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This week sees the home entertainment release of Coco (Disney, PG), Pixar’s sweet-souled, lantern-lit melange of Mexican lore with Hollywood hero’s-journey corn. It’s the animation superpower’s most purely charming film in several years: not as concept-y and clever-clever as Inside Out, not as clattering and flagrantly product-hawking as the ongoing Cars franchise. If I didn’t find its characters quite distinct or resonant enough to earn it a place in the cartoon pantheon, it passes as prettily and melodiously as the songs that carry it.
Thinking of that pantheon, however, reminded me that I’ve yet to really investigate Disney streaming options in this column. The biggest entertainment brand in the world may seem oppressively ubiquitous, spinning yet more money by remaking their already entrenched back catalogue, while a millennial generation reared on the Mouse House’s early-1990s golden age assert the Lion Kings and Little Mermaids of their childhood as standard cultural currency. (Just spend a minute browsing BuzzFeed these days and you’ll get the idea.) But if you or your child have a yen to stream one of those universally familiar Disney classics, they’re not all as ever-present as you might think.
Over at Netflix, for example, you can stream Jon Favreau’s slickly CGI-lacquered, soul-deprived update of The Jungle Book, but not the infinitely more spirited, witty 1967 animation on which it is so slavishly based. For a tenner or so, you can download the latter – and other standards of its ilk, from Bambi to Mary Poppins – for keeps through the usual avenues of Amazon, Apple or Sky, which obviously isn’t the worst investment for parents of children at the “tireless rewatcher” stage of Disney fandom.
If you’re looking for more flexible access to the corporation’s library, however, DisneyLife is really your only option – and at five quid a month for a subscription (half the price it was at its launch), it’s a pretty fair one. I’ve been slow to explore this peppily designed, all-Disney-all-the-time streaming service since it debuted in late 2015 – largely because, impeccably useful as it is, it doesn’t offer much scope for discovery. At DisneyLife, depending on how deep you’re willing to go into the bottomless pit of bonus Frozen content, you pretty much know what you’re going to get.
And that’s a lot: nearly 500 films, including all the gilded favourites alongside junkier throwaways and sidelined stragglers (sorry, The Black Cauldron, though you’re better than I remembered), plus a candy-coloured morass of TV series, cartoon shorts and all the related spinoffs and making-of content your heart could questionably desire. (And I’m only focusing on video streaming here: soundtracks and ebooks also fall under the DisneyLife umbrella.) This withered millennial found it all somewhat overwhelming, though I’ve observed pre-school kids navigating it with zippy authority.
It’s also, somewhat unusually, a streaming goldmine that was granted to the UK before the US. Quite how the comparatively modest DisneyLife model will accordingly shift when the company launches its planned, reportedly Netflix-rivalling mega-service stateside next year remains to be seen, but “less is more” has never exactly been the Disney ethos. A bevy of original streaming-only content, ranging from live-action remakes of Lady and the Tramp and The Sword in the Stone to a televisual extension of the Star Wars universe, are all on the cards. Some might find that prospect more ominous than exciting: it’s a Disney world, and we just live in it.
New to streaming & DVD this week
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Now that the Oscar-season political debates have died down, Martin McDonagh’s spikily acted midwestern barn-burner remains obnoxiously entertaining.
A Fantastic Woman
(Curzon Artificial Eye, 15)
A worthy best foreign film Oscar winner, Sebastián Lelio’s vibrant, compassionate portrait of a transgender woman battling grief and prejudice just about earns those lofty Almodóvar comparisons.
If you expect comfily grownup, flannel-textured film-making from the combination of Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, you’d be right: all are smartly cruising in this pre-Watergate thriller.
We know by now that when Liam Neeson and nifty Spanish genre stylist Jaume Collet-Serra get together, grunty derring-do and bananas plotting ensue. This literal trainwreck of an action flick is a bit muted by their standards, but still agreeably ludicrous.
Never picked up for distribution in the UK until now, Blue Is the Warmest Colour director Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2010 biopic of racially exploited novelty performer Saartjie Baartman is a divisive, fascinatingly self-reflexive exercise in spectatorship.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: DisneyLife: living the Disney dream 24/7 | Walt Disney Company