Friday, November 29, 2013

Ask Baba Yaga: There's Got to Be a Way to Exist Without Constantly Inflating and Deflating My Ego

Baba Yaga by Gennady Spirin
Baba Yaga's oracle is back! And she brings with her some much awaited advice...

Have you ever had a surge of pride (or just confidence), then felt guilty for thinking too highly of yourself? Me too. All. The. Time. So this advice is for me. And many of you too. :)

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

While there are a few interesting responses from people regarding just how they cope with this (including pretending to be a honey badger, which... might actually be fun) here are my favorite responses to date:
  • Anyone who refers to feet as "feets" is OK in my book. Let's hang out, Baba, and drink tea and discuss things. (I'm Right On Top Of That, Rose)
  • BABA you've come back just when I needed you. "HEART" (PomoFrannyGlass)
  • Baba killed it once again!! This series is the tops, and when it comes out in a beautifully illustrated book, I will be in line for a copy. ETA: I read the headline and thought, "Yes! Baba please tell me. And I was not disappointed." (adorable-eggplant)
The 'Other' things.. with a capital 'O'... *delicious shudder* Yes - there does seem to be a lot of Other inside..! I guess I should make friends with them. And the rabbits. (Easier said than done but she's completely right about needing to do so!)

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Boxtrolls Get A 2nd Trailer (& We Get A Peek Behind the Scenes)

This very different Jungle Book-like story (based on the best selling children's book Here Be Monsters) looks adorable. Still! (I was already won over by the first trailer released earlier in the year. This just confirms it.)

A second trailer was released on Wednesday and completely confirms the awww-factor.

It opens with behind-the-scenes clips of the delicate and lengthy stop-motion filming and ends up with finished animation, complete with seriously a seriously cute kid-character who's dressed in a box like his carers/family.

Laika animation studio's The Boxrolls is scheduled for theatrical release on September 26th, 2014.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

There Will Be 'Snow Queen' References...

For those who are looking forward to Frozen, (which opens everywhere on Thanksgiving.. ie tomorrow), here's a little official announcement that may make it even more fun. Reposted from Disney Concepts & Stuff Tumblr:

Disney has confirmed that they are putting references to Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, the inspiration for Frozen, into the final film. If you want to catch them or you really just like reading the source material before going to see the film, you can read it here. Or if you don’t feel like reading, check out this 1957 Russian Animated Snow Queen (pictured above) and this shorter TV version starring Eartha Kitt as the Snow Queen! 

I am very curious about this. Hopefully by "references" they mean more than "there's a reindeer in this film too" and similar...

Also the blogger, Andy, posted his brief review of the film (a spoiler version and a non-spoilery version) and this (from the non-spoilery version) I thought might be of interest to people who've been following the cultural criticisms.

Frozen was very cultural. When the screen showed something that was written it was in native language when it wasn’t important to the story. You could pinpoint the location the film took inspiration from and was set in, other than Arendelle, and you can tell the crew greatly appreciated the culture. And rosemaling was all over the palace and costumes.
Note: I haven't seen it yet so can't add my comments. I will be watching for both references to The Snow Queen and to the cultural heritage when I get around to it though! Feel free to add your comments, if you have them, but please keep them spoiler free for those who won't be able to see it for a while yet. :)

Breaking News/Rumor Mill: There's A "Wicked" Musical Animated Miniseries Currently in Production (& Chenoweth & Menzel Are On Board!?!)

I haven't been able to confirm this via any single additional source but this was announced yesterday (Tuesday), November 26th. There is no identifying title, handle or nickname behind the Tumblr that I can see (the header is above), but that person tagged the post with #Wicked Musical #Kristin Chenoweth and #Idina Menzel...

I know a lot of people are dying to see something done with the Wicked musical (as opposed to Gregory Maguire's book - though there's a whole crowd excitedly watching the various on/off developments for that too) but I wouldn't have thought "animated musical miniseries" would be what we would see first.

