Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Temporary Hiatus

I am here to tell you all that follow and read that I won't be posting for awhile. As the Summer months draw to a final close, I have a lot to do. Not only must I try and cram as much fun stuff into the last week as I possible can, but I have school assignments that I must finish for Honors. I have a feeling that the first few weeks of Freshman year highschool (especially in a town such as mine) will be rather annoying until it falls into the duldrums of every other year of school anyone has ever gone through.

I am also trying to set up another site, but one of those neat-o horror blogs. Because I am one of those crazy horror film junkies who looks into the aspects of the behind-the-scenes, and marketing, and if they follow 'the rules' and such. I haven't posted much on it besides setting up the actual main thing and what not, but I'll probably be posting a little more on that since I'm trying to get it on it's feet.

So if you are interested in supporting that:

I thank you in advance and I will probably be posting, maybe once a month on here, with a review or update or something from September until November, so I just thought that I'd let those of you that read know.

And I hope to find that you're still here in November!

Thanks, and see you then!

Monday, August 16, 2010

#36-Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Where The Wild Things Are

It is truly saying something, when I believe that what is quite possible one of the most important films of 2009 is based on a children’s book that has merely ten sentences in it’s entire construct. Based on the 1963 book of the same name by Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things are is recreated for film by also famous novelist Dave Eggers, and acclaimed director Spike Jonze.

Jonze is most notable for directing the Charlie Kaufman films, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, (which I really need to re-watch) both of which are excellent films. Here he takes a slightly different approach adapting a children’s novel rather than some very original adult material. However, simply because it is based on a book for kids does not make Where The Wild Things are any less dramatic, adult, or important than his previous works.

Where The Wild Things Are is about a young boy named Max who is the young child of a single Mom. Max faces some of the normal calamities that strike childhood in these times, such as the single parent, a new step-parent, an older sibling and simple loneliness. All these conflicting emotions come together one night, and after a fight with his Mother, Max finally does what most children only dream of and run away. He escapes onto a boat and sails across the ocean to an island full of ‘Wild Things’ where they make Max their king, and he begins his rule.

Jonze is one of the bright young talents in Hollywood. He has made great film after great film again and again, without hitting a wrong note thus far. Jason Reitman is a director of similar talent, along with Edgar Wright, and possibly Marc Webb, depending on what his next move is. Jonze’s talent is still on display here, with Wild Things having an exceptionally cool look and feel to it. The film moves a long at a decent pace, even if there are moments when it drags, and not much is going on. The hardships of being young are captured here perfectly, and you can still feel the sting of the one painful snowball that seemed to end every fight. The emotion is incredibly rich and flowing here, with each Wild Thing representing an emotion that Max would have experienced in the real world. It is a great way of communicating ideas and themes throughout the film, without beating the audience over the head with them.

"I'm an explorer mostly"

Max Records, the young boy who plays Max does an amazing job as the films leading man. He is the only real person on screen for ninety percent of the film and carries emotion very well. He is surrounded by imaginary creatures and manages to keep himself in the correct place mentally. His performance has few of the memorable scenes in which people scream and yell, but has a more subdued feeling about that makes it even more unbelievable. The voices of the Wild Things are cool as well, coming from some extraordinary talent, including the likes of: James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker, Catharine O’Hara, and Paul Dano. It also includes some small performances from Catharine Keener, as Max’s Mother, and Mark Ruffalo as her boyfriend.

The creatures look great. They are a combination of computer animation, puppetry and real life actors inside real suits. The three forms mesh together really well and create a really nice looking effect. The CGI gives them facially movement that allows them to express great emotion as each has their own personality, while the suits and puppetry make them look real, and give them a natural element.

Where The Wild Things are is simply astonishing. Jonze and Eggers manage to make their own creature from this classic story, while holding true to Sendak’s work. Jonze is a fantastic director, and knocks this one out of the park, and continues to play his career perfectly. The young boy Max Records is the most astonishing child actor I have ever seen in a film, and I think his performance deserves some recognition. He carries the entire movie on his back for over an hour and a half, and never once does his performance flinch. He is at times, angry, happy, sad, engaged, lonely and often all of them at the same time. The film captures the image of childhood in all of it’s inglorious beauty, and is often real to the point of heart break. The film is slow sometimes, but never is it boring. This is less of a children’s movie as it is a film for adults to remember what it’s like to be a child. Karen O creates some fun, if at times annoying hipster tunes that do fit the film, and the cinematography captures the wild rumpus that we have in all of us.

I Give Where The Wild Things Are A:

Monday, August 9, 2010

#35-Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Acclaimed writer/director Wes Anderson brings two new things to his resume with his heading of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The first being that this is his first animated feature, and the second, his first ever time adapting a work to the big screen. He is mostly successful in this new endeavor but it can also easily be said that Fantastic Mr. Fox is Anderson’s weakest career link.

The story of Fox plays out rather simply. Through a series of circumstances Fox decides to buy a new home for his wife and child under a large tree near three very large industrial plants. Fox reverts back to his old ways and decides to start stealing from the farms of the three large corporate heads. When they find out where the Fox lives, they attempt to kill him, but fail and instead decide to dig out the many animals that live there, keying the idea that they must come out for food and water eventually. Fox and the other animals devise a plan to survive, and continue surviving as they dig for their lives.

This was a very brave move on the part of Anderson. Someone who has never directed an animated feature, to simply jump headfirst into the project, which has a dedicated fan-base due to it being based on a famous children’s novel by Roald Dahl. And I was one that was rather skeptical about this idea, until I saw how fantastic the animation came out. This is some of the best stop-motion I’ve ever seen, with some cool little tricks and Anderson styling’s to keep the viewer

"Thats my thing, my catch-phrase"

The film has an incredible voice cast that includes the likes of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson. While I do miss the times when trained voice-actors were hired for animated films, all of the cast does perform rather magnificently, and I was caught off guard by how much I didn’t recognize some of their voices.

With all this being said and done the plot for Fantastic Mr. Fox is incredibly weak. It is clever and fun while it lasts, but it simply cannot sustain the length of the film, which isn’t even an hour and a half. Anderson teamed up with frequent co-writing partner Noah Baumbach once again for this film, and whether it was the source material, or they were severely off their game, I will never know. There are some jokes in here that are used over and over again that get old very quickly. The plot is easily solved and has a decent amount of inconsistencies that sometimes make it hard to sit through. Why there is a manhole directly in the middle of a supermarket is beyond me. The family dynamic is repetitive and completely unoriginal which seems especially odd for Mr. Anderson who’s greatest films revolve around dysfunctional families. A saving grace does come in the form of a few decently clever lines of dialogue, but they certainly can’t completely save the screenplay that had already gone to hell in a neatly lined hand-basket.

The film has the great visual style of the any Wes Anderson flick, and he does greatly directing in a medium that was totally foreign to him. Voice acting is inconceivably unrecognizable from a stellar cast of great performers. The sets were designed incredibly well, with bright colors and interesting tricks that are sure to keep you interested but the films near lack of any emotional hold-up cannot stand near the likes of today’s animated giant Pixar, who continually puts out movies that tug on our heart-stings. The film is a fine rental for a quick watch, or if you have children, but for the most part it is unfortunately something to be skipped.

I Give Fantastic Mr. Fox A: