Tekkonkinkreet


Film, 2006

I was kind of expecting a wild movie about kids who surf on cards, but Tekkonkinkreet turned out to be a dark melodrama about two kids who live in a gang controlled city who can jump really high and get stabbed. It tried hard to be awesome, but mostly fails. There’s some undeniably beautiful images, like the beautify rendered backgrounds and vertigo inducing jumping sequences, but there’s even more skin-deep metaphors and tritely dark posturing. 2.5


Hot Fuzz

Film, 2007

Hot Fuzz is really ambitious. Sometimes that works for it, and sometimes it doesn’t. I feel like the filmmakers were so obsessed with making a straight forward action film that it took some of their attention away from making it as enjoyable as it could have been. It’s weird that a film with such an obsessive attention to detail could feel kind of loose, but I do feel like they lost the big picture a little. But the film is still really cleaver and often very funny, and a jarring turn two thirds in leaves you reeling for hours after your first viewing. 3.5


Coraline

Film, 2009

Coraline is one of those movies in which it not only seems like everything is done exceptionally well, but the parts come together in a perfect storm that elevates it to a height that you feel like no one could have reached purpose. Cases in point; The sound design is very atmospherically effective; it makes everything seem unsettlingly empty. The music is great; It’s really refreshing to hear something accompany this type of material that’s at least a little bit of a departure from Danny Elfman. The visuals are, obviously, unbelievable. The animation is, if anything, too slick. So slick that someone not in the know beforehand would probably assume that it was CGI. It reserves it’s true visual weirdness until the end, making for one of the most thrilling final third acts in recent memory. I’m sure that a part of my enthusiasm has to do with the fact that the theater I saw it in was running it in 3D, which was the best I’ve ever seen. The writing is unlike any other mainstream American film in recent memory in that it isn’t desperately trying to sell itself to the audience. There aren’t any stupid jokes, there are no winks at the audience and there’s no tacked on sentimentality. But above all else it’s a REALLY GOOD MOVIE. It’s exciting and scary, just like you want it to be.
I never thought that I would ever rate a movie this highly, but I think Coraline succeeds brilliantly at everything it does. I really wish I thought there was something wrong with this film so I could only give it four and a half stars… but I’m coming up blank. 5


WALL-E

WALL-E gets big points for distinguishing itself in the horrific wasteland that is children’s animation with two great strengths; it’s strong, culturally relevant (and well communicated) message and it’s departure from this type of fare’s typical safety zone (although it’s not a huge leap). I couldn’t shake the feeling however, that there were some missed opportunities; the grandeur of space seemed lacking, they could’ve taken the designs of the future human race a bit further and the optimistic ending kind of sells it’s grim warning of a premise a bit short. But these are relatively minor complaints; the scenes of WALL -E, the last personality on Earth bigger than a breadbox, quietly (futilely) sorting through our skyscrapers of waste 700 years after our departure from the planet are crushing in both their scope and implications. 3.5/5


Wallace and Gromit in the Wrong Trousers

The coolest thing about Wallace and Gromit movies to me is how the filmmakers have taken these two classic characters, transposed flawlessly from a simpler time, and sets them in straightforward (albeit family friendly) horror and noir movies. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but they do it perfectly. This one in particular is my favorite of their bunch, if only for it’s inclusion of Feathers McGraw, “chicken” outlaw. 4/5


Madame Tutli-Putli

Holy crap, looking into the eerily life-like eyes of it’s characters would’ve made this stop-motion short worth watching. But solid direction, a clever story and flawless art direction overshadow the animation to make a cool little meditation on death. I was watching it with a group of about five people, and no one could move! 4.5/5


Shrek the Third

Uninspired, boring and ugly. .5/5


Surf’s Up

Film, 2007

Hey! This movie is actually really funny! If you (deservedly) hate garbage like Shrek, you should really give this a chance. It’s a fine story for kids, with a good ending, and it’s really, really funny. They managed to inject some looseness into the rigid world of computer animation by presenting it as a documentary and incorporating a lot of (assumably) improvised dialogue, with lots of interesting choices for actors (Jeff Bridges and Zooey Deschanel). The worst part is the horrible pop-music montages, but they pass quickly enough. The animation if pretty boring, but more than technically passable. 3


Persepolis


Film, 2007

Satrapi’s rough illustration style translates well into slick, emotionally rich animation. The story is conventionally told, but thick and moving as well. Great use of music. 3.5


Happy Feet

Film, 2006

It’s absolutely astounding that George Miller was able to convince Warner Bros to spend years of their time and millions of dollars on something with the depth and complexity of a Hallmark card. The Frankensteining of sub-par pop music and nauseatingly realistic cartoon characters make it even more unbearable. Then the third act violently turns into a weird drug trip nightmare- which might actually be cool, if it wasn’t so out of place. 1.5