New Review Schedule!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great summer so far! You’ve told me about what movies you want me to finally take a look at yourselves, so we’ll be taking a break from the voting system and celebrating six years of Up On The Shelf with a pre-chosen review party that’s going to be over a year long! I want to thank everyone who’s supported the blog for this long by sharing how the new review schedule looks for the time being, as well as who requested what. Mark your calendars and rev up your streaming service/media player of choice, because here’s how things are going down:

August: Song of the Sea (gordhanx)

September: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (John Dailey)

October: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (The Animation Commendation)

November: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Amelia Jones)

December: Christmas vote!

January ’22: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Tristan Petty)

February ’22: The Incredibles (Mr. B)

March ’22: Toy Story (Rhapsody)

April ’22: The Ten Commandments (Samuel Minden)

May ’22: Twice Upon A Time (julayla)

June ’22: The Adventures of Tintin (Cup Of Joe)

July ’22: Seventh Anniversary Review

August ’22: Jurassic Park (MrXemnas1992)

September ’22: The Triplets of Belleville (Sam Flemming)

October ’22: Halloween vote!

November ’22: Aladdin (MichaelSar12IsBack)

December ’22: Christmas vote!

January ’23: The Little Mermaid (Ben Walderberger)

I’d like to add that in addition to these film reviews, I’ll be posting a review of every episode of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre each month. Expect the first shortly after this August’s review is done. See you then!

Podcasts, Paintings, and the Obligatory Anniversary Update

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a great summer and –

Free Stock Photo of Empty Seats in Auditorium

Yeah, it has been a while, hasn’t it?

First off, I’m completely vaccinated and feeling great. I still recommend wearing a mask out and getting vaccinated if you haven’t already for your safety and the safety of everyone else around you, especially in light of the delta variant of the virus going around.

I took part in a citywide live art demonstration where I painted in public – a invigorating creativity, morale, and exposure booster, I must say – and I got paid handsomely for it.

I’ve found some new critique partners and revised some of my children’s books manuscripts enough to query them again while also starting some new ones. Speaking of, I’d also to talk more about children’s books in general, and I put some things into motion where I may be doing that soon in a somewhat different format. Stay tuned for more updates…

And hey, ever wanted to hear what I sound like AND listen to me rip on a really obscure and garishly bizarre infomercial for Gymboree with a bunch of hilarious, cynical podcasters? Well now you can thanks to Channel KRT, an amazing entertaining podcast where the strange and esoteric media from your childhood are brought to light whether you want it or not. They invited me to appear on this episode after tracking down the Gymboree tape and I had a hell of a time recording with them. Kit, Randee, Tyler, thanks again for having me on and for letting me plug the blog. Click HERE to listen to us alternate between laughing and cringing at “Gymboree: Play With a Purpose”, and please support these guys any way you can if you’re able. They are the best.

But on to the matter at hand. The fifth anniversary review is almost done, and I don’t feel like keeping you in suspense anymore as to what it will be. It’s a movie that means a lot to me from a personal and creative standpoint, one that’s a feast for the eyes and soul and a source of inspiration when it comes to creating art – and shaping criticism.

Bon appetit.

What does this mean for the sixth anniversary though? Well, instead of reviewing just another movie to mark the occasion, I’m expanding this party to the rest of the year – and to all of you. To all my loyal followers and commenters – and curious newcomers – pick one movie that’s On The Shelf, one you always wanted me to take a look at but haven’t gotten to yet, let me know in the comments or via email before July 30th, and I will review them all one by one! I will also finally be getting around to reviewing all of Faerie Tale Theatre soon after the Ratatouille review is released, and I’m very excited for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to celebrate the fourth the only way I know how –

By hiding away in my room trying desperately to ignore the constant ear-splitting barrage of the neighbors’ fireworks and my family telling me that I can go to Saudi Arabia if I hate the damn holiday so much. Toodles!

A Series of Distracting Events

“Well, I finally got that Home Alone review done. Time to work on the fifth anniversary review -”
“Quick reminder, Shelf, you’ve got that big writers and illustrators’ conference in a couple of weeks. I’m sure you’re already well prepared for it though, no worries.”
“…”

Several weeks later…

“Ok, conference is done. Now to get to writing that -”
“Hey Shelf, how’s that next Krimson Rogue video review you’re editing coming along? Isn’t that due really soon?”
“…”

Several MORE weeks later…

“You know, I feel like there’s a project I should be working on, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what. Oh well, let’s see how the blog’s doing. It’s certainly been a while since -”
Episode 12 Ringing Telephone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
“Ahoy-hoy? *GASP* My dad’s friend from his video store days got friendly with a producer? He wants ME to design their movie pitch deck?! Sign me up!!”

