REVIEW: DICK TRACY (1990)

CAST

Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde)
Al Pacino (The Godfather)
Madonna (Evita)
Glenne Headly (Sgt. Bilko)
Charlie Korsmo (Hook)
Seymour Cassel (Boiling Point)
Michael J. Pollard (Scrooged)
Charles Durning (Attica)
Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins)
Frank Campanella (Capone)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
William Forsythe  (The Devil’s Rejects)
Ed O’Ross (Another 48 hrs)
James Tolkan (Masters of The Universe)
Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride)
R. G. Armstrong (Predator)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s 11)
Paul Sorvino (The Gambler)
James Caan (Elf)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)

war-of-the-worlds-1953-martian-hand-on-shoulder-sylvia-van-buren-ann-robinsonAt an illegal card game, a young street urchin witnesses the massacre of a group of mobsters at the hands of Flattop and Itchy, two of the hoods on the payroll of Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice. Big Boy’s crime syndicate is aggressively taking over small businesses in the city. Detective Dick Tracy catches the urchin (who calls himself “Kid”) in an act of petty theft. After rescuing him from a ruthless host, Tracy temporarily adopts him with the help of his girlfriend, Tess Trueheart.
ww-53Meanwhile, Big Boy coerces club owner Lips Manlis into signing over the deed to Club Ritz. He then kills Lips with a cement overcoat (referred to onscreen as “The Bath”) and steals his girlfriend, the seductive and sultry singer, Breathless Mahoney. After Lips is reported missing, Tracy interrogates his three hired guns Flattop, Itchy, and Mumbles, then goes to the club to arrest Big Boy for Lips’ murder. Breathless is the only witness. Instead of providing testimony, she unsuccessfully attempts to seduce Tracy. Big Boy cannot be indicted and he is released from jail. Big Boy’s next move is to try to bring other criminals, including Spud Spaldoni, Pruneface, Influence, Texie Garcia, Ribs Mocca, and Numbers, together under his leadership. Spaldoni refuses and is intentionally killed, leaving Dick Tracy, who discovered the meeting and was attempting to spy on it, wondering what is going on. The next day, Big Boy and his henchmen kidnap Tracy and attempt to bribe him; Tracy refuses, prompting the criminals to attempt to kill him. However, Tracy is saved by Kid, who gets prized by the police with a Honorary Detective Certificate, which will remain temporary until he decides a name for himself.
16-215041_0x420Breathless shows up at Tracy’s apartment, once again in an attempt to seduce him. Tracy shows he is only human by allowing her to kiss him. Tess witnesses this and eventually leaves town. Tracy leads a seemingly unsuccessful raid on Club Ritz, but it is actually a diversion so officer “Bug” Bailey can enter the building to operate a secretly installed listening device so the police can hear in on Big Boy’s criminal activities. The resultant raids all but wipe out Big Boy’s criminal empire. However, Big Boy discovers Bug and captures him for a trap planned by Influence and Pruneface to kill Tracy in the warehouse. In the resulting gun battle, a stranger with no face called “The Blank” steps out of the shadows to save Tracy after he is cornered and kills Pruneface. Influence escapes as Tracy rescues Bug from the same fate given to Lips Manlis, and Big Boy is enraged upon hearing that The Blank foiled the hit. Tracy tries again to get the testimony from Breathless he needs to put Big Boy away. She agrees to testify only if Tracy agrees to give in to her advances. Tess eventually has a change of heart, but before she can tell Tracy, she is kidnapped by The Blank, with the help of Big Boy’s club piano player, 88 Keys. Tracy is drugged and rendered unconscious by The Blank, framed for murdering the corrupt District Attorney John Fletcher, and is detained. The Kid, meanwhile, adopts the name “Dick Tracy, Jr.”
war-of-the-worlds-1953-martians-attack-humansBig Boy’s business thrives until the Blank frames him for Tess’ kidnapping. Released by his colleagues on New Year’s Eve, Tracy interrogates Mumbles and arrives at a shootout outside Big Boy’s club where his men are killed by the police and Tracy. Abandoning his crew, Big Boy flees to a drawbridge and ties Tess to the gears before he is confronted by Tracy. Their fight is halted when the Blank appears and holds both men at gunpoint, offering to share the city with Tracy after Big Boy is dead. Big Boy takes advantage of a distraction and opens fire before Tracy sends him falling to his death in the bridge gears. Mortally wounded, the Blank is revealed to be Breathless Mahoney, who kisses Tracy before dying. All charges against Tracy are dropped. Later, Tracy proposes to Tess when he is interrupted by the report of a robbery in progress. He leaves her with a ring before heading away with Dick Tracy, Jr.dicktracy_727Overall, a really fine movie that has become misunderstood over the years since its release and is incredibly underrated. This is a perfect example of capturing the essence of a comic book, from style to eccentricity.

