Jobs well done and a sharper Harper

Tuesday, 24 January 2006 — 9:29pm | Animation, Film

It’s official. That’s the capsule summary, anyway; here’s the full press release.

There’s a lot of optimism bubbling everywhere, even in auspiciously-titled pre-announcement commentaries like “Will the great big Disney destroy little Pixar?” But it looks like it’s Pixar’s positive energy spilling over onto the House that Walt Built.

Have a gander at this. It’s the day of the deal, and they already got rid of David Stainton. The same David Stainton who reportedly had the tact to tell all the newly-fired Florida animators that “the public couldn’t really tell the difference between the direct-to-video stuff and the films that Feature Animation actually produces.” Disney’s on the up-and-up.

Harry McCracken sums up the open questions pretty well, though he doesn’t address what I alluded to in my previous post as my biggest source of curiosity: creative control over sequels to established Pixar hits. But I’m sure there will be no shortage of commentary on every aspect of the deal in the days to come, so I’ll leave further comment to the experts.

On a related note about moving pictures: last year, and the year before that, I wrote about the touring selection of short films from the annual Ottawa International Animation Festival. The 2005 programme didn’t impress me as much as the last two, though that’s not to say the films weren’t good. There were a few standouts, and there are two in particular that I think I’ll remember for some time to come: Morir de Amor, Gil Alkabetz’s film starring two singing parrots in a birdcage, and At the Quinte Hotel, Vancouver animator Bruce Alcock’s interpretation of Al Purdy’s poem about beer and yellow flowers (set to the poet’s own reading). They’re marvels, and I want to discover them all over again.

And now for something completely different.

Everybody in the country has already said something about the outcome of the federal election in their own blogospherical cubbyholes. I normally either avoid discussing politics altogether or reserve it for rare cameo appearances at Points of Information, as a fiercely unaffiliated citizen whose interest is not in policy but in the dynamics of political gamesmanship. However, this time I have a few words on the subject.

Generally speaking, I like the final result, at least on the seat-count level of analysis. The Conservatives don’t have a majority to abuse, the Liberals don’t have a government to corrupt, the Bloc doesn’t have its former sovereigntist momentum and the NDP doesn’t hold the balance of power. Everybody lost in exactly the right ways, with the prominent exception of election MVP André Arthur.

Many have already pointed out that Stephen Harper’s victory speech is a contemporary classic as far as Canadian political rhetoric goes. I certainly don’t remember anything else of that quality from his party since its Frankensteinian reincarnation in 2004.

There’s one specific thing the incoming Prime Minister said that partisan sycophants of all colours (including his own) needed to hear, and I’m delighted he said it. I’ll highlight the relevant passage, and include the crescendo that precedes it for dramatic effect.

“Today, for the 39th time in 139 years, Canadians have elected a new Parliament. And as we have done many times before, Canadians have selected a new government. Let me say here tonight and to remind all of you that through all these different governments with their different priorities in their different eras, one constant binds us from MacDonald’s coalition of Tories and Reformers to the modern Conservative Party I lead. Canada: strong, united, independent and free.

“To those who did not vote for us, I pledge to lead a government that will work for all of us. We will move forward together. Our national identity was not forged by government policy; it does not flow from any one programme, any one leader or any one party. Our Canada is rooted in our shared history and in the values which have and will endure.

One last thing that nobody noticed or cared enough about to remember: a little after the stroke of midnight, CBC had a live report at the Liberal Party headquarters in British Columbia, where the mood certainly wasn’t that of a defeated party. Their correspondent had to speak up to hear himself above a jazz band they’d rented for the evening. They commented on the hot jazz and the cocktail party feel of the whole shindig.

What they didn’t point out was the song the band was playing: “Freddie Freeloader”. How appropriate. Doubly appropriate that like almost everything we consider jazz, most of the song is just a bunch of guys making it up as they go along. (The original recording on the seminal Miles Davis album Kind Of Blue features some of the most legendary blues solos you or I will ever hear.) The difference is that jazzmen improvise on chords and scales, and Paul Martin improvised on the notwithstanding clause.


submit to reddit

Say something interesting: