Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Such A Small World After All

Returning from a Florida excursion which included a few days at the overwhelming Walt Disney World a friend had saved me an LA Times article about the World’s (much) smaller California precursor, Disneyland.

Seems D-land’s “It’s A Small World” attraction is due to be shuttered for a makeover in January for an unusual reason: some of the guests are no longer small enough to make it through. The Times notes that “heavier-then-anticipated loads” have been causing the boats to stall at two points in the ride.

This has happened so often that an exit platform has been installed next to Canada’s mini-Mounties because they’ve had “so many problems” with the grounded boats. The official Disney line never mentions the F word (f**), instead blaming the problems on fiberglass repairs on the much-put-upon dinghies. (Small Craft Warnings indeed).

At any rate, the ride will go down for major refurbishment in January 2008. This will include replacing the flumes to add some additional depth to the water channels and making the boats more “buoyant”. In the meantime guests now unable to complete the round-the-world tour are being given a consolation prize: a food ticket.

This just in: my same friend just reported that he heard on the radio Friday morning that a woman was caught dumping some kind of white power into the water at “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Cocaine or some other nefarious substance was originally suspected, but the none-pixie dust allegedly turned out to be the worldly remains of a cremated loved one. The woman was allegedly charged with littering… More later, if anything more turns up.


Robert Zemeckis’s BEOWULF opened in 3-D Friday. The apparently hyper-gory re-thinking of the literary classic was skewered by Times critic, Kenneth Turan, in the Friday (Nov. 16, 2007) edition. Though also critically lambasted I thought Zemeckis’s also 3-D POLAR EXPRESS was a rather sweet film. But since sweetness is NOT what the diminishing movie ticket-buying audience is going for these days you can hardly blame the director for going for the gore this holiday season. Though I’ve always been intrigued by 3-D after Harry Potter and LORD OF THE RINGS I’m personally so over the sword-and-sorcery trip.

But as far as 3-D goes, the best thing I’ve recently seen in the process (since REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and THE MAZE at the recent and celebrated LA 3-D Expo) is MICKEY’S PHILHARMONIC, one of the key Fantasyland attractions at Disney World. The brief but stylistically meticulous recreation of the flying sequence from Disney’s PETER PAN, in both 3-D and a kind of SuperCinerama three-panel wide-screen process, is spectacular and a vintage Disney animation/3-D buff’s dream come true. Also, the LION KING sequence includes a nod to the surrealistic “You Belong to My Heart” sequence from THREE CABALLEROS in psychedelic 3-D.

On my last day in the park I sat through this amazing short film, a kind of mini-MELODY TIME (that actually features more of Donald Duck than the Mouse), at least six times and found something new in each viewing. I can only hope MICKEY’S PHILHARMAGIC may be one of the attractions imported to California with the proposed makeover of the now-notorious California Adventure park.

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Well, at least one film out of the seemingly endless procession of boring new ones listed in the daily Times calendar section seems really interesting: Greg Araki’s new SMILEY FACE. (“High. How are you?”) Called “the CITIZEN KANE of stoner movies,” Araki will appear in person at selected Nuart screenings (7.30/9.50) on Friday and Saturday. Whatever it may turn out to be you can just about count on SMILEY FACE not being boring or predictable!

Recently I also liked the British Channel Four Films’ BEAUTIFUL THING (1996), one of the many hidden treasures available from the vast recesses of Netflix. It’s yet another coming out story, but a subtle and unclich├ęd one, and its real strength is the sensitivity and candor with which it deals with relationships among an eclectic assortment of straight/gay characters in a southeast London apartment building.

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