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REVIEW: A SERIES OF UNFORTANTE EVENTS – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Malina Weissman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Louis Hynes (Barbarians Rising)
K. Todd Freeman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Presley Smith
Tara Strong (Batman: The KIlling Joke)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Aasif Mandvi (The Siege)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
John DeSantis (Blade: The Series)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie)

Published between 1999 and 2006, A Series Of Unfortunate Events told the story of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, three intelligent and resourceful children who are orphaned when their parents are killed in a mysterious fire that destroys their home. Over the course of the books they are met with misfortune after misfortune as the evil Count Olaf attempts to get his hands on the money their parents left behind, with the orphans always just barely managing to escape Olaf’s clutches. Eventually they start to realise that there is more to Olaf and the death of their parents than they realise, and their attempts to survive converge more and more with a huge conspiracy that drags them deeper into a web of very furtive danger.

The books are oblique, absurd, repetitive and relentlessly dark. The last attempt at adapting them wrangled three books into one film along with a simplified version of the convoluted mystery that characterised the back half of the book series, which it chose to more or less resolve, while ramping up the buffoonery of Olaf and toning down his more menacing moments. All of these were choices that made sense from a commercial perspective; yet the film was met with a shrug. So when it was announced that Netflix was taking on the series, it was hard not to wonder just how that might look and whether it would be more successful than the last version. Adapting this series presents a challenge; a faithful retelling of the books runs the risk of being kind of repetitive, not to mention very expensive considering each book takes place in a different bizarre setting with a mostly different cast of supporting characters. So how do they manage it?

As it turns out, very, very well. And very faithfully to boot. The television series devotes two episodes to each book, with the first season covering the first four. Essentially this means that each individual novel gets more time than the film allowed for three, meaning that not only can the series depict just about every scene from each book, but it can embellish and explore certain aspects while threading new, fascinating subplots throughout the more familiar material. Consequently, the series offers something fresh and interesting for those unfamiliar with Snicket while being full of surprises and easter eggs for those who spent their childhoods scouring the books for clues, hints or things we might have missed. This is an adaptation that does fan service right. If you know the books reasonably well, you will have ample reasons to squeal with delight or gasp at your television while never once feeling like somebody is pandering to you.

Part of this is probably due to the heavy involvement of Daniel Handler, who wrote the teleplays for the four episodes. The tweaks the television series makes to the novels play more like minor corrections, the new subplots like we’re seeing important deleted scenes rather than anything added inorganically to fill screen time and above all the series just feels extremely true to the spirit of its source material in a way that the movie never quite did. Part of this is the dialogue, part of this is the theatrical set design and part of this is the fact that the series is unafraid to get dark.The first book, The Bad Beginning, features many disturbing elements but two that stand out are Count Olaf’s insidious plan to marry fourteen year old Violet Baudelaire in order to get his hands on her fortune, and an earlier scene in which a drunk, angry Olaf strikes Klaus across the face for talking back to him. The film included both these plot points, but they were both buried in lots of Jim Carrey mugging. This created the uncomfortable feeling that some awful stuff was being played for laughs, or at least that the impact of it was being softened to avoid upsetting anyone too much. The series does not shy away from either of these moments. The marriage plot is exactly as disturbing as it should be, while the attack on Klaus is followed by a loaded silence that lets you feel just how dreadful the circumstances of the Baudelaires and the man behind them is. When the humour does come it’s a welcome relief rather than an attempt to bury disturbing content beneath silly voices and kooky lines.Neil Patrick Harris walks a very particular tightrope in his portrayal of Olaf. The villain of the series is a terrible actor who uses a variety of ridiculous disguises and bizarre plots in his attempts to capture the orphans, but when all is said and done this man is still a dangerous murderer and serial arsonist. Predictably Harris is very funny, but it’s that crucial undercurrent of darkness that sells the character in a way that Jim Carrey didn’t quite manage and means that, no matter how much you’re laughing at him, you never forget the danger that he poses.

