“Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” Welcome to Interzone, the hellish playground of William Burroughs’ ‘Naked Lunch’. Along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs was among the central figures of the Beat generation. Over a frenzied decade bridging the 1950s and ’60s they were instrumental in reshaping America’s cultural landscape, tearing up their elders’ starchy doctrine and blazing the trail for the counterculture that followed. As dynamic, brilliant young things they seemingly make for ideal cinematic subjects, but only one film managed to capture something of the essence of its author and the Beat generation at large: David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch.
A key idea of the Beat generation was to treat the most authentic, uncensored human thoughts and desires as art. In a buttoned-up society, they challenged social norms via their insatiable appetite for sex, drugs and confessional intimacy. ‘Naked Lunch’ was banned for years in the US and even taken to court for its perceived obscenity, while Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ suffered a similar fate. Both eventually won their respective trials, ultimately helping to liberate American publishing. Liberalisation was, in many ways, what the Beat generation was all about: from strait-jacketed literature, from sexual repression, from lock-step social conformity.
The problem with films about the Beat generation is that so few are genuinely transgressive. But Naked Lunch is a different beast altogether. As is protagonist Bill Lee’s typewriter – it’s an insect that groans with pleasure as he works it, crowing for him to rim its pulsing sphincter with drugs. Bill Lee is really Burroughs, and Cronenberg’s film is about his becoming a writer – his relationship with his typewriter. Rather than attempting to adapt the book in a literal sense, Cronenberg treated Burroughs’ schizoid prose as a secondary source. He gave it structure, but it remains essentially a bizarre work.
Following the production struggles of The Lord of the Rings, Ralph Bakshi decided that it was time to work on something more personal. He pitched American Pop to Columbia Pictures president Dan Melnick. Bakshi wanted to produce a film with an extensive soundtrack of songs which would be given an entirely new context in juxtaposition to the visuals in a film. While the film does not reflect Bakshi’s own experiences, its themes were strongly influenced by individuals he had encountered in Brownsville. The film’s crew included character layout and design artist Louise Zingarelli, Vita, Barry E. Jackson, and Marcia Adams, each of whom brought their own personal touch to the film. Bakshi once again used rotoscoping, in an attempt to capture the range of emotions and movement required for the film’s story. According to Bakshi, “Rotoscoping is terrible for subtleties, so it was tough to get facial performances to match the stage ones.”
The score for American Pop was composed by Lee Holdridge. As the result of his reputation as an innovator of adult animation, Bakshi was able to acquire the rights to an extensive soundtrack, including songs by Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Doors, George Gershwin, The Mamas & the Papas, Herbie Hancock, Lou Reed, and Louis Prima, for under $1 million in permissions fees. Due to music clearance issues, the film was not released on home video until 1998.
Raya and the Last Dragon takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
Raya and the Last Dragon features an outstanding voice cast, including Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of the intrepid warrior Raya; Awkwafina as the legendary dragon, Sisu; Gemma Chan as Raya’s nemesis, Namaari; Daniel Dae Kim as Raya’s visionary father, Benja; Sandra Oh as Namaari’s powerful mother, Virana; Benedict Wong as Tong, a formidable giant; Izaac Wang as Boun, a 10-year-old entrepreneur; Thalia Tran as the mischievous toddler Little Noi; Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk, Raya’s best friend and trusty steed; Lucille Soong as Dang Hu, the leader of the land of Talon; Patti Harrison as the chief of the Tail land; and Ross Butler as chief of the Spine land.
Animal Farm was written by George Orwell in 1945. It is an allegorical novella, first published in England. The book tells the story of a group of farm animals who rebel against their human farmer, hoping to create a society where the animals can be equal, free, and happy.
A. A. Milne was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. Milne served in both World Wars, joining the British Army in World War I, and as a captain of the British Home Guard in World War II.
He was the father of bookseller Christopher Robin Milne, upon whom the character Christopher Robin is based.
Winnie-the-Pooh is a fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear created by English author A. A. Milne and English illustrator E. H. Shepard.
The first collection of stories about the character was the book Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and this was followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also included a poem about the bear in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young (1924) and many more in Now We Are Six (1927). All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard.