ANOTHER several more weeks later…

“…Did I use to write my own blog or was that some sort of hallucination from being stuck in quarantine so long?”
Episode 12 Ringing Telephone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
“Ahoy-hoy? *GASP* My dad’s friend’s producer pal loved my pitch so much he showed it to another producer he knows? HE loved it so much he wants ME to design one for him too?! LET’S ROLL!!”

You get the drill…

“Hmm, this “Up On The Shelf” is a cute little blog. Shame it’s been forever since a review was posted. I wonder who…ohhhhhhhhhhhh.”

The short answer to your question: Yes, I’m still working on the fifth anniversary review. I know I keep flaking on my own deadlines but it will be up before the SIXTH anniversary comes around, I swear. I’m working as hard as I can when I’m able. Hey, it’s not like I’ve been spending my free time bingeing The Muppet Show and Wandavision, crushing Pikmin 3, and counting down the days ’til I get vaccinated, heh heh heh…

Collar Tug GIF - Collar Tug HomerSimpson - Discover ...

Anyway, stay safe, keep those hands washed and masks on even after you get your shot(s), and I’ll see you all soon.

A Snippet of an Untold Dragon Story

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey all! I’ve been going through some of my old writing for new story ideas and I rediscovered something I wrote five years ago that I felt like sharing with you. I created this in a twenty-minute sprint based on the sentence prompt “And you thought dragons didn’t exist”. The way it turned out, it read less like a short story and more like a chapter pulled from a preexisting book. For a time I constructed a plot to go around it, but eventually dropped it in pursuit of other projects. Having read it again, I felt inspired to return to work on it. I re-edited what I originally wrote, and that’s what I’d like to present to you today.

The plot, as of posting this, goes thusly: In modern-day China, a great-grandmother gives a young girl the location of the last dragon egg with her dying breath. The girl raises the dragon while keeping it a secret from her family. After she befriends her former bully, the son of the American ambassador, they must work together to learn its secrets before one of their respective governments can capture it. Think How To Train Your Dragon meets E.T. or The Iron Giant. The ideal age group for this book would be middle grade (about 8-12 years old) so keep that in mind. And now, I take you to a wooded park in the middle of China, where our story is already in progress:

Continue reading

Christmas Shelf Reviews: Home Alone (1990)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Alone poster

See that face smack dab in the middle of the poster there? That’s the face I made when I found out I’d be reviewing one of my favorite Christmas movies (and also when I realized I wouldn’t be publishing it on time; Happy Valentines Day!) Because, honestly, what can I say about Home Alone that hundreds before me already have?

There’s an argument to be made that Home Alone shouldn’t count as a Christmas movie because it’s a story that can be done on any given day of the year – except that Christmas is tied into this film’s very identity. Kevin’s house is full of reds, greens and whites, the soundtrack is stuffed with Christmas tunes, even beloved classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street are playing whenever a TV is turned on. Add themes of family and togetherness and a magical score by John Williams, and you’ve got a movie with Christmas in its DNA.

While Home Alone didn’t impress critics upon release, it made enough bank that it held the title of highest-grossing comedy of all time until 2011. It’s entered the pop culture lexicon not just here in the states but abroad. The film’s release in most former Soviet-occupied countries aligned with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and is so tied to that feeling of holiday cheer and nostalgia for a monumental positive change that it’s broadcast with the same heartfelt frequency as It’s A Wonderful Life in America. “It’s not Christmas without Kevin” has become something of a popular slogan for most stations that air it. But why does this simple story retain so much of its appeal 30 years later?

Continue reading

Release

I expected that once this day would come, I’d feel overwhelming joy, that’d I cry tears of happiness mixed with pent-up sorrow over the needless loss and suffering of the past four years.

Instead I felt…relief.

A quiet, calm unobtrusive sense of relief washing over me and taking every bit of fear and anger with it.

And it felt just as good.

The terror of tomorrow, the fury of injustice and helplessness that burrowed into my heart has been uprooted. From out of the hole rise hope’s repressed seeds, released at long last, ready to embrace the world.

All of our problems won’t be resolved overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of damage to repair. The answer, however, has always rested with us. It’s good to know that, after experiencing the worst, we won’t let it happen again so easily, not as long as we’re vigilant, wise and compassionate. By placing our faith and trust into caring, capable hands, we make that start. We hold them accountable so they can hold others accountable. We stand together so no one will perish alone again.

