Tunes. As much as the Lost World may have impacted the story of ancient life still existing in South America, just as apparent are the sight gags from Looney Tunes. When you first meet Kevin the bird she does an amazing impression of Road Runner. Some dogs chasing Kevin even fall of a cliff in a typical Wile E. Coyote way. If Charles Muntz wasn’t so evil he would look like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny with a rifle. These didn’t feel like a cheap rip-off, but more of a homage to days of yore.

Afterwards there was a Q&A with the director, Pete Docter, and producer, Jonas Rivera. Except Pete Docter had completely lost his voice. He drew pictures instead. Being a world class animator this wasn’t really a problem. Sadly dear readers I wasn’t able to ask them a question. But I did learn that: Docter sees a lot of himself in Carl and the desire to float away, that Docter’s daughter voices young Ellie on the instruction of Edward Asner, and that Up was almost about the fountain of youth.

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As I mentioned earlier I went to see this film with Tor. She just graduated from the University of East London. As she is as unemployed as I am currently we are going to get together and do some joint film reviews. She will give you the girly side, whilst I’ll give you that tough guy perspective you all depend on me for. Here is the nutty part, they will be video reviews. Now I’m not great at editing, yet, but these should be a lot of fun. Watch out!

AntBuoy