School of Movies
Moana

Moana

December 13, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]  

This was the film that convinced me though theatrically-released hand-drawn animation is gone that the future is in good hands all the same.

John Musker and Ron Clements made their Disney directorial debut all the way back in 1986's Great Mouse Detective. They then followed that up with a double-whammy of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, forming the foundation of the 90s renaissance (and sandwiching Beauty & the Beast). 

They went on to helm the delightful disappointments; Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess & the Frog, which failed to hit those box office figures but proved to be firm favourites with die hard Disney fans. And here they bid farewell to directing, twenty years after they began with their first 3D animation gig, that also could be argued as one of the most beautiful ever created within that medium. That this was both their first and last is as surprising as it is bittersweet.

But enough about two lovable old white men, this is a film where the house of mouse stepped in the right direction, consulting with Pacific Islanders to create something more culturally aware (though still anchored to the brand). 

Small steps. 

Guest

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus  @DanFloydPlus 

Zootopia

Zootopia

December 10, 2019

[School of Movies 2016]

This was a show we recorded way back in 2016, that simply couldn't wait the three more years it would take to bring us up to date. Dan was not available this time round so we brought in some anthropomorphic animal specialists in his absence.

This was a movie that kind of came out of nowhere and delighted pretty much everyone by having a lot more going on below the surface than your average animated animal adventure. At the very least it's a major new find for the furry community as our guests Lorin Grieve from A Year of Steam and Matt Wardle and Laureta Sela of New Century can attest. As well as this there is a multi-layered and infinitely applicable series of social commentaries on everyday prejudices. This downright demanded discussion so we pulled out all the stops to deliver you a packed two hour show. 
 
Folks on the patreon at the $5 per month support level can, this week, get their paws on an additional 90 minutes of rambling tangents which also took place during recording and while fascinating in places, strayed far from the movie itself. If you love these shows there are far worse things you could do with five bucks every thirty days which DON'T get you access to exclusive content. 
 
Guests: 
 
Doctor Lorin Grieve from Year of Steam
Laureta Sela of New Century
Matt Wardle of New Century
Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

December 6, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]  

It appears to be decreed that Disney must sandwich every princess film in their animated classics canon with one that is either accessible to the whole family (like Zootopia) or one that at least suggests it will appeal to male-coded interests. In this case Wreck-It Ralph with all those video games (that girls love too) and Big Hero 6 with all its superheroes (that girls love too).

In this case Disney's first attempt at adapting a Marvel comic book with no connection to the MCU this one takes a virtually unheard of Joe Kelly book from the 90s which had not quite a dozen issues to its name and turned it into something like The Iron Giant, something like what would eventually be Bumblebee and something like Into the Spider-Verse. Two films that would improve upon elements of this formula.

And whilst we don't love it as much as any of the above there is something kind of wonderful about Baymax, and there are things we can learn from this film about living with grief and crazy science that are of genuine benefit to us, moving forward. 

Guest

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus  @DanFloydPlus 

Mackenzie Easton  @KenziePhoenix of Rainbow Connection @MuppetsPod   

Frozen

Frozen

November 28, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]  

The Disney series continues, and in fact this run of four episodes (including the re-release of the 2016 show on Zootopia) marks our project finally coming up to date, since we began this way back around the time Frozen was being released. We will of course return in years to come with another stretch of episodes on Ralph Breaks the Internet, Frozen II, Raya and the Last Dragon and whatever comes next. But for now this gets us to a place we want to be. 

I think people forget, because of all the airplay that one song got, because of all the merchandising and ubiquity of these characters within Disney's self-identifying brand just how GOOD this movie actually is. When you watch it again the script is really strong, it's progressive in a way that challenges their somewhat dated fairy tale elements in a positive way. And not just that one song but ALL of the musical numbers are fantastic (except one and we'll go into that). It's beautiful and thought-provoking and soulful and sometimes a little more sharp than we might expect. 

If Disney was going to make a billion dollars and decide that the way forward was to replicate that success, I'm glad it was this one.

Guests

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus

Spencer Leeb of The New Century Multiverse 

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

December 14, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]

An accompaniment to our Disney shows, and perhaps Walt's greatest film. Not his greatest achievement, that was surely the pioneering of a feature-length animated film in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Not his greatest achievement, that arguably is the founding of an entertainment business that today has significant influence the world over. But his greatest single film experience... maybe.

