Friday, June 14, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #3: D Barenzu

That's right, folks! We're already on Issue #3 of our new column here at Pixar Corner, The Luxo Limelight. For this week's issue, I got the chance to chat with fellow Twitter friend and Disney/Pixar geek, Dil "D Barenzu" Barnes, or @TheDarkofNightD on Twitter (follow him!). "I'm a resident of the Ontario region of Canada, out in the countrysides of Muskoka," he writes, "Where though: is the question you'll have to figure out! This makes me... well, Canadian. Eh?"

You're in for quite the emotional read today, so brace yourself!


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
Well, I'll be honest: in terms of Pixar film, it's incredibly hard to choose a favorite due to how unique and creative every entry has been. However, my favorite Pixar film boils down to three entries in particular and I'll explain each. The first is "Finding Nemo", the 2003 Pixar feature focusing on the deep azure adventures of the clownfish Marlin and absent-minded tang Dory trying to find Marlin's lost son Nemo in a crazy oceanic adventure. I'm a huge nerd of the ocean blue, a water lover in fact, so when I saw this film, it blew my mind as to how much detail and animation went into animating the ocean scenarios in the film, and how true to life they kept alot of it. It was like someone dunked my head into the water and I was looking down at a really beautiful looking H20 ecosystem. Plus, the entire story and the characters are all charming, a father + son story that really hit it off and relate to the view on a deep level, no pun intended. All in all, a true blue tale that needs to be seen. The second is 2009's "UP", a story of how far and above dreams and even inspirations can take a person, as told by the main Carl Fredericksen. Whereas "Nemo" delivers in the relationship angle, "UP" hits you in much more. Within the first six minutes, you're sent into tears by the relationship of Carl and Ellie, and even moreso; how driven he is by a desire to visit an adventurous place from his childhood. And the entire film takes off from there from Carl's bitterness, with Russell and the dog Dug being more and more to the plot. "UP" is just that one film you feel for, on a dramatic standpoint; all those feelings you feel from the characters are indeed something worth it in the end, and they not only impact us, but the characters in-film too. Certainly uplifting to watch, but certainly something to keep a tissue box nearby for, especially for the tear-jerking moments. And the third is 2010's "Toy Story 3", the conclusion to the all-around impressive "Toy Story" series. It's amazing as a conclusion, because as kids, we see these characters and grow up with them, and when you're watching this film, they don't shy from that feeling. Andy's heading to college, and most likely, so are your sons and daughters. And the entire film balances the fun light-hearted ideas of the franchise with such an emotional advantage. And most of all, the ending after the entire film is done with you, will drive a fully grown man to tears. I remember watching it the first time with my Ma, and by the time I got to that ending, I was already tearing up like a young kid would. I knew what was happening. It's, again, that feeling of growing up with these characters, and then seeing this final string happen with them. It's heartwrenching, as many would know, but it's such a nostalgic and fond experience that brings a semblance of closure to the entire dig. And it stands as my third favorite.

But I ramble too much. In terms of short films though, again: three of them stand as my favorites. First one is the old-school 1986 "Luxo Jr.", a short film depicting Pixar's landmark, the Luxo lamp, in a situation involving bouncy toy balls. It's comical, and a little quirky, especially considering the emoting between what could be inanimate lamps, but instead are transformed into solid characters. That, my friends is the power our man Lasseter got from the Nine Old Men of Disney. Exceptionally fun in it's own right, even coupled with "Toy Story 2", where I first saw the short. It's even better noting that Pixar saw the appeal of Luxo here: making it their logo and even having short segments in "Sesame Street". The second is "Geri's Game", 1997's short coupled with "A Bug's Life". It's a favorite of mine because the old man in this, Geri is hilarious. I mean, wow. Funny enough this character provides the perfect twist to the short and it's chess game, but it also crafted a legacy, having the Geri character turn into a toy cleaner in "Toy Story 2". When I first saw that, it was a comic wonder. Even moreso his quote: "ya can't rush art", a mantra I've been using for years. The game of Geri's is a chess game worthy, I'd say! And the third is the later "La Luna", 2012's attached short to Pixar's "Brave". Space is always something mystifying to people, even myself; and Pixar made a perfect twist to this by having this short be centered around... moon cleaners. Unorthodox concept, but it works amazingly here, with flying colours and a conscious animated effort. Bambino's quest is definitely a shoot for the moon to see, and tops my three favorite shorts off nicely. I didn't include any film-related shorts here because those shorts are enjoyable enough as is, and the original ones stand out more creatively!

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
I have three that stand out above the rest. The first? Merida from 2012's "Brave". Now, I know what you're thinking? Why choose a character from a film that's already been acclaimed to death? Well, I'll tell ya. Merida isn't your average character, in fact; she isn't even an average princess (as most of us have seen recently with warding off Disney's Princess transformation of her). Merida is a very rebellious girl, she's willing to stand for what she thinks and it's obvious she doesn't take the royalty to heart. She's a role model that implies courage and individuality in their own way. I'd like to think I relate to Merida through few ways. First, she follows her individual heart: she isn't obedient to the rules, alike me who can and will work in his own ways if freedom allows. And even I feel for a breakaway from restrictions, restrictions, restrictions all the time. Next up, she's a perfect role model for other children. I love characters that can stand their own and be able to inspire the youth of today to follow motives, and Merida shows plenty: like bravery, her own personality, and even her own significant style. It's a way to tell kids "you don't need to listen to what others say to be yourself", and I wholeheartedly admire that. Third and foremost, she's a character that teaches people just what the movie's ethics are. Merida embodies the bravery to teach, Merida embodies the bravery to learn from her mistakes, and all in all, Merida embodies herself. Some say being yourself is the hardest gig in the world, but it takes a lot of guts to stand up to the world and be yourself. No matter who or what you're doing.

The second? Carl Fredricksen from 2009's "UP". Again, odd choice: an old man? Well, this old man has quite a story to tell. Carl is a man who has grown bitter from life's slams, his wife Ellie died (which I'm still teary-eyed over), he's spent every penny trying towards a wish that hasn't happened yet, and even worse, people are trying to take his property. Who wouldn't be bitter after all of this? But even with his sour core, this man's got some morals I identify with. The first is the notion that dreams may take forever, but they can be accomplished with a little help. Carl had only his wife and friend Ellie to try and get to Venezuela's Paradise Falls, and it's apparent, his hope had diminished intensely over time. But upon meeting the overt cast of the movie, and rekindling that lost spirit that was buried under all that sour old feeling, he came back with a replenished dream. It's that notion of never being able to give up your dream, no matter how bitter the dream that I identify with. Because I too love persistence. The second is the importance of family, even if you're not directly a part of their family. This is a practice the franchise spawned by Disney, Stitch pounded into me (as a super-fan, of course), but that's a different subject. Here, with Carl; his bitterness goes to the point where Russell, the Wilderness Explorer, gets fed up with Carl's ideal to save his home, when Russell had lost something greater: his parents, having broke up. And it's as the movie progresses that Carl really finds this drive to be almost like a father figure to the boy... and that is something I'd like to point out is meaningful. I can vouch, even if you don't know someone, or have been friends with them for a while: you could end up a part of their family in some way, like a brother figure, or even an aunt or uncle you wouldn't normally call upon. It's the semblance of family that makes it big here. It's that feeling that after a long time of knowing somebody, you treat them like family. And that is probably one of the best things a heart can feel, that you belong with someone. And that's what happened with Carl. Third thing I have to say on Carl that I found I identified with was his conception. Now, Carl was influenced by Lou Grant, an afamed MTM Enterprises character known for his rambling demeanor and no antics attitude. I watched a bit of Lou Grant growing up, and when I saw Carl Fredricksen, there was a click to me. Like I saw this before... and then it hit me. Lou. Grant. That's whom Carl was indefinitely channeling. It was a flicker of nostalgia and a flicker of originality here, and Carl definitely captured that, with all of this said.

