Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild Things naysayers

Darkhorizons have some of the better written film reviews around these days. Brian Orndorf in a recent review echoes many of my misgivings about Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things are, perhaps best summed up in the following paragraph:

"The monsters as individuals with hopes, suspicions, and fears is a wonderful idea, but the execution comes off labored, often showcasing the characters yelling at each other, a few moments hitting “Carnal Knowledge” levels of relationship ferocity. The monsters love and alienate easily, but there’s no real pull to their contention, wallowing in sadness, turning Sendak’s book into an emo beacon. The author celebrated the feral passion of youth. Jonze positively mourns it."

It's interesting to note that many of the high-profile directors from Jonze's generation share the exact same trappings that plague his films: an unchecked sentimentality masked by a shallow "quirkiness" that is often bizarrely coupled with a tunnel-vision focus on the technical aspects of filmmaking that is so cold and calculated that it eliminates the possibility of any real emotional or spiritual truths. Richard Kelly, Michel Gondry, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky have all been guilty of this in the past. Here's hoping these (admittedly very talented) directors realize that good filmmaking is primarily about having a spiritual vision that can be transmitted through one's technical craft and not simply about mastering said technical craft while having nothing to say.

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