Interview with Susan Bradley, who did some graphic design and designed a typeface for Pixar’s Ratatouille. I enjoyed her response when asked about “one thing everybody should do today”:
Something backwards or something analog you’d normally computerize.
You can find out more about Susan on her site. (via waxy)
In the battle of Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) vs. Steve Jobs (former CEO of Pixar and current Disney Board member), Steve Jobs (Apple) was the clear winner. Apple sold an estimated 500,000 iPhones this weekend — grossing somewhere between $250 million and $300 million — while Pixar’s Ratatouille grossed $47.2 million.
Update: Some more interesting iPhone statistics, including Apple’s stock price increase since the iPhone was announced ($32 billion increase in market cap) and that iPhone was mentioned in 1.25% of all blogs posts over the weekend. (thx, thor)
Update: Apple’s stock price went down this morning in heavy trading. I guess Wall Street wasn’t so over the moon for the iPhone?
Patton Oswalt, who does of the voice of the main character in Ratatouille, shares some details to look for in the film. “Everything that Ian Holm, as the evil Skinner, does — especially his teetering-on-the-edge-of-insanity rant to his lawyer about that ‘rat’ that no one else sees but him. The animators I talked to had so much fun rendering his lines — ‘An animator’s dream’, according to one of the character design staff. Also, the animators used his toque like the shark’s fin in JAWS — you always see it moving closer among the stoves in the kitchen. Hilarious.” (thx, martin)
With its latest film, Pixar manages to achieve something that few other big Hollywood films do these days: a convincing reality. The body language & emotions of the characters, the machinations of the kitchen, the sights and sounds of Paris, and the dice of the celery, Ratatouille gets it all right, down to the seemingly insignificant details. As we walked out of the movie, my wife, who has spent time cooking in restaurants (with Daniel Boulud, even), couldn’t stop talking about how well the movie captured the workings of the kitchen. To be sure, a G-rated kitchen but a true kitchen nonetheless.
I’m not quite sure how this is possible, but the people in Ratatouille acted more like real people than the actors in many recent live action movies (especially the rats), like they had realistic histories and motivations that governed their actions instead of feeling scripted and fake. The world of the movie felt as though it had existed before the opening credits and would continue after the curtain fell. Systems that have arisen through years, decades, centuries, millennia of careful evolution and interplay with one another were represented accurately and with care. In The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander writes of the quality without a name:
There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of a person, and the crux of any individual person’s story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive.
Pixar’s search for this quality in the making of Ratatouille is impressive. And in a way, necessary. In order to draw the audience into the film and make them forget that they’re watching animated characters in an animated world, the filmmakers need to get everything right. Motions too exaggerated, motivations glossed over, plot too uncoordinated, and the whole thing loses its sense of authenticity. People need to act like people, omelettes need to sag off of spatulas like omelettes, and the only woman chef in a haute cuisine French kitchen needs to behave accordingly.
This is an interesting state of affairs. In comparison, the live action movies have become the cartoons. Not all of them, but certainly many Hollywood movies have. Spidey 3, Transformers (I’m guessing), Die Hard 4 (guessing again), anything Eddie Murphy has made since the mid-80s, Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory, RV, etc. etc. I could go on and on. So what are we to make of a cartoon that seems more real than most live action movies? How about we stop thinking of them as cartoons or kids movies or animated films and start considering them as just plain movies? I’d put Pixar’s five best films — Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and let’s throw Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant in for good measure — among the best big budget films made in the last 10 years, no caveats required.
Oh, and I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that Ratatouille also has something to say about critics and criticism, a topic that’s currently under debate in foodie circles and has been discussed many times in different areas of the blogosphere. It almost seems as though the film’s message is aimed partially at bloggers, and for those that care to listen, that message is both encouraging and enlightening.
The Pixar media machine is getting cranked up for the release of Ratatouille…here’s another article about the movie in Time. By the way, if you’re organizing any sort of advanced screening in NYC, the proper procedure is to notify me immediately.
There’s no permalink, but if you go to the Disney home page, they’re playing 9 minutes of Ratatouille, the new Pixar movie. There’s two clips…one takes place pretty close to the start of the movie and the other a bit later.
Update: For those of you outside of the US, here’s the YouTube version of the 9-minute Ratatouille clip.
Update: A more permanent and higher quality version is up on the Apple site.