Firstly, I'd like to thank my colleague Jesse Ferreras for stepping in and filling this column space last week while my supermodel girlfriend delivered our baby boy.
Secondly, I'd like to add that The Heavy Hitting B-Grade Horrorfest is happening Oct. 30 and there are tickets available at www.heavyhitting.com . If you are not familiar with the unadulterated awesomeness that is B-Grade Horrorfest check out the article on page 57 and be warned, these are badass local short horror films designed to offend and weed out the weaker elements of the audience - Cinematic Darwinism in a 1,000-seat theatre, with eight bars.
Thirdly, finally, Spike Jonze's adaptation of the 1963 Maurice Sendak children's book Where the Wild Things Are hits screens this Friday. Among film geeks this is probably the most anticipated flick of the year. Jonze, ( Being John Malkovich , Adaptation) jumps right into things with a punk-rock sensory assault follow-cam of Max as he rips around doing the stuff that kids do. Instantly drawing us into a true sense of childhood, Jonze, working from a script by hit-and-miss scribe Dave Eggers ( Away We Go ) portrays Max as a nine-year-old, smart, sensitive and highly energetic kid at a crossroads in life. The childhood era of the do-anything, be-anything mentality is beginning to be displaced by the hard shittyness of the way things really are. Where suddenly your sister ditches you for older kids and your mom's got a new boyfriend and wearing a wolf suit doesn't really make you a wolf.
Scared and feeling a bit guilty about biting his only parent, Max runs away, hops in a sailboat and ends up where the Wild Things are, an island he quickly claims to be king of and orders the rumpus begin. Child actor Max Records carries the film but the actual Wild Things are equally amazing - real people in giant, Jim-Henson-designed muppet costumes with CGI facial expressions and excellent name-brand voice acting. The Wild Things noticeably exist physically, but are enhanced and attain a super-realness. SOOOOO much cooler than straight CGI effects.
Where The Wild Things Are is a non-conventional kids' movie, the book didn't spoon-feed a moral and neither will the film. The plot meanders, sometimes the visuals take over the story, but it doesn't matter. This is a film about being a kid and how it feels when everything changes. The exciting and happy segments are offset with scenes sloshing melancholy. The Wild Things, big teeth and all, carry emotions, problems, and family dynamics of their own and there are no clear empathies where the wise old Chicken Monster explains to Max the difference between good and bad. Instead, Jonze reveals the pain of childhood, the loneliness, and then shows a child beginning to realize things like empathy, love, and self-control. Everything is subtle, nothing is spelled out or smacked over our heads and the result is refreshingly different from almost every other children's movie going.