Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Great Mouse Detective {1986}

{Animated Disney Film #26 of 54}

I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan for a few years now. I've only read a couple of the original stories (I own a bind-up of most of them and I'm always intending to read more!). But BBC's Sherlock is one of my favorite shows, and I've seen (and enjoyed) most of the Granada series from the 80s.

I knew that this movie was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories, but I didn't realize that it's basically just a kids' version! :) I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

All of the references to Sherlock made me smile. Basil (the mouse detective) is moody and distracted at times but exuberant at others, and he can never remember the little girl's last name (or he refuses to, which sounds like something that Sherlock would do). He plays the violin and is interested in chemistry. Of course, Dawson is Watson and Ratigan is Moriarty. There's another big parallel, but more on that later. And I love the fact that Sherlock Holmes lives in the house above Basil.

I have to say that I wasn't really expecting this movie to be a musical. There were only three songs, so it wasn't overwhelming, but at least two of those are big musical numbers. I did not like the "Let Me Be Good to You" scene at all. It's set in a tavern and the song starts out only mildly inappropriate, something that would likely go over children's heads. But then it got surprisingly suggestive! It felt really out of place in a children's movie and I was surprised that it was included.

I always mention the voice actors in Disney films...the ones here aren't particularly well-known, except for Vincent Price as Ratigan. I don't think I've actually seen any of his films, but I'm familiar with who he is. (Slightly random little note- there's a Dumbo "cameo" in the toy shop scene! That was fun. And there's a lizard in Ratigan's gang that is lifted directly from Alice in Wonderland, right down to the hat he's wearing.)

I absolutely loved the dramatic finale in the Big Ben clock tower. It was so tense and exciting and incredibly well done. Here's where another Sherlock reference comes in: the scene echoes Sherlock and Moriarty's showdown (and fall) in The Final Problem. The music was amazing in this scene and gave it even more of a dramatic, cinematic feel. I probably should have mentioned before that Henry Mancini wrote the music for this movie, so the score does sound a lot more like a live-action film than an animated one.

With the exception of the tavern scene, I really loved this movie! It was exciting and funny and I loved picking out all of the Sherlock references. As with The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood, this movie is a good way to introduce kids to the idea of a story before they're old enough to read the original source. But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by adults, as well!

Next up on the list is Oliver & Company. We're inching closer to the 90s now, and I'm so excited! As someone who grew up during the "Disney renaissance," I'm probably going to start getting nostalgic and sappy over the films soon. :) Of course I love discovering new favorites, but there's nothing like reliving your favorite childhood films.

What do you think about The Great Mouse Detective? Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: How to Catch a Prince, by Rachel Hauck. I've loved the idea of modern-day royalty stories ever since I saw The Princess Diaries for the first time when I was ten (still one of my favorite movies, by the way). I enjoyed the first two books in this series, so I expect to enjoy this one, too. :)

Knitting: My Onward shawl is growing! It's actually the only WIP I have on the needles right now. Because of that I'm making good progress on it, but it's not always the easiest TV knitting. A lot of people find the pattern easy to memorize, but I'm not the most intuitive knitter. Of the four main sections, two of them are easy for me to remember, but the other two require me to keep glancing at the pattern. It's still a fun project, but I'm itching to cast on something else, too. I'm trying to wait until the weekend to start my next pair of socks. (I finished my others!)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Three lovely things.

This poem. It's really wonderful and there's a lot of wise advice in there.

This short film. It is one of the most adorable, charming things I've ever seen! It has a timeless feel that somehow reminds me of something I would have watched as a kid. And it's also reminiscent of Pushing Daisies. (I loved that show, and now I really want to watch it again.)

This pie. My mom and I made it over the weekend and it was so, so good. (I say was because it's mostly gone now.) It's basically chocolate pudding in a pie crust, and I had forgotten how much I love chocolate pudding. And homemade pudding will make you want to never, ever eat store-bought pudding again. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Knitting: river bed socks.

