June 27th, 2008
11:00 AM ET

Weekend plans

For me, this weekend means looking to the future and looking to the past:

"Wall-E" is the latest film from Pixar - and reviews suggest it's another classic.

  • As I’ve written in a previous entry, I’m a huge fan of Pixar. The studio is known for starting with a good story and working as hard on its scripts as it does on its animation, and the process has paid off: classic after classic, from “Toy Story” to “Monsters, Inc.” to “The Incredibles” to the wonderful “Ratatouille.” (If only every other studio was as devoted to story development, instead of a determination to blow money on special effects and poorly cast stars.) Pixar’s new film, “Wall-E,” looks to be another winner, based on the reviews. I can’t wait to see it.
  • One thing that’s struck me is how many reviews have compared the title character with Number Five in “Short Circuit” instead of the robot(s) that immediately came to my mind: Huey, Dewey and Louie from 1972’s “Silent Running.” Indeed, in some ways “Wall-E” is “Silent Running” from the other end of the telescope, the view from the polluted Earth instead of from outer space - in the case of “Silent Running,” ships that contain the planet’s forests and greenery.

    Of course, “Silent Running” is mostly tragic. I assume the G-rated “Wall-E” has a happier ending. And a better closing song.

  • On Tuesday, Criterion put out a new edition of “The Furies,” the 1950 Western directed by Anthony Mann (“Winchester ’73,” “The Glenn Miller Story,” “El Cid”). Watching “High Noon” has whetted my appetite for other unusual Westerns, and “The Furies” fits the bill: for starters, its lead character is a woman, played by Barbara Stanwyck. She’s trying to hold on to the family ranch by staying cleverly close to her father, played by Walter Huston in his last performance. The film contains psychological levels atypical of its time (and genre). Though Leonard Maltin’s film guide gives the film only 2 ½ stars, the L.A. Times and The New Yorker offer raves. Definitely worth a look.
  • And then there’s the 15th-anniversary edition of Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville,” the 1993 album that topped critics’ lists and made Phair an indie star - a status she’s struggled with ever since. I remember listening to the album when it came out, but with few exceptions it didn’t bowl me over - certainly not in the way some of “Whip-Smart” did a year later. Lord knows what happened to my old copy. I’ll give it another spin.
  • Or maybe I’ll rent “Silent Running.” It’s been awhile since I’ve watched it …

    - Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer

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