Monday, March 31, 2014

Breaking News/ Rumor Mill: A Tim Burton Poppins?!

Note: Before the purists roll their eyes at my posting on Mary Poppins, please note: Poppins is a magical caretaker/late revealed otherworldly godparent/magical meddler - a type of character which is common in fairy tales, so it's not too much of a stretch to be discussing her type and iterations of her in a fairy tale news blog.  But yes, I agree: Mary Poppins doesn't fit the base definition of fairy tale.
All it took was a single tweet, a fan made poster and vague memories of Disney talking to Burton about something like this and the social media networks set to buzzing like crazed insects this past weekend.

The poster (yes, it's fan made - not from Disney) is at the head of the post. And here's the tweet that sparked the crazy:
And the article* that followed it:
Today, (March 29) Tim Burton announced on his Facebook page that he will be teaming up with Disney to create ‘Poppins’. It will continue the story of Mary Poppins.
The poster looks like we should be expecting a different side of the Mary Poppins universe, a much darker side.
It should be hitting theaters November 2016. We’ll keep you updated!
Whatever the case of true or not, the response has been interestingly polar. Comments are basically "cool", "aw YISS!" and "perfect fit!" then jump to the other end of the spectrum which reads "no, no, NO" and "Burton, step AWAY FROM THE POPPINS!"

Interestingly, I scanned a variety of social media, looking for key words rather than fans for or against,and the scales are definitely tipping toward the "we like this idea" end.

Problem is, I'm fairly certain (in the 80 to 90% range of certain) that this is pure rumor and speculation. At this point anyway. I DO think, however, that there's a good chance this rumor was gently encouraged to spread to see what the response would be, prior to approaching the idea for real. (Call me cynical - it wouldn't be the first time, nor the last.) Considering we've just had Saving Mr. Banks, I'm a little surprised at how much credence this is being given, but then people are quite aware there's nothing like milking a franchise either. Perhaps it was the addition of Winona Ryder's name being added to the possible-Mary's list..? The internet definitely has it's own version of Chinese Whispers.

A reason someone could put any stock in the possibility at all, is because of some not-too-ancient-history sort of information being dug up and quoted like this (from two Italian papers in the last couple of days, for some odd reason - also, translation is auto, not mine):
A Jolly Nightmare by Brianna Garcia

Johnny Depp  and  Helena Bonham Carter  will star Poppins , the new film by Tim Burton made ​​in Disney announced for 2016.  
It 'a few years ago that Disney thinks of a remake of Mary Poppins. In 2011, it was reported on the decision to entrust the direction of the brilliant and unpredictable Tim Burton, and then, though, he's talked more. But what it means to have been abandoned. In fact, things have gone pretty far. And now here come interesting news. The film's release has been announced for the end of 2016, the protagonists are two actors quite dear to Burton Johnny Depp in the role of Chimney Sweeps and Helena Bonham Carter (who is also his wife) in the title role. 
Based on the series of novels written by Pamela Lyndon Travers, the first version of Mary Poppins in 1964 and was directed by Robert Stevenson, the main character was given to Julie Andrews (who won an Oscar), while it had the Chimney Sweep appearance of Dick Van Dyke.Before Burton, Disney and Rob Marshall had thought he had mentioned the name of Nicole Kidman for the main part. Then, however, have changed the cards on the table. 
The screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton ( Alice in Wonderland ), which kept the London setting of '900 and has focused mainly on the mysterious origins of Mary Poppins adding those dark elements so dear to Burton. 
We're really excited  - he said some time ago the president of Disney's Rich Ross -  of this new collaboration with Tim Burton. The competence and vision put into play with Alice in Wonderland made ​​us understand that it is the right person to bring this great story to the movies with the help of latest technology. It will be a spectacular film. And Helena Bonham Carter is just perfect in the multi-faceted role of Mary Poppins . " 
The film will be shot in  native 3D  with a budget of $ 150 million, and will result in a large deployment of special effects not only to rebuild the London of 1910, but also to recreate the magical world where Mary Poppins leads the young protagonists, and that in the original film had been created in 2D animation, with one of the first successful mix of animation and live action.Mary Poppins  will then become the next Tim Burton film after  Dark Shadows , which starts shooting this month. All other projects in which the director was working on, including The Addams Family  and the retelling of  Sleeping Beauty  by Disney produced their own (named  Maleficent ), will then be postponed. 
(Source HERE)

