Third Monday Movie Day

Movie of the Month: Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)

Coraline is Skim's favorite movie, and of the past few years, it's one of mine. Selick wrote the screenplay based loyally on Neil Gaiman's book, and Gaiman has described it as a "Fairy tale for young girls of all ages and genders." Well, apparently, I'm one of those young girls.

Coraline Jones, an only child, and her parents move to a new town into an old mansion with secrets. A snooping Coraline finds a portal into a second world where her parents are much more attentive and vibrant, but what's behind the facade? It's all about greed, in the end, although it's told in such a colorful, exciting manner that you never get the idea you're learning anything from it.

Skim did Halloween as Coraline last year and has expressed interest in doing so again. Coraline is a strong, smart, realistic female role model for Skim and Sour Cream, and any daughter's father can see that they're in short supply. I love Neil Gaiman's writing in general, but I love him most of all for this character.

Worst Movie I Saw this Month: Die-ner (Get it?) (Patrick Horvath, 2010)

This is a putrid little indie flick. I got on a zombie kick in the past month, and watching this movie killed that entirely. What starts with an interesting premise - a serial killer's last two victims come after him and his next intended targets - devolves into a hastily-written orgy of horrible acting. The serial killer is the lead, and he never shows a single redeeming quality, partially because of his inability to act. The young couple, his next intended targets, have multiple chances to leave but for some reason, they never do. With one or two rewrites and a better cast, this has potential. Instead, it's probably the worst movie I've seen all year. Sigh.

What have you seen?

64 thoughts on “Third Monday Movie Day”

  1. Saw Source Code in the theater. Actually liked it more than I thought I would, Duncan Jones (Moon) is 2 for 2 in my book.

    Also took in Rango and The Adjustment Bureau.

    Rango was pretty funny, I enjoyed it pretty much the whole way through, some of the jokes made me a little uncomfortable considering I was surrounded by a 7-year old's birthday party, but I liked it.

    The Adjustment Bureau was not as good as the other two. It started off as classic Philip K. Dick paranoia, but the last half left me unmoved. The credits rolled and my wife and I both said, "Well, that tied everything up in a neat little bow, didn't it?" Neither of us meant it as a compliment.

    1. I had a similar problem with The Adjustment Bureau, DG. I think I was looking for something much more edgy at the end. I haven't read the source material, so maybe I should have known better, but I walked out of the theater feeling like I'd been lead on for 99% of the movie.

  2. Haven't seen any movies lately, although I have Eagle Eye set on the DVR in a couple days, it's that good.

    Finally saw the most recent Fringe ep last night -- now I know what Nimoy was so entertained by it.

  3. We saw Win-Win which is a nice little movie your gal-pal will like but has enough guy stuff in it too. Also streamed 21 Grams, which isn't exactly the feel good movie of the year but very well made and couple of long topless scenes with Naomi Watts.

    On Saturday we are going to the Walker Art Museum to see Meek's Cutoff which includes a discussion with the director Kelly Reichardt. My wife is a big into the pioneer days so a film that is focused solely on a couple of families on the Oregon Trail is right up her alley. Should be interesting.

    1. I remember watching 21 Grams in college. At the end we were all, "Well, that was depressing." The rest of the night was a bit of a downer.

        1. I didn't word that very well. My friend David's latest. As I've only met Mr McCarthy the one time, I won't call him a friend. I'm not Sid Hartman.

          (Looked--and failed to find my LTE in the other basement that recounted that meeting.)

          1. I think I remember that story, since it seemed familiar when I read it here.

            On the subject of meeting people involved with The Station Agent, my brother-in-law has become casual friends with Peter Dinklage, who is apparently not a mensch whatsoever.

              1. Oh, wow, time to bone up on my Yiddish. I was confusing mensch with shlemiel here. Dinklage is a person of honor and integrity. Don't hurt me, Peter. (Admittedly, I wouldn't begrudge him a Napoleon Complex, if he had one)

                1. Aw man, I was all ready with the "He's an angry elf" from Elf and you had to go fix things.

                  So what you're saying is that Dinklage is a mensch.

                    1. He's in two of my favorite movies - the aforementioned Elf, brief though his part may be, and In Bruges. His character in In Bruges must be exactly how he isn't in real life.

                    2. You should check out The Station Agent then. He's great in that.

                      Back to McCarthy, he had such a welcoming vibe, it's no surprise that he gets such natural and relaxed performances from his casts.

                    3. I've never seen a benefit to directors being cruel taskmasters, at least in person. I know that a couple of the big ones were that way (Hitchcock and Kubrick spring to mind) but they're the exception. In all the best productions I've been a part of, the director has created a pleasant work environment.

