April 20, 2017
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The Latest from Disney and Pixar
by Karl Cohen
The stars of 'Inside Out' are the lead's psychological parts, voiced (lft-rit): Anger/Lewis Black, Fear/Bill Hader, Joy/Amy Poehler, Disgust/Mindy Kaling and Sadness/Phyllis Smith. photo: courtesy Pixar
Despite the Press, Not Everyone Thrilled with Inside Out
After a friend and I saw “Inside Out”, the new Pixar film written and directed by Pete Docter, we agreed it was disappointing. Although both of us enjoyed several sequences—even found some of it remarkably inventive, “Inside Out” was long, dull and seemingly unending. It felt like a good-looking experiment that didn’t quite work.
Although it has been lauded in the press, with a 98% "Top Critics Rating" from Rotten Tomatos, which uses words like "inventive" and "powerfully moving," my main problem was I couldn’t bond with any of the characters or even develop any empathy. It was simply not compelling to me.
The dialog comes so fast, there was no time to digest what is being said. I wasn't that excited by the lands Joy, the protagonist voiced by Amy Poehler, visits on her quest. Sure, there is lots of wonderful design work and inventive elements, but I didn't feel Joy's quest was real. It would have been an excellent adventure film if I had cared about the hero's search. That didn't happen.
A film about a kid having a nervous breakdown isn't my idea of a film we needed to see especially in the animation realm. If it were a serious drama I might have a different opinion. When I entered the theatre I was expecting from the advanced publicity a light, possibly educational comedy about emotions.
Scene from 'Inside Out' shows, rather precisely, middleclass life in San Francisco where a lot of Pixarians live: folding chairs at a tiny dining table, squeezed at the foot of a Victorian staircase. photo: courtesy Pixar
“Inside Out” didn’t meet my expiations. I only recalled laughing out loud once or twice. Nor was I on the edge of my seat as the adventure progressed.
I saw it with about 100 kids at the Balboa out in the almost suburban district of Western San Francisco. They didn't laugh very much or for very long, and never loudly, nor was there any real applause. When one person started to applaud, no one followed so he or she stopped.
Although I’m sure some kids loved the fast pace and rapid delivery of the dialog, I suspect the ideas in it will fly over their heads.
Of course I'm glad I saw it, especially since I had already written about the making of “Inside Out” for another publication, where I expressed interest in the promise of an intelligent and exciting film.
I’m glad it is popular at the box office. A lot of good people work at Pixar and they are the only big animation company left in the Bay Area doing theatrical work. I hope this endeavor will be profitable enough for the studio to continue to explore fresh new ideas and not just make sequels.
Disney workers protest after they are told to train their replacements with H-1 Visas. photo: courtesy LA Times
Disney Fires Animators, Hires Immigrants
While I’m not aware of any labor problems at Pixar, which is owned by Disney, the New York Times reported that Disney World in Florida has replaced 250 tech employees in their large data system operation with immigrants from India at a lower wage, see
. To add insult to injury Disney went so far as to order some workers to train their replacements. Florida is a right to work state which allows this to happen.
The employees were told in late October 2014 that they would be laid off and immigrants, virtually all from India on temporary H-1B visas for highly skilled technical workers, would replace them. Disney is saving money by hiring the Indians and flying them to Florida. Many people feel Disney is abusing the law, the law was not intended to displace American worker with foreigners who could be hired for less money,
Is this a sign of the future? This kind of layoff is happening at other companies including the Southern California Edison power utility. The H-1B visas have been at the center of a fierce debate in Congress and in talks between the U.S. and India. Although current law permits 85,000 visas per year, apparently, the quota is usually reached within days. As a result, India has long been lobbying for an increase in the quota.
Aren’t there enough Americans with the skills they need? Probably, but according to a more recent article in the NY Times (June 15, 2015), “Workers Betrayed by Visa Loopholes”, “It hardly needs saying that immigration policy should not undermine Americans’ jobs, wages or working conditions. The problem is that what some companies want is cheap, exploitable, disposable labor and the system can be twisted into giving it to them.”
“The Labor Department announced it was investigating two of the largest companies that supply H-1B workers, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, based in India,” the article continued.
“Senators including Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, asked for the inquiry after reports that Southern California Edison turned to Infosys and Tata for H-1B workers even as it was laying off 540 workers, many of whom said they had to train their replacements.”
The NY Times recently reported a similar story that Disney also “contracted with HCL America, a branch of an Indian outsourcer, and laid off 250 workers. Some workers said they were asked to stay on to train the newcomers who took over their jobs.”
The editorial added, “A mass influx of foreigners doing the jobs of the workers they displace is clearly not what the law intended (but…). The H-1B law, it does not require companies to recruit American workers before looking overseas.”
After the above news about Disney layoffs was picked up by the press, Disney’s ABC TV division cancelled 30 recently announced layoffs. The 30 people are with ABC’s IT department and had been given layoff notices just three weeks before the company had a change of heart. The almost fired employees had been told their jobs would be outsourced. The layoffs may have been reversed after Disney got negative publicity for eliminating 250 IT jobs a few weeks earlier.”
Karl Cohen is an animator, educator and director of the local chapter of the International Animation Society and can be reached
Posted on Jul 21, 2015 - 06:56 PM