Elsewhere, the acting is just as strong. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are both excellent as Violent and Klaus respectively, while K. Todd Freeman threatens to steal the show as inept banker Mr Poe. Aasif Mandvi makes for a warm and endearingly quirky Uncle Monty while Patrick Warburton very quickly becomes the only Lemony Snicket you’ll be able to imagine. Where Jude Law in the film depicted the narrator as a softly spoken reclusive writer, Warburton is more of a droll noir detective, walking in and out of scenes to comment on proceedings with wry humour and occasional flashes of melancholy and gravitas. In short, he is a pitch perfect, if unexpected, take on arguably the most important character in the series.

One of the most distinctive things about the books was how it handled its tone; veering quickly from oddball humour to reflective sadness. The television series handles this with deft expertise; just watch how Snicket reacts in pained silence to the Baudelaires learning about their parents’ death even as Mr Poe fumbles breaking the news. The series is not quite as funny as the trailers may have led you to believe, but this isn’t a bad thing. It only means that humour never disguises just how dire the circumstances of the orphans are. We feel for Violet, Klaus and Sunny and we hate Count Olaf even as we chuckle at his one liners and over the top behaviour. It’s a balancing act that could so easily fall apart but never does due to the simple fact that everyone involved in this series knows exactly what they’re doing.The series feels fresh, new and different to just about anything that has ever been on television before. Netflix took a risk on this and evidently let the creators do exactly what they wanted in bringing the novels to life. At its heart, A Series of Unfortunate Events is about the fact that life rarely goes the way we want it to and trouble and treachery can strike at the worst possible times. And while they may not offer a permanent solution, intelligence, curiosity, decency and literacy are lights in the darkness, tiny glimmers of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The plight of the Baudelaire orphans, ultimately, is not a case of relentless misery being played for our entertainment, but a story of hope and resilience built around the honest truth that life isn’t fair. Perhaps the greatest trick of the book series, and now the TV show, is disguising a message of hope in a story of seemingly endless gloom. In that regard, this brave, funny, exciting, imaginative new show is as big of a success as anyone could have hoped for. It’s an absolute treat.

REVIEW: MONSTER HOUSE

CAST

Michael Musso (Squirrel Boy)
Sam Lerner (Project Almanac)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil 3 & 4)
Steve Buscemi (Fargo)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Nick Cannon (School Dance)
Kathleen Turner(Serial Mom)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)

