Last week Mike & I went to a theater on Camp Foster to see Where the Wild Things Are. I had pretty mixed feelings about it — I was mostly frustrated with how uneven the film is. I’m glad it’s not a “kids movie” and I’m glad it’s devoid of both moralism & paternalism. Yet Where the Wild Things Are never quite finds the momentum needed to turn it into a truly great film. There are dazzling bits in this film — exciting, hilarious, creatively genius bits… but at the end you’re left wondering, “Is that all?” There’s no disguising the fact that the runtime is too long and the script too thin. I kept wishing that Charlie Kauffman and/or Michel Gondry had had a hand in this, no matter how much I respect Jonze & Eggers. If someone told me they loved this film (my sister), I’d totally understand… but I’d likewise understand if someone said they hated it (my brother).
I did see two movies recently I’d really recommend that both seem to be flying under the mainstream radar. The first one is Hunger, which I saw a few weeks ago. It’s an unconventional picture of Bobby Sands‘ agonizing last days that is quietly brutal. It’s occasionally difficult to watch (the hunger strike, prison abuse, etc) but honest and pays off if you stick with it. Other than Michael Fassbender’s painful physical transformation for this film, the real highlight is an epic 17-minute unbroken medium shot. It’s supposedly the longest shot in film history and simply features Sands and his priest talking & smoking. Only one of the reasons that makes this movie a must-see.
Lastly, a couple nights ago I watched the indie sci-fi flick Moon, starring Sam Rockwell. It centers around Sam Bell, an employee working in solitude on the moon harvesting energy for use on earth. With two weeks to go until his three-year contract is up and he jets home, Bell starts (or continues) going a little batty in the head and, as a result, accidentally wrecks his moon-buggy. After that… I can’t say. But don’t get me wrong: it’s not a “thriller” per se, with crazy surprises and mega-twists in the plot — but I don’t want to spoil all the fun. It’s just that the real strength of Moon lies with Rockwell, who delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, and the atmospherics (cinematography and great soundtrack by Clint Mansell). Since I’m not in the USA I don’t know if this in theaters or what, but check it out if there’s an opportunity.