Friday, August 9, 2013

The Luxo Limelight - Issue #9: Sam of Pixar Central

This week I chatted with a friend from all the way in London, England, who also runs a blog where you can read all about his thoughts on Pixar's films, characters, and so forth. He's contributed some very well written answers, so without further ado, here it is: the ninth issue of The Luxo Limelight...


What is your favorite Pixar film? What is your favorite Pixar short film?
I've always found it so hard to find a favourite Pixar film. Each of them have moments of brilliance, which define Pixar so well. Admittedly, some are better than others (not naming any names, but I think you know which one I'm talking about), but my favourite HAS to be Toy Story 3. It's beautifully animated for a start (something a lot of people take for granted) and both the story and characters are brilliant. It's such a fluid and deft continuation of the series, even better than I expected. My favourite short is another matter entirely. For instance, I love the warmth and originality of Day and Night. I adore the use of hand drawn animation to make it unique and I love the premise. Then there's The Blue Umbrella, with a charming story, cute characters and frankly peerless animation. But, Presto has to be my favourite. It's certainly one of the funniest, particularly because slapstick in animation is pretty hard to pull off. Not many short films can pull off humour like that, but I respect Presto for doing so.

Who is/are your favorite Pixar character(s)? How do you relate to them?
If you've read my blog on this, you'll know how hard I found it to choose my favourite Pixar character. For me, a character has to be original, have a great design, a great voice behind the design and a solid script behind the entire story. So, although Dory and Russell give him great competition, I simply can't choose anyone else but Dug. Bob Peterson is sublime and Pete Docter includes him in the story so expertly. I have a dog and I can imagine him saying precisely the same things if he could speak, just another reason why you have to love Pixar's attention to detail.

Who is your favorite Pixarian, and how do they inspire you?
Ah, these questions are hard. Although he's moved away into live-action recently, it has to be Brad Bird. He has a real eye for detail, crucial in animated films. Ratatouille is one of my favourite Pixar films and I love the darker style he introduced to Pixar in The Incredibles. I also love his variety of talents. He can act, animate, direct and write. What's not to like? 

How and when did you first come to be a Pixar fanatic?
I've always had a soft spot for Pixar. I think it must've been after the release of Toy Story 3 (which I saw three times in the cinema), it occurred to me that Pixar are consistently stunning. It was then when I began to explore the films more, watch them in more detail, etc.

Which upcoming Pixar film excites you the most ?
I, naturally, am very excited for Finding Dory (Nemo ranks 3rd on my ranking of the films), but the concept and premise which fascinates me the most is Pete Docter's Inside Out. The idea of using emotions as characters is completely new, something which will prove very intriguing. Then there's Docter himself, who created the hilarious Monsters, Inc. and the heartfelt and stunning Up. Where can it go wrong?

Is it a dream of yours to work for Pixar? If so, what sort of job would you like to have there? (If not, you can skip this question.)
I'd love to work at Pixar! Who wouldn't? Imagine working where your childhood heroes were created. It would be amazing. If I had to work anywhere, it would be in the story department. I'm an amateur writer, so I'd love to learn more about how professionals do it and improve my skills too. I'd be a useless animator, I haven't got the patience!

How do friends and family react to your love for the studio?
A lot of my friends and family share my love for the studio. Me and my two closest friends are always very excited about Pixar. We watched Monsters University three times at the cinema haha. It's nice that so many people can enjoy Pixar, they are great at entertaining everyone (even my dad - who generally despises animated films - loved Finding Nemo and Up).

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

There is no better feeling than seeing a new feature from Pixar, but I do feel tired at the end, I feel like I have to soak all of the detail up in the first viewing, which is stupid of course, but I never learn.

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?
A lot of the morals of Pixar's films are reflected in everyday life. Brave inspired me to improve relations with my parents (and be grateful that they do so much for me). Up showed me that whilst I may achieve my dreams, it may not be how I expect and there's nothing wrong with that. Conversely, Monsters University taught me that I might not achieve these goals, but that's okay, because sometimes you can get there a different way, or maybe what you get instead is better than your dream. I love how bold Pixar were to include that in a children's film, something no other studio would do.

You are in argument with someone who claims Pixar is overrated. How do you convince them otherwise?
I've been in an argument like this before. I always focus on Pixar's positives. The conversation is steered away from Cars and Cars 2, to the humour in Ratatouille and The Incredibles and the heart of Up and Toy Story 3. Films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story are universally adored, they often come in handy when defending Pixar.

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 hope that Pixar retain their reputation for being original, funny, moving and most importantly, entertaining all ages. Everyone from my little cousin to my grandparents have seen Toy Story. That kind of magic and dazzle is possessed by no one anymore. Even Disney have lost the ability (not since Fantasia 2000 have I felt that same sense of wonder) to make all ages smile. I hope Pixar hold onto that as long as possible.

If you could say something, anything, to the founders of Pixar right now, what would it be?
If I could say anything to John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs (amongst others), it would be thank you. Thank you for persevering with your ideas, thank you for not giving up when the going got tough and thank you for having the guts to go against everyone and defy their expectations completely.


Sam runs two different blogs; one dedicated solely to Pixar, and another where he posts reviews of non-Pixar flicks. Don't forget to visit both Pixar Central and Central Films, and add them to your bookmarks! Follow him on Twitter at @PixarCentral. And as always, if you enjoyed this issue of The Luxo Limelight, shoot me an email at and you'll be featured in a future issue of this column!

Come back next week for the 10th issue of The Luxo Limelight - the only column on the web written for Pixar fans, by Pixar fans (I just came up with that slogan. Clever, eh?).

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