Mary Poppins by Matt Howorth
There seems to be a bit of mixed information here, some old, some adjusted for new information (did they mean Dark Shadows 2?  - which I haven't heard about - Or did they mean the original Burton Dark Shadows and that's the context for some of this?) and some sort of magical speculation for the rest. Where that Disney quote came from (and who said it) remains a mystery. We'll just have to see if Disney have anything at all to say about the hype this past weekend caused.

Depending on how long you've been a reader of this blog you are, or how consistently you catch up on the posts you may (or may not) know that Mary Poppins is one of those movies (and characters) that always creeped me out as a kid. As an adult it didn't get any better. P.L. Travers' books don't give me the same heebejeebies but the Disney film? Nightmarish. When the Scary Mary recut trailer appeared I felt vindicated that someone had finally seen my point of view.

Here's a post I wrote in an old blog (Remember Live Journal? Yeah, that old!), from 2008:
A character that's always bugged me is Mary Poppins. From the first time I saw that Disney film I was disturbed by this apparently perfect, almost emotionless, amazingly powerful woman with an agenda that's never revealed. She seemed alien to me and not at all comforting. if she'd been my nanny I would have had nightmares. As it is I just find her disturbing. Even with all that singing and dancing I was always aware of the ice in her eyes and the strangely perfect precision of all her movements and actions. I felt like Bert was under a spell, and not a good one. Oddly enough her arrival in the sky with the umbrella was like a black cloud appearing and it didn't go away until she blew away too. Despite this, umbrellas - and their potential to fly you away to distant places - are a wonderful image for me, as are dancing on chimneys and sidewalk paintings you can jump into, but my enjoyment of these is greatly disturbed by the shadowy, threatening presence of Miss Poppins. It's the cold perfection that I find completely inhuman and ultimately dangerous. I'll have to read the books to see if I can get a different sense of her but I always felt that she was really a personification of the Snow Queen and that the film was only ever Act I of the story. Act II, in which her sinister plan is revealed, was never completed and I was quite happy that we never saw her again.
So there's my Mary admission.
Although, I will also admit, I would LOVE to see a steampunk version of Mary Poppins and Tim Burton would be high on my consideration of directors for that sort of a take. (Steam-powered umbrella transports and talking umbrellas for the win!)

Regarding this Burton-to-make-Poppins rumor, however, I have to admit it has me wanting to take out my red pen and put question marks and suspicious circles around a whole lot of the 'legit' info. Unless Disney are sending out social media lures to test the waters, I can't see there being anything more substantial to it than that. For now. ;)**

What's your response? Fistpump, headdesk or eyeroll?

*First of all: I couldn't find ANY Facebook announcement from any Burton source saying this. Secondly: this is not a pro poster but a fan made one. Thirdly: there is no hint on IMDB or any other "in production" website that mentions this project in development in any form so a release date - even a tentative one, can't be quoted. It doesn't mean it won't happen but it means the article above is full of crap unsubstantiated comments.
** If something DOES happen, I'm going to guess the umbrella will have more than one line...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ask Baba Yaga: I Feel Like I'm Underwater When I Try to Socialize

Baba Yaga's Hut with a War of the Worlds Martian tripod feel by Myke Amend
Baba Yaga looks to have been in a wistful mood when answering this week's question. Maybe the emergence of Spring put her in a generous frame of mind. Which is awesome, since social swimming isn't something all of us navigate so easily...

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

Yes!!! This is brilliant. And I agree with everyone else in the original comments. I would DEFINITELY buy a book full of Baba Yaga's gut wrenching, twisting and healing advice. 

Did you notice, though, that despite the encouraging advice, she doesn't just say "drown" but instead "drown deeper" as in, die faster? Impending death, bones and gristle are never far away, even when the Baba is being benevolent...