Image result for monster house12 year old “DJ” Walters spies on his elderly neighbor Horace Nebbercracker, who confiscates any item landing in his yard. DJ’s parents leave town for a dentist convention, leaving him in the care of Elizabeth “Zee”. DJ’s best friend Charles “Chowder” accidentally loses his basketball on Nebbercracker’s lawn. DJ tries to recover it, but Nebbercraker rages at him, before suffering from a heart attack, and taken away by an ambulance. That night, DJ receives mysterious phone calls from the house with no one on the other end. Eavesdropping on Zee’s boyfriend Bones, DJ hears him tell Zee about losing his kite on Nebbercracker’s lawn when he was younger, and that Nebbercracker supposedly ate his wife. Later, Bones sees his kite in the doorway of Mr. Nebbercracker’s house, but he is consumed by the house while retrieving it.Image result for monster houseThe next morning, a girl named Jenny Bennett is selling Halloween chocolates. DJ and Chowder see her going to Nebbercracker’s house and rush out to catch her before she is eaten. Jenny calls the police but they do not believe their story.Image result for monster houseThe trio seek advice from Reginald “Skull” Skulinski, supposedly an expert on the supernatural. They learn that the house is a rare monster created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure and that it can only be killed by destroying its heart. They predict that the heart must be the furnace. Chowder provides a cold medicine-filled dummy that should cause the house to sleep long enough for them to douse the furnace. Police Officers Landers and Lester thwart their plan and they are arrested when Landers finds the cold medicine stolen from Chowder’s father’s pharmacy inside the dummy. When the officers go to examine the house, it eats them, including the trio placed in the car.Image result for monster houseWhen the house falls asleep, the kids begin exploring. In the basement they find a collection of toys accumulated from Nebbercracker’s lawn, as well as a door that opens to a shrine containing the body of Nebbercracker’s wife Constance the Giantess, encased in cement, which fully convinces them that Nebbercracker had murdered his wife. The house realizes they are inside and attacks them. DJ, Chowder and Jenny force the house to vomit them outside by grabbing its uvula. Nebbercracker arrives home alive, revealing that Constance’s spirit is within the house and that he did not eat her but instead had given her some of the happiest times in her life. As a young man, he met Constance, at a circus freak show, and fell in love with her despite her obesity. After he helped her escape, they began building the house. One Halloween, as children tormented her due to her size, Constance tried chasing them away, but lost her balance and fell to her death in the basement. Nebbercracker had finished the house, knowing it was what she would have wanted but, aware that Constance’s spirit made the house come alive, he pretended to hate children so as to keep them away.Image result for monster houseDJ tells Nebbercracker it is time to let Constance go, but the house overhears this. Enraged, it breaks free from its foundation and chases the group to a construction site. Nebbercracker attempts to distract the house so he can dynamite it, but the house notices and attacks him. Chowder destroys it with an excavator and DJ is given the dynamite. However, the house reassembles itself and disables the excavator. While Chowder distracts the house, DJ and Jenny climb to the top of a crane and DJ throws the dynamite into the chimney, actually destroying it. The trio then see Nebbercracker with Constance’s ghost before she fades away. DJ apologizes to Nebbercracker for the loss of his house and wife, but Nebbercracker thanks the kids for freeing him from being trapped for 45 years. That night, children in their Halloween costumes are lined up at the site of the house, where DJ, Chowder and Jenny help return the toys to their owners. Jenny leaves, and DJ and Chowder go trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood, which they previously felt they were too old for. Those who were eaten by the house now emerge from the basement.Image result for monster houseThe animation looks great. They certainly aren’t ground breaking. But they fit the movie well. However, I will say that some scenes looked quite amazing. If you are looking for a fun, clean movie with plenty of laughs and chuckles, this is definitely one you don’t want to miss!

REVIEW: ORANGE COUNTY

CAST

Colin Hanks (King kong)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Schuyler Fisk (Snow Day)
Bret Harrison (V)
Kyle Howard (Royal Pains)
Catherine O’ Hara (Beetlejuice)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lily Tomin (I Heart Huckabees)
Carly Pope (Elysium)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Sarah Hagan (Buffy)
Leslie Mann (This is 40)
Harold Ramis (Year One)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Ben Stiller (Zoolander)

Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) is a teenager from affluent Orange County, California. Although bright and intelligent, he has very little interest in education or studying, instead trying to lead a carefree SoCal lifestyle of surfing, drinking, and partying. A turning point comes when Shaun’s best friend Lonny (Bret Harrison) is killed in a surfing accident, causing Shaun to rethink his own life. One day, he finds a novel on the beach by the author Marcus Skinner, which quickly inspires him to become a writer. Upon learning that Skinner is an English professor at Stanford University, Shaun makes it his goal to attend Stanford and study under him, seeing it as an opportunity to escape from his superficial life in Orange County.