The third and final? WALL-E, obviously from 2008's "WALL-E". Now, a robot doesn't usually convey motives, right? Wrong. WALL-E is a different story. He's a curious and albeit naive robot, inspecting and compacting garbage into cubes for tons of years. Seems like your standard "Code of Robot" stuff, but again, there's those two words. Curious and naive. It's this strange set of robotic ideas that leads his curiosity to find a lot more later, and that's where the first way I relate is. I'm curious and naive about a lot. Who says being these two things is a hindrance? Curiosity never hurt anybody... except maybe the cat! But still, curiosity leads into some of the best discoveries in the world, and WALL-E was no different. Naiveness also runs in me, because... well, I too can be a gullible soul. And that's not bad, that's just the spirit of naivety. WALL-E had this all throughout the film, from his garbage days to EVE. The second trait I liked and connected with about him is even though he felt dated, he still had a purpose as he went by the movie. It's true what they say that technology enhances and evolves, but that doesn't mean old technology is bad or at all forgotten. Some old things work better older. I relate to this because it tells people to respect what you're given, old or new. Most times for me, it was older, and it was quite the same for WALL-E, as his programming and conduct represented that of an old robot: clean, deactivate; clean, deactivate. But it was as the film progressed that you realized: WALL-E became more than his old programming represented, and that's what I liked. His old nature wasn't stopping him. They say old school can sometimes be the new school. And third and foremost? WALL-E was just adorable for a character. I find myself drawn to cute characters all the time, heck even young Mike Wazowski from the upcoming "Monsters University" film is just too cute, but WALL-E had something exclusive to him. He was made of steel, but he still held the idea of a cute robot there: his voice especially... and I can just say I admire cuteness... Waaaaalll-eeee.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
My favorite Pixarian boils down to one man, actually; John Lasseter, the big soul behind Pixar, the lead CCO of Disney and of course, a big Imagineer. See, the man doesn't only inspire me, he's like that friend to me. That friend who shows you so much amazing stuff in a matter of a few years, and even after, you're still left wanting more in the best way possible. Lasseter of course, heads the executive creativity front at Disney, coming in as "executive producer" on more films than you can imagine, "Beauty and the Beast", "Wreck-It Ralph", even "Bolt" and that's already an honor. But it also helps he's done the same for almost all of Pixar lore too, and even moreso, is helping on a game front too, with Disney Interactive's upcoming "Disney Infinity". He also helped with the Disney Fairies films, films I actually adore! Yes! All four of them thus far! How can you be creative in so many fields? Well, Lasseter is living proof of this question tenfold. And it's safe to say his endless creativity is my inspiration, because it was he who said something along the lines of "if you can think of it, you can create it". He's also got "Disney blood running through his veins", so to speak! If not his creativity that inspires me, it's his love for the Japanese animation medium. See: Lasseter is a fan and a huge influential believer of Studio Ghibli's works. Studio Ghibli is essentially one of the most pure animation efforts in Japan, Disney taking on distribution of almost all of their feature works internationally outside of Japan. And I'll be honest, they're one of my favorite studios out there, beyond Disney and Pixar. And Lasseter helmed a lot of the English adaptions of such films from the Studio Ghibli library like "Spirited Away", "Ponyo", and "Porco Rosso". It also is amazing he's friends with Hayao Miyazaki, the acclaimed director of Ghibli's efforts. And I cannot tell you how much my heart swooned when I found a Totoro plushie among the ranks of "Toy Story 3". It was such a respect to not only Pixar, but to Studio Ghibli over in Japan. As a culture-crazed fan, I have respects for Lasseter on not only American animation via Disney and Pixar, but part of Japan's too via Studio Ghibli (and it's a reason why I love Japanese animation as a side to American and other international efforts too), and I'm happy he was around to give everything a hearty feeling. It's for these reasons he stands as my favorite Pixarian and most of all, a healthy inspiration.

