Friday, December 18, 2009

Top Films: Coraline

The best sorts of stories are deliciously creepy, scary children’s stories. Not childish stories, which is not the same thing—but stories aimed at children of all ages that certain adults can still enjoy through the eyes of a child. There is a long tradition of such tales. They delight us with the thrills and the danger and the heroism of the characters facing the terror. They also educate, in a subversive and memorable way.

One of the best films of 2009 tells just such a tale. Coraline is based on Neil Gaiman’s 2002 book. It is directed by Henry Selick (of Nightmare Before Christmas fame), and is probably the most impressive stop-motion movie ever made. (Stop motion has come so far from the days of Gumby with Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit and three of the top animated films of 2009 using the medium.)

Coraline tells the story of a typical modern girl, bored with her parents and her situation, longing for a more entertaining life. Her parents are well meaning, but busy and stressed. As she explores her new house, she finds a small door in the wall that leads to another world where everything is similar to the real world, but everything is designed to entertain her. The only problem is while the fantasy world is fun and attractive; it is also vaguely sinister and creepy. As Coraline gets to know the other world and its “other mother” better, she discovers that the allure it holds may be too costly for her to handle. And just maybe the real world isn’t as bad as it seemed.

As to the 3D aspect of this film, it was being called the best film of its sort before Avatar was released. One of the reasons they are both so good is that they seldom if ever uses the effect in an obvious way. It remains to be seen if this latest attempt to make 3D successful will work. (One tends to hope it doesn’t.)

This film is for everyone old enough to handle the scares it delivers while still young-at-heart enough to feel the fear it induces.



    "Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

    "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

    "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins."(Matthew 1:21)

    "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2:9)

    "All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him." (Psalm 72:11)

  2. Tends to hope it doesn't work....what, 3D or the movie? (or maybe both). With the amount of industry activity in the 3d area, it's here to stay. Or if it doesn't it will leave most of the industry crippled and bankrupt and will be the biggest flop in history.

    Merry Christmas!!

  3. I guess your right, Phil. I was sort of thinking about the way things went in the 50s, when 3D was first tried as a way of competing with TV. Id died out then and I don't know that it is necessary now. The good thing is that the better examples of these movies will work as non-3D movies as well.

    Basically, I find the 3D effect annoying most of the time, and the movies where it is not annoying (like Coraline) are where the 3D is not the main attraction.


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