Some more socks to second pair of 2015. These pictures aren't the best, but the past week has been crazy cold and snowy and icy, and I wasn't going to try to get pictures of my socks outside. Thankfully I could use the back of my quilt for a background. :)

I really love these socks. I think they're probably my second or third favorite pair that I've knitted for myself (these are still my favorites). I wanted to knit plain vanilla socks this month, but I started to get a little nervous when this yarn started pooling. I'm glad I didn't try to change it because I ended up loving it! The yarn is Quaere's Sparkle Sock (I think the sparkle is most clear in the photo of the heel) in the River Bed colorway, and I think that's the perfect name. Between the spirals and the colors and the sparkle, these socks really do remind me of water.

The funny thing is that this yarn really had a mind of its own when it came to pooling. On the first sock, the spirals down the leg were thick and consistent, and then they got skinnier on the foot (same stitch count!) On the second sock, the opposite happened. I don't think you can notice it when they're on, but when they're laying flat it's more obvious.

Ravelry project page. (And I'm linking up with Liesl's Monthly Sock Challenge.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Black Cauldron {1985}

{Animated Disney Film #25 of 54}

I had never seen this next Disney film before...I don't think I'd even heard of it until I was making the list of films. It's The Black Cauldron. If you're like me and aren't familiar with the movie, here's a brief summary: there's a bad guy called the Horned King. He wants to get hold of this magical black cauldron because it will help him form an army of undead warriors. There's a young pig-keeper named Taran who gets caught up in this mess and decides to try to destroy the cauldron himself before the Horned King finds it.

First of all, here are some random facts about The Black Cauldron. It's not a musical, which is very unusual for Disney films up to this point! Most of them have at least one or two songs, but this one only has a score. It was the first Disney film to receive a PG rating and also the first Disney movie to use some CGI in the animation. Finally, at the time of its release, it was not only the most expensive animated film ever made, but tied with a couple of others for the most expensive film ever made. But it was such a box office bomb that Disney didn't even release it on home video until 13 years later.

When I look back over the notes that I took while watching this movie, the words "weird," "no sense," and "strange" come up a lot. :)

The strangest thing to me was the importance of the pig, Hen Wen. You see, Hen Wen is a pig who has...special abilities? She can look into a pool of water and sort of see the future and other things. So she can see where the black cauldron is, and the Horned King wants to use her to help find it. Apparently this movie was loosely based on some books, which is the only reason why I can think of them using a pig. She's not a talking pig...she's just a pig. So it seems really random for her to have these powers. I just felt like it would have been better if she had been a human. I understand that Taran doesn't want the Horned King to get her because he'll use her powers to find the cauldron. But there are some parts of the film where he's being all emotional and protective over her and it just feels weird. If she had been a little child or something, it would have been a lot more moving and important for her to be saved. Taran probably eats bacon or ham for breakfast every morning, so why is he so attached to this pig?

There weren't a lot of voice actors that I recognized in this film, but there are two interesting ones. John Hurt (yes, the War Doctor for you Doctor Who fans) is the voice of the Horned King. And the voice of the narrator was famous director John Huston.

Speaking of the Horned King, he was pretty creepy. Though I think he was creepier when you just saw shadowy glimpses of him, because your imagination is usually worse than the actual thing, you know? When I saw all of him, he lost some of his creepy factor.

I have to mention Gurgi, a weird little creature that becomes fairly important to the plot later on. He was basically a mixture of Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch) and Gollum. I couldn't get over how much he reminded me of a slightly less creepy Gollum! His voice, phrases he would use, his movements, everything. It makes me wonder if the LOTR film-makers were somehow inspired by him? Gurgi isn't meant to be bad, and in fact he acts rather heroic at times, but I just couldn't bring myself to like him very much because he reminded me of Gollum.

The character Fflewddur Fflam made me smile and added a bit of humor to an otherwise surprisingly dark and violent film (dark and violent for Disney, anyway).

While this was definitely a strange movie, I ended up liking it. It held my interest, and I liked the old-fashioned English setting (similar to The Sword in the Stone or Robin Hood). It's not a new favorite, but out of the Disney movies that I've seen for the first time during this series, it's probably in my top five or six.

Have you ever seen The Black Cauldron? What did you think of it?