Shaun dramatically improves himself academically, obtaining high grades and SAT scores as well as becoming the president of his graduating class. Following the advice of his guidance counselor, Ms. Cobb (Lily Tomlin), who tells him that he is a “shoo-in” for acceptance, Shaun applies only to Stanford. This severely backfires as Shaun later finds out that he is rejected from Stanford, ironically because Ms. Cobb mixed up his academic transcript with that of a much less intelligent student. Shaun then reaches out to his wealthy father Bud (John Lithgow), who had left his wife and family to marry a much younger woman (Leslie Mann), pleading him to donate money to Stanford in order to increase his chances of being accepted. Bud, however, disapproves of Shaun’s dream of being a writer and refuses. In an attempt to help him, Shaun’s animal rights activist girlfriend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) successfully convinces her friend Tanya (Carly Pope) to allow Shaun to be interviewed at his home by Tanya’s grandfather, a Stanford board member, so Shaun can explain his situation. Unfortunately, the antics displayed during the interview by his dysfunctional family members, including his alcoholic, emotionally fragile mother Cindy (Catherine O’Hara) and his dim-witted stoner brother Lance (Jack Black), cause Shaun’s interviewers to storm out in anger and disgust.

In a last-ditch effort to get him accepted, Ashley and Lance convince Shaun to drive to Palo Alto and plead his case directly to Stanford Admissions Director Don Durkett (Harold Ramis). By the time the trio arrive on campus, it is nighttime and the admissions building is already closed. While Lance distracts (and seduces) the secretary on duty in the office, Shaun and Ashley steal the address to Durkett’s house. They arrive at his home, where Shaun shows him his real high school transcript. Although impressed with Shaun’s credentials, Durkett is reluctant to admit him, as it is already very late in the admissions process. After much groveling, Shaun finally convinces Durkett to go back to his office in the Admissions Building and give it a second thought. Disaster strikes again, however, when Ashley drugs Durkett by accident with Lance’s ecstasy, stored in an Excedrin bottle, thereby causing Durkett to become high. Things go from bad to worse when Shaun and Ashley arrive at the Admissions Building and find it engulfed in flames, caused by Lance starting a fire while he was seducing the receptionist to distract her; Lance is now wanted for arson. They abandon the hallucinating Durkett and flee the scene to avoid being arrested.

Ashley finally becomes frustrated with Shaun’s obsession of only getting into Stanford, and points out that his attending would mean they would be separated, thus ending their relationship. She then angrily leaves Shaun on his own. Depressed, Shaun wanders the campus and meets a female student who invites him to a frat party. There, he witnesses the behavior of the Stanford coeds and is disappointed to learn that they are just as vapid and ditzy as the girls he knew from Orange County. After leaving the party with a more cynical view of college, Shaun, by chance, runs into Professor Skinner (Kevin Kline) and is invited to his office to chat. Skinner is amused with Shaun’s belief that he must study and work in a highly intelligent environment in order to become successful, pointing out that many famous authors such as James Joyce and William Faulkner grew up in places that were not intellectually stimulating, but still became great writers. Having an epiphany, Shaun realizes his previous misguided intentions and seeks out Ashley to apologize to her. After catching up with her, the two also pick up Lance (who is still hiding from the police) and drive home.

Back in Orange County, Shaun’s parents seek out each other to determine how to deal with Shaun’s problem. They end up reconciling, realizing that they are much happier together than with their respective new spouses. They also conclude that they have not been very good parents to Shaun and, in an attempt to make amends, Bud donates enough money to Stanford for the construction of a brand new Admissions Building (ironically, to replace the one that Lance burned down). This action gets Shaun accepted into Stanford. Although Shaun is initially ecstatic, he then remembers the things that both Ashley and Professor Skinner had told him. Shaun finally decides to stay in Orange County with Ashley and his family because he loves them too much to leave them, and he is now able to view living in Orange County as a positive influence for his writing career, rather than a detriment. The film ends with Shaun going surfing with his friends again for the first time since Lonny’s death.

There is nothing groundbreaking in Orange County. It’s a pretty straightforward teen movie with a realistic plot and great performances. with emphasis on the goofiness, this movie would’ve been a low-grade teen sex flick. Instead we have a real story about ambition and teen life with a few falls off of roofs and vases falling on heads

REVIEW: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

CAST

Max Records (The Sitter)
Catherine Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
James Gandolfini (8MM)
Paul dano (Looper)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Nick Farnell (Ned kelly)
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Chris Cooper ( The Bourne Identity)

The film begins with Max, a lonely nine-year-old boy[6] with an active imagination whose parents are divorced, wearing a wolf costume and chasing his dog. His older sister, Claire, does nothing when her friends crush Max’s snow fort (with him inside) during a snowball fight. Out of frustration, Max messes up her bedroom and destroys a frame that he had made for her. At school, Max’s teacher teaches him and his classmates about the eventual death of the sun. Later on, his mother, Connie, invites her boyfriend Adrian to dinner. Max becomes upset with his mother for not coming to the fort he made in his room. He wears his wolf costume, acts like an animal, and demands to be fed. When his mother gets upset, he throws a tantrum and bites her on the shoulder. She yells at him and he runs away, scared by what has transpired. At the edge of a pond Max finds a small boat that he boards.

