Monsanto House of the Future in 1957 Tomorrowland


This is more interesting than it looks. Monsanto – yes, that evil company that takes dirt and turns it into a lawyer – worked with Disney to build a house of the future in Disneyland. It was intended to show how plastics would revolutionize home building. Apparently, the house was so strong that when Disney tore it down at the end of the sixties they could not break the outer shell with wrecking balls.

My primary interest in the film, aside from the mentally challenged smiling morons that inhabit Monsanto’s future vision, is the fascinatingly awkward focus on comfort as the primary aspect of life in the future. I think a great new science fiction film could be made by some nutty director who would look at the future of industrial films like this one for inspiration. It could be the antidote to the completely bleak, dystopian, post-apocalyptic dumb soup being offered by witless filmmakers like Neill Blompkamp. The thudding incomprehensibility of such work must eventually be counteracted by a house of the future and people who think they are happy!




Paperman: Disney’s Oscar-Nominated Short

Paperman is Disney's Oscar-nominated short animation for this year. Apparently animated with 3D software mimicking the hand-drawn look, it tells the story of an office worker trying to catch the attention of a woman by tossing paper airplanes from one New York skyscraper to another. The film is an example of that way Disney has always had of lending extreme curvature to all form and motion. Disney never moves things across a screen. They sweep them across. I enjoy hand-drawn styles even when they are not hand-drawn at all! Somehow it defeats the plastic look of so much computer animation. The story here is simple and sweet.

This film reminds me of a game I played near the top of a Wall Street building once back in the nineties. We opened a window and tried to hit a building one block away with various paper airplanes. There was a wind current making it possible to get very close to the other building, but invariably the little planes would veer off and go around the building without ever making the expected contact. So I sympathize with this cartoon character's seemingly useless efforts.


Missing in the Mansion: Horror Short Filmed in Disneyland

Josh and Jeremiah Daws directed this short horror film almost entirely during a trip to Disneyland. That's a form of guerrilla filmmaking I can appreciate because it actually uses all that time wasted in lines for a good purpose. So, three friends go to the Haunted Mansion and vanish. Someone then finds their video camera.

Dad, Can I Borrow the Car? 1970 Disney Driver Education Film

Disney produced this amazingly good drivers education film in 1970. It is one of those cheerfully playful experiments with common avant-garde techniques that were so much a part of seventies culture because of shows like Sesame Street. The filmmaking is generally quite good and sometimes even approaches brilliance. I've been working vaguely and lazily on a new film about cars and Los Angeles and I'm quite prepared to lift some things right out of this film or at least use it as a template for commenting on car culture in this great throbbing fast lane metropolis.
Kurt Russell of ham acting fame gives the narration and he's actually good, playing the young man in school who is about to go for his driving test and qualify for the license to kill that will get him lots of action as long as he looks out for little girls chasing big red balls into the street.
Enjoy a trip through Los Angeles of yesteryear and remember that cars just work better out here.

How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made: 1939 Documentary Film

Here’s a wonderful glimpse into the animation techniques that were pioneering at the time of Disney’s first feature-length animation, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ You get to see some shots of Snow White being drawn and photographed, sound effects being recorded, and people arriving at the premiere. You also get a good dose of the Disney sexism in which all women who work on a film are referred to as ‘pretty girls.’ It’s basically an advertisement for the film, but it’s a good one.