I have two brothers, hopefully I never have to beat the crap out of either of them again!
An early post this week due to the upcoming festivities,
Coraline (2009, Henry Selick, United States Of America) ***1/2
Another wonderful invention from Henry Selick, his strength is in his ability to fill the screen with interesting things. Coraline is no exception, in every moment something interesting is going on, even when it seems like it’s something as mundane as Coraline writing on her notepad. The story is a wee bit weak, but it’s not a film that’s really about its story, it’s about the odd, the weird, and how home is where you always want to be, even when you don’t realize it. The praying mantis garden machine has to be the coolest idea ever, and this film shows why, for me, Henry Selick is the true master of stop-motion, and one of the best animated directors going today who no one ever seems to think of when they think of great animated directors.
Brødre (Brothers, 2004, Susanne Bier, Denmark/Norway/Sweden/United Kingdom) ***1/2
More excellent grittiness from Susanne Bier. This is so real, it never feels false, not for a second. It doesn’t matter where the story went, what the characters did or said, I was there every step of the way. When they hurt I hurt, when they were happy I was happy and when they were horrified I was horrified. Ulrich Thomsen is great, but Nikolaj Lie Kaas steals every scene he is in as the younger brother. His delivery is off, but in a good way, his whole character feels a bit off, but in a good way. This is only my second Frau Bier, but I’m pretty sure I already love her as a director. I’m also interested to see how the remake will fare whenever I get around to checking that out, because to be honest this feels like a very Danish story.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009, Phil Lord & Chris Miller, United States Of America) ***1/2
Fun, in bucketfuls, it’s just unadulterated fun. Steve is awesome, the dad is really funny, Bill Hader is kind of amazing as Flint. It looks really good and is highly imaginative. But mainly, it’s a good story that is a lot of fun, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but this is a fun movie, the type that reminds you just how fun watching movies can be.
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008, Kenny Ortega, United States Of America) ***
I almost dipped into lesser territory when rating this one, almost. The problem with this iteration of the High School Musical franchise is that it’s more of the same, but that’s also a strength of it. The songs, the characters, the setting, the story, all of it is familiar and done well, so that is good. But, it feels played out in a way, because nothing new is done with these characters or with the songs, it’s essentially the same set-up as the first two in how it plays out. Big group song, Tory and Gabriella song, Troy in an emo song, the musical, and so on. With a bigger budget, you can definitely see it, this showed flashes of being far better than the other two and truly making the High School Musical series a great one that people too easily dismiss. But I feel it squanders too many opportunities and opts for tried and true storytelling cliches and keeps its characters stuck in stasis with no growth on the horizon. But, I did like it, it was still a pretty good musical, it just could have been a great musical. As it stands, the High School Musical trilogy is a good series of films that are too easily dismissed, but not a great series of films.
Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981, Steve Miner, United States Of America) ***
Naked people, having sex, Jason is on the prowl, but he is decidedly human and not a supernatural force. This entry in the franchise heavily borrows from Halloween and from other slasher flicks such as Black Christmas. It still is its own movie though, because it adds an interesting paradox with the idea of Jason as the lost puppy who is still devoted to his mom. In a lot of ways this movie actually asks you to feel sorry for Jason, but it never goes far enough to truly bring about that sort of emotion. The suspense in this one is just okay, and that is the main problem with the film, sometimes it builds to the kill, other times it truly feels like a bad slasher flick. I enjoyed it sure, but at the end of the day I’m not sold on how much of my enjoyment was genuine and how much of is rooted in how much I like this franchise as a whole.
A very good week overall, with a trio of great films bringing me a lot of enjoyment. Of those three it is Brødre that takes home retro movie of the week honors. I’ll be back next week with five more retro capsule reviews!