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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
The West Georgian review of Where The Wild Things Are
"Hey King! What's your first order of business? Let the wild rumpus start!" In a Spike Jonze adaptation, the veteran director/producer/writer interprets his unique vision of the timeless classic about a boy and his vivid imagination.
Nearly 50 years ago, the cult classic in children's literature was released by author and illustrator Maurice Sendak who put all his trust in Jonze for the film and after seeing the final cut commented that he has "never seen a movie that looked or felt like this." I too, can say the same.
Jonze has been helping with films since the early 90s including such titles like Being John Malkovich, Synecdoche, New York, and The Jackass series amid a handful of respectable skateboarding films and music projects with bands like Bjork, Weezer and R.E.M. It's no wonder when I give the best soundtrack of the year to Wild Things.
Spikes ex girlfriend Karen O, singer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, wrote the soundtrack to the film which is a step in a different direction from her previous band. Her sound now has a much more cinematic feel, using a funny mixture of beautiful piano jumbled up in a rambunctious group of singing kids filling in the gaps. A quick side note though; I would highly recommend seeing the film before listening to the soundtrack to get the best experience.
Max, a young boy who imagines a world full of enormous stuffed animals, is ironically played by a young boy named Max Records who's only other work before this was a small role in The Brothers Bloom. Like the story, the majority of the film still relies in Max's incredible imagination as he "invents" enormous beasts, goats, bulls, and unknown species in his mind while trying to make them all happy as their newly appointed king.
What the book can't offer in the original 10-sentence story that the 111-page screenplay can is the complexity of getting inside of Max's head. And after auditioning over a thousand kids for Max's part, one should go in with as high of expectations as they so choose.
Even if Max just a young boy, the viewer realizes this is all in his imagination but, what may be harder to see is that there is a direct connection between his fantasy mind and his real mind which many of the younger viewers might have a hard time picking up on.
The symbolism throughout the film made it that much easier for me to get into the fantasy world that Max created which would make it a great film for both kids and adults. The "wild things" became more than just figments of his imagination and carried a true message of love and loss that many "real" films have a much harder time pulling off.
The unique blend of CGI and 10- foot-tall costumes made this film into a genre almost of it's own. Each of the beasts had a very unique and important role to the film which consisted equally of hilarious comedy and heartfelt sincerity. Some of these voices included James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker.
Catherine Keener (Into the Wild, An American Crime) plays Max's mother, and I for one, have never seen her in a film that hasn't proved to be anything but exceptional and the same applies for this one.
Among the producers, Tom Hanks and Maurice Sendak both provided their own two cents to the film making it one-of-a-kind. Where the Wild Things Are comes highly recommended and is currently in theaters.
Nights and Weekends (2008)
review from The West Georgian
Mumblecore is an American independent film movement of the early 21st characterized by low-budget production, focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors. I thought I would start my review off this week with a kind of warning label. I am sure that this genre of film is something only half of all viewers find enjoyable.
Nights and Weekends is the newest in the genre due to the lack of microphones which make the actors sounds like their mumbling at times. Although a relatively new field of film-making, the basis for this style hasn't changed.
With Nights and Weekends, staples to the genre Joe Swanberg (LOL, Quiet City) and Greta Gerwig (Hannah Takes the Stairs, Baghead) return for a film that revolves solely around these two characters building and breaking apart in a timeless tale of breakups and makeups.
In previous films of theirs, the two have never tried a relationship story where at least 90% of the film is shot only on them. The film was shot in Chicago and New York, however in a faux-ironic way; the viewer only gets to see these beautiful cities for a few minutes as the majority is filmed in either apartments or hotels. I'm sure they did this technique on purpose to make the story seem more genuine.
As you can probably guess, such low-budget idealism doesn't transcend well to the masses, but luckily there is a thriving subculture out there that believes you don't need a bunch of special effects and money to make a substantial and interesting movie.
For instance, what better medium can you think of to show the hardest of all concepts, love. Real people having real conversations about real problems. It almost feels like watching reality TV, except the sincerity is tenfold and the people are more down-to-earth.
The title stems from the long distance relationship dilemma of only being able to seeing your significant other on nights or weekends. It's a sad but true concept because these situations can be extremely passionate but also heartbreaking. The passion and sadness are amplified to the extreme, however instead of coming off forced or unnatural, I felt the truest sense of longing and hope for the two characters.
I felt a real sense of confusion, which, under any other circumstance I would find annoying and immediately turned off. However, this confusion only seemed to keep my curiosity on the brim as I increasingly wanted to see exactly what was going to happen. Are we friends or more? Do I want to be friends or something more? These are real questions that everyone has asked at some point in their lives. When put into a film like this, it feels as if you're vicariously living through the characters in some scenes.
Like I've said, many people will lose interest immediately within the first ten minutes simply because you're only going to see and hear dialogue for the next hour and a half but, for those of us who can see this for what it is - happiness in the saddest form possible - N&W comes highly recommended from me.
Nights and Weekends can be found on Netflix.
The Bilbee Boys (2008)
Everything the trailer makes it out to be.
I'll do my best to give this movie as much credit as I can but objectionably, a five seems modest at best.
I think I can safety conclude that the overall budget for this movie graced maybe $50, including three pairs of thick black rimmed glasses and some big bouncy balls. Granted, money isn't needed to make a film, especially a comedy. Thankfully there were moments that indeed brought laughter but more than often I was laughing for all the wrong reasons.
The poor acting almost seemed like it was filmed that way on purpose and if so, then kudos to the director, although I highly doubt this was his intended purpose. Many times the cuts would look so forced and empty that I would still laugh but, once again, not for the right reasons.
Regardless, I did definitely want to finish the film for two reasons. A)I had to see how something like this could possibly end (and it was just as ridiculous as I hoped for) and B)Rosemary is incredibly fine. I would watch again only if I had a some friends and a few beers to enjoy but otherwise, this movie really isn't for everyone.