Where the Wild Things Are

“I’ll start off with the obligatory disclaimer that I dont recall ever reading the book (if I did read it, I dont remember). So I dont know how the movie follows or measures up to it. With that out of the way, I found the movie really boring. It had a really promising start. The low close up camera angles and Max’s imaginary antics brought you right into a kid’s world. But then, soon after he got to the island of the Wild Things, there wasn’t much happening. I’d dropped by phone about half way thru and spent the rest of the movie obsessing over picking it up. Thats how much the movie held my interest.

There were some redeeming qualities. My favorite wild thing was Alexander, voiced by Paul Dano. I definitely perked up a bit everytime he was around. And the wild things themselves were really well done. The costumes were built by The Jim Henson Company and were a combination of animatrionics and computer animation. I also loved the kid, Max Records. He was equal parts adorable and tough and gave a really heartwarming performance. Loved Catherine Keener as always, but she didnt particularly feature much.

Other than that, there’s really not much else to say. It was a lot of Max and the Things running around playing. Minimal conflict. Plot didnt seem to be headed in any particular direction. It was just flat.

Well this gives me a chance to introduce my movie rating system. I’ll just be using it on theater movies (so none of the AFI ones). The scale is up to 4 rock hands (\m/). A lot of times I’ll rate stuff on places like Flixter that have a 5 scale. That fifth point is reserved for _really_ awesome stuff like Aladdin. And as a rule, I need to have seen something at least twice in order to award it a fifth point. Also remember, this is entirely my opinion. I dont claim to be any real expert, just someone who enjoys movies. That said…

Where the Wild Things Are – \m/ \n

Chinatown (AFI #21)

“I actually started watching this one last night, but fell asleep at around the 45 minute mark. Thats not a reflection of the movie at all. I was really getting into it, but sometimes a long work week just catches up with you. My kitty, Lestat, spent about 45 minutes climbing on me and pawing and mewing to wake me up so I’d feed her.

This was also an experiment in Amazon’s online movie rental service. I dont typically like watching stuff on my computer, but I got used to it last spring watching DWTS online. Overall, its pretty good deal. $3 and you get 1-3 days (depending on the movie) to stream it online or download it. That’s def gonna save me some $$ when Im trying to acquire all the AFI films.

Anyways, this is one that’s been on my list of “”movies I really need to see”” for a while. Mostly cause I keep coming across references to it. Sadly, coming across references also means that I sorta knew one of the big twists at the end, but I dont think it really impacted the film other than decreasing some of the shock value.

This was a very well written mystery story, although the placing was just a tad slow for me. The story was very streamlined, without a lot of distractions. And I absolutely loved Jack Nicholson’s character, private investigator JJ Gittes. Its always a sign of a good movie and a good character when you watch something like this and wish you had their profession. He was slick and cool and smart and crude. And Nicholson just owned it. I’ve had mixed feelings about him in general. Granted, I haven’t really seen too much of his classic work (that’ll change over the next couple months) so my usual thought about him is “”that crazy guy at the Lakers games””. Keep in mind, Im a die-hard San Antonio Spurs fan, and there’s been some bitter rivalry there. That aside, The Departed taught me what a \m/ badass he can be, and Chinatown helped prove where that reputation came from.

Another thing I have to admit is that I didnt quite “”get”” some of the details and motivations and such. However, I am in the habit of reading IMDB trivia and FAQ’s immediately after seeing something and that actually cleared up a lot of that confusion. Some of that stuff’s pretty intense.

Also wanted to comment on the 1930’s style. From my limited viewing of 1930’s movie, it looks like they nailed it completely (Chinatown was made in ’74). I got a total His Girl Friday vibe (okay so that was released in 1940, but early 1940) right away. And while older movies dont usually do it for me, something about that totally sucked me into this one.

That’s 2 movies down, 98 to go and lovin’ it so far.”

Toy Story (AFI #99)

“Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. Tonight’s the night. ..(points if you get the reference)

Hey howdy hey everybody (however many body’s there may be tonight)! We’ve finally reached the kick off day for Expletive Dleted! As you prolly know, I’ve been reviewing movies on for some time now and Im amping it up a notch this fall. Besides blogging about flicks in the theater, Im also gonna blog my way thru AFI’s 100 Years 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition. And I got this shiny new blog and a Twitter account to go with it. So without further ado, here we goooo

I’d originally intended to kick off the project/experiment/time-killer with a movie I haven’t seen before. Buuuut tonight’s the last night of the Toy Story 3-D double feature special engagement thing, and I prolly wont get to see any of the other AFI movies on the big screen anytime soon. So I figured it was apropos enough.

I love Toy Story. It’s still easily my favorite Pixar movie. I know I did see it in the theater back in the day. I can’t remember the exact experience, but I do remember what a big deal it was that it was a computer animated movie. I’d grown up watching classic Disney animated films (hey I was a prime target for the second golden age of Disney in the early 90’s) and the idea of computer animated just boggled my mind. Little did I know that within two years I’d be sick of the whole computer animated fad and I’d be aching for a classic hand drawn animated feature (thankfully we now got Princess and the Frog looming on the horizon). Anyways, Im guessing that animation breakthrough is the reason why Toy Story made it onto the AFI list.

I was sitting in the front row (well the front row of the back section) and as soon as it started, I instantly became five years old again, or actually I guess I was prolly about 10 when I first saw it. I’d just forgotten how incredible this movie is. The dialogue is so clever and the concept is brilliant. The animation is gorgeous and I love their attention to detail. There were so many subtle jokes here and there (such as the For Sale sign on Andy’s house from Virtual Realty) that I’d never noticed before.

And I just loved listening to Tom Hanks’ voice. Its so easy for actors to just phone in a vocal performance, but Hanks really gives it his all. He really makes an animated toy character real and believable.

Im not convinced that the 3D-ness really added that much to the overall experience. It was exciting for the first five or ten minutes, then I sorta didnt notice it anymore. By the third hour of the evening, it was actually starting to get a bit headachingly irritating.

I did kinda lose a lot of the excitement by the time we got to the second half of the double feature. Toy Story 2 just doesnt measure up to its predecessor. And by this point, it was already getting kinda late. But seeing them back to back was interesting because again there were some many little subtleties that I wouldnt have picked up otherwise.

So it was a wonderful start to what’s gonna be an interesting movie season for me. Let’s just hope they’re all this fun!”