In 1961, Walt Disney Productions licensed certain film and other rights of Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories from the estate of A. A. Milne and the licensing agent Stephen Slesinger, Inc., and adapted the Pooh stories, using the unhyphenated name “Winnie the Pooh”, into a series of features that would eventually become one of its most successful franchises.
In popular film adaptations, Pooh has been voiced by actors Sterling Holloway, Hal Smith, and Jim Cummings in English, and Yevgeny Leonov in Russian.
The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book of the same name, it is the 19th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.
The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling’s work more closely, with a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family film, leading to writer Bill Peet and songwriter Terry Gilkyson being replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders, and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley, Verna Felton, and the director’s son Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli.
The Jungle Book was released on October 18, 1967, to positive reception, with acclaim for its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, The Bare Necessities. The film initially became Disney’s second-highest-grossing animated film in the United States and Canada, and was also successful during its re-releases.
Raya and the Last Dragon is an upcoming American computer-animated adventure fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Animation Studios for distribution by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The 59th film produced by the studio, it is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directed by Paul Briggs and John Ripa produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, and music score composed by James Newton Howard. The film features an almost-entirely Asian American cast, including the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as the titular Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the last dragon, along with Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, and Alan Tudyk.
Raya and the Last Dragon is scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States on March 5, 2021. The film will also be simultaneously available on Disney+ with Premier Access, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on movie theatres across the United States, with many of them remaining closed.
I really should have posted this yesterday and the Jim Henson documentary today. Nonetheless, in honor of David Bowie’s birthday yesterday and to follow up with the Jim Henson documentary here is a tasty tidbit from the legendary Labyrinth. Please enjoy.
Labyrinth is a 1986 musical fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, with George Lucas as executive producer, based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. It revolves around 16-year-old Sarah’s quest to reach the center of an enormous otherworldly maze to rescue her infant brother Toby, whom Sarah wished away to Jareth, the Goblin King. Most of the film’s significant characters, apart from Bowie and Connelly, are played by puppets produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Vincent is a 1982 stop motion short horror film written, designed, and directed by Tim Burton, and produced by Rick Heinrichs. It is the second Disney horror film, the first being The Watcher in the Woods. At approximately six minutes in length, there is currently no individual release of the film except for a few bootleg releases. It can be found on the 2008 Special Edition and Collector’s Edition DVDs of The Nightmare Before Christmas as a bonus feature and on the Cinema16 DVD American Short Films.
The film is narrated by actor Vincent Price, a lifelong idol and inspiration for Burton. From this relationship, Price would go on to appear in Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. Vincent Price later said that Vincent was “the most gratifying thing that ever happened. It was immortality — better than a star on Hollywood Boulevard”.
Frankenweenie is a 1984 short film directed by Tim Burton and co-written by Burton with Leonard Ripps. It is both a parody and homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley’s novel of the same name. Burton later directed a feature-length stop-motion animated remake, released in 2012.
What have I done? What have I done? How could I be so blind? All is lost, where was I? Spoiled all, spoiled all, everything’s gone all wrong
What have I done? What have I done? Find a deep cave to hide in In a million years they’ll find me Only dust and a plaque that reads here lies poor old Jack
But I never intended all this madness, never And nobody really understood, well how could they? That all I ever wanted was to bring them something great Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?
Well, what the heck I went and did my best And by God I really tasted something swell, that’s right And for a moment, why I even touched the sky And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did
And for the first time since I don’t remember when I felt just like my old bony self again And I Jack, the Pumpkin King That’s right I am the Pumpkin King
And I just can’t wait until next Halloween ‘Cause I’ve got some new ideas that will really make them scream And by God, I’m really gonna give it all my might Oh, oh, I hope there’s still time to set things right Sandy Claws
I sense there’s something in the wind That feels like tragedy’s at hand And though I’d like to stand by him Can’t shake this feeling that I have The worst is just around the bend And does he notice my feelings for him? And will he see how much he means to me? I think it’s not to be
What will become of my dear friend? Where will his actions lead us then? Although I’d like to join the crowd In their enthusiastic cloud Try as I may, it doesn’t last And will we ever end up together? No, I think not, it’s never to become For I am not the one