where the wild things are

November 29, 2009

“i didn’t want to wake you up, but i really wanted to show you something.”

i was talking with some friends about this movie trying to explain how i was wrestling with the film in my head.  this is kind of how it went….
me: i’m still not sure how i feel about the movie
friends: you don’t know how you feel about?  what do you mean?
me: i mean….i don’t know if i love the movie or hate it.
friends: love or hate?
me: yeah.  i feel like this movie is either one of the greatest movies ever made….or absolutely terrible.  and i don’t think it’s a bad film….soo…..
friends: so you loved it?
me:  i don’t know.  where are those cookies at?
  
saying that the film is either one of the greatest movies ever made or terrible may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but i think i’m close in my thinking.
  
what works in this film, works phenomenally.  it has a great sense of nostalgia for me.  i felt like a 10 year old boy again.  just different interactions max would have with the wild things, things that the wild things would say, all of these have happened to me.  one instance that sticks out in my mind is the dirt clod fight.  the wild things and max are having a blast, they’re loving hitting each other with dirt clods.  but slowly people start to get mad at each other.  one of the wild things gets hit in the face and he gets upset and leaves.  the way they handled the escalating tension was so painfully realistic. it felt like many games that i played as a youngin.  it starts out fun, but someone always leaves crying.
 
the main problem i had with the film was i was constantly sorting out what the wild things really are.  are they real, are they fake, do they represent characters from max’s life, are they manifestations of max’s emotions and psyche, is it a mix of all that?  maybe a second viewing would strongly clear things up for me, but i could never get a strong sense of what jonze was trying to say through them.  sometimes i felt it strongly one way, sometimes strongly another.
 
visually the film blew me away.  jonze takes a 2D little children’s book and turns it into something real.  all of the wild things look amazing.  it is such a revelation to see creatures not be cgi, and look amazing.  hopefully hollywood will take notice.  cgi can never look as good as the real thing (hear that avatar?).
 
if you gave 10 different people the resources to make an adaptation of where the wild things are, you’d get 10 completely different films.  completely different.  there’s really no plot to go off of.  not much character interaction.  not a lot of dialogue.  you have max, and you have the wild things.  what spike jonze does though is take the essence of the book, the soul of it, and puts it on film.  he takes the spirit of what sendak was doing, and turns it into one of the most beautiful films of the year.
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4 Responses to “where the wild things are”

  1. magnus Says:

    This is probably the US movie I’m most hyped about this year… and the fact that people can’t seem to decide if it’s any good, makes it even more intriguing for me. Come on German distributors, start doing your job: distribute…

  2. johnheberle Says:

    yeah. going in to this year it was definitly up there in my most anticipated. this, inglorious basterds, and the road.

    now i just need to see the road, but it’s not playing around here for some reason…

  3. magnus3000 Says:

    has “the road” already been released, you right that is another one I’m excited about seeing… that and “Enter the Void”…

  4. johnheberle Says:

    it was supposedly released thanksgiving week (on nov. 25th) but it’s not playing anywhere around here.

    just checked the schedule for our indie theater and it’s opening dec 18th. probably will see it as soon as possible then.

    also looking forward to nine (just because that cast is killer) and the gilliam film.


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