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The first 30 minutes of Coco

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Pixar

Posted by Simoa • August 28, 2017

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime – a visit to Pixar! In anticipation of Coco, which will be released in November, Disney invited bloggers and various outlets to the Emeryville studio for a press event on August 3rd and 4th. We got to see the first thirty five minutes of Pixar’s latest Lee Unkrich helmed feature.

Few things can compare to watching a Pixar film in Pixar’s very own theater! As Unkrich announced on twitter recently, Coco is now completed. The version we saw was unfinished. There were completed sequences, rough sketches, and unlighted animation. Yet the film was still engrossing and quite beautiful.

After we settled in our seats, the Disney logo appeared onscreen, its familiar theme played by a mariachi band.

Coco tells the story of twelve year old Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez). The Riveras are shoemakers, a tradition that has been passed down through the generations from matriarch Mama Imelda, Miguel’s great-great grandmother. Miguel is not at all impressed with the family’s chosen occupation. He would have preferred something much more exciting and fun. As we learn at the start of the film, Mama Imelda became a shoemaker in order to support herself and her daughter after her husband abandoned the family for his music career. Miguel explains that she didn’t have time to feel sad or sorry for herself.

But Mama Imelda, stung by her husband’s betrayal, forbids music in the Rivera family. No one is allowed to play or listen to music and certainly not to pursue it for a career. Miguel’s great-great grandfather is also never mentioned or seen; Miguel doesn’t even know his name.

As we arrive in present day Mexico, the no music rule has been strictly enforced by Miguel’s abuelita (Renee Victor). The Riveras are the only family in Mexico that will have nothing to do with music. Perhaps it’s because they fear abuelita’s wrath that the Riveras do not question or challenge the ban on music. They are all content to make shoes. All except Miguel, that is. He desperately wants to become a musician and has taught himself to play the guitar. He’s also built a shrine to his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.

Once the most popular singer in Mexico, de la Cruz appeared in movies and enjoyed great fame before his untimely death in the 1940s. Miguel is convinced that music is his destiny, the same as it was for de la Cruz. But unfortunately, his secret ambition is revealed to his family.

Coco is a unique film from the start. From just the first half hour, it’s clear that Pixar has crafted another heartwarming portrayal of family life. Though Miguel must hide his passion for music, the Riveras are a close knit bunch. Abuelita is formidable and won’t hesitate to hit someone with her chancla, but she’s a warm, loving grandmother.

Miguel is likable immediately. His desire for music is communicated so strongly that it’s unimaginable that he would make shoes or do anything else. The audience believes that music is part of his destiny as well.

And this is only the Land of the Living. There’s another world in Coco, one bursting with life and color, despite its name. Miguel is transported to the Land of the Dead and it’s here that he meets the Rivera family members that have died. They are as funny and vibrant as his living family.

The Land of the Dead is run like a typical government agency, with workers who sit at desks behind computers.

Pixar’s worlds have always been a visual and technical marvel. They’ve captured wonder in worlds both real and imagined. With Coco, Mexico becomes a character too, though it never overwhelms the human ones. We become fully immersed in both worlds of the living and dead, as well as the language, music, and culture.

From what I was lucky enough to see, I am eagerly anticipating the completed film!

I’ll have plenty more posts about my incredible two day trip at Pixar and all that I learned about Coco. Check back here for more!

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Meet Hector, The Skeleton With A Big Heart

Adrian Molina, Coco, Lee Unkrich

Posted by Nia • August 21, 2017

Since Coco was announced, which itself feels like many moons ago, there has been loads of anticipation for the film and the Dia de los Muertos story it promises audiences. In a recent article released by Entertainment Weekly, they revealed more about Hector, one of the supporting characters who’s going to take the film by storm. When Miguel accidentally enters the Land of the Dead, it’s Hector who helps guide him through the world.

Hector is voiced by Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, and Coco is Gael’s first time doing voice over work for animation and even singing on film. He was initially drawn towards this project due to Pixar’s strong storytelling techniques and the fact they’re tackling such a huge Mexican tradition.

“Dealing with a tradition that is very generous and very open, you can have many points of view and many takes on that tradition, and I was really curious what type of approach they were going to have, but the one they’re going for is fantastic. The filmmakers have done a really great job in doing a big investigation and an amalgam of different traditions that go on in different parts of Mexico, but also explaining that it’s not about establishing one single way of celebrating the Day of the Dead. There are many ways, and Coco, the way they approach it, is a really beautiful one.”

Not only was the story a large part of Gael accepting the project, but he was also inspired by the character he was going to bring to life. Hector is unique to the previous roles that Gael is famous for, such as Rodrigo in Mozart in the Jungle and Julio in Y Tu Mamá También.

“He’s almost like Baloo in The Jungle Book — he’s a confident and fun guy to be with, but at the same time, he’s having a very deep existential problem. He’s living an interesting dichotomy in the Land of the Dead. We’re at a turning point where most men want to be close to their kids, and this is something that three generations ago wasn’t incorporated in society. The man was at work, then would enjoy the kids, but it wasn’t like they had that emotional, physical, and practical need to be close to the kids. But now we do experience that — me, as a son, and as a father, I can tell you, you want to be close to your kids. And this is something that the character is going through. Little by little you start to understand the battle he’s been fighting. Finding points of encounter between something you enjoy doing or something that you love, like music, and the time that the family requires. It’s almost like a crisis point. It’s something we’re all finding ways how to make that better. That’s Hector’s spiritual beginning, or his departure point when this film starts.”

From all of the trailers and the recent content that’s been released from Pixar, it’s obvious that Coco is going to have a strong focus on family, especially one’s ancestry and learning to appreciate where one has come from.

“What’s so fantastic about this movie is that it really taps into interesting critical points of our understanding of our existence as a collective, and one of them is the family aspect. In general, the family conversation has become incredibly fluid. It can turn into different shapes and forms, and we’re trying to talk about and establish new ways of how a family can be. At the same time, there is something really, really deep inside of this question that family is the foundation of our society. In a sense, we’re questioning the family as a concept and as an end, and that’s something that is really interesting and pushes the audience’s appreciation about these issues.”

We’re incredibly excited at Upcoming Pixar to be immersed in the music and culture that is just bursting through the images in all of the Coco designs. The film is set to premiere in cinemas this November 22nd.

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Brand new international Coco poster + trailer!

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Poster, Trailer

Posted by Simoa • August 7, 2017

Lee Unkrich has shared the newest international poster for Coco on twitter.

More characters are featured; Miguel’s family, both living and dead and his spirit guide, Hector. Our hero is front and center, beaming as he holds Ernesto de la Cruz’s guitar. The poster signals a triumphant moment, as the Rivera family looks at their youngest with pride, although music has been forbidden in the family for generations. This lovely poster comes to us just days after the latest Spanish language trailer was released, which you can watch below.


The central conflict, the Rivera family’s aversion to music, is briefly explored in this trailer, for the first time. We’re also treated to a brief glimpse of Miguel’s abuelita, who wields a powerful shoe (chancla, in this case). Hector, Miguel’s spirit guide in the land of the dead, is also given some lines and has a funny interaction with Miguel, who tries his best to imitate a skeleton walk.

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to visit Pixar and watch the first 35 minutes of the film. Some of that footage was included in this trailer, which is the best one so far.

Check back here for more Coco updates and some special posts all about the Pixar screening and more!

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Details on The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4 and more at D23

Coco, D23, Dan Scanlon, Josh Cooley, Lee Unkrich, Suburban Fantasy Film, The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • July 14, 2017

The d in D23 should stand for dream, because it’s a dream come true for anyone lucky to attend. While your faithful writers here at Pixar Planet weren’t at the convention center in Anaheim, we do have plenty of news that’s sure to get you pumped for Pixar’s upcoming slate!

Coco

Lee Unkrich’s tribute to Mexico’s most famous holiday will be released on Thanksgiving. Coco “explores the universal themes of family bonds as well as celebrating the past.” A new image of main character Miguel with Hector, his guide in the spirit world, was revealed at D23. Anthony Gonzalez, voice of Miguel and Benjamin Bratt, who voices Miguel’s idol Ernesto de La Cruz, performed a song at the panel’s conclusion. It was penned by the duo behind the music of Frozen, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

The Incredibles 2

The Parr family returns to the big screen on June 15, 2018. Less than a year away folks! The original cast is back with newcomer Huck Milner voicing Dash. The film picks up just minutes after the events of the first, which means The Underminer gets much more screen time. And in this sequel, Elastigirl has a much more prominent role. This is what we’ve come to expect from Pixar sequels, a focus on new and returning female characters. More details about the film from Coming Soon.net:

“Bob is watching Jack-Jack, but falls asleep on the couch. On the TV, there’s an old black and white movie with cops chasing robbers. Jack-Jack sees a masked bandit on TV and then looks outside to see a raccoon digging through the trash. Thinking that the raccoon looks like the burglar, he confronts it. At first, the raccoon tries to scare the baby off, but Jack-Jack’s powers activate and he chases the critter through the yard Jack-Jack appears to have way more powers than in the short, too! Bob wakes up and finds his son fighting the raccoon and is super excited to learn that his son has powers.”

Check out this video celebrating fashion’s most intrepid designer, Edna Mode!

Toy Story 4

John Lasseter announced that the fourth installment will be directed by Josh Cooley. Cooley shared a director credit with Lasseter, but now the film is being solely directed by him. We’re excited for his debut!

And that’s not all. A new film with was also announced today. Fans should be delighted to learn that Dan Scanlon will be helming this feature, his first since 2013’s Monsters University. “The Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You To A Suburban Fantasy World” blends magic with ordinary life. It’s a world inhabited entirely by fantasy beings, but no human ones. One of the clips featured unicorns scavenging for trash. Not the ethereal creatures we usually imagine! Per Variety:

“…the untitled Pixar project will follow two characters who must go on a quest to track down their lost father, a man they known nothing about.” The project has some personal undertones for Scanlon, who lost his father at a young age. Hopefully this newest film will quell any lingering worries about Pixar’s reliance on sequels, and the persistent belief that they no longer are capable of original stories. No release date has been set.

A big thanks to our friends over at The Pixar Times for their coverage! Let us know which films you’re looking forward to most.

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Pixar reveals an all-Latino cast for Coco (and a new poster!)

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • June 6, 2017

Along with a beautiful new poster, Pixar released details today of the large cast of characters that we can look forward to seeing in Coco later this year, all voiced by actors of Latino descent (including Gabriel Iglesias, Renée Victor, Sofía Espinosa, and Edward James Olmos). It’s worth remembering that Pixar put a lot of effort into making the cast of Brave entirely Scottish or of Scottish descent (save a few lines of dialogue, like the now-essential John Ratzenberger cameo), so it’s great to see them doing the same and more for Coco.

Information on the cast reveal can be found on Oh My Disney. 18 characters have been revealed, many of them relatives of the main character Miguel, so it seems like we might be seeing a big family reunion in the Land of the Dead. Even though each character is given just a brief description, this new information has really fleshed out the world in which Coco is taking place. We’ve learned that Miguel’s family comes from a long line of shoemakers, and the business was created by his great-great grandmother Mamá Imelda. “The matriarch of the Rivera family”, she is bound to be a strong, interesting character that I’m sure many of us are looking forward to meeting. It also seems like there might be a bit of tension between the musicians and the shoemakers in his extended family…

With Coco being released in under 6 months, we can definitely begin to look forward to seeing more trailers, teasers and posters. In fact, a new trailer is expected to land later this week! Director Lee Unkrich has posted pictures on Twitter of some of the voice actors – Gabriel Iglesias and Edward James Olmos – at Pixar Studios recording lines for the movie.

And the continued support from Jorge R. Gutierrez, the director of The Book of Life which also centred around Día de los Muertos, is still as heart-warming as ever.

Coco is set to release in North American theatres on November 22nd 2017.

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Don Rickles, beloved voice of Mr. Potato Head, dies

Don Rickles, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, rest in peace, Toy Story

Posted by Simoa • April 7, 2017

Don Rickles (May 8, 1926 – April 6, 2017)

Don Rickles, the famous and lovable “insult comic” has died at age 90. Although his career began in the 1950s, with supporting roles in films, he is primarily beloved by Pixar fans as Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films. Rickles died of kidney failure, as reported by the LA Times.

Lee Unkrich shared his memories of Rickles, and noted with fondness the insults he received while they worked together.

A moving tribute by John Lasseter was also shared by Pixar earlier today.

Don Rickles truly was a member of the Pixar family. Just try to imagine the Toy Story films without the singular presence, wit, and directness of Mr. Potato Head. His impact on other comedians and actors can’t possibly be overstated. He will be dearly missed.

We want to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends during this time.

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Watch The First Teaser Trailer for Coco!

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Trailer

Posted by Nia • March 15, 2017

It’s here! Pixar’s love letter to Mexico! Today the studio released the first of many trailers for their upcoming Day of the Dead inspired film Coco. It is certainly fantastic being able to see these characters we’ve merely read about for months finally breathing with life.

From the first few seconds of the footage alone, it’s obvious this film is going to be spectacular in terms of character design, color, setting, and music.

We instantly bond with Miguel, a young aspiring guitarist, as he lights candles in remembrance for Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous Mexican actor and musician. It’s even later hinted that the famous personality might be Miguel’s father – which is fitting because it’s obvious Miguel has a natural talent after he mimics Cruz’s notes on the guitar.

In the trailer, we see how Miguel reaches the Land of the Dead and what this new world and characters within it will look like. We also get to see Dante, the Xolo dog, in action there – as playful as ever as he rolls around a bridge that appears to be constructed out of flower petals.

Suffice to say, we want more and can’t wait until the film is released on November 22nd.

P.S. We need to hear more of Ernesto de la Cruz’s music!!!