The pond soon becomes an ocean. Max, still in his wolf suit, eventually reaches an island. There, he stumbles upon a group of seven large, monstrous creatures. One of them, Carol, is in the middle of a destructive tantrum (caused by the departure of a female Wild Thing named K.W.) while the others attempt to stop him. As Carol wreaks havoc Max tries to join in on the mayhem, but soon finds himself facing the suspicious anger of the Wild Things. When they contemplate eating him, Max convinces them that he is a king with magical powers capable of bringing harmony to the group. They crown him as their new king. Shortly after, K.W. returns and Max declares a wild rumpus, in which the Wild Things smash trees and tackle each other.
The Wild Things introduce themselves as Carol, Ira, Judith, Alexander, Douglas, the Bull, and K.W. Soon, they all end up piling on one another before going to sleep, with Max at the center. Carol takes Max on a tour of the island, showing him a model he built depicting what he wishes the island looked like. Inspired by this, Max orders the construction of an enormous fort, with Carol in charge of construction. When K.W. brings her two owl friends Bob and Terry to the fort, a disagreement ensues, as Carol feels they are outsiders (Max had said earlier that if any outsiders entered the fort, they would “have their brains automatically cut out”). To release their frustrations, Max divides the tribe into “good guys” and “bad guys” for a dirt clod fight, but Alexander is hurt during the game. After an argument between K.W. and Carol, K.W. leaves once again.

Max finds Alexander alone in the fort and has a conversation with him. Alexander reveals that he always suspected that Max is not a king with magical powers, but warns him to never let Carol know. Soon enough, at pre-dawn, Carol throws another tantrum — this time, about the fort, K.W.’s absence, and the eventual death of the sun (which Max had talked to Carol about earlier in the film). When Carol gets angry with Max for not doing a good job as a king, Douglas tries to explain to him that he’s “just a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king”, thus exposing the truth to the rest of the Wild Things. Carol becomes enraged and ends up ripping off Douglas’ right arm (though only sand pours out of the wound). Then he chases Max into the forest and attempts to eat him. Max is saved by K.W., who hides him in her stomach. Max listens as Carol and K.W. have an argument over Carol’s misbehavior. After Carol leaves, K.W. explains that their lives are difficult, with Carol’s tantrums only making it worse. Max realizes what his mother is going through, and decides to leave the island and head home.

Max finds the crushed remains of Carol’s model island (presumably destroyed by Carol himself in a rage) and leaves a token of affection for him to find (a letter C inside a love-heart made of twigs). He finds Carol and tells him he is going home because he is not a king. The other Wild Things escort Max to his boat. Carol runs to join them after finding Max’s token and arrives in time to see him off. He starts to howl and Max howls back, then all the other Wild Things join in. Carol looks at K.W. and she smiles kindly at him. Returning home, Max is embraced by his distraught mother, who gives him a bowl of hot soup, a piece of cake and a glass of milk and sits with him as he eats. He watches as she falls asleep.
It’s such a beautifully realized film. From its vivid and in-the-moment use of hand-held cinematography , to the songs from Karen O. that are always supportive of the scenes , to the complex relationships between all of the characters. Its welcoming, refreshing and kind of staggering to see someone who knows the way children think, and how we don’t have to be a mixed-up little boy to identify and see ourselves in Max. Where the Wild Things Are works is a spectacle and comedy, it works for children and adults.

