Friday, May 15, 2009

Rosengje @ Cannes: Up Review

S'appelle Rosengje. She's a regular commenter and sometime contributor -- she covered ShoWest for us -- and she's in the South of France for Cannes and has graciously agreed to share her thoughts.

She relays quickly that Cannes is overwhelming and crazy (so we have absorbed though we have never been....sniffle) but here are her notes from the premiere. More to follow
I had the pleasure of seeing the Cannes opening ceremony and the premiere of Up in the Grand Theatre Lumiere. After watching Tilda Swinton dominate the red carpet and Isabelle Huppert give a delightful introduction (in French!) as jury president, the film started. I had previously seen, and loved, the first 47 minutes at ShoWest. The rest of the film did not disappoint.

The highlight of Up remains the poignant, largely silent, opening montage that chronicles main character Carl Fredrickson's life with his wife Ellie. Carl and Ellie dreamed of being explorers and filling books with their adventures, but the daily struggles of life inevitably got in the way.

After her death, Carl becomes determined to fulfill his promise to Ellie and embarks on an unlikely adventure with a young boy named Russell. Despite offering a poignant, whimsical film experience, Up ultimately does not measure up to the lofty standards set by WALL•E.
That was always going to be a tough act to follow, yes. Will Rosengje's opinion be the consensus? If so, that's a very similar reaction to the last Pixar picture ('the first 40 minutes are the best!'). Some minor spoilers in this next bit so skip ahead if you don't want to know anything.
This can be attributed to the film's determination to combine elements of both art-house fare and mainstream family-friendly releases. This decision makes the film accessible and immediately funny, but provokes some awkward juxtapositions. Carl and Russell are supported by a large animal crew that eventually includes a large bird and a pack of dogs outfitted with collars that allow them to speak. Toward the film's conclusion, director Pete Docter movingly reprises the opening snapshot motif. The result led to quite a few audience members having to lift their nifty 3D glasses to wipe away tears. Unfortunately, the scene is quickly followed by a prolonged action sequence that while visually stunning relies on several animal cliches. The dogs are frequently distracted by squirrels and treats in a manner that is sweetly amusing but tonally contradicts the preceding emotional material.
end spoilers
I loved the movie and am confident it will be a huge success at home and abroad. I do believe, however, that the disparity between Pixar's visual sophistication and the expectations of family films will prove increasingly problematic in understanding and assessing their releases.

Up also represents the first film that has truly impressed me with the use of 3D. Docter deployed 3D to strategically create connections with the material rather than to create mere shock value. The images will alternately flatten and expand to heighten emotional tension. The film demonstrates that the technology need not be a gimmick when used effectively, a trend James Cameron will hopefully confirm later this year with Avatar.

Readers, how anxious are you to take that balloon ride with Carl Fredrickson and do you even care if Up falls just short of WALL•E -- maybe you considered that a ridiculously high altitude to worry about. Are you still waiting to be impressed by 3D or are you already there?


Anonymous said...

PRECIOUS got a standing ovation, Awards Daily says.

Noecito said...

I nearly cried just watching the first still from Up. I want that movie now!!!!

I don't think any movie in the world will ever measure up (pun!) to WALL·E, but I will eat vomit if it spells Pixar...

Ben said...

Up will likely be the first film I see in 3D and seeing the little featurette on Apple about their use of 3D, it does feel like they're using and not just slapping it on a finished print for the sake of using it. WALL•E, for me, is a crowning achievement for any genre or studio or time period - a modern classic - so I doubt Up will rise to the challenge, but then again, I was saying the same thing about WALL•E measuring up to Ratatouille. If anyone's gonna top WALL•E, it'll be Pixar.

Brian Darr said...

I love seeing old-school 3-D the way it was intended: polarized (not red-blue) glasses, dual projector, silver screen. Everything from Dial M For Murder to Robot Monster looks great that way.

Of the new generation of 3-D releases, I've liked U23D best. Eagerly anticipating what Up does with the technology.

Dimi said...

I'm super excited for Up. I really don't care to compare Pixar movies since any Pixar movie is automatically one of the best movies I've seen that year. If Up doesn't hold up to the lofty standards of Wall-E that's fine because it's still going to be a great film.

As for 3D, I thought Coraline used it very nicely. I kind of forgot halfway through that I was wearing these ridiculous glasses and enjoyed the amazing imagery that Henry Selick was offering me.


Dimi, i had the same experience with Coraline. the imagery was so involving that I wasn't really thinking about the glasses or the 3d but just felt "immersed"

Anonymous said...

PIXAR did it again with "UP"! It is amazing. I would like to see Pixar/Disney do the movie of my children's favorite christmas book "GINGERBREAD JIMMI". They are the only company that could make The "Gingerbread Jimmi" Movie better that the outstanding book.

Ted Kimball/Father of 5 in Los Angeles

Anonymous said...

I received a Gingerbread Jimmi book in my Oscars gift bag and it is a really beautiful book. We passed it around at the Governors Ball and the adults loved it. When I took it home it was an even bigger sensation with my children!! DISNEY needs to make the "Gingerbread Jimmi" Movie

Anonymous said...

J.R. Holbrook or John Robert Holbrook, the author of Gingerbread Jimmi is a very handsome man and sooooooo talented! He is also a Fashion Designer, Actor and hosts the hilarious show Sundance Film Festival After Dark. You need to watch him at

Pascale in Paris

Anonymous said...

Tis true..... Designer, Artist, Actor John Robert Holbrook is a gift to the Human Race . I had the pleasure of meeting him during Sundance Film Festival 2009 and his energy is magnificent! Do not forget to check out his projects at