Imagination runs wild in Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), a bright and cute girl that effortlessly tries to create a universe in which all her fears and wishes are best expressed. Based fully on Neil Gaman’s incredible fantasy-filled journey and place on the frame of those who love dreaminess artistry in the Nightmare Before Christmas filmmaker Henry Selick, and you are left with Coraline. By allowing us into her world, Coraline makes ‘Coraline’ a thrilling stop-motion animated adventure which shines as a high point in Selick’s career of creating handcrafted wonderlands of beauty blended with multiple layers of genius.
New Line Cinema has just recently put out a film about the woes and confusing uncertainty that love presents in a tightly packed romantic comedy including big names like Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer and Kevin Connolly, and Ginnifer Goodwin as a personified desperate love seeker Gigi. The film bases out of the premise that true love is often hard to come by and is usually split amongst two types of people in a relationship relative to the woman: the exception and the rule. Gigi is typically described as the stupid albeit daring woman that follows the path of love wherever it takes her, even if it is to a guy that does not care. She’s the rule according to her run in with Justin Long’s character Adam, a friend of the date that blew Gigi off and explains her the overall deal with guys and how they perceive things. If a guy cares, he calls and he “makes something happen,” if not he’s just not that into you.
Two Lovers captures the very essence of what raw and vulnerable performance has long been seeking. It’s very conspicuous at first view that Two Lovers is undeniably a film that captures the emotions of love and the susceptibility of falling back to your emotions. James Gray (“We Own the Night”), has led the star cast of Gwenth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, and Joaquin Phoenix to all perform more than admirably in the production value of a film that on paper does not seem so remarkable, but on the screen is simply exhilarating.
Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman has managed to combine the deciduous canvases of the extraordinary and painful in the autobiographical documentary of his life and the adventure of self-realization through the past with Vals Im Bashir / Waltz with Bashir. Most films come with a sad factor of divagation in the main storyline to make something appear to be of certain strength, asserting itself through the plot of the entire picture. The beauty in Waltz with Bashir is an unmatched and epicurean revival into the tragedies of the Lebanon War.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tells the haunting tale of a man, born at the close of World War I, who ages backwards while those around him age forward. Where others are born unformed and unwrinkled, Benjamin comes into the world a decrepit old man; where others wither, he dies in a pink and creaseless state of infancy. For Benjamin, love is inextricable from loss since his path runs counterclockwise to nature. This unsettling, melancholy notion is attached by the thinnest thread to its original literary source, a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But in the hands of director, and with as Benjamin, this Button is a curious case: an extravagantly ambitious movie that is easy to admire but a challenge to love.
Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a widowed, retired autoworker alienated from his grown sons and just about everybody else in Gran Torino, a thrilling drama. Walt spends most of his time growling, tinkering, mowing his postage-stamp lawn, and raging against a world that’s changed and will not change back no matter how hard he glares. Change has certainly come to his run-down Detroit neighborhood: Hmong immigrants with strange, foreign ways have moved in. Next door, there is a fatherless, generational family that includes a quick-witted daughter (Ahney Her) and an uneasy younger teenage son (Bee Vang) who struggles to steer clear of the local Hmong gangbangers pressuring him to join them.
Some will be drawn to the angst and closeted guilt of Anne Hathaway’s character Kym, a portrayal with layers that announces new talent in the starlet. Others will be delighted and taken by Bill Irwin’s equal doses of authenticity and questionable mugging.
There are few directorial talents with the energetic potential Baz Luhrmann brings to his projects. Danny Boyle comes to mind. On good days, Fernando Meirelles does too. But one thing each of these filmmakers capitalizes on through their complicated sense of visual storytelling is the power of intimacy in the scripts they set out to film.
Darren Aronofsky went back to the drawing board on “The Wrestler,” a film that swims in nuance, spearheaded by a performance of grace and subtle charisma.
Intellectual horror films are by and large a rare and splendid thing, simply because they are never spotted in nature. Like the legendary Bigfoot, they roam wild through the forests, scaring the locals, but anyone who brings tale of them is dismissed as being a lunatic.
Belgian action star Jean-Claude Van Damme just wow-ed me out that screening in Santa Monica, CA. The Muscles From Brussels specializes in playing bulked-up butt kickers in whomp-and-release flicks happily derided the world over. But the clever, stylish perception-teaser of a comic drama JCVD: a reality-twist which showcases a Van Damme who’s sly like a fox about his own image. Here’s a smart guy who has taken plenty of punches in life, fully aware of how close celebrity is to absurdity.