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Monday, March 3, 2014

Movie Music Monday: Jorge Gutierrez & Gustavo Santaolalla open The Book of Life

Film Flam Flummox

In the last couple of years, 20th Century Fox has made it a semi-regular routine to hold special preview presentations for their animated feature releases two or three months before their cinema openings. Usually these entail a series of clips introduced and talked through by the filmmakers in various stages of completion, capped off by the film's final official trailer. For The Book of Life, the feature directorial debut of film and television animation veteran Jorge Gutierrez, Fox not only jumped their usual gun by a number of months, holding a preview event about eight months before its projected mid-October release, but also adopted a new format. Given that the film at this point is hardly at any stage close to completion, Fox cannily paid tribute to Gutierrez's roots as an artist by holding an exhibit of the film's art at the Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills on Monday, February 24. The gallery space was lined and filled with concept and character paintings, sketches, and models used to create the film's stunning Dia de los Muertos- and general Mexican pop/folk art-inspired aesthetic. The overall look and vibe of the pieces (and, thus can be concluded, thre film) can best be described as south-of-the-border gothic, with a distinct stop-motion inspiration, recalling Tim Burton and Henry Selick's haunting, iconic work from the seminal The Nightmare Before Christmas, but with its own distinctive Latin flavor and identity--not unlike how genre film is similarly, routinely twisted in live action by Guillermo del Toro, who serves as one of the film's producers. Like The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Book of Life is a musical, but its general song score approach recalls two other films: Happy Feet and Moulin Rouge!, reappropriating familiar classic pop hits with a saucy new spin. But there will also be an original score and some original tunes by Academy Award®-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

While del Toro was unable to attend in person due to other filming commitments, he did greet the audience and present some production images from the film via a taped message. However, Gutierrez was in the house, however, making an affable host, introducing not only his works of art and the background on the film's conception but also Santaolalla, who gave a live acoustic performance of two of the film's original compositions. Also in attendance for the evening were cast members Cheech Marin, Ana de la Reguera, Emil-Bastien Bouffard, and Sandra Echeverria.

Below is video of Gutierrez's remarks as well as Santaolalla's performance.

The Book of Life is scheduled to be released by 20th Century Fox in cinemas nationwide on Friday, October 17.

Gustavo Santaolalla, Emil-Bastien Bouffard,
Jorge Gutierrez, and Cheech Marin

(Special thanks to Jorge Gutierrez, Gustavo Santaolalla, Sandra Echeverria, and 20th Century Fox)

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