Depending on who you listen to, cinema is dying. Or cinema is dead. Pining for the fjords, or soon to be buried, don’t forget: the medium of film is in serious trouble. Recently, director Steven Soderbergh—who’s been very public about retiring for the last couple of years, and is finally heading out after his HBO biopic about Liberace premieres later this month—gave an address at the San Francisco International Film Festival, holding court for nearly an hour on how the difference between cinema and movies has opened an immense and irreparable divide between art and commerce, one that few filmmakers can bridge. Over the weekend, this video was posted around the Internet; in it, Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle categorized the problem he saw with mainstream cinema as being the “Pixarification” of films.
When comparing Pixar Animation Studios to DreamWorks Animation, as we are all so wont to do, there are a number of very easy lines of demarcation. The former studio has, to this point, only released one movie a year, while the latter is prone to releasing two or even three over any 12-month period. DreamWorks Animation films are typically littered with pop-culture references tailor-made to placate those parents suffering next to their kids in the movie theater; Pixar films rarely go for the easy cultural gag, and are often so successful that adults may end up enjoying the overall product more than kids. (It is telling that the use of the 80s song “Dreamweaver” in Toy Story 3 stands out so much as an exception to this rule.) Perhaps the most frequently brought-up contrast, though, is in casting: DreamWorks’ animated movies are perceived as being frontloaded with famous people, where Pixar movies are cast with whoever’s right for the role, famous or otherwise.
As unlikely as it may have seemed a few years ago, or even a few months ago if you were stubbornly holding out against the truth, there will be a sequel to the 2003 Pixar classic Finding Nemo, opening in 2015. Of course, more than 30 months from its release, we know very little about Finding Dory, aside from that title, its release date, the involvement of Albert Brooks and—in a more pronounced fashion—Ellen DeGeneres, and little else. But that title can, if nothing else, allow us to assume we have a general notion of what the film will entail: instead of the harried, neurotic Marlin searching the ocean for his son Nemo, he’ll have to do so for the unlikely friend he picked up on that first journey, Dory. These are the facts—at least based on Disney’s recent press release—but those meager crumbs have inspired a great deal of worrisome Internet fervor in the last couple weeks.
Consciously or not, we often look for the existence of the human in the art we consume. Sometimes, that presence is visible, and sometimes it’s just outside of the frame of the filmmaker’s camera or the words on the author’s page or inches away from the artist’s canvas. But we want and expect some form of humanity to be present in what we watch or read. In film, this manifests differently in live-action versus animation, the latter of which has been criticized for the “uncanny valley” effect, when human characters are rendered in such a way that’s off-putting, distracting for perhaps being too realistic, uncomfortably human. Pixar Animation Studios has not yet fallen into the uncanny valley, but it’s interesting to watch the evolution of their computer-animation technology from as far back as their pre-feature shorts up to Brave, in part because so much of their work is infused with the presence of humans even when none physically appear. Except for the films in the Cars franchise.
2007 was an excellent year for cinema, one of the best in decades. This was the year of No Country for Old Men, Once, and There Will Be Blood, all films that deserve to be called works of art, ones we’ll pore over and analyze for years to come. And 2007 was also the year of Pixar Animation Studios’ best film yet, Ratatouille. Ratatouille, in many ways, is the culmination of all the blood, sweat, and tears put into the hopes that Pixar would ever be successful. They proved in various ways that they could do more than the average family film, but Ratatouille was a purer triumph. Though no full-length feature can be perfect, Ratatouille comes close and, in its climax, stands as the poster child for the (patent pending) “Pixar moment.”
We are so thrilled to feature this wonderful Ratatouille themed piece from artist Jared Andrew Schorr. Specializing in intricate paper cut illustrations, Schorr has been featured in some impressive venues. His beautifully crafted images have been seen in The New Yorker, Gallery Nucleus and Disney’s WonderGround Gallery just to name a few. Schorr created a few pieces for the WonderGround Gallery including several Monsters Inc. pieces, a Wall-E piece and a Mickey Mouse piece. He was also featured as the Resident Artist for the month of August 2012 while showing in the WonderGround Gallery in the Downtown Disney District (Anaheim, CA). Every weekend of that month, guests were invited to watch Schorr in action – he created his paper cuts right there in the Gallery. While we’ve done our best to present this piece in photo form, you really have to see Schorr’s work in person to truly appreciate all the fine details that go into each piece. Read on for more about the artist in his own words!
If you’re a fan of pop culture, you really need to check out the work of Ian Glaubinger. His online gallery is chock-full of great images celebrating everything from Star Wars and superheroes to Ferris Bueller and The Big Lebowski. Don’t miss his John Candyland and a great line of cereal boxes – available on his Etsy shop! Read on for more about the artist in his own words. [Read more...]
A big thank you to Florida artist Helena Garcia for contributing this month to our long-running PixArt feature. And oh, what a sweet (and delicious) piece it is! Her adorable tribute to Ratatouille is full of simple charms. We’re big fans of Helena’s character art and illustrations. Make sure to check out her site for more beautifully designed images. Read on to learn more about the artist in her own words! [Read more...]