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A good movie

Posted : 5 years, 2 months ago on 3 September 2013 09:03

After 7 seven long years, Spike Jonze finally came up with a new directing effort and I was definitely eager to check it out. When I bought the DVD in France with its cute poster and since it was an adaptation of a children book, I thought it would be nice to watch it with my 7 year-old daughter. Wisely, I decided to check it out first on my own and within 5 minutes, I realized it was definitely nothing for her and that was the first failure of this movie in my opinion. I mean, it was way too dark and gloomy for the kids and since it really looked like a family feature, I really wonder who was actually the target audience in the end. I don't mean that it was a bad movie, not at all. It was actually pretty good and visually really interesting but from a sweet children book (which I haven't read though), they basically made a rather dark tale about a psychotic young boy who meets some rather psychotic monsters. Basically, it is a pretty tough sale. Apparently, Jonze started filming in 2005 and only released the whole thing in 2009 so the production was pretty hazardous (Apparently, it was terribly difficult to manage to create those wild things) and I did appreciate the work provided and its originality but it never really managed to convince me. To conclude, in spite of its flaws, I still think it is worth a look though, especially if you are interested in Spike Jonze's work.

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Where the Wild Things Are review

Posted : 6 years, 6 months ago on 9 May 2012 09:33

I cant believe I'm 44 and watching a movie aimed at kids. Face it, who else my age can pass this one up. Go on, you remember the book as a kid, and now you just have to get it to watch it and bring back some of those childhood memories. And it does.

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Plotless, enchanting, bittersweet mood piece

Posted : 8 years, 5 months ago on 10 June 2010 05:39

"Happiness is not always the best way to be happy."

For his first outing as a director since 2002's Adaptation, director Spike Jonze has revisited the thin line separating reality and fantasy to adapt Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book Where the Wild Things Are. Creating a feature-length motion picture from this source material posed a unique challenge, since the book is only comprised of 338 words (constituting 10 sentences) and a handful of illustrations. To their credit, Jonze and writing partner Dave Eggers (this is the first time Jonze hasn't worked with a screenplay written by Charlie Kaufman) have pulled off an admirable job of transforming the slender source material into something more substantial. Unlike most children's films in this day and age, Where the Wild Things Are is lacking in action, chases and pop culture references - it's instead a plotless, enchanting, bittersweet mood piece, and a loving ode to the inevitable passing of childhood. Added to this, it's an opportunity for parents to enjoy (as opposed to endure) a movie with their kids.

In the story, 9-year-old Max (Records) is facing the end of his childhood innocence, with his older sister more engaged with teenage concerns, his school teacher promising the end of the world, and his mother (Keener) working to make sense of her love life and career. Once this neglect gets too much for Max, a moment of violent rebellion is the consequence, resulting in a shouting match between Max and his mother. Max runs away from home, and enters the world of his mind, where he imagines (or maybe not) a boat trip to a faraway island inhabited by several "Wild Things": Carol (Gandolfini), Judith (O'Hara), Ira (Whitaker), K.W. (Ambrose), Douglas (Cooper) and Alexander (Dano). Max is swiftly appointed king of the land, and joins the monsters as they play and argue. However, the longer Max stays with the Wild Things, the more he comprehends his misbehaviour at home.

The opening segment preceding Max's escape into his imagination establishes Max's personality effectively. This is beneficial, as each of the Wild Things reflect Max's feelings towards those around him, and it's helpful to witness these traits integrated into Max's life before meeting them in the form of these Wild Things. With this symbolism and a rare intelligence in place, the film is truly about Max making several realisations about himself and his relationships with others.

While Where the Wild Things Are contains a number of depressing elements, Jonze's film is not all dread and gloom; it's predominantly a celebration of childhood imagination. However, this does not mean candy-coated wonderment or clichés - rather, the film is about proper, dirty outdoor playing, where forts are built, in-jokes are cracked, you get bruises and scabs, and you're free to run, screech and howl without a care in the world. To be sure, the entire story is spontaneous and hence plot is minimal, yet this is a fantastic representation of what goes on in the mind of an imaginative child. Thus, instead of mechanical and predictable, Where the Wild Things Are is honest, mature and emotionally affecting. The only problem is that, as a consequence of the movie's plotless nature, the proceedings tend to meander at times and there are a few dull moments. The pacing issues eventually recede, though, and the film picks right back up with more wonderment and imagination.

Another asset of Where the Wild Things Are is that all of the monsters feel like actual characters, rather than a collection of walking, talking metaphors. Each has their own personality and arcs, and they all receive their moment to shine. A major contributing factor to this success is the way the monsters were brought to life: a knockout combination of spectacular animatronic suits (courtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop) and utterly seamless digital face work. To the credit of the filmmakers, the creature design effortlessly evokes and pays tribute to the illustrations in Sendak's book. There's not a single moment in which the titular Wild Things feel anything other than real and alive. Additionally, the colour palette and lighting was kept appealingly natural, with a great deal of the filming taking place on location (in Victoria, Australia) that contributed to the immaculate atmosphere. Consequently, nothing feels manufactured or as if created within a studio. Meanwhile, Carter Burwell and Karen Orzolek's score is evocative and remarkable, and will burrow into the mind of a viewer.

Playing Max, young actor Max Records is the only cast member who was allotted considerable screen-time. Max, whose only previous film credit is a minor role in The Brothers Bloom, is blessed with an incredibly expressive face that effortlessly conveys an array of emotions and never fails to sell the legitimacy of a scene. His performance is absolutely convincing, and this is a rare quality in a child actor. The vocal casting for the Wild Things is spot-on, with James Gandolfini who's exceptional as Carol, Lauren Ambrose who's a standout as K.W., and all the other cast members hitting their marks with equal assurance. Catherine Keener also appears in the minor role of Max's mother, and she exudes confidence.

Where the Wild Things Are may be perceived as too dark, scary, strange and complex for the little ones, but this assumption is misplaced. However, the film may indeed be too dark, scary, strange and complex for adults. See, while adults will absorb every facet the film imparts, children will not be able to comprehend the underlying themes; in fact, their young minds will likely overlook them. Thus, this is a family film which engages viewers of all ages: children will adore the experience, while pre-teens and young teens will connect with Max, and adults will be able to recognise the allegorical nature of the film and absorb everything on offer. A visually stimulating, emotionally riveting celebration of the spirit of childhood, Spike Jonze's third feature film is mature and resonant; qualities rarely exhibited in a family film. To quote Bob Chipman: "The idea that a children's film like this can even exist in the same world that produces horrors like The Cat in the Hat or The Pacifier is a wonder to behold."


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um filme de Jonze e Karen O.

Posted : 8 years, 9 months ago on 27 January 2010 12:13

Spike Jonze se mantém fiel a temática de isolamento da consciência do indivíduo assim como em Quero Ser John Malkovich (1999) e Adaptação(2002), mas em Onde Vivem os Monstros (2009) a alienação da mente adulta dá espaço a solidão da psique infantil.

Inspirado no livro de ilustrações homônimo de Maurice Sendak, muito disseminado no mercado norte americano, que o diretor diz sempre ter se identificado, “como se já conhecesse os monstros, inclusive a escala, o tamanho da cabeça, algo de primitivo neles”, Jonze foi fiel ao forma dos seres fantásticos mas foi além conferindo-lhes personalidades próprias e distintas e identificando os sentimentos de levados da realidade de seu protagonista como ressentimento, angústia, fidelidade, mesquinharia e incluindo outros psicologismos nas interações das criaturas entre si e com o jovem Max.

Carol, por exemplo, o monstro mais simpático e sensível, em um momento mostra à Max uma maquete de como seria seu mundo ideal, reiterando a espiral da solidão e o modo individual de lidar com situações adversas; essa é a fantasia de Max. Negligenciado pela irmã mais velha e o pouco tempo que recebe da atenção de sua mãe, Max se rebela numa acesso de raiva quando a vê com seu namorado e foge; nesta fuga, velejando mar adentro, chega a uma ilha e se apresenta como rei, onde, proclamado como tal pelos seres nativos, dispara: “Que comece a bagunça!”.

