Go to www.krishnabalashenoi.wordpress.com for art and films by Krishna Bala Shenoi.
‘”Photographs” is an extraordinary short film’
– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
An experimental film. It means nothing and everything. It doesn’t have any conventional sense of plot. It is meant to evoke an emotion, a reaction, from the viewer. The less said, the better. The interpretation is yours to decide.
Shot in Bangalore, Kerala, UAE and China.
I have a dream, and I hope it comes true: One fine morning, Pixar Animation Studios announces that their recently released trailer of ‘Cars 2’ is nothing but a huge prank. It was a hoax, a fake trailer, something to play around with audiences. The real trailer is something more grounded, more charming and more like the first film.
Sadly, my dreams rarely come true.
‘Never judge a movie by its trailer,’ I’ve heard it said. Words of wisdom. ‘Titanic’ looked awful in its trailer, but we all know how the film touched audiences. From their trailers, ‘Iron Man’ looked pathetic and ‘Spider-Man 3’ looked excellent; the final films were just the opposite. Movie trailers are just advertisements—you can’t tell the quality of the film from its trailer.
But you can tell a bit about the plot, and maybe the tone, of a film from its trailer. I do not like what I can tell from the trailer of Pixar’s next film ‘Cars 2’.
Let’s have a look at it.
Now what’s wrong with that? Well, take a look at this clip from the first ‘Cars’ film.
Feel a difference? No?
Let’s have a look at the premises of the two films.
1. ‘Cars’: Lightning McQueen, an upcoming race car, somehow ends up in the forgotten Radiator Springs, where he finds friendship and love in its simple locals and learns the true meaning respect and winning.
2. ‘Cars 2’: Lightning McQueen and his tow truck friend Mater get involved in international espionage. Their action-packed, top secret mission leads them on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe. The trailer says, “They’re not just racing around the world… they’re racing to save the world!”
Do you get my point? When the first ‘Cars’ film was so beautiful and thought provoking, why make the sequel like every other run-off-the-mill animated film? (Think ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ et all.)
Perhaps I appear to be a bit of a fool by now, by judging a film by one simple teaser trailer. Reader, do forgive me. It’s just that I care too much for Pixar. I grew up with their films. I’ve loved each and every one of them. I’ve seen them all countless times, spread the word and told my friends to watch them, analysed them myself, read about them so very much… and just enjoyed the films themselves. They are great movies, there’s no denying that. If there is, you must be Armond White.
‘Toy Story’ was a phenomenon. Its sequels were less so, but they were still great animated films. ‘A Bug’s Life’ was breathtaking for its time… arguably, it’s breathtaking for any time. ‘Monster’s Inc.’ was superb entertainment too.
But ‘Finding Nemo’. Oh, I absolutely love that film. It’s one of the best animated films I have ever seen. Beautiful visuals, such a touching story, an incredible adventure… exceptional filmmaking. ‘The Incredibles’ is a trend-setter too. It’s an outstanding action-adventure for the whole family, with amazing set pieces and great characters to occupy them.
‘Cars’ must have been a disappointment for Pixar. It raked in a lot less money than many of their previous efforts. The film wasn’t just a letdown at the box office–while their previous films got RT ratings as high as 100%, the lowest being 91%, ‘Cars’ got 74%, still the lowest for a Pixar film. I don’t see why—I loved the film, and I think it’s a very good movie.
Moving on, then came ‘Ratatouille’, a splendid animated film, one of the best-looking ever made, and one of my personal favourites from Pixar. Everyone knows how Pixar’s next offering ‘WALL-E’ was a brilliant achievement. Then last year’s release was ‘Up’, which was a wonderful film, with great animation and visuals, great music, well flesh out characters, and beautiful, heart warming story telling. I could tell all of this from the first ten minutes, mind you.
If you take a quick look at the above four paragraphs, you might notice I have exhausted my ‘appreciative vocabulary’!—I’ve used so many adjectives in praise of Pixar’s excellent films, I think I’m all out.
Pixar Animation Studios is my favourite film production company of all time. So you see my reasons for being anxious about ‘Cars 2’. But why have a ‘Cars 2’ anyways? ‘Cars’ was a disappointment for Pixar, wasn’t it? Their lowest rated film, wasn’t it? Why make it a franchise? I’ll tell you why: 5 billion dollars.
Estimates indicated that sales of ‘Cars’ related merchandise has brought in USD 5 billion in sales. The film itself made only USD 460 million worldwide through its entire theatrical run!
So a sequel was only likely, wasn’t it? A chance to sell more of the new ‘Cars’ lunch boxes, sticker album, Mattel models, room decor, the works.
Maybe I’ve been at this all wrong. Maybe that first trailer only highlights the action scenes and the spy plot. Maybe there’s more to it than just that. Maybe this film will be heart-warming and meaningful too.
See, right there is my concern. I didn’t have so many ‘maybe’s after seeing any other Pixar trailers, and that troubles me.
– Cinematic Jackass, signing off
(I mean no offense to anybody with this piece.)
What do you see in the picture below?
Comment below! Tell me what you see!
I have an idea.
It all started when I uploaded some artwork I did on Paint onto Facebook. Friends wrote their interpretations of the piece in the comments, and I was most intrigued. They saw things in my art that I didn’t see myself.
So here’s the thing– I upload a piece of art every now and then, and keep comments open to interpretation, criticisms, suggestions, etc.
I’ll keep doing this, under the blog title and category ‘What do you see?’.
So… what do you see?
