Directed by Henry Selick. Written by Sam Hamm. Based on Kaja Blackley’s Graphic Novel Dark Town
Cartoonist Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) has an accident and slips into a coma on the night he is to propose to his girlfriend Julie (Bridget Fonda). In the coma, he is trapped within a twisted nightmarish psyche, along with his up-and-coming popular character Monkeybone (voice of John Turturro), who is lewd, crude and whose cartoon is in the comic style of Ren and Stimpy or Rocko’s Modern Life. This isn’t just a psychological realm, it is more in the vein of an existing alternative dimension, because, after a quest to get an ‘exit key’ out of the place, Monkeybone betrays Stu, and goes back into Stu’s body in a fiendish plot to give the world more nightmares.
I was fully expecting to dislike this film, think it pointless and a waste of time. But sources (undeniablynikki) told me it had Dave Foley, and even better, Naked Dave Foley! So I was willing to give it a shot anyway.
I’m not going to say it was a great film, because it wasn’t, but it actually had the potential to be a great film, which was, perhaps, its biggest downfall. The sets and costumes were pretty darn good, and so were some of the special effects graphics. Other special effects graphics were really bad, and it felt like they should have attempted to balance the budget rather than put all cash into one and none into another.
The plot had pacing problems. It rushed too quickly into the nightmarish realm of DownTown, and then rushed on ahead even further. Just a couple of short scenes would have made it a smoother transition.
I have this thing where I’m kind of… deeply fond of Brendan Fraser. I think it’s his name. Or it could be the fact he can actually act. I’ve seen him play the low notes as well as the high notes. He can do subtle, or he can do outrageous. I’ve never really found him attractive at all, and I’m always surprised people do. I even liked his character, Stu.
Dave didn’t really have much of a character, he was playing Herb, Stu’s manager-type friend, but apart from streaking naked (woo), there wasn’t much to him. I didn’t hate the blond hair this time, which was surprising, although I’m still wondering what made Dave freak-out and decide dying his hair an extremely unnatural colour was a Good Idea. He looks so much better with his dark blond/light brown or his grey.
Anyway, I liked it. I enjoyed myself. It had some really fun moments.
Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005)
Directed by Tim Burton and Mike Johnson. Written by John August, Pamela Pettler & Caroline Thompson.
Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria (Emily Watson) are to be married in an arranged ceremony. They have not met before, but upon meeting each other, the two fall in love. Unfortunately, Victor is nervous and has trouble reciting his vows at the rehearsal. He goes off to practice what he has to say and places the ring on what he thinks is a twig. It turns out it is the ring finger of Corpse Bride Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who takes his vows as word that they are married and whisks him off to the underworld. Victor must then do his best to get back before it is too late.
Ever since I first heard about this film, I’ve wanted to see it. I’m a huge fan of stop-motion animation, and I have a track record of loving Tim Burton’s work. I wasn’t disappointed. It was magical. I laughed, I cried. I was completely transfixed. I loved the score, deftly created by Danny Elfman, who has been one of my favourite movie composers since I was around ten.
The story was relatively predictable, but I generally think this isn’t always a bad thing. I could concentrate less on the plot and more on the spectacle. The spectacle was amazing. There were all of these perfect little details. When I think about the amount of work which went into every scene, I marvel.
I didn’t find it quite as macabre as I expected. I don’t know if that’s just me. Naturally, if it had been live action, it would have been much more gruesome. I really liked the characters. I felt sympathy for Emily. I laughed at the Peter Lorresque maggot. I loved Victoria and Victor and was amazed by how talented Johnny Depp is, since I would never have known it was him, if I didn’t know it was him.