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.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cody's Fairy Tale Cocktails

Cody Winfrey - creator of the (Disney inspired) Fairy Tale Cocktails - pictured with his 'Glass Slipper'

The importance of food and drink in fairy tales is a topic that comes up fairly often and for good reason. There's something about internalizing a symbol of one's decision, commitment, choice (even if an unaware one) that makes it more real - makes it a part of you.

Cody Winfrey is a "mixologist" who specializes in creating unique drink "recipes" with cocktails. Although he's created cocktails on a variety of themes, it's the Disney-inspired ones that have gone viral and people can't get enough of. He's created over forty to date and is still creating.

"Cinderella is whipped cream vodka, blueberry vodka and cream. Maleficent is black vodka, grape schnapps and apple pucker. Tinkerbell is honey vodka, triple sec and sparkling cider, topped with a dusting of edible glitter. 
"I always try to match the character to the look of the drink and the taste as much as possible," says Cody Winfrey, whose cocktails inspired by Disney movie characters have found an insatiable audience of fans online.

Although what this mixologist is doing is mainly for fun (and profit), creating drinks on the theme of fairy tale characters inspired by Disney has had an interesting side effect. Although it started as a whim and a fun thing to do one boring evening, the more requests he got about characters, the more he started studying these characters - not just their looks but their story lines, character traits, motifs and tendencies in an effort to figure out how to create a unique drink. In the end, he's realized that he's actually attempting to capture the essence of these characters and creatures in an 'ingestible formula", ie. a drink.

It makes for fascinating reading of the ingredients list for each one and in seeing how each are put together. It's almost like recipes for types of fairy tale people, or... a potion! Makes me think of The Evil Queen making her hag transformation spell...

I've included some 'archetypal' characters (that Disney used and gave their own name too) here as well, because, if you substitute them for other fairy tale villains - like the Cat & the Fox or the evil uncle in Aladdin etc the 'recipe' actually works really well. I included some others too: the character who is exceptionally in tune with nature, the Deathless/Underworld character, the somewhat mad advisor.. you get the idea.

Here's a few excerpts from an interview with Mr. Winfrey by inlander:
"The great thing about Disney is that everyone has an almost spiritual connection with some character," he says. "Everyone has a favorite movie, everyone has a favorite character, everyone has a favorite world. So I knew that it would resonate with people in some way." 
Realizing his drinks might also attract the attention of Disney lawyers, Winfrey gave himself a crash course on the legal aspects and makes sure to always say he owns the drink recipes, not the characters. The e-book he's finishing with Wells titles the recipes as "fairy tale" cocktails to avoid unnecessary trouble. 
To date, he's done about 40 Disney-inspired drinks, requiring an increasingly crowded personal collection of liquor bottles to have just the right ingredients on hand. Some movies have proved to be more challenging — The Lion King and Pocahontas, for example — so he'll watch clips to see what he can pull from the color palette or characters' personalities. 
"Alice in Wonderland was also tough, because it's such an abstract, out-there kind of movie that I wasn't sure how to do the film justice with drinks," he says.
As far as we're concerned, he's like a fairy tale bartender who creates characters in the form of a drink. The only question is: does the drink cause that particular character to manifest in the drinker? It makes for an interesting storyline for a modern day warlock. ;)

I definitely recommend going to Cody's Facebook page or Tumblr for more recipes. Apart from the curious character ruminations, some of them just sound delicious! I'm going to call it 'research'. Happy Weekend all!

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Smorgasbord of Maleficent "Fan Art" (& Link-y Love)

Maleficent & Diablo by Travis Lewis

There's always been a lot of fan art for the Disney character Maleficent, especially since social media took off. The character has been one of Disney's most popular to draw and speculate on and create stories about with fans. (Heck, there's even a Darth Maleficent out there.)