REVIEW: LEMONY SNICKET’S: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

CAST

Jim Carrey (Kick-Ass 2)
Emily Browning (Sucker Punch)
Jude Law (Spy)
Liam Aiken (Road To Perdition)
Timothy Spall (Enchanted)
Catherine O’ Hara (Beetlejuice)
Billy Connolly (The Man Who Sued God)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Luis Guzman (Waiting)
Jamie Harris (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls)
Helena Bonham Carter (Sweneey Todd)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)

Lemony Snicket (Jude Law) is documenting the whereabouts of the Baudelaire children from inside a clock tower. Violet Baudelaire (Emily Browning), her intelligent brother Klaus (Liam Aiken), and their baby sister Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) are orphaned when a mysterious fire destroys their house. Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall), in charge of the Baudelaire fortune, entrusts them to their closest relative, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), who only wants their money and makes them do harsh chores.

On the day Olaf receives full custody, he drives to a gas station and claims that he is buying soda, but it turns out Olaf parked the car directly on railroad tracks in hopes of it getting hit by a train. Thankfully, Violet and Klaus are able to turn the direction of the train so it doesn’t hit them. Mr. Poe then arrives at the scene and mistakes Sunny for driving the car. He then takes the children away, but Olaf promises he will find them. The orphans are then taken to stay with Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly), a kind, caring, and rather lonely (until the children came along) herpetologist planning to take the children with on a study in Peru. However, Olaf arrives in disguise as an Italian scientist named Stephano. Violet tries to tell Monty the truth, but he thinks Stephano is after a snake called The Incredibly Deadly Viper. Monty is found dead the following morning and authorities have been tricked into thinking the viper was responsible, but Sunny is able to prove it is actually a gentle creature.

Mr. Poe again takes the children to live with their Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), an irrationally afraid woman who is obsessed with proper grammar. While shopping at a market, Violet and Klaus encounter Olaf, disguised as a sailor named Captain Sham who pretends to be romantically interested in Josephine. When the Baudelaires get home after shopping, Josephine is gone and a hurricane is approaching. Klaus decodes a note Josephine had left and discovers she is in Curdled Cave. During the hurricane it is discovered in a secret room there were people investigating fires. The children escape the house before it falls to the lake. After sailing Lake Lachrymose the children find Josephine, but before they reach civilization their boat is attacked by leeches, and Olaf appears, and kills Josephine by pushing her into the waters after she corrects his grammar.

The Baudelaires are then placed back in Olaf’s custody. Olaf and Violet are then immediately involved in a play called The Marvelous Marriage, which involves their characters being married. However Olaf has set up the performance to be an actual legal marriage because the law states if relatives are married they are entitled to their spouses’ money. Olaf enlists the help of his neighbor Justice Strauss (Catherine O’Hara) to perform in the “play” and unwittingly officiate the marriage. Olaf explains to Violet that Sunny is being held hostage in a cage and if Violet does not say her “lines” or finds a loophole, Sunny will fall to her death. The ceremony goes as Olaf planned and he reveals that the marriage is legal, to the horror of the judge and audience.

Klaus escapes and finds a secret part of Olaf’s estate. After adjusting an eye-shaped window Klaus realizes that it was Olaf that caused their family mansion to catch fire. Klaus uses the window to burn the marriage certificate, foiling the Count’s plans. Olaf is tried for his action and sentenced to be put through the hardships he had caused the children, and a life sentence in prison. However, when a jury of his peers overturn his sentence, Olaf escapes. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are allowed to visit their old home one last time. A letter lost in the mail finally arrives, and inside is a spyglass announcing their family’s secret society. Snicket recounts that despite the children’s misfortune, they still had each other thus making them “Very Fortunate Indeed”.