A slightly edited version of this article is up on Roger Ebert’s Foreign Correspondents blog over here!
Dear Mr Robert Zemeckis Sir,
My name is Forrest. Not Forrest Gump, but Forrest Phoenix. I am ten years old.
I have two brothers and their names are Marty and John and Marty is twenty years old and John is six and three quarters.
Even though I don’t fully understand the ‘Back to the Future’ movies and even though my parents don’t let me see some scenes from ‘Forrest Gump’, I really like those movies.
In ‘Back to the Future’, I enjoy all the time travel scenes and the skateboarding scenes and I find some scenes really really funny, especially when Doc is there! I like all the future scenes in part two, but I don’t think we will have flying cars in 2015. Oh, also in part two, there is a Pizza Hut logo on the packet, but the logo you used was the older logo but now on the boxes there is a newer logo, so that’s not right. Even though, I love the movies!
And I also enjoy ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, especially when Roger Rabbit and the Valiant detective talk and when the Valiant detective goes to the Toontown! That part is funniest! And I find how you mixed cartoons with real life amazing! (I think ‘Space Jam’ copied you, Mr Zemeckis Sir. You should sew the film.)
And I cry twice every time I see Forrest Gump, one time when Bubba dies and the other time when Forrest is talking to Jenny’s grave stone. I think that the movie has many good messages for people, like no one is stupid. When my classmates call me stupid, I proudly say ‘stupid is as stupid does’, even if I’m not clear on what it means. And I laugh in that movie a lot too, some scenes are hillarious!
But I have a question I would like to ask to you, and my mother thinks it would be a good idea to write it down and send it to you so that is what I’m doing. The question I have is why are you making your newer films using computers when you could make them using real live cameras instead?
Like I said before in my letter, I love your old movies but I don’t love your new movies so much. My mother is now telling me to say ‘no offense’ and ‘sorry’ and say the words ‘humble opinion’.
‘The Polar Express’ had fun adventure parts, but the animation was little creepy at some times. I found the girl heroine scary looking. And I got even scareder of the skiing man on the top of the train. My father is telling me to write that he was imotionaly disconnected from the movie, unlike with your other movies which you made. My mother says my father is wrong and that you were simply experymenting and that is a good thing to do. My father said he never felt for the characters. I don’t understand my parents.
And I found ‘Beowulf’ even more scarier. Marty is next to me now. He is saying that Anjelina Jolie is secksy. My mother just sent him out of the kitchen. I didn’t understand the story of ‘Beowulf’. My father says it’s good that I didn’t. I don’t know what he means. I like some parts of the movie a lot though, like the dragon scene. My mother is asking my father why you had to make the movie using motion catcher when you could have used real live cameras. My father is immittatting my mother and saying you are simply experymenting. My mother is quiet. Some times I don’t understand what grown ups are talking about, Mr Zemeckis sir.
I didn’t get to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ fully, but I know how it ends because we studied Charlie Dicken’s story in English class, and his story is the same as your movie’s. I didn’t see the full movie because John, my little brother, got scared and started crying when the ghost’s mouth bone came off when he was talking to Scoorge Scrooge.
My parents went for the movie again after, and my father says he found it uneven and unconvhincing. He says the parts with the ghost of the future should not have had those crazy 3-D ride scenes as they take away from the imotion. I don’t understand why my father is so worried about imotions. My mother is saying Scrooge’s transformation was too sudden. I don’t know what to say as I thought it was too sudden in Charlie’s story also.
Mr Zemeckis sir, I wonder why you keep making movies with motion catcher. I feel real live video is better and less scary. My father feels you are lazy to record using real live cameras. My mother always says to me if I’m lazy, I’ll become fat like Aunt Jesse, so I’m careful not to be lazy and you had better be careful too because Aunt Jesse is very fat and you’re my favorite director in the whole world and I don’t want you to become as fat as her because then you can’t make movies anymore. My mother doesn’t think you’re lazy. She thinks your experymental. My father is laughing.
I really really like you Mr Zemeckis sir. I wrote about you in my English project about who is my role model and one day I wish I can make movies like you. Only, I won’t make them using motion catcher. I want to use real live cameras like the Sony Handycam my parents have in their third drawer.
My mother is asking to me say ‘humble opinion’ again.
My father wants to add something here.
Dear Robert, I truly admire your movies. I think you’re a fantastic, cinema-changing director, really I do. It’s just after ‘The Polar Express that things have changed. I just didn’t feel that same… joyous zest in your films. I was emotionally distant from the characters. I don’t want to say anything that sounds condescending as I don’t know much about films, but I can say this: I named my first son after Marty from ‘Back to the Future’ because my wife and I loved those films. I named my second son, the little tyke who was writing this letter, Forrest, after ‘Forrest Gump’, your best movie in my opinion. We named our third son John after my father.
Thank you for your time Mr Zemeckis sir. I know you’re a busy man.
My mother read on the internet that the next Roger Rabbit movie is being made using motion catcher too!
Please, Mr Zemeckis, make real life movies again, with the same fun and joy! The seventh thing on my to-do list is: ‘See a great Robert Zemeckis film in theatres.’ If you don’t come up with one, I’ll need to find a DeLorean time machine to go back in time and see your older films in the theatre, and even though if I can find a DeLorean time machine, I don’t think I can steal Plutonium from anyone.
Forrest B. Phoenix
I’d like to say that Forrest Phoenix is completely fictional, as are his parents and siblings; but his words stand for my thoughts and his art for itself.