Tonight, however, we celebrate, and rest.

I love each and every one of you. I hope you have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in four years. I wish you peace, happiness, and above all, relief and release.

Happy New Year! / The Return of the Poorly Explained Movie Plots / And In Other News…

So…2020. That certainly was…a year.

Look, it’s pointless to reiterate how much of a colossal trainwreck it was. We’re all eager to move on and embrace all the hope and possibilities that 2021 has to offer, and this blog is no exception. Despite my schedule clearing up so suddenly early on, I got nowhere near as much writing done here as I hoped I would. Hell, it took me five days after New Years Day just to finish this. I feel like I’ve done more apologizing for running late than I’ve done any actual posting and I can’t…well, apologize enough for that. I was hit with a perfect storm of burnout, writers’ block, pressure, other responsibilities and general anxiety about my health, my family’s health, and the state of the world almost simultaneously, and it wrecked most of my plans for what was supposed to be the blog’s big fifth year.

And yet, despite every nervous cell in my brain telling me I wasn’t going to make it, here I am.

Here we are.

We made it.

We (barely) survived Coronavirus with a vaccine now on the way. We (barely) got through four years of Trump and utterly squashed the threat of four more. I taught an art class and fully developed two children’s books while getting started on several more. I bounced back into video editing. I even helped edit a podcast (Channel KRT, please check them out). Hamilton came to Disney+. Animal Crossing returned with an adorable wholesome vengeance as did Pikmin and apparently Pokemon Snap very soon. We got a kickass Princess Bride reunion/cast reading. TikTok actually spawned something creative and positive in the fan-made Ratatouille musical. People from across the globe banded together to fight racism. Thanks to Zoom I’m closer than ever to family and friends whom I haven’t spoken to in years. For all the overwhelming bad that 2020 brought to our doorstep, it brought a surprising amount of good with it, too.

And despite the false starts and panicking and chronic lateness, you stuck with me throughout it. Amelia, Gordhan, Sam, I have no words to properly convey my thanks for giving me the financial support I needed. And to everyone else who read and commented and liked what I had to say about random movies, I appreciate your readership and encouragement. Thank you.

Of course, I know the real reason why you’re here, to read silly summations of everything I reviewed in 2020! Yes, I promised I’d make that a yearly tradition, and it’s one I intend to keep. I’m also going to be sharing my plans for 2021 and one more bit of pleasant news that helped 2020 end on a personal high note. So stick around, because it’s time for Return of The Poorly Explained Movie (and Holiday Shorts/TV Episode) Plots!

Continue reading

Christmas Shelf Reviews: Duck Tales 2017: “Last Christmas!”

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I don’t think it’s a big secret that Gravity Falls is my favorite series from Disney. Not just animated series, I mean out of everything the channel ever churned out. It was mysterious, funny and occasionally frightening, with deep themes of family and growing up and some of the most well-written television characters to come from the 2010s. When it bowed out after two near-perfect seasons, it left some enormous shoes to fill. What show could possibly live up to the standards it set?

Well, it turns out the answer was one no one asked for, but we’re sure as hell thankful we got anyway.

Hot take for y’all, especially from someone who grew up in the 90’s and enjoyed the hell out of the original DuckTales: the 2017 reboot blows its predecessor out of the water. It takes the fun, creative adventures from the first series, adds a much-needed measure of character arcs and development (Huey, Dewey and Louie have actual distinct personalities now!) and amps it up with a huge dose of heart and enough lore borrowed from the Carl Barks and Don Rosa comics to win over even the most jaded fans. Also, as opposed to his unceremonious draft into the navy in the first series, Donald Duck finally has a part to play in the new adventures! (Well, in 13 out of the 65 of them anyway…way to get my hopes up, Disney.) By the time I was halfway through the first season I thought to myself, “Yes, this is it. This is the successor to Gravity Falls,” (though The Owl House definitely ties with that sentiment as well, and Amphibia isn’t too far behind).

I’m woefully behind on Season 3, but am well aware that they’re bringing in more characters and plots from the other classic Disney Afternoon series that were hinted at since the very start, and I can’t wait to see how they’re re-interpreted. On a similar note, since this episode deals with some major revelations from the tail end of Season One that have ramifications for the rest of the series, I must warn you that this review will have spoilers.