Difficult to take-in first time around because of the uncomfortable implications of the plot, this is a film that deserves and rewards repeat viewing so that the incredible richness of what’s on offer can be fully appreciated. File under: “bizarrely brilliant gothic masterpiece”.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

CAST (VOICES)

Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride)
Catherine O’ Hara (Beetlejuice)
William Hickey (Puppet Master)
Glenn Shadix (Fast Sofa)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
The story starts in a forest called Holiday Woods with seven trees containing doors leading to towns representing various holidays: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween and Independence Day. Halloween Town is a fantasy world filled with citizens such as deformed monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves and witches. Jack Skellington, a skeleton known as The Pumpkin King, leads them in organizing the annual Halloween holiday. However, in a monologue, Jack reveals he has grown weary of the same routine year after year, and wants something more. Wandering dejectedly in the woods, he stumbles across the seven holiday doors and accidentally opens a portal to Christmas Town, whose residents are charged with organizing the annual Christmas holiday. Impressed by the bright and cheery feeling and style of Christmas, Jack presents his findings and his understanding of Christmas, to the Halloween Town residents. However, they fail to grasp his meaning and compare everything to their ideas of Halloween, although there is one Christmas character they can relate to: the fearsome lobster-like king of Christmas Town who flies at night, named “Sandy Claws”. Jack is dismayed that no one understands the feeling of Christmas, obsessively tries to study the holiday but fails to grasp any further explanation of it. He ultimately decides that it’s unfair for Christmas town alone to enjoy the feeling and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to, and announces that the citizens of Halloween Town will take over Christmas this year.
Jack’s obsession with Christmas leads him to usurp the role of Santa. Every resident is assigned a task, while Sally, a beautiful rag doll woman created by the town’s mad scientist, starts falling in love with Jack. However, after a vision of a burning Christmas tree, she alone realizes that his plans to run Christmas will become disastrous, but has no luck convincing him. Jack assigns Lock, Shock and Barrel, a trio of mischievous children, to abduct Santa and bring him back to Halloween Town. Against Jack’s wishes and largely for their amusement, the trio deliver Santa to Oogie Boogie, a gambling-addict bogeyman who plots to play a game with Santa’s life at stake.
Christmas Eve arrives and Sally attempts to stop Jack with fog, but fails to do so thanks to Jack’s ghost dog Zero and his glowing nose allowing Jack to embark into the sky on a coffin-like sleigh pulled by skeletal reindeer, guided by Zero. Down on the ground, Sally prays that her premonition does not come true. Jack begins to deliver presents to children around the world, but the gifts (shrunken heads, Christmas tree-eating snakes, pumpkin jack-in-the-boxes, vampire teddy bears, toy ducks with sharp teeth, living wreaths, etc.) only terrify the recipients. The children alert their parents, who call the police, who call the military. The air raid siren is activated, and Jack is spotted with search lights, after which he is then shot at by air raid artillery cannons. Initially mistaking the firing for a celebration, he simply flies higher. However, after a reindeer is hit, and his sleigh is grazed, he realizes that he is being targeted, but the next cannon destroys the sleigh, and Jack falls from the sky to Earth, devastating Halloween Town’s citizens. Thought to have been dead by the attack, Jack crash-lands in a cemetery unharmed. Although he is depressed by the failure of his plan, he quickly regains his old spirit, having come up with new ideas for next Halloween. He then rushes back home to rescue Santa and put things right.
Meanwhile, Sally attempts to free Santa, but is captured by Oogie. Jack slips into the lair and frees them, then angrily confronts Oogie. Almost immediately, Oogie springs several traps on Jack, who manages to dodge them, and Oogie attempts to flee. However, Jack pulls one of Oogie’s loose threads, revealing him to be nothing more than a collection of snakes and insects, which are all incinerated, save for the last one, which Santa squashes with his boot. Jack apologizes to Santa for his actions, and Santa, while still annoyed with Jack, assures him that he can fix things, and leaves to deliver the right presents to the world’s children.
After Jack returns to Halloween Town, the townspeople celebrate that he’s alive, and Santa, after fixing Christmas, returns and makes snow fall over Halloween Town in reconciliation between himself and Jack. The townspeople are confused by the snow at first, but soon begin to play happily in it, finally realizing what Christmas is about. Jack spies Sally heading to the graveyard, and follows her. Atop the graveyard’s big hill, Jack admits that he reciprocates Sally’s romantic feelings for him, and they declare their new found love, and embrace on the hill.
The gothic style of this excellent film has that trademark Tim Burton feel to it, his story is brought to life by animation fan Henry Selick who directs this gloriously dark tale of the pumpkin king who becomes disillusioned by the yearly monotony of Halloween and decides to have a go at running Christmas instead. A Christmas classic.