With the live action movie release just around the corner, more and more is appearing every day. So much, in fact, it's difficult to keep up! 
A Forest of Thorns Shall Be His Tomb by Xiao wei Li
Being a regular on Pinterest for some time now I often come across Maleficent art, and since she's a subject-du-jour for us, I thought I'd share just a few of the stand out pieces that, while still obviously being Maleficent aren't specifically animation-spin-offs, nor scenes from the various trailers being released.
Maleficent by Angela Rizza
The first pic was supposed to be a drawing in progress but I think it's perfect as is. The second is a graphic design made for a t-shirt competition at Threadless. I really love the concept and would happily don said printed 't'. Unfortunately, I don't think it made the cut... Immediately above is an original deisng created by Angela Rizza who, while inspired by the trailers for the movie, wanted to create something that combined the different aspects of Maleficent we're being shown are in the movie. (Note: You have to check out this woman's art. It's so fairy tale-esque and you'll probably recognize her Snow White, which has been floating around for a while.)
Maleficent by the-crazy-spork
Unlike a lot of amateur fan art, which uses stills for inspiration, the rest of the pieces are their own scenes and designs, though clearly still based on the movies. The one above is based on the classic animated film, while the one below is based on the Maleficent trailers that have recently been released. There are such talented people out there!
Maleficent by Josh Burns

I wish there was another, less deprecating name for this sort of art than "fan art". The term always puts me in mind of kids and amateurs copying movie stills and various shots with a less-than-professional touch. But fan art these days is done as much by professional artists as amateurs. In fact, Disney is now making a habit of commissioning professional artists to create "fan art" to sell as Disney exclusive and approved fine art, like the one below. (And it ain't cheap!) I have to say, much of it, I actually prefer to the "real thing", although, in Maleficent's case, I adore her animation design. We need a better description of this type of art, don't you think?
Dark Side of the Moon by David Ho
There's much, MUCH more to explore - from sexy (and sometimes adult-rated) to cartoon- cute, to baby Maleficents to downright nightmarish versions, and you've seen the historical Maleficent, right? (She's HERE if you haven't.) There are many boards on Pinterest dedicated solely to her and, if you like the character and are intrigued by her story possibilities, from her demon-affiliations to her fairy side, be sure to go explore. I also really love the Disneyland Paris version of Maleficent as well - which is completely different to anything you might imagine. Check her out HERE.

By the way - did you count how many Maleficent art pieces I hid links to in the paragraph above? If you're at work, you may want your lunch hour to find them all... ;) Enjoy!

New 'Maleficent' TV Spot Emphasizes Fantasy Creatures (Dobby, Is That You?)

I always worry about fantasy films, especially big budget ones in which the creators/directors seem to feel the need to show you  every bit of magic (which, ironically, usually lessens the wonder*). As gorgeous as certain recent large fantasy films have been (are) the storytelling/translation to big screen of the importance and "solid necessity" of 'other'-like creatures tends to get lost. Either it becomes all about the amazing effects and the writing suffers, or the writing is ok but the visuals are cringe-worthy.

Maleficent is looking pretty (damn) great overall to date but I still worry that we're going to be able to watch all these creatures - fairies, sprites, trolls, tree-people and more - without dismissing aspects.
With this latest TV spot, which puts a lot of the magical creatures side-by-side my effects-are-king concerns are rising again. My big concern: does this story REALLY need ALL of that?
I'm really hoping the answer to that is that it does, that all this effort in creating new creatures adds depth and scope to this world of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent. Unfortunately we really won't know until we see it all in context.
Here's the spot:
 One thing that's been really interesting about the huge - and highly successful - live action Cinderella preview this week is that one thing is clear: though the effects are coming, they are not what will be holding Branagh's Cinderella together. Despite the preview being largely effects-free and not even having final footage for some of the scenes shown, the response has been ecstatic! And yes, I'm a little surprised by that. While a live action version of the animated classic is a shoe-in for a certain built-in fan base, it's not the hard-core Disney fandom-people who are most excited. It's the (usually very jaded) critics.
But I'm rooting for Maleficent. Ms. Jolie has shown some very savvy thinking and is clearly smart about all aspects of filmmaking these days. Gone are the days of signing on to an 'easy film' for her. It's now apparent that she wants all her efforts - whether on screen or off - to be excellent, and to make a positive difference. My thumbs are still up for this one.

Here's the updated and official synopsis:
Crow's Nest Jewelry Maleficent Poster

Maleficent is the untold story of Disney's most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land's fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king's successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent's true happiness as well.
*Although it may lessen the wonder, the merchandising opportunities abound! 

