Friday, 29 January 2010

Where The Wild Things Are (2009)

Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are has been a long time coming. There had been much hype and anticipation regarding the adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic children's story, which itself received mixed reviews with the illustrated fanged monsters that are the Wild Things. Jonze’s take on the story also became subject to speculative criticism for not following Sendak’s story to the letter. There are two ways in which Jonze’s version can be taken-as a disappointing interpretation of a classic story that captured the hearts of many a parent and child; or as an imaginative reworking of a heartbreaking tale between a boy and his inner anxieties, expressed through the Wild Things. I opt for the latter.

The opening of Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are depicts the life of Max (played by Max Records), a young adolescent who struggles to control his temper as a misunderstood boy, when all he wants to do is play. He cannot understand life outside make believe, and does not want to. After arguing with his mother before dinner, Max runs away in anger and stumbles upon a world far from reality, drawn from the depths of his imagination where he discovers the Wild Things. It is here that we see Max explore his inner emotions, where each Wild Thing represents aspects of his personality and those dearest to him. Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) is the closest Wild Thing to Max’s own character, and represents the anger and frustration within Max. Judith (Catherine O’Hara) and K.W (Lauren Ambrose) are based on Max’s mother and sister, and convey his own fears of their abandonment that provide the most heartfelt scenes.

The cinematography is truly stunning, and Lance Accord completely captures the beauty on the Wild Things’ island. Where The Wild Things Are is a wonderful reimagining of a classic, which works on so many levels, appealing to many who have not read Sendak’s book. This film is for everyone who has ever had an imagination as a child, and dreamed of a world where you have no one to answer to. Jonze completely grasps the innocence and naivety of a child’s imagination, which is played brilliantly by Records.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Avatar (2009)

James Cameron's Avatar is THE movie of 2009. Apparently. The most expensive movie of all time, costing an estimated $300 million, for a remake of a video game, seems just a little excessive. I however went into this movie almost open minded, and came out of it very differently.

The premise around Avatar seems to be based on upping Cameron's hugely successful (and previously the most expensive films ever made) Titanic, which at the time of production in the mid 1990s, was on the brink of bankrupting the studio. Avatar for me, though visually amazing, failed to deliver past entertaining my retinas. The story, for all the hype over the past year came across as basic and unrewarding, a simple copy and paste plot of the classic Western, good versus bad, technology versus nature with the emphasis on the ground breaking technology developed to distract you from the absent plot. You can't please everyone, but I thought Avatar might have, after how much time, money and effort went into making the film, (aside from the plot.) Maybe the $300 million could have gone on, I don't know, preserving our own environment rather then the fictitious Pandora? For all it's plot and character development failings, 'James Cameron's Avatar'as it's known, is good for Sunday afternoons, helping you to forget the dawn of Monday morning as it vast approaches. Not great, but not awful either.