1.24.2010

WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 27

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 27th WWW:

1) Coraline:
I would not recommend this film for young children, despite the “PG” rating. It features a creepy parallel universe in which people's eyes have been removed and buttons sewn in their place, including the ghosts of some murdered children. This thing is dark. That being said, it's also a brilliant work of art sprang from the twisted mind of one Neil Gaiman. The title character Coraline(not Caroline), is frustrated and bored in her new home. Her parents don't have time for her. The one boy her age who lives nearby irritates her. Their upstairs and downstairs neighbors are equally strange. But in one room of the house she finds a door, a door she can only go through in her dreams. On the other side she finds an Other-Mother, and an Other-Father, and, save for the creepy button eyes, everything in that Other-place is so much brighter, sweeter, and more magical. It is a tale of dark seduction drawing inspiration from the classic Grimm's Fairy Tales moreso than watered-down Disney fare, and the animation is superb. CGI has come so far, that I didn't realize this was stop motion until I watched it again with commentary. It's amazing how the opening sequence of a doll being changed takes on such horrific qualities as seams are removed and the fabric is turned inside out. The horror comes from the sheer level of detail and how easy it is to associate an inanimate object with the living being it will attract. It's a great film, but it could give the young one nightmares. I almost had nightmares....

2) Body Double:
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this Brian De Palma classic. I can certainly appreciate it on a cinematic level, what he does with music and camera angles and showing us what other characters see through a lens. This thing is chock full of nods to the work of Hitchcock, most obviously Rear Window and Vertigo. But it is claustrophobia, not vertigo, that plagues our hero, a struggling actor played by Craig Wasson, an actor I mistook for Bill Maher for a good portion of the film(I told you I'd explain that reference). Wasson's not a particularly bad actor, although nothing other than that resemblance really stood out about him, and he hasn't had the most famous of careers. After he catches his girlfriend cheating, and his claustrophobia costs him his job in a cheesy vampire flick, he finds a new apartment to sublet with a great view of a beautiful woman across the way. Curiosity leads to obsession, and obsession leads to involvement. Eventually, a surprisingly gory murder shakes things up, and in the logic of erotic thrillers, our hero must turn to a porn star, played by a fit young Melanie Griffith, for help. The high point of the film is a musical sequence set to ”Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, that removes any doubt about the lyrics' double(single?) entendre. That one scene just screams ‘80s, and it is glorious. The film builds to a suspenseful climax in which the hero must of course confront his worst fear if he is to triumph over the killer. Then it takes an odd “twist” that had me yelling at the DVD player. Thankfully, they double back on the twist with another one that sets things right again. But for a minute there, I almost gave it 2 stars instead of 3. Film buffs and those nostalgic for the ‘80s will appreciate this one, while everyone else might walk away confused or irritated.

3) Conspiracy Theory:
This one was a lot of fun, with Mel Gibson at his crazy best as a delusional cab driver with crazy theories about everything and an obsession with a government agent played by Julia Roberts. Just because he's paranoid doesn't mean the proverbial “They” are not after him, and when people who receive his newsletter start turning up dead, Roberts has to wonder if there's something more to this guy's ramblings. Patrick Stewart takes a rare sinister turn here in a part that probably would have gone to someone like Brian Cox a decade later. The clichés are few and forgivable, and it's just great to see Gibson play such an out-of-control, sympathetic character, especially when his quirks and fears end up saving him more than once. He manages to infuse a good deal of comedy with his expressions and demeanor, and one scene of him fleeing the bad guys while his eyes are taped open and he's tied to a wayward wheelchair is not to be missed. I'm sure most people have seen it since it came out in 1997, but I won't spoil the ending. I will say it had one of the more enjoyable final scenes I've seen in a long time, and I found a goofy grin sprouting on my face as one character came to a realization about the true fate of another. It's over two hours but fast-paced, and it's just great to watch these actors in their prime.


More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Kev said...

Haven't seen the first two, but I absolutely love Conspiracy Theory!

1/24/2010 11:06 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

I'm not sure if we've spoken about this, but since you liked Conspiracy Theory, I'd also put on Enemy of the State, not so much because of the fun factor but just some of that conspiracy theory stuff which was enjoyable.

1/26/2010 11:47 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Um, dude, I *think* I saw that with you in theaters. If not, we certainly made our share of "Why did you blow up the building?"/"BECAUSE YOU MADE A PHONE CALL!" references over the years...

1/26/2010 10:10 PM  

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