Disney+ New Pixar Popcorn Shorts Are What Quibi Should Have Done

It’s easy to play the shoulda, coulda, woulda game with Quibi now that it’s defunct (see: After Quibi Finally Available To Cast To TV They Are Officially Shutting Down – A $2 Billion Dollar FAIL), but what Disney+ has done with their Pixar Popcorn shorts is the equivalent of YouTube: it’s that quick, snappy watch. You can watch and enjoy them quickly.

That was supposed to be the niche Quibi thrived at. You’re at a grocery store in line or in a doctor’s office waiting and want to watch something brief and light. Then again, we already have that — it’s called YouTube.

Here’s the full list of Pixar Popcorn shorts:

“To Fitness and Beyond”: Buzz Lightyear leads an aerobics class for Bonnie’s toys.
“Unparalleled Parking”: The Cars crew have a friendly parallel parking competition.
“Dory Finding”: Dory is delighted to find some trinkets at the bottom of the ocean.
“Soul of the City”: New York City comes to life in the eyes of a minor character from Soul.
“Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Love”: Ducky and Bunny from Toy Story 4 compete for kids’ love.
“Chore Day – The Incredibles Way”: The Parrs do chores, super-style.
“A Day in the Life of the Dead”: Just your average day in the afterlife of Coco.
“Fluffy Stuff with Ducky and Bunny: Three Heads”: Bo’s sheep has three heads. What’s up with that?
“Dancing with the Cars”: The cars show off their dancing skills.
“Cookie Num Num”: It’s midnight-snack time at the Parr residence. So who gets the last cookie?

Disney Plus’ new Pixar Popcorn shorts changed how the animation studio works – Polygon

I liked the idea behind Pixar Popcorn ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and reviewed it positively. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones, but these weren’t intended to be full movies. They aren’t even really anthology short stories, they are shorter than that.

There’s power in brevity.

These animated shorts remind me of flash fiction. I’ve written a bunch of flash fiction stories, even have a book full of flash stories (pictured right) called Flash O’Lantern, for those interested. You can find it on Amazon, but it isn’t my point to self-advertise my fiction work, it’s to draw a parallel between the types of storytelling and length.

Flash fiction is more about the basic story idea itself, or a simple concept, leaving your imagination to do the heavy work and providing at most a scene or three and usually a small number of characters and sparse detail. Often these stories are less than 1,000 words. That’s very word economical considering the average novel is around 75,000 words. Novellas take care of the space between short stories and novels and short stories are everything between a novella and flash fiction. Probably a little less these days, where self-published authors have driven the word count down (and that’s a good thing, IMHO).

I would like to see more movie shorts. There’s value in brevity in storytelling. I would rather see us go that direction for movies than longer, more constipated works like — cough, ahem (Zack Snyder’s 4-Hour Justice League Movie Not Split In Parts?) — 4+ hour director cuts.

I’m not advocating for artificial movie runtimes — because the story should always dictate the length — but personally I believe that 70-110 minutes is the ideal length for the vast majority of feature length movies. Two hours is stretching it. Two and a half is too long. Three hours plus is crazy. Four hours is, well, don’t even get me started.

Once something has gone over a couple hours, it’s time to start thinking of a TV series or miniseries or multiple parts. Those are better platforms for larger scale worlds to build. I don’t think there’s much argument that when a massive work is condensed into a movie when it should have been a miniseries or full TV series that too much can be cut and lost, killing the spirit and depth of the work. Nothing wrong with longer works, just like you don’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail, just use the right tool for the job.

To pull this back to Pixar Popcorn. More, please! What do you think? Would you enjoy seeing more shorter works? Perhaps collections of them like this?

SXSW 2020 Short Film REVIEWS: Quilt Fever, Call Center Blues, Blocks

SXSW 2020 Day 3 of 10 day limited available event. Don’t hesitate, watch these films you’re interested in while you can.

Quilt Fever ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run time: 16 minutes
Director: Olivia Loomis Merrion
SXSW film #5 watched

Quilting gone wild! Every year, quilters gather to showcase their quilts. This is described as the “academy awards of quilting.” There is even a Quilt Channel. I don’t quilt and don’t even know anybody who does. It seems many of those involved with quilting, at least those shown in the short film, were seniors or older. Older seniors than myself. I’m hoping this doesn’t become some dying artistic skill, that there are plenty of younger people involved, but didn’t get that vibe in the film.

Now, just because I don’t know much about quilting, didn’t impact my enjoyment at looking at the many gorgeous quilts displayed. They looked very time consuming, especially those that were sewn largely by hand. There was one lady in particular labeled the “queen of quilting.” She should have been a more central figure, focusing on her would really have made this more compelling. If she’s the best, the one that many look up to on quilting, then how did she get her start? How long does she spend quilting?

The time factor was very glazed over at best. I remain curious how long it takes each of these quilts to be hand-made? There were random shots of sewing machines working in detailed designs. I would have rather seen human beings quilting than machines, but maybe the machines are required or the highest precision stitching? Again, that’s not really explained either.