                  1. Dinklage had a bit in Entourage once or twice, playing the opposite of a mensch. They tend to do that -- have the cameo play exactly the opposite of who they likely are. (e.g., Larry David, Matt Damon)

  4. Didn't take the time to see anything I wanted to see this month, but caught a couple on TV.

    Yes Man: About what you'd expect. Pretty inoffensive. A couple of laughs. Zooey is nice.

    Robin Hood Men In Tights: A few great laughs but lots of tedium, especially in the beginning. I love Roger Rees. I don't Amy Yasbeck. I hated her on Wings even when I thought that show was funny.

  5. Based on hearing about it here, I watched Moon a couple weeks ago and thought it was great. Sam Rockwell should be in more things.

    I still have to get around to watching The Final Sacrifice, but I had a busy weekend and didn't get to it. I also have The City of Lost Children which I was similarly unable to watch, a situation aided by my wife not thinking she wanted to watch it based on the description.

      1. Me too. I love it so much, I named my second daughter after the main character (or perhaps the second main character; the girl, not Ron Perlman).

        1. Same director, so no surprise there. Jeunet is one of my favorite directors...I wish he'd do films more often, but when you go for a visual style as strong as his, that's probably not an option. His newest film Micmacs is at the top of my streaming queue. In fact, at least three of his movies are streaming on Netflix: Micmacs, Amelie and A Very Long Engagement.

            1. Yeah, Jeunet is one who reuses his stable of actors often. Dominique Pinon is in four(?) of his movies, including Alien: Resurrection, which I believe is his only English-speaking role.

              I love both of those directors enough to make that comparison, absolutely (and I'd go with your wording; Gilliam's career came first, so if one inspired the other, Gilliam inspired Jeunet).

    1. Moon has been in my netflix queue for probably 8 months now. I just can't seem to get myself around to watching it.

  6. A few others I saw...

    Crash. This movie was so manipulative and predictable that I'm a little offended that it won best picture. The second half has some nice moments, but the whole thing is pretty lazy. It was the last of the 2005 Best Picture nominees that I saw and easily the worst.

    Hot Tub Time Machine. There aren't many movies the Milkmaid and I can watch together. "Stupid comedy" is about it for genres that we both sort of like. Like all comedies this broad, the highs are high and the lows are low.

    In the Mouth of Madness. I was never a fan of Sam Neill and I didn't like him much here, but John Carpenter's directing style worked enough to make up for it. A little slow, but that was the intention.

    Dance of the Dead. Zombies show up on prom night. Way, way more fun than I expected. Suspect acting, but some legitimate humor and surprises along the way.

    "Dexter," Season Three. The drama between Dexter and the new Jimmy Smits character is some of the best stuff the show has done to this point. The mystery of the skinner's identity ended in a thud for me, but on the whole it's an excellent season.

    At home: Jarhead, Out of Sight

  7. Apart from The Adjustment Bureau (I'll leave the conversation about it up at DG's LTE), I rewatched Diner for the fourth or fifth time. There's something about Levinson's Baltimore films that gets to me; they're so well done, I just keep returning to them over and over, and they never get old. I have a hard time watching Avalon, my favorite of the series (and perhaps my favorite movie), without getting choked up, so I don't watch it much. But Diner, boy, I can watch that one just about any time.

    I also finally gave up watching House, M.D. I just couldn't take the ridiculous story arcs and Amber Tamblyn's character anymore.

    Still watching The West Wing.

    1. House has jumped the shark, unfortunately. There is so little about the cases in any episode anymore. It's all about the characters and interpersonal b.s.

        1. Moss sees what you are saying, but the show is modeled after Sherlock Holmes. You learn a bit about Holmes and Watson and other characters through the stories, but it isn't about them. And that's how House was for years.

          Now, it's about the characters and not the cases. It's changed. And for that matter, there's less about House and more about the periphery.

          Moss liked the show because of House/Laurie and because it was fun to at least take a crack at solving the case. Moss' enjoyment has diminished because those aspects are now marginalized.

          1. spookymilk sees what you are saying (wait, I don't talk that way). I'm actually about a half-season behind - before Amber Tamblyn's arc started, let alone ended - so I'll see what I think if I ever catch up to the present.

            The show in the early days and the show of the past couple of years have been different shows, but I've dug both. I keep hearing that the stuff I'm about to see really pushes the limits, though.

  8. Mo chailín and I watched "The Mark of Cain" about life in the Russian prison system, specifically their intricate tattoos and social structure. Viggo Mortensen is said to have studied this film for Eastern Promises. It was really informative and not at all as scary as I thought it'd be, like "Lockdown" can sometimes be.

  9. So, Coraline looked like it would be scary as all get-out for my 7yo CER. She gets really worked up by any suspense.
    Any chance the promos exaggerated how frightening it is?

