All Movie Talk, Episode 36

Posted in Episodes at 5:00 am by Sam

Show contents, with start times:

  • Top 6: Movies With a Strong Sense of Place (1:40)
  • Trivia Question: Best Picture Referencing Other Best Pictures (23:18)
  • Film Buff’s Dictionary: Focal Length (24:03)
  • Series Spotlight: Disney Animated Features, Part 2 (29:35)
  • How To: Survive a David Lynch Movie (44:01)
  • Closing: Trivia Answer, Preview of Next Week (54:55)

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Show Notes:

Top 6: Movies With a Strong Sense of Place

See our separate Top 6 entry for more information about our picks.

Trivia Question: Best Picture Referencing Other Best Pictures

Our mystery movie this week was the first Best Picture winner to ever explicitly reference another Best Picture winner (it also obliquely references another Best Picture winner by the film’s director).

Film Buff’s Dictionary: Focal Length

The focal length of a lens is the distance between the back point of the lens, where it focuses light, and the point to which the light is being focused — generally the film. To simplify a complex discussion about the way lenses work, this length determines two things:

First, it determines the level of magnification. A longer focal length allows for greater magnification. Really long lenses are often called “telephoto” lenses (though to be technically accurate not all long lenses are telephoto). A zoom lens is a lens with a focal length that can be adjusted, meaning it can increase or decrease magnification of distant objects (i.e. it can zoom in or out).

Second, the focal length determines the angle of view. This is the total amount of stuff the lens can “see” at once — a greater angle of view means the lens can capture more objects along the horizontal plane. The shorter the length, the larger the angle of view (short lenses are often called “wide” lenses for this reason). You can simulate this effect yourself, by making a circle with your thumb and index finger. Hold the circle right up to your eye, and you have a wide angle of view. As you move the circle further away from your eye, you simulate an increase in focal length, and the angle of view within the circle decreases.

Series Spotlight: Disney Animated Features, Part 2

With The Black Cauldron (1985), the Disney studio make a bold attempt to appeal to teenagers. It’s a darker, scarier film than any Disney animated feature before or since. It’s also the studio’s second 70mm animated film, following Sleeping Beauty (1959). But despite being a fun fantasy adventure and eventually becoming a cult favorite, it was an expensive flop in its theatrical run. Disney animation quickly reverted to what had made it successful: adapting fairy tales for family audiences.

In 1989, The Little Mermaid (1989) began a series of critical and commercial smash hits and a return to the studio’s glory days. Beauty and the Beast (1991) became the first and likely only animated Best Picture nominee. The Lion King (1994) achieved the highest theater average gross in history.

In the 2000s, the studio’s output shifts away from musicals and more towards topical comedies and adventure films. While some of these are pretty good, it’s clear that Disney’s third wave of brilliance has petered out, and the public’s interest in animation has shifted to the Pixar studio.

In a way, Disney’s success in the 1990s was too great. Critically, the films were praised so much, however justifiably, as to incite backlash. Commercially, the films were so successful as to tempt other studios to invest serious money in building their own animation units to compete with the Disney franchise.

There may or may not be a fourth wave of Disney brilliance. If not, that still leaves 44 films to date, most of which are great and most of which were produced during a 50 or 60 year period when no other studio was able to offer any serious competition.

On RinkWorksAt-A-Glance Film Reviews feature, you can find this list of Disney Animated Features, with reviews.

Also, we talk a bit about Disney’s shift away from 2D animation in this segment, but after we recorded it, I stumbled upon this interesting article about Disney’s return to 2D animation.

How To: Survive a David Lynch Movie

Someday that podcast you like is going to come back in style.

Ever feel like your entire life is just one big Wizard of Oz reference? Worried that underneath the exterior of that seemingly-sweet girl from the corner drug store is (quite literally) another person entirely?

Then you may be trapped in a David Lynch movie, or perhaps an episode of his TV show (or perhaps the pilot episode for a TV show that didn’t get picked up so it’s now a movie, or maybe the pilot episode of a TV show that did get picked up but is now a movie in Europe with a different ending).

Confused? Yeah, us too. But that didn’t stop us from creating a guide on getting along in the strange, twisted, surreal, and yet somehow alluring world of David Lynch.

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  1. Nyperold (116) said,

    June 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    .noissacco na hcus tsuj rof dehs eht ni rewom nwal gnidir a evah I ,yllufknahT

    .hguoht ,tey dnuora taehw oN .ssarg gnittuc rof doog s’ti dna ,hO

  2. joem18b (231) said,

    June 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Speaking of focal length, what’s a focus-puller? Are they still used? I don’t remember ever seeing one listed in the credits.

    (I always thought Sebastian was a lobster.)

    (Not to be flip about a serious subject, but within a year of riding that lawnmower, Richard Farnsworth committed suicide.)

  3. LaZorra (60) said,

    June 9, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Somehow it strikes me that being unfamiliar with David Lynch’s work makes this week’s How To segment even funnier than it would be otherwise.

    I haven’t been to see a Disney animated movie in theaters since before the Little Mermaid. I will certainly be going to see those 2D features if/when they reach completion. And I can’t even say how excited the idea of reintroducing shorts makes me.

    You bring out the nerd in me.

  4. Heather (11) said,

    August 2, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Thinking along similar lines as “How to Survive a David Lynch movie,” the folks at McSweeney’s have released “David Lynch’s Tips for a Great Prom”:


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