At the end, it was a fun mostly cursory look at how popular quilting is with quilters, but not sure it converted an outsider to investigate more.

Call Center Blues ⭐️⭐️
Run time: 26 minutes
SXSW film #6 watched

This sometimes somber, often optimistic view of life in the call centers in Tijuana, Mexico. It follows primarily two women and how they have benefited from their experience in the call centers, a primary employer in the area. The sad part is thinking how many businesses based in the United States have opted for call center outside the country, putting people in other countries to work.

We hear the response to this time and again that people in these other countries will work for far less than most Americans. There is truth to that, I’m sure, but it’s interesting to see how a poorer city in a country is impacted by people excited to work. Just being able to have a job. There is a huge value in that vs. being out of work and everything that comes associated with that.

A bit longer and more dramatic than it probably should have been, but took a subject that seems largely boring and spotlights a compelling angle to it.

Blocks ⭐️⭐️½
Run time: 12 minutes
Director: Bridget Moloney
SXSW film #7 watched

Described as an “extistential comedy” a mother starts vomiting up blocks. We could call them LEGO-wannabes, but there is licensing involved there, so we won’t, but you get it. Red, blue, white, etc blocks. The premise is creative, which I liked. The execution? A little underwhelming.

As for comedy? I’m not sure there was any comedy in watch someone throw up blocks. I get there is a larger metaphor to the day to day grind, but I wasn’t feeling it that way. She build a house from the blocks and then doesn’t let anybody come inside it. “Mom’s just trying something out.” — OK, I liked some of the dialogue and the interplay with the husband.

SXSW 2020 Short Film REVIEWS: Selfie, Modern Whore, The Voice in Your Head, Single

SXSW 2020 Day 2 of 10 day limited available event.

Watched the following short movies and reviewed yesterday and rewatched some on day #2. All are non-spoiler reviews for those that haven’t seen.

Selfie ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Run time: 9 minutes

The blue ‘S’ you would think means Skype, but not here, it stands for the fictional service Selfie, an Instagram-like social media service. Those who use the service do not get what they bargained for.

The ending in particular has a real bite to it, and I dug it. On Day #2 of SXSW this was showing as “unavailable” when I tried rewatching it, so you may not be able to watch it. The other SXSW movies are showing up.

Sidenote: there are other short movies on Amazon Prime Video with the title of “Selfie” and several involve figures in the selfie picture that weren’t there.

Modern Whore ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run time: 12 minutes

An escort shares what her life is like playing a character that is “a sexy version of myself.” What she discovers is that others are rating her, but not on what really happened, what their fictional perception of what happened. It explores the online review culture, awarding star ratings for the dates, her appearance and sexual performance.

“She can play the flute” and other juicy dialogue.

Entertaining, but could see it getting annoying if it was much longer. Short film is definitely the right length.

The Voice in Your Head ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run time: 13 minutes

Starts out with a visceral scene of a guy being spit on by another guy insulting and degrading him. This presumably is his voice in the head, and he’s pretty funny. “Eat normal!” Dig the dark green pimp outfit, gold chain and polished shoes.

Then the twist comes. Awkward and funny. This might fit nicely in an anthology of self-discovery stories. My favorite of the four watched.

Single ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Run time: 16 minutes

She has one arm and has a date with a man with one hand. They discuss and explore their disabilities and how others try not to stare, but do. The woman character is not very likable, but the man fights to overcome it. I’d be interested in seeing more of these characters.

More films at SXSW via Amazon …

The first group of these short films were mostly enjoyable. I mean, they are quick. Like watching a scene or three. This is how I imagine Quibi is targeting people with their quick bites videos. When watching they feel like the visual equivalent of reading flash fiction.

I’m going to watch and review more over the rest of the 10 day online festival. Have you watched any of the SXSW films yet? What have been your thoughts so far? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Hey, Budding Unknown Directors – Roger Corman Interested In Your 2 Minute Quarantine Film

Death Race 2000 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

This sounds like a fun, creative challenge issues by legendary B-movie man Roger Corman (Death Race 2000) who is credited with starting the careers of directors like Martin Scorsese. James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola and others.

The criteria for submissions, as outlined by Corman, are simple. The films, which can be about “anything you can imagine,” must be less than two minutes. They must be shot in or around your home. (“The cast can be your family or whoever is in your house with you.”) And the only equipment allowed is “your cellphone and the lights and lamps you have at your house.”

B-movie icon Roger Corman wants to see your quarantine film – Los Angeles Times

We need more people like Corman in the movie making business. He knew how to get more out of less, which will even be more important in the future post pandemic movie production budgetary environment.

$300,000. That’s all Death Race 2000 cost to make. What would it cost in 2020 to make? Still less than a couple million dollars. Blumhouse has ripped a page from Corman’s budget filmmaking 101. More need to follow.