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
My introduction to Pixar began a long time ago, back in the year of 1996, when I was four-years-old. One day, I was watching the usual television spiel on YTV, a Canadian TV station equivalent to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network (this was around the years of "You Rule", for those who know the station), and right during an episode of "Once Upon A Hamster", a Short Circutz short came on. For those who don't know, Short Circutz were small segments our channel YTV would air from the compilations "Imaginaria" and "Beyond the Mind's Eye", both immersive CGI experiences. But one short stood out, and it was this one short during "Once Upon A Hamster" that changed things. It was a short featuring some colorful countryside animation, and a blue man with a big nose; and a bee that would chase him. Being YTV, they never showed the credits or title of this little animation, shame being. Little did I realize this flashy CGI short was actually my first Pixar sighting, with the characters on-screen being Andre and Wally B, the two characters of Pixar's first ever short. It wasn't 'til a year after, during 1997, that my folks managed to get a VHS copy of a little Disney/Pixar film called "Toy Story". As soon as my parents popped that sucker into the VHS deck, I became immersed in the story of toys Woody and Buzz Lightyear. And from then and there, it was smooth sailing into the ever-growing animated and acclaimed world of Pixar animation, something that would soon become linked to Disney like toast and butter. So, roughly, I've been a fan ever since the feature films began popping up, and ever since, I've been looking all over the studio's history at their works: from "Knick Knack" to "Ratatouille".

On a scale of 1 to Mike when he sees himself on TV, how excited are you for "Monsters University"?

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most (not including MU)?
I would've said "Monsters", but... haha! The two I think that really appeal right now is "The Inside Out" and "Finding Dory". "The Inside Out" because one, the idea of mind's being in control by other entities is a rather creative one, and two, I was getting a surge of flashback from researching Disney Parks' old ride "Cranium Command" from that. The latter, "Finding Dory", I'm anticipating as a fan of the original film, which I explained farther back, and as a fan of Ellen DeGeneres. So, yes; hoping these two come up quick!

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there?
I've been intrigued with the idea of working for Pixar as much as I have for Disney really. However way you slice it, I figure working for either or, Pixar or Disney would lead to the same immersive experience with creativity, fun and a notion to media. As for the type of job, I would only wish for a job in screenwriting or maybe even graphics for the company, as both seem like a forte I tackle regularly via stories and actual art! I would need more of a CGI grasp for Pixar, but I imagine that wouldn't be few and far in the same line.

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
A lot of my friends and family treat it like it should be: as another animated studio I take to with bated breath. See, Disney already has had this honor, and so has Pixar, so whenever people often ask me if I've seen a certain Pixar work, I'd respond with a hearty "yes". Or if they ask me for an animated work to watch, most likely answers would point to a Disney or a Pixar work. People realize my Pixar love goes hand in hand with my Disney one, so it definitely makes me feel good in that essence.

Try to explain the feeling of seeing a Pixar film, feature-length or short, for the very first time in just three words.
Pure. Creativity. Incarnate.

Pixar's films teach us many valuable life lessons. Can you recall a particular time when you implemented any of these lessons into your life? Which moral lesson showcased in a Pixar film resonates with you the most?
I'll admit, there's many morals I could take on here, in fact; I brought a few up with my character choices. But if I may, one of the choices I brought up was the importance of family. More than one Pixar feature takes on this: "The Incredibles", "UP" and "Brave", for example, all touched on this. And I'd like to say to everyone out there that no matter how mismatched or out-of-the-ordinary your family really is... they're still your folks. The people you can talk to about anything, or the people you can run to if you have a problem or you need someone to cry or vent to or laugh with. Family is as family does, and I keep a firm grasp on this, no matter whom or what happens. And whether you're a superhero family striving to be normal, a Scottish family torn by royalties and a curse, or an old man who ends up becoming a close father-like figure to a younger child, there's still that motion. It's around a person no matter what. It's obvious Disney even does this message often too, but Pixar as well keeps a solid ground on this message, and it's clear that all three of the features I mentioned conveyed this family importance to a T, even if it was a small part of a film or a major part. Just remember, your family were the people whom raised you, taught you, and even gave you your own two legs to walk on in this world. And even if you feel you're not a part of your family or if you're a part of another, the importance of that very thing is what matters. Family: it's many a splendorous thing to a person. And it's something I notice in Pixar features as a life lesson that we can all keep to meega-- oh, sorry I meant-- our hearts.