Até essa epifania anárquica o filme mantém a expectativa de deslumbre, seja pela crua densidade dos créditos iniciais ou pela imensidão e beleza das paisagens da ilha, mas, assim como seu reinado, essa expectativa vai ruindo quando se percebe que a força do filme está exatamente no imaginário visual de Max mimetizado melancolicamente em vastos cenários e onírica e elegíaca trilha sonora de Karen O., vocalista do Yeah Yeah yeahs, ex namorada de Jonze.

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Beautiful film but more for adults...

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 14 January 2010 02:25

After hearing the book is a famous children's book, I had intensions to see the film adaptation. After only seeing some clips and still pictures, this film reminded me a lot of Bridge To Terabithia. It does have its similarities with Where The Wild Things Are but there are a lot of differences between the two. It is the feelings that you have for them that make them similar. It has nothing to do with plot, acting or anything like that. I mean, Where The Wild Things Are is one of those "more for adults than kids" sort of films. It had its magic, obviously, but there were some dark things about this film too. Suppose the creatures weren't exactly an awesome sight for kids. I would call this a family film but I wouldn't say it is for all ages.

Max Records delivers a great performance as Max. Max is a young boy who is usually lonely and has a very active imagination. He usually wears a wolf costume. One day he creates a snow igloo. When that gets destroyed by his older sister's friends and she does nothing, Max gets deeply upset and hurt by this so he purposely destroys her bedroom specifically a frame that Max made for her. Because his mum wouldn't see the broken igloo that his sister did, he was angry with his mum so he just ran away and goes on a boat out into the sea. Max's performance was definitely one of the best child performances I have ever watched.

I was nervous for this film too because Spike Jonze is directing it and he hasn't done anything like this before. He has done rather unique and bizarre films in the past and Where The Wild Things Are is another weird one of his. Another difference is that he previously did psychological films but Where The Wild Things Are is a family film. I prefer Jonze films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. I think the only Oscar nomination this film will be nominated for is Best Original Score or maybe Best Make-Up.

Overall, Where The Wild Things Are is a very good entertaining family film. It isn't quite one of the best of 2009 but isn't far off. It's a good film choice for a Saturday night with a pizza and a lager or with your family.

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Where the Wild Things Are

Posted : 8 years, 11 months ago on 6 December 2009 07:27

Where the Wild Things Are is a movie future generations will be talking about if there is any cosmic and artistic justice in this world. Why? Because it strikes so deeply at the core of childhood’s fragile and mercurial psyche filled with gloriously beautiful images and heartfelt performances. This is not a children’s film but a film about childhood in every painful and joyous moment.

Our main character is a product of divorce with an emotionally unavailable older sister and a mother who is trying to keep everything afloat. I saw elements of my own childhood in those early scenes, I saw elements of myself in Max. I believe that numerous other will have this exact reaction to the film, if they haven’t already. It was in these early scenes that I knew I was watching one of my favorite films of the year.

Once Max takes his flight of fancy and danger into his imaginative psyche – yes, this is a psychological examination of Max – I was immersed into the film at a level I rarely experience. Only Precious has rivaled it so far this year.

The monsters are not cuddly, despite being furry, but are ferocious and prone to bouts of violence and tantrums. Max is not a precociously adorable little boy, he is prone of bouts of bratty attitude, demanding attention, emotionally internalized and struggling with several feelings at once. Although Max Records is an adorable little child actor, he doesn’t play it for cutesy moments.

And I loved that the film was unafraid to feature extended scenes of little dialogue with the characters all frolicking and playing together, or chasing each other either as a joke or with deadly intentions towards one another, or Max. Or, in one instance, threatening to eat Max. I could go on to explain that each of these monsters are a fragment of his real life and personality, but that is very obvious. And I could go on and say which one is which, but that would ruin the experience.

I loved Where the Wild Things Are. Ignore it’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes and try it out for yourself. If you hate it, fine. But at least support a real work of art when it comes around. Mindless and mind-destroying fare like 2012 and Transformers 2 don’t deserve to win the box office. And they have monopolized it for far too long.

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