Continue reading

Christmas Shelf Reviews: Richard Williams’ A Christmas Carol (1971)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surprise, we had a tie in the shorts category! As my way of making up for the lack of reviews this year, here’s a little Christmas bonus for you all.

Last year we said goodbye to a giant in the field of animation, the one and only Richard Williams. In honor of his memory, I added some of his work to the Shelf, including this, a retelling of A Christmas Carol produced by fellow legend Chuck Jones with animation by Abe Levitow, Ken Harris, Grim Natwick and Richard Purdum among others. Adding to this auspicious company is Allistair Sim and Michael Hordern returning to voice Scrooge and Marley twenty years after playing them in the iconic 1951 film adaptation; it’s not Christmas in my household until I watch it with my father, the tree glowing in the corner as we huddle together in the dark in front of the TV, so hearing these voices again is a special treat.

Of course, since this is a Richard Williams’ production, there was no shortage of drama behind the scenes. Williams was a man who expected nothing less than perfection from his employees, and his stringent standards nearly proved to be his downfall (not for the last time either, if you know what happened to The Thief and the Cobbler). Work fell so behind schedule that the animators were forced to pull 7-day 14-hour workweeks with unpaid overtime, and the final product still wasn’t ready until one hour before the deadline! The results, however, speak for themselves. This is a beautifully crafted feature. Though Williams and crew had to resort to some rotoscoping to finish the job, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where they did.

This short was originally made for television, but the high praise it received emboldened ABC to distribute it theatrically. It would go on to be nominated for and win the Oscar for Best Animated Short the following year. This also gives it the distinct honor of being the only version of A Christmas Carol to win an Academy Award. Imagine, 200+ versions of the same story made over a period of nearly a hundred years yet only one gets that kind of recognition! Members of the Academy chafed at the idea that a short first shown on television took home the gold, and would quickly change the rules so that any future works that premiered on TV would not qualify for a nomination.

Despite its accolades and the high-profile names attached, Richard Williams’ Christmas Carol is surprisingly hard to find on home video. The version I watched for this review came from Youtube via TheThiefArchive, where you can find all things related to Williams uploaded for posterity.

So, classic story, some of the greatest animators of the twentieth century, all brought together by a man whom I consider the definitive Mad Genius of animation. What’s the worst that could happen?

Continue reading

Christmas Shelf Reviews: Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

pluto2

When I made my list of favorite Mickey Mouse shorts, I had a hell of a time combing through his filmography for what I considered “real” Mickey cartoons. This is because a good many films in the mouse’s oeuvre have the supporting characters like Donald Duck and Goofy quickly steal the spotlight from him. And that’s not the only thing they took: as more characters were ingrained into the Disney canon and Mickey was reduced to being a bit player in his own features, the scrappy traits that once endeared him to the public were siphoned away to his costars. And what was left for him once the childlike curiosity, playfulness, brash temper, big heart and fierce determination were gone? What kind of personality could Mickey cultivate for himself into when there was no personality left?

Thanks a lot, Lisa.

By the late 40s and early 50s, everything that made Mickey enjoyable was scrubbed away into a bland, neighborly squeaky-clean corporate-friendly icon. He was good for selling merch, but his cartoons suffered severely for it. Mickey was paired up with his faithful dog Pluto to keep things more interesting, though that resulted in him getting far more to do than his master. I always thought Pluto worked better as a supporting role rather than the main star, so I’ve never been crazy about the Pluto shorts or these in particular because…well, let’s look at a comedic dog and master duo done right:

Wallace, for all his mechanical ingenuity and good nature, is more than a bit of an idiot. Gromit is vastly smarter and is capable of expressing a variety of relatable emotions despite never uttering a word (though that has less to do with him being a dog and more due to the fact that he has no mouth). Whenever there’s trouble (usually of Wallace’s own making), Gromit steps up to the plate and the two always manage to work past their shortcomings together to save the day. They may not always be on the same level as each other, but their camaraderie and the situations they get into certainly make for an entertaining time.

As for Mickey, he may have been a lot of things in his prime, but he certainly wasn’t stupid. So seeing the resilient rodent who sailed steamships, conducted his way through storms, battled giants, saved kingdoms, slayed dragons and controlled the very cosmos have his IQ substantially lowered just so he could play second fiddle to his pet…well, it feels downright insulting. Pluto’s Christmas Tree was the second-to-last short made before Mickey’s thirty year-long retirement, and it’s a prime showcase for all the problems that come with his extreme flanderization, right down to the fact that his name isn’t even the one that’s in the title.

Continue reading