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
Pixar isn't necessarily overrated: in fact, I can't exactly think of any studio that can be classified as overrated. Every company has their creations as best they can, with Pixar: it's a myriad of them, from Woody and Buzz, to Lightning McQueen, to Sulley and Mike, to even Merida. It's that distinct element of imagination that drives the Pixar brand to it's fullest. Overrated would be putting it too high for Pixar, as every one of their creations, short or film alike, have had the same kind of distinct care and effort there from the get-go. It's that drive, that distinct and clear creative wire that makes Pixar who they are, and even if they have misfires (which indeed, they kind of did with "Cars 2"), they still come back with strong ideas and a big way of doing things. To sum it up: it's Pixar. Overrated isn't scratching their surface one bit as long as their imaginative juices are still flowing.

Pixar have created something of a legacy for themselves ever since they began back in 1986. What part of said legacy do you hope the studio holds on to for as long as they are in existence?
I honestly would love for them to keep their unique and imaginative approach to making films. If it's anything I noticed from Pixar, they have a way of keeping their films identifiable and indeed crafty. It always has that cartoony feel, those vibrant animations, and a plot that treats not just the kid crowd, but manages to hit us adults too. As long as they keep that feel to their filmmaking, their legacy may continue forever, I reckon: as it has seemed to continue to today with flying colours.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
Well, if I could have the chance to say something, I would have loved to thank them. For everything. Honestly, everything they have made has had an impact on my life in some way or form. From watching "Toy Story" in my childhood, to taking the time to see "Monsters University" in the theatres this June. There was animation that advanced, directors that leaped, everything under the sun, but Pixar still kept that energy. And I, among many other fans stuck through it all. Laughs. Tears. Many a film or short they made. And to be honest, I don't regret it one bit, as a zealot of something linked to a brand I love as wholesome as Disney is. Pixar stands as not only a branch, but as their own studio, and in all honestly, if I could; I'd wish them nothing but the best, and thank them for all that they've delivered to the world, no matter what or how it turned out. Because I know deep down in my heart, if it has the Pixar name on it, I will probably walk into that theatre or pop it into a DVD or Blu-Ray player with a smile and think "it's going to be unique in it's own special way". And if I had the chance to, I would have loved to have seen Steve Jobs one last time before his death, and personally thanked him too for opening way to something that had heart to it. Something that had led to so much more. But alas, he was taken too soon from us. And as that pains me, I can only do the next best thing and hope that if any Pixarians are reading this: you keep doing what you do best, creating. And if any fans read this: you too keep doing what you do best, following. Because as the studio's creativity and endless imagination leaps out and keeps being pumped out, and regardless of Pixarian, fan of the Pixar name, or staff or crew of any of the films, I think it's obvious that as a fan of the company and as an ever-standing man of my word: you've got a friend in me. A friend who will follow 'til the end. So, to Pixar: thank you. You're as much an inspiration to many as you are to me.


That's all for now folks, but don't forget to follow Dil on Twitter at @TheDarkOfNightD, he's a really fun guy to chat with! If you enjoyed this article don't forget to share it with your friends, and hey, if you'd like to be the next Pixar aficionado featured in this column, feel free to email me at!

Thanks again for tuning in, and don't miss Issue #4 of The Luxo Limelight next week, right here at Pixar Corner.

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