(I admit it: one of my favorite things is a tavern mug from The Prancing Pony.) 

And Maleficent is just getting started. 

There's already a cosmetics line, costumes for kids created by Stella McCartney in collaboration with Angelina Jolie, new Funko Pop! figurines and Halloween costumes in the works. 

Today we also got our first look at these jewelry pieces being released from Crow's Nest Jewelry - starting at the tidy price of $5k a piece and ranging up to $20k...!

Source: HERE 

"Jupiter Ascending" New Trailer, New Posters, TONS of Action

This is possibly the most action-packed Snow White story to-date. The new trailer for Jupiter Ascending, released yesterday (at writing) makes it pretty clear: this is an action movie, sci-fi style, complete with big budget and beautiful people.

Take a look:
The new posters are... nothing like I expected. My main impression is an attack of the Photoshop for both of them but the Mila Kunis one is a bit unfortunate. The disconnect between her outfit, her "face-styling" (with all the Photoshop, I'm just going to call it a thing now) and the background and graphic elements just doesn't work for me. In addition the shirt is so clean and pressed-perfect... it's just weird. Her all-blue cleaning outfit, complete with rubber gloves and some daily grime would have worked much better IMHO. But we shall see what the masses think.

The new trailer is very... big. This should go down really well with sci-fi fans. I'm curious what people will think of the Snow White storyline - or if they'll even recognize it. We shall see...

Jupiter Ascending is scheduled for release on July 18, 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Japanese Trailer Focuses On the 'Sleeping' Side of Maleficent (also, New Footage!)

The poster from CinemaCon, revealed today (at time of writing) this week
It's not difficult to see a certain mentality behind the Japanese trailer for Maleficent that's aimed at Asian audiences. Rather than the gaining of power and seeing the good heart that was the person Maleficent used to be, being challenged (and woken up?) by the innocent princess, we see a tragic past, malevolence, revenge and the interconnectedness of it all (with a slight glimmer of possible redemption - maybe...).
Props (& costumes below) from the movie at the D23 Member Maleficent event in Portland this last week

The fact that Aurora and Maleficent are both, in a way, each other's shadow is highlighted in this trailer, as is the connected web of everyone's actions, past, present and possible futures. Maleficent's own actions and reactions get larger and larger, while all the time, it's the smallest, most fragile thing, the glimmer of an alive heart within the rest that's turned to stone, that may be the saving grace of them all. Aurora herself is the symbol of that still-human/alive sliver of Maleficent's heart.
Did you notice the floating princess following Maleficent
as she strides through the (heart of the) fairy forest?
Metaphor, metaphor... :)

It's always interesting to see one film get very different trailers for different countries. These sorts of themes appear a lot in Japanese stories, so it's no wonder they're highlighted here. What's left unsaid, however, is that such differently emphasized/slanted trailers say as much about the maker's impressions of that country as they do about the culture it's aimed at.

I do enjoy seeing what media and other's sharing their opinions have to say when such a different marketing strategy surfaces. The questions people pose in response are often fascinating. I, too, like seeing the difference emphasis; it has the good effect of shaking me awake regarding a film I've been getting over saturated in seeing images of, making me use my brain again.

The bonus for everyone interested, no matter where you live, is, of course, that we get to see lots of new footage.

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the Japanese trailer for Maleficent, which is where those gifs came from a few posts ago:
Reading this post quickly over before setting it free to the interwebs, it reads as if Aurora is a "sleeper agent" for forcing Maleficent's heart to beat with life again. It's as if Maleficent cursing this little she was not only a harsh but true way to save the princess (and the land?) but, even as she was forcing people to see her as more evil than ever, she subconsciously set the possibility in motion of finding a way to save herself. (Can you tell it's late and my brain obviously likes thinking about all this too much?) Nevertheless, I like it! :)

Note: If there was a star for quickest response to a "where did this come from" question posed on the blog, it would go to Fadlilatu Amalin, who was very quick off the mark in alerting me to the Japanese trailer before it caught on with the main Hollywood news sources! (Unfortunately I was unable to jump on that straight away due to my commitments this week but it was very much appreciated.) Thank you so much!! You rock. :)