Monday, June 01, 2009

"Up" in Emeryville

My partner domestique was invited to a Visual Effects Society screening of the latest Pixar animated epic at the company's screening room in Emeryville.

We ate at the iconic Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in that strange, small town on the other side of the Bay Bridge, where there was a 45-minute wait and sexy Goth waitresses who were unusually polite and friendly.

Emeryville is actually an old Ohlone Indian clamming ground that has been used by the white man over the last 100 years for heavy industry, brothels, gambling, and now an odd mixture of modern condo complexes and huge box stores. We felt like we'd entered the new NBC spy comedy "Chuck" whose hero works in a Best Buy parody called "Buy More" which is situated next to an equally monstrous facility called "Large Mart."

The Pixar studio is across the street from Emeryville's glass Civic Center building, which gives a new meaning to government transparency.

The animation studio takes up a huge chunk of land, much of it devoted to lovely landscaping. The screening room, with its twinkling stars roof, was extremely cool and the "campus" actually had good vibes, something I can't say about a number of other pixel-pushing companies.

The movie "Up" was surprisingly good, with deep crevices of melancholy behind the adventure story which featured many terrifying dogs. There was a funny controversy started by Amy Graff at SFGate on Monday who complained that the movie was way too scary for her young children (click here). Though I thought Ms. Graff was whining a bit too much, she wasn't wrong. The dogs WERE scary and when they bit the rare bird on the leg, I was seriously distressed.


Matthew Hubbard said...

Glad to hear Pixar is a pleasant place to visit. I know a lot of students at Ex'pression Digital Arts College had a dream of working there.

There is a faction in the nerd community who consider Up! the first disappointing Pixar movie. Personally, I wasn't keen on Cars, though I didn't exactly hate it, and I like the new movie a lot more. Being an East Bay kid, I appreciated the shout out to Fenton's Ice Cream.

I will say the short cartoon Partly Cloudy is my least favorite of the preview features made by Pixar so far.

AphotoAday said...

Love the blurb on your nametag-- "a stranger from the outside"...

Civic Center said...

Dear Matty: I'm not a big animation afficionado so my prejudices and enthusiasms don't count for much. The only big new 3D features I've cared for have been "Ratatouille," "Surf's Up" and the recent "Bolt."

Dear Donald: Glad you noticed the "A stranger from the outside!" It was the best joke I've ever seen on a visitor nametag.

Axel Feldheim said...

That's so awesome you got to see Up at Pixar. I saw Cars there, & that twilight sky ceiling is just magical. The studio seems like a really cool place to work. I so wanted to sneak into some of those offices!