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Two Movie recs. [Feb. 9th, 2009|12:05 pm]
So, first, I saw Coraline with my sister's family in the theater on Friday. It was awesome. The protagonist, the eponymous girl, is spunky, resourceful, and determined--as all children's film heroines seem (and ought) to be. The fluidity of motion, given that the film is entirely stop-animation (no CGI), is astounding. And the storyline (which I assume is taken nearly exact from Gaiman's novel) is wonderfully infused with an understanding of the fairy tale genre and its conventions. All was pretty much to be expected, and I was pleasantly pleased to have those expectations met.
     What I had not expected, but which made it all the more pleasant for me, was that in certain places the movie--again, a children's cartoon--actually sent shivers down my spine. When I was a child, I was both fascinated by and terrified of the idea of alternate worlds. Perhaps there is such a portal on the other side of the bathroom mirror, I'd think, or--my greatest obsession and fear--in the Long Closet, which was in my bedroom. It was narrow, and long, and dark. A metal bar ran the length of the closet at about grown-up chest height, and from it dangles many articles of clothing. The net effect of so many dresses, button-down shirts, and coats was to further obscure the far end of the Long Closet. As such, I was convinced that there was a hidden door of sorts in the far end of that closet, out of which might come just about anything, so long as it was dark, and dangerous, and especially nasty...another recurring nightmare as a child involved other creatures "replacing" my mother, claiming to be her, while perpetrating various acts of monstrosity only a six-year-old can give name to. Coraline brings together both of these childhood nightmares, weaving them into a superb archetypal story that transcends its medium and its target audience, becoming a true paragon of the genre.

Later that night, I caught Devil's Advocate on TV. Pacino makes the best fucking Satan ever. Overall, the film has an atmospheric, gothic, Rosemary's Baby-type feel. The only real let-down for me was the final sequence, the "wait now go back in time and have a second chance" bit. Gag me with a spoon. The worst cliche in the dark fantasy/horror genre. However, the rest of the movie manages to be good enough to almost make up for the ending.
     Pleasant Surprise: Keanu Reeves can actually act?!??!?
But all told, yes, a fine example of the form at its best. John Milton 4eva.