Here's the sneak peek or "test & promo animation":
Well, it's clear whoever did this has a good idea of what they're doing. What else do we know? Not a lot but here are the points listed in the FAQ:

  • It will be 2D (hand drawn)
  • It will be a televised miniseries event made by a feature animation team (first time this has been done)
  • It’s by a major studio that has done 2D before
  • Not WDFA (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
  • The animation on here is test/promotional material and is not final
  • The event is very early in pre-production
  • I (the Tumblr owner) briefly worked on the production
  • Hmm... I'm very much wondering if this is due to the hard work and inspiration of Heidi Jo Gilbert, who, not only storyboarded "Defying Gravity" herself in her spare time (and received much praise and support for it) but has been (gently) lobbying Stephen Schwartz for permission to do this (or to have him get someone else to do it, but preferably with her on board) for a good couple of years now.
    By Heidi Jo Gilbert from her "Defying Gravity" personal project storyboard

    Here's her open letter to Stephen Schwartz (who convinced Marc Platt to make a musical instead of a movie and resulted in the award winning Wicked: The Musical):
    I know you can relate to the plight of loving a story, loving a medium, and trying to convince someone in power to see your vision! You did it with Marc Platt when you convinced him to make it a stage musical. I’m just approaching you with the same sincerity. Is it possible to talk you out of doing a live action movie adaptation? Would you consider doing a traditionally animated adaptation? In my heart I think the musical needs the medium, and I think the medium needs your musical. I just love them both so much and hopefully that shows through in the story reel.
    Sincerely,Heidi Jo Gilbert
    Take a look at Ms. Gilbert's storyboarded sequence, Defying Gravity (it's pretty great):
    Ms. Gilbert got so much attention and acclaim at the time (about 2 years ago) that Theater Advisor interviewed her regarding why she thought Wicked should be an animated movie and how she might go about it, if it were up to her. Here's an excerpt:
    TA: What inspired you to make this animation of Wicked? 
    Heidi: Wow I don’t really know where to start with that question. If I had to give the short answer I’d just say my love for the story and my passion for hand-drawn animation. But if you want the long story… 
    by Minkyu Lee (one of the Wicked-in-animation inspired trio)
    I first discovered Wicked from my twin brother. He got the album for Christmas the year it came out. I didn’t know anything about it …but when I looked through the album and saw Stephen Schwartz and Idina Menzel my interest was peaked. I obviously knew Stephen Schwartz from his animation work. And I had seen Idina Menzel on broadway as Amneris in Aida and I loved her. I fell in love with the music and the story. But I think the idea of an animated Wicked first came when I was going to school at CalArts. There was a small group of us Wicked nerds. I think we really annoyed a lot of the other students with our constant stream of Wicked talk. I don’t even remember where the idea came from, it was just like this hive mind. We just had to make it into an animated film! It had to be hand-drawn and we had to be involved! Ha ha! We didn’t think about all the obstacles, how we’re still just students, how hand-drawn animation was dying, how Universal owns the rights. We just loved the story, loved the music, and just had this dream to see it animated.  
    by Heidi Jo Gilbert (check the colors! Looks familiar?)
    We all got jobs at Disney after graduation. Three of us just never let go of the idea, me, Jennifer Hager, and Minkyu Lee, two of my best friends from school. I got laid off from Disney when production on The Princess and the Frog was wrapping. I had all this time on my hands, and the freedom to work on whatever I wanted. Minkyu had done these awesome character designs and visual development for Wicked for one of his portfolios. I just kind of thought to myself, nothing is ever going to happen until we just do something. So I just invested my whole heart into storyboarding that sequence. Everyone has their dream projects. This would be mine. I love that the story is about the friendship between two girls, and not just a love story. I like that it’s not really a happy ending. I just think animation would be the perfect way to tell that story onscreen. And I also think hand-drawn animation needs a story like that to tell. I just love them both so much and that’s what inspired me to do it. I know it’s a long shot, but it’s just coming from a sincere desire to see that story animated and the hope to be a part of it!
    You can read the whole interview HERE.

    At the time of the buzz about Ms. Gilbert's boarded sequence, Universal held the rights to using the Wicked property but I'm not sure who is holding it right now. Guess we'll just have to follow the Wicked Leaks Tumblr and watch for updates...

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Lacombe's Brushes Transform Madame Butterfly Into A Fairy Tale

    One of my favorite contemporary fairy tale illustrators is the prolific French artist Benjamin Lacombe, one of the reasons being that in his artistic hands, almost every subject becomes imbued with the essence of fairy tale.
    A few years back he created a(nother) visually stunning book based on the story of Madame Butterfly. While this story, best known via its operatic form, is not a fairy tale, through his eyes, the main character took on other worldly aspects and the illustrations were richly filled with fairy tale motifs.

    The book has recently been re-published with some new, additional art and an entirely new - and very magical - presentation. Though the tragedy of her story remains intact, the motifs of butterflies - and all they represent - suggest new ways to consider her story.

    Butterflies as symbols of soul, silence, rebirth, beauty, fragility and breath are woven throughout the book, making the images tell a story all their own.
    The best way to show you the uniqueness of this edition, however, is in the trailer just released a week and a half ago. Take a look:
    What you may have seen a glimpse of in the trailer, is the fact that the book unfolds into a gorgeous fresco. That is, an incredible 10 meter long fresco!
    The special - and limited - edition was published in France by Albin Michel. To date, I haven't seen any indication that an English version will be created and made available. (What a great excuse to brush up on my French!)

    Sigh. One day I will own a Lacombe fairy tale of my very own.
    And if I'm REALLY lucky he will sign it for me...

    You can see more of Benjamin Lacombe's beautiful art from this book and many others on his Facebook page HEREon his blog HERE and at his official website HERE.

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Bourne's Gothic Beauty (Consider Me Bitten & Smitten!)

    Note: I've been wanting to blog properly on Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance for months now, rather than just mention it on Facebook or in passing here, but have felt so overwhelmed by all I wanted to share and say I've never finished my various drafts. Yesterday, however, I finally got to see the show in person and if I don't - at the very least - tell you how truly wonderful this is, I'll never forgive myself! So here goes...

    A very special event (for me) just happened this past weekend: I just took my son to his first ballet! And it couldn't have been better (OK, maybe just slightly - but I'll get to that in a bit). When I heard word of Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance and read a little on his approach to both story and staging, I knew, if I got the chance, I would do my best to go see it and take my family. It turned out to be a great idea. The production and performance all lived up to all the rave reviews I'd read and was worth every cent. There were even multiple homages to the original Sleeping Beauty ballet if you knew what to look for (which couldn't have made this balletomane happier).
    The following trailer was created for the specially filmed cinema presentations in Australia this year (sadly, it appears New Directions couldn't make it Downunder on their tour during 2013). Have a peek at the gorgeous! (By the way, if this came to cinemas here, I'd TOTALLY buy tickets to see that too):
    ✒ ✒  ✒ (click the "Read more" link below this line for lots more magical pics & my review) ✒ ✒ ✒  ✒ 

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    "White Shoe" - A Ferragamo Fairy Tale

    A lovely short film was made specially for a uniquely "fairy tale entwined" exhibit, built on the many stories, tales, legends - both fairy tale and real - of shoes. This particular film is based on the life, talent and work of one of Italy's most famous shoemakers, Salvatore Ferragamo (saying "cobblers" doesn't seem quite right!).

    The exhibit is titled The Prodigious Shoemaker: Tales and Legends of Shoes and Shoemakers so the specific fairy tale quality of the film fits exceptionally well.

    The film was designed to be viewed by visitors as they wander through the presentation in which art pieces and works in various media, blend together. They put history and fantasy side by side, with the express intent of showing one couldn't live without the other (as aspect I LOVE!). The stories range from tales - both true and fantastic - around Chinese foot binding, to Cinderella, to The Red Shoes and much, much more.

