Move over, James Bond. There’s a new spy patrolling the globe, and if his affectations seem comparatively pedestrian – he can’t handle a martini, shaken or stirred, and he sports a thick coat of rust where Her Majesty’s favorite sleuth prefers finely fitted Savile Row – he is, dents and all, more recognizably human.
He is Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), a happy-go-lucky tow-truck whose best friend, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), happens to be the world’s fastest racer.
He was born in Hollywood, the son of Jewell Mae, a high-school art teacher, and Paul Lasseter, a parts manager at Chevrolet dealership. He is an avid NASCAR fan, a personal friend of three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon, and in his spare time, whenever that is, he likes to catch the races at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.
Just as winter is the season of Oscar hopefuls, the dog days belong to big-budget popcorn fare – star-studded comedies, explosive adventures and comic-book crusaders bent on saving humanity from imminent destruction. This June will be no different, with a strong crop of contenders mining for box-office gold, including:
Walk into the adult-friendly playground that is the Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, and the first thing that strikes you is the lavish decorations – a life-size replica of Ken’s decadent dollhouse from Toy Story 3, complete with a working elevator, rising from the lobby’s handsome, light-blond hardwood floor as if in tribute to the movie and its detail-obsessed creators.
It's last call for The Most Dangerous Man in America, a richly deserving Oscar nominee for Best Documentary at this year's Oscars, and opening weekend for The Greatest, Steve Carell and Tina Fey's underwhelming Date Night, and When You're Strange, Tom DiCillo's enlightening new chronicle of The Doors and their depressing, addiction-fueled demise. Here is what's playing at an indie theater near you.
With more rain on the horizon and thousands of comic-book fans descending on the city for this weekend's Wondercon at Moscone Center South, it might be an ideal time to curl up with a good book or escape to your local indie theater for a cinematic escape. Here's a sampling of the best movies currently in rotation.
One of the year's best films arrives this weekend in the form of Hot Tub Time Machine, a delightfully inane, raunchy comedy that puts the movies it will inevitably be compared to – last year's The Hangover, for instance – to shame. Elsewhere:
The revitalization of Disney animation over a 10-year period, culminating in 1994 with the smash hit The Lion King, as well as the subsequent disintegration of the working relationship between executives Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and the late Roy E. Disney, are the primary subjects of Waking Sleeping Beauty, Don Hahn’s fascinating new documentary that takes us behind the scenes at the Mouse House with remarkable candor.
Sitting before a standing-room-only crowd of 6,500, most of whom had waited hours to catch a glimpse of the silver-haired animation master and greeted him with a raucous standing ovation at last month’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego, Hayao Miyazaki played the part of reclusive auteur to perfection.
He was soft spoken and unfailingly polite as longtime friend John Lasseter, the Pixar Animation chief who describes his films as “unique and inspirational,” questioned him about Ponyo, his wondrously illustrated tale of a fish who turns into a little girl after discovering love in the human world.
If his answers came off as less than revealing, nobody seemed to mind.
Pete Docter is no stranger to success.
A 19-year veteran of Pixar’s Emeryville-based animation studio, Docter, 40, is, like so many of his similarly tenured peers, a creative force whose contributions to the company’s cinematic canon have been as indispensable as they have been varied. As an animator, he helped craft the innovative look of the studio’s first two films, Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. He co-authored Toy Story and its critically adored sequel and, more recently, helped develop the scripts for Monsters, Inc. (which he also directed) and last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature, WALL*E.