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Check Out The New Poster for Coco!

Coco, Lee Unkrich, Poster

Posted by Nia • March 13, 2017

Lee Unkrich, the director of Coco, released a brand new poster for the upcoming film on Friday:

The poster is colorful and heaps of fun, as it depicts one of the characters of the film, Dante – a hairless Mexican dog, otherwise known as a Xoloitzcuintle. It’s also hard not to notice the character being playfully pet by a skeleton whilst what appears to be glowing flower petals float away to the left.

And yes… you certainly read that correctly! We will finally be seeing a trailer for Unkrich’s second feature film THIS week. Seriously, we can hardly wait.

Coco is set to be released this November.

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A new, gorgeous Coco still

Coco, Lee Unkrich

Posted by Simoa • December 26, 2016

A great gift for Pixar fans on Christmas day was yet another image from Coco. Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, we also have some details on the newest still.

Coco (2017) Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez)

Without context, it appears that this is a crucial moment in the film, a victorious one of Miguel in his quest to pursue music which is forbidden by his family.

The lighting in this still is phenomenal. The light pouring in through the windows gives this image an ethereal quality, along with the gold dust. Is the dust a result of Miguel playing the guitar, or is it some sort of magical property? Or both?

From EW:

In the shot above, you’re catching Miguel in a beautiful, pivotal moment: He’s just committed a literal grave act and borrowed — just borrowed! — the guitar hanging in De La Cruz’s tomb. Unfortunately, it’s Dia de Muertos, and Miguel’s well-intentioned deed of grave robbery is badly-timed, and he’s about to be inadvertently sent to the Land of the Dead, where he’ll come face to face with the same great-great-relatives who banned music in his family.

Director Lee Unkrich also clarifies that Coco is not a traditional musical. And the final musical moment in Toy Story 3 actually helped to inspire this film!

Coco heads to theaters on November 22, 2017.

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Sweet music: new images and plot details revealed for Coco!

Coco, Lee Unkrich

Posted by Simoa • December 6, 2016

COCO LOGO-1B FINAL COLOR on BK 5-23-16

Details about Pixar’s 2017 release Coco have been shrouded in mystery following its initial announcement in 2012. Director Lee Unkrich recently began to update his twitter feed with behind the scenes photos and announced that more news about the film would be forthcoming. And the newest plot details and artwork for Coco certainly do not disappoint.

What we’ve always known about the film is that it takes inspiration from the Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This latest update gives us a look at the film’s main character and the plot. Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez), is a 12 year old aspiring musician. Unfortunately for him, it’s a forbidden path due to his family’s hatred for music, which was banned by his great-great grandmother after his great-great grandfather abandoned the family for a music career.

How does the rich and splendid tradition of Dia de Los Muertos figure into this story? Miguel ends up in the Land of the Dead (quite by mistake) and meets all the of the Rivera family members that have gone before. His favorite singer is Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), in whose footsteps he wants to follow. But aside from admiring de la Cruz, as Entertainment Weekly reports, there’s also a connection between the famous singer and the young boy.

Joining the voice cast are Gael García Bernal as Hector, a skeletal spirit, and Renee Victor as Abuelita, Miguel’s grandmother.

mama-coco-concept-art

Miguel and his great-grandmother, Mama Coco. Concept art by Kristoff Vergne and Sharon Calahan.

While this film will no doubt draw unfavorable comparisons to The Book of Life (2014), it’s worth remembering that Coco has been in production for years. And Jorge Gutierrez, director of Life, is excited and supports Coco!

Some might even be skeptical because Lee Unkrich isn’t Mexican, but co-director Adrien Molina is. Authenticity and respect are the highest priorities for Unkrich and his crew as they bring this story to life. A Vanity Fair article (be wary of spoilers!) delves into the impact the film will have and Pixar’s newfound commitment to telling inclusive stories. This will be the first full length Pixar film to feature a Latino lead, or nonwhite lead, period. Unkrich was intentional about the film’s all Latino cast, something that tends to be overlooked in mainstream animation. More encouraging still is the presence of Lalo Alcaraz as one of the film’s consultants. He’s a Chicano artist who strongly criticized Disney’s attempt to trademark Dia de Los Muertos. Pixar’s reputation for extensive research and nuanced storytelling should offer assurance, and audiences, particularly Mexicans, deserve nothing less.

As Unkrich notes:

“I knew from day one, when John Lasseter gave the okay, that we had an enormous responsibility to tell this story right and to not lapse into cliche or stereotype.”

As with “Sanjay’s Super Team”, Coco represents a bold new direction for Pixar. Regardless of race or background, anyone can be a Pixar hero.

Coco opens in theaters on November 22, 2017.

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