    The official website for the exhibit is in Italian and to do too much to translate it in a hurry from the auto-translate seems to lose a little of the magic of the description, so I'm leaving most of the odd language intact for you to be enchanted by, just as I was on first reading it:
    To show the tales, it would seem a contradiction in terms to show what was/is real physically and what is fantasy. Instead, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence will show from April 19, 2013 to 31 March 2014 that you can also watch the legends and not just listen to them. It will be through the world of the fairy tale, filling the spacious rooms of the Palazzo Ferroni with "The Prodigious Shoemaker," which will open in Florence on April 18. It's a magical time for fairy tales. At the movies Tim Burton brings his "Alice in Wonderland" and other filmmakers have updated certain icons of childhood, from Little Red Riding Hood to the Beauty and the Beast, to two recent versions of Snow White. And this month are leaving "the great and powerful Oz" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" while in the near future are provided "Hansel and Gretel" and a "Maleficent" starring Angelina Jolie, taken from "The Sleeping Beauty". In short, what was a wealth of children today it is also great, so need to dream.

    "The Prodigious Shoemaker - Tales and Legends of shoes and shoemakers," curated by Stefania Ricci, Sergio and Luca Recovered Scarlini hath been given the task to fly the minds of visitors through the history of the shoe, a theme that has always fascinated writers of fairy tales. Wearing shoes was a sign of wealth and power but the shoe is also a job, that of shoemaker and cobbler, antique flavor of passion and sacrifice and so hungry. It 's the story of Salvatore Ferragamo, who has taught so much. 

    Many authors and artists from different disciplines who have joined the show, creating works by helping interventions. Experts in children's fiction, as Faeti Antonio and Michele Rak, film scholars like Alexander Bernardi, writers and poets such as Hamid Ziarati, Michele Mari, Elisa Biagini for this project have written new tales supported by illustrators like Francesca and Michela Petoletti Ghermandi.The great composer Luis Bacalov wrote a new musical score as an overture to the show, while young photographers Simona Ghizzoni and Lorenzo Cicconi Massi, along with expert Henry Coppitz, have the photographer Salvatore Ferragamo shoes make them fabulous. And then the work of Annette Lemieux Messenger was approached by the myth of Mercury, that of Carol Rama to the hard version of Cinderella, that of Daniel Spoerri at Tom Thumb. An entire section of the exhibition is dedicated to the sculptures and drawings by Mimmo Paladino: For this occasion the artist field has collaborated on an original animation with the writer ecomico Alexander Berger, author of a visionary tale. And many others.

    I hope to be able to write more about the exhibit soon, because the details of various pieces in particular are amazing, but for now, I'll just include this excerpt of the official introductory blurb from The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, that's hosting and housing the exhibition:

    ...fairy tales are invading our imagination. As if now, more than ever, there was the need to address through the paths mysterious fantasy and dream solutions, the answers to that set of moral questions, doubts  and hardships that afflict our times. It is in times of crisis that presents a more urgent need to fantasize with imagination and overcome obstacles and fears. It is a universal need as this  is primal instinct. That's why fairy tales are considered inexhaustible reservoir of our archetypes,  of our primitive experiences.
    Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, White Shoe:
    The Prodigious Shoemaker: Tales and Legends of Shoes and Shoemakers (in which White Shoe is shown in various backdrops as part of the multi-media presentation), is currently showing in Florence, Italy at The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum until March 31st, 2014.

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Alice In Wonderland 2 Gets 2016 Release Date

    Alice In Wonderland 2 is definitely going ahead and both Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter) and Mia Wasikowska (as Alice) are on board. As rumors suggested, Tim Burton will NOT be helming it. That task will now be on The Muppets director's plate, James Bobin.

    The release date, announced Friday, is now set for May 27, 2016 (Memorial Day weekend in the US) and will likely be just as CG-tastic as the last one was, but hopefully that's a good thing. No word on if the title will get a tag line of Through the Looking Glass or similar yet but I'd be surprised if they didn't add something to indicate the storyline won't be completely continuous from the first movie. Unless it is. Which would mean a whole new and different Alice adventure, which, (IMHO) is shaky ground with the first movie's reception - and continuing reviews - being quite varied, despite it's apparent "runaway success" (monetarily speaking).

    I guess we shall see, though we probably won't hear any more about it until the second half of next year now. So many ways this could go, and I'm probably not as curious as I could be, although Bobin being a co-creator of Flight of the Conchords has me admittedly hoping for unexpectedly good things...

    Source: Collider & The Hollywood Reporter

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    TOMORROW NIGHT ONLY: Select US Theaters - The Royal Opera House Ballet Series: "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

    I just caught wind of this and am still trying to catch up to exactly what it is. Basically, it's an acclaimed and extravagant production of Alice in Wonderland by The Royal Ballet company (Margot Fonteyn's old company) and it will be playing on "the Big Screen" - ie. as a movie - in select theaters throughout the US as a one-time only special event November 19, 2013 (which is tomorrow night!).

    Here's a preview (you can see why they'd want to make the most of this production!):
    So I can get the news out faster, in case you have some free time tomorrow night, I'm pasting in the press release from the official site:
    Date: Tuesday, November 19 
    Time: 7:00 PM local time 
    Run Time: 3 hours 10 minutes (approximate) (includes two – 20 minute intermissions) 
    Ticketing: Tickets are available by clicking on the orange “Buy Tickets” button. If online ticketing is not available for your location, you can purchase your tickets by visiting the box office at your local participating cinema. 
    Special Fathom Features:  Behind the scenes look at the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet and exclusive cast interviews. 
    Random aside: how much do I adore this balletic flamingo?? (Answer: lots)
    NCM Fathom Events, Arts Alliance Media and the Royal Opera House invite you to experience a classic tale of magic and wonder when Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland comes to the big screen in a special one night event onTuesday, November 19 at 7:00pm (local time) in select 
    cinemas nationwide. 
    Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland arrived on the stage in 2011 with a burst of colour, theatrical magic and inventive choreography. It was The Royal Ballet’s first full-length work since 1995 and was instantly acclaimed as a classic. Joby Talbot’s score combines sweeping melodies, which gesture to ballet scores of the 19th century, with contemporary effects. Bob Crowley’s wildly imaginative sets and costumes draw on puppetry, projections and masks to bring Wonderland to life. 
    Alice encounters a cast of extraordinary characters down the rabbit hole: from the highly-strung Queen of Hearts, who performs a hilarious rendition of the famous Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty; to dancing playing cards; a sinuous caterpillar and a tap-dancing Mad Hatter. There is a love narrative for Alice and the Knave of Hearts, and they dance a tender pas de deux at the close of Act II. But the ballet does not avoid the darker undercurrents of Lewis Carroll’s story – a nightmarish kitchen, an eerily disembodied Cheshire Cat and an unhinged tea party are all created in vivid detail.

    How can you find out if it's in your theater? Actually the list if pretty good. If you live within driving distance of a decent sized US city, especially if you have an IMAX theater, there's a good chance you could see it (although it's not clear that it's playing in IMAX format - I'd be very surprised if it was!). It's even playing in my local theater and we often miss out being not exactly central LA. You can find a list by state HERE.
    There will be two intermissions (just like in the very old days of watching movies!) and audiences are encouraged to tweet comments (on Twitter) before, during the breaks and after the show using the hashtag #ROHalice.

    Here's the 3 Act Synopsis:

    I wish I'd heard about this before as my Tuesday night is already chock-a-block ... 

    *balletomane sob* 

    ... but the fact that it's playing as a movie likely means a DVD will be available... 

    Oh, and there it is! :)