    1. There are definitely scary elements for some young girls out there, AMR. Skim adores it, but as far as I can tell, nothing scares her, so another child's mileage may vary. Coraline contains monsters and ghosts (of three children that a witch has killed), does involve a fair amount of suspense (Coraline wins in the end, but at times it looks very bad for her) and talks about death in a fairly frank manner.

      1. OK, at the rate things are going, she might be able to sit through that when she's 28.

        HPR is fine with most things as long as EAR and CER don't suggest that they'll give him bad dreams. Then he has bad dreams.
        Or once he had a bad dream about something completely notscary. Like an episode of Mythbusters when they're swimming through treacle. It wasn't that, but it was like that.

        I've mentioned before that I want to show the kids Spirited Away, but that it'd probably be too much for CER. I'm thinking I might break it up into 15-20 minute "episodes" with only one episode a week. Give it time to sink in, and not build too quickly.

        I should probably* start with Kiki's Delivery Service. I need to get the whole Miyazake canon anyways. But, should I wait til I get a Blueray?

        *Sorry Rob, try changing your handle to something more unique. Like RobUidhir.**
        **Sorry AndrewMag, that'll be the last joke I make at your handle.

  10. I just finished up the most recent season of Dr. Who, which was decent. It was pretty crazy, even for Dr. Who, but it was enjoyable. Gwen is big into Fraggle Rock, so we've been watching that a lot, too.

    1. I forgot Wallace and Gromit: Loaf and Death. It was a lot of fun to watch, though very much in the vein of the previous Wallace and Gromit shows. If you haven't watched them, they are short, humorous, and streamable on Netflix.

      1. I love Wallace and Gromit. I even had a W&G alarm clock in HS. I haven't seen this new one. I'll have to check it out.

  11. Big movie weekend at my house: Despicable Me, High Noon, Matrix Revolutions, and Slumdog Millionaire. I hadn't seen Slumdog before and found it to be a truly entertaining movie.

    1. Slumdog made me feel good, but I found it a trifle silly. I realize the whole thing is about a series of coincidences and I have to accept that, but I never thought a Best Picture winner would involve an evil game show host. I feel dumb just typing those words together.

      I also found the ending to be a bummer. Suddenly the most interesting of the three leads was shunted to the background and the story became an everyday romantic comedy. Missed opportunity.

      That said, I liked it just fine. I'm a nitpicker.

      1. I never thought people would lobby for a movie which involves an adult dressing up like a bat and fighting crime to win best picture either, though.

        Slumdog was good, but I didn't think it was great. I did enjoy it.

        1. I'm not quite sure I'd put those in the same category. The "credibility" thing is tricky. Yes, the Batman world is ludicrous, but insofar that there is a Batman world, does the movie stay credible within it? I thought it did, while I thought that Slumdog - in a purportedly real world - flunked that test a little bit (again, at least partially by design, but that's why it's nagged at me ever since I saw it).

        2. Fair point, I think, but The Dark Knight ultimately wasn't nominated.

          More to spooky's second point, Gran Torino, the film with the ending most viewers probably weren't expecting, didn't even sniff a single nomination.

  12. Not much movie watching at the Twayn household, but we did get Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on Friday and watched it. I had not seen it yet, so I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    We really liked Coraline, but we were big fans of the book already, so it was pretty easy to like, even with the liberties taken with the source material (I don't believe the boy next door was in the book). Also, Amelie is one of Elder Daughter's favorite movies of all time.

    1. Yeah, I think Wybie was an addition; a few had to be made since I'm pretty sure it was a short story initially (it's one of the only Gaiman stories I've never read, strangely).

      1. (it's one of the only Gaiman stories I've never read, strangely)
        Dido. I've read a large percentage of what he's written (Sandman is next) but haven't read Coraline. Not sure I ever will honestly.

        1. Sandman is what made me fall in love. He signed all my Sandman books (and Good Omens) at Dreamhaven in about 1997. I've never been the starstruck type, but if anything nearly put me over, it was that meet.

          1. I haven't read the Sandman books, but <segue> his novel American Gods was pretty awesome. I would love to see that brought to the silver screen. It could be like a next-generation Watchmen in a sense.

            1. American Gods is an all-time favorite. I just got a buddy to read it recently and he loved it as well. That has one of the best climaxes I've ever read and would definitely be awesome on the big screen as long as it wasn't done by someone who sucks. (but isn't that everything, really?)

              Also, it doesn't hurt that a chunk of the book takes place in Menomonie, WI, where I went to college. (and the car on the lake thing is something that is done there, though under significantly different circumstances.)

                1. oooo, I hope they shoot on location at the House on the Rock. I'll head down and try to be an extra.

Comments are closed.