Journey back with us to 1910, a bright and naive era, sandwiched between two ages of intense hardship. And meet a woman who claims to never be cross and proceeds to spend most of the movie thoroughly peeved, claims to be practically perfect in every way, yet gaslights children and manipulates them into ethical opposition to the prevailing patriarchy, and by all rights should be an insidious destructive force, but is in fact a wellspring of healing for a family that is considered by its father to be actually perfect in every way. 

It's a triumph and a masterpiece and for the longest time, the author of its source book hated it for the same reasons a lot of people hate Disney. 

Guests:

Kaoru Negisa @Moonpanther22 and

Debbie Morse @bastet8300 of Sequentially Yours  

Mackenzie Easton @KenziePhoenix of Rainbow Connection @MuppetsPod  

Wreck-It Ralph + Winnie the Pooh

Wreck-It Ralph + Winnie the Pooh

October 19, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]  

We begin with a movie so underappreciated and barely known that it's not even in the British canon of Disney movies, they just skip over it and mis-number the next one. Winnie the Pooh 2011 is a charming, harmless, fun and short little adventure, and it was their actual final 2D cel-animated animated classic. There's more to say about its obscurity and design than there is to say about its events. 

And after that we launch into arguably the best movie ever made about video games, one that leaves the many dismal adaptations choking on its pixelated dust trails. Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney action adventure for all the family done so very right, and hides a generous helping of progressive nuance under its candy-coloured surface. 

Next week: Bram Stoker's Dracular is our Halloween Spooktacular episode. 

Guests

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus

Tangled

Tangled

October 12, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]  

I say this with no hyperbole, I think you may be listening to our best Disney show. It is epic in length and rich in scope, we go deep and the evolution of the Disney film takes a big leap, aesthetically, technically and emotionally. 

Rather than simply deliver Rapunzel in the style of the 90s renaissance the creative team here very deliberately updated the approach to a fairy-tale world in a way that would pay off big time in Frozen but makes itself known here with confidence, rather than reactively copying their competitors. This is how things are going to be for a long time, bolstered by the Marvel movies, which this follows in a similar and appealing pattern.

We also have an important announcement to make at the end of the show. 

Next week: Wreck-It Ralph and Winnie the Pooh

Guests

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus

Maureen Foley of The New Century Multiverse 

The Princess and the Frog

The Princess and the Frog

October 5, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]  

Now we're talking. While the last two movies were an upswing from the doldrums of Chicken Little this one was the first to confidently step out in a direction that was both established and classical and representative of Disney at its best AND also new and twisty, fondly critical of their past successes, progressive and modern.

If you've somehow not seen it but have enjoyed the 90s Renaissance you will find much of value here, including the directors of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, one of the most toe-tapping soundtracks and an animation style that is just heavenly to drink in. This is one of our all-time favourites.

This was the last of its kind, with 2011s Winnie the Pooh forming an epilogue to the 2D dynasty and Tangled, the year after truly kicking off the 3D animation era after a series of false starts.

Guest

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus

Meet The Robinsons + Bolt

Meet The Robinsons + Bolt

September 28, 2018

[School of Movies 2018]  

The mid-2000s saw Disney continuing to flail about in search of a new identity. They still didn't have a clear idea of who they wanted to be seen as now, they just knew it wasn't Aladdin and Jasmine singing on a magic carpet.

So here was a duo of CG animated curios, with some genuine charm amidst some baffling choices, deliberately homogenised with the output of their rival studios. They can be described thusly;

1. Genius orphan visits future and hangs out with a family of crazy people.

2. Deluded television superdog travels America to get back to his owner. 

Next week: The Princess and the Frog

Guest

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus

Home on the Range + Chicken Little

Home on the Range + Chicken Little

September 21, 2018

[School of Movies 2018] 

Now we have reached a truly dark time in Disney's history.

These are two barnyard adventures featuring shrieking animals, wafer-thin plots and zero growth, either for the characters or creatively for the production teams. 

As such there's little to talk about beyond ducks getting smacked in the head, so we devote most of this episode to discussing the painful transition from 2D cel animation to 3D. It began as one of our weakest, most aimless Disney shows, and for that I literally apologise midway through, but by the end, while the tone gets heavy and we are powered along by anger and frustration it turns into something a lot stronger as a true sense of loss begins to set in. 

There were far brighter things just on the horizon, but some decisions cannot be undone, and the repercussions are what we all have to live with.

Next week: A double-bill of Meet The Robinsons & Bolt

Guest

Daniel Floyd of New Frame Plus