Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh, Coraline

Movie • CORALINE (in 3D) • 2009
Wishy wow-wow, holy cow-cow! I LOVE this movie! I don’t know what else to say. I heard it was a fantastic book, and that fans of the book thought the movie lacked some of the substance, but isn’t that always the case? Anyway, I hope then that you’ll see the movie first.
Coraline Jones was a convincing little girl with convincing foibles and characteristics. Each character was introduced with the perfect amount of fanfare and spice. Every time a new quirky neighbor is introduced, we are treated to vast descriptions of their past and private selves, but still left with so much mystery we want to see more of them. I haven’t read the book, but I suspect they added Wybie (the boy neighbor) just for the film version. The black cat could have told his part on his own. Perhaps they wanted to add a goofy sort of love interest. The comedy relief was found in the father and the “other” father, but I didn’t mind seeing the cute little boy.
Coraline and her family are new additions to “The Pink Apartment House,” and she feels somewhat alone because her mum and daddy are so neglectful due to their adult responsibilities. We are lead to believe Coraline has found a way to escape this dreary reality by escaping to an imaginary world where everything is as she would like it - including her parents; but there’s a catch. Everyone has buttons for eyes.
Soon we find out the dangers of Coraline’s ventures into alternate reality, and she bravely begins her plans for escape. The problem? She’s not the only one trapped, and her heart is way too big to take flight alone. She’s going to help the others break free from her “other mother.”
Brilliantly done, I loved the animation. Classic stop-motion integrated with a few computer effects give this picture such style, I plan to see it again and again!

I was lucky enough to see it at New York City’s Zeigfeld Theater in 3D on the last day it was being shown. It’s still out in theaters, so I recommend seeing it right away! It might be a wee bit scarey for young children, so bring your mittens to cover their eyes :)

I hope when it’s out on DVD they will release the 3D version. It really added to the atmosphere, and they didn’t spend too much time with 3D gimmicks. The 3D just made you feel like you were there in Coraline’s world.

Bonus to look for. At the end of the credits, what I can only surmise is an inside joke pops up:
For those in the know…
I don’t get it, but I like it.
Would love to hear from someone “in the know.”

Be careful what you wish for…

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gwangi-gi Gwan-gi-gi, oh so soft and cuddle-lee

Gwangi is my new crush. I don’t think I ever even heard of it before stumbling across it on Netflix. I’m happy as a cotton candy sweater that I found it. I knew right away when I heard the early 70s movie musical score sounding way ahead of its time as a 1969 movie ;)

Before I knew it, the score turned into the feel of a Disney adventure film. Not knowing what to expect, I thought, “Okay, here comes the cheese,” but it was the bleuest of cheeses. The kind that goes well at a cocktail party. The kind of cheese that makes you feel better about yourself.
I was wondering early on what was with the over-acting, but then realized these must all be stage actors, and maybe actors from a real traveling cowboy show. The stunts were painfully convincing from the very first face-plant.
We open with a mysterious scene that has Miguel coming out of the Valley of Gwangi with a canvas bag of horse. Yes, horse. A toy sized, three-toed, long thought extinct horse. This horse is used in the traveling show that teeters on stereotyping, and falls over the edge with no remorse.

Gwangi is not a fan of the rodeo.

The movie itself playfully pokes at prejudices and stereotyping with the way our hero, Tuck speaks to Lope; but Lope puts him in his place, and takes it like a man… a gingerbread man. He is soooo sweet. He must have been the love child of a secret manage-a-trois among Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Charlton Heston. His name is James Franciscus. It's a wonder I never noticed him before considering how well known he is in the genre.

Lope, played by Curtis Arden. He has to be in his fifties now.

James Franciscus, the love child of Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Charlton Heston plays Tuck.

I have my suspicions that Stephen Speilberg was a fan of The Valley of Gwangi. There are many scenes and styles that were seemingly borrowed when Jurassic Park was made. Compare the unseen creature opening in a crate in Jurassic Park to the unseen creature opening in a bag in Valley of Gwangi. Also compare the boy-guide in Valley of Gwangi to the boy-guide in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A few more things reminded me, but I forget what they were. Borrowing is flattery though. I was reminded of King Kong in watching Gwangi carted off to the show.

The effects integration was outstanding.

Go out and get this. Buy it, rent it, steal it. Get your eyes and ears on this flick. It’s a classic that never got the credit of classic it truly deserves. It’s Clash of the Titans meets Wild, Wild West.

Bonuses to not miss:
The Disney street parade in the beginning will make you chuckle.
The costumes look like they were straight out of an Old Navy commercial.
Gwangi gets credit as an actor (this makes me feel better about his death scene).
Strange voice-over for actress, Gila Golan who played TJ, Tuck’s love interest. Was her voice that bad?

An elephant gets mauled by Gwangi… but it’s a claymation elephant.