I’m slightly cruel and I wish it could have been longer. I would have loved another musical number. It’s not really that I found it deficient, more that I enjoyed it so much, I wanted more.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Written and Directed by Shane Black. Based in part on the novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a somewhat confusing plot. It takes a measure of brainpower to go along with it, and at the end, there are still unanswered questions. It follows a few days in the life of thief Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) However, he’s not thieving things, he’s been ‘discovered’ by an LA talent agent, and is having detective consultant lessons with Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) when the two witness the dumping of a body. At the same time, he has met up with a childhood friend, Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), whose sister was found dead, in what the police call suicide, but Harmony calls murder. Harry must attempt to solve both cases, which may, or may not be intertwined.
The first thing I thought when watching this film was “Mum would hate this”. She usually hates narration, she isn’t fond of chronology shifts, and the breaking of the fourth wall? Not on! All in all, I couldn’t have watched this film with her anywhere around. Luckily, I didn’t. I have to admit, though, I occasionally found the style of narration a little annoying. There were a couple of moments where I thought the narration should have kicked in, and it didn’t. I generally appreciate something different, though, and I quite liked these techniques to tell the story – especially since it was a complex story in and of itself.
Robert Downey Jr. is typically good in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He’s such a charismatic actor. I rarely fail to find him intriguing on screen. He has such power in conveying emotion, especially the emotion of screwed up characters – perhaps because he is one himself. I’ve never really liked Val Kilmer, but I liked him in this.
There was a lot of action, a lot of shooting, some really great lines and some not so great ones. One of my favourite quotes was really awkward, and therefore very amusing;
Gay Perry: Look up the word "Idiot" in the word dictionary, you know what you'd find?
Harry: Aaaaaaaaa picture of my face?!?
Gay Perry: No... the definition of the word "Idiot", which is what you fucking are!
So it was a comedy, and a murder mystery, and an action flick. It was good, I liked it.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Written by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth. Directed by Michel Gondry.
This is another film I’ve wanted to see since I first heard about it. I actually bought the soundtrack, without having seen the film (and Beck’s “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes” is one of my all-time favourite songs). I was expecting it to be bizarre, and it was. It was not, however, nearly as confusing or bizarre as it could have been, and I appreciated that. It follows the story of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet). After discovering Clementine has had him erased from her memory by Lacuna Inc., because their relationship becomes sour, Joel decides to undergo the same procedure. Things do not go completely according to plan, however. In his dreamscape, Joel decides he doesn’t want to forget Clementine, and attempts to place her in a memory she does not belong. The story is told a great deal in Joel’s mind. On the outside, however, there are even more complications, as problems arise between the people conducting the procedure.
The acting in this film really impressed me. I said recently that I was worried because I was starting to like Jim Carrey, and this continues with this film. There was no Carrey over-acting, no muggish expressions, no ludicrous pratfalls or mannerisms. He was actually acting, believably, as a complex and likeable character. It was amazing. I’ve always grudgingly admitted he was talented, but now there’s nothing grudging about it. The man is talented. I loved Joel. He was so sweet, and bitter, and you could see how he would be annoying but he was so likeable at the same time. Kate Winslet was brilliant. She made me hate and like Clementine in the exact same instance. I loved her hair. I wish I was brave enough to go all of those different colours. I really became attached to both Joel and Clementine by the end of the movie.
It was beautifully shot, with clever editing and great subtle special effects. Stylistically, it was impressive and memorable. There were so many scenes which had fascinating little elements. There was a spontaneity to it all, which gave it a heightened realism, despite the fantasy-sci-fi. Last night, I came away thinking this procedure was completely real and wondered if I would ever have it done, before remembering there’s no such thing. The music, which I already loved, enhanced everything. It was brilliantly used.
So many questions were raised about memory, and love, and how they combine. Relationship troubles, and compromise, personality quirks and connections. If you really loved someone, and it had gone wrong, wouldn’t you want to erase them from your memory? To know that you would never again love that way, that your memories of that person would only cause you pain. But who is to say you wouldn’t make the same mistakes again? How is this fair to what has gone before?
The film is advertised as a comedy, and was in the comedy section of the video store, but apart from a few moments, I didn’t find it very comedic. I found it heartbreaking, tear-inducing, moving, thought-provoking and fascinating.
I really loved this film.
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.