Coraline

2017 June 3

Trailerwatch –

Very excited about…
Where the Wild Things Are
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Dir. Spike Jonze
Starring. Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini

Sitting through trailers for children’s films with increasingly weird plots (sarcastic rats who are really FBI agents; a bullied child who unleashes an army of tiny aliens of his attacker; teen pop virgins the Jonas brothers apparently employed by Disney to sully young girls) one leapt out as something I will definitely be seeing. The trailer for Where the Wild Things Are was exciting, moving and beautifully helped along by Arcade Fire’s lovely lovely sounds. I know nothing of the plot apart from there’s friendly monsters, a difficult family situation and some explosions but with Spike Jonze directing and a classic children’s book as its base, this is going to be an exciting watch.

Where the Wild Things are is depressingly not appearing in cinemas until October 16th.  Watch the trailer at http://wherethewildthingsare.warnerbros.com/

*****

Feature –

Coraline

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Dir. Henry Selick
Starring. Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders.

It’s been 60 years since Disney Dark died when the wicked Stepmother fell over that cliff so it’s good to see a new film that scares the bejesus out of children for entertainment. Instead of carrying itself along on a string of knowing pop culture commentaries as Disney’s been dragging its whored corpse along with for many years now, Coraline delves deep into the child’s dark subconscious. Coraline, based on a Neil Gaiman book, is surreal, nightmarish, hilarious and terrifying. We’re in infant Edgar Allen Poe territory exploring the soul and the dangers of eye gouging.

Coraline’s parents are modern self employed web efficient gardeners who have made the fashionable decision to head up the A1, abandoning the rat race and buying a modest country pile, living the ‘urban-middle-class-guardian-reading’ dream. Coraline, unmoved by soaring property prices and her parent’s urgent need to finish a project, is bored and petulant at her parent’s lack of attention and is left activity-less in the 150 year old desolate house. With a child’s endless propensity for injustice, Coralline feels abandoned and mistreated by her overworked parents and so the problem begins.

On the other side of a tiny door in a scruffy room of the old house Coraline discovers another version of her small world, one in which everything is designed for her instant gratification and amusement. All the strange inhabitants have transformed into how she wishes they were, entertaining, fun and obsessed with Coraline. It’s just that they all have buttons for eyes. Yeah. And if Coraline wishes to stay in this dream world she must exchange her own eyes for buttons.

The beloved staples of childhood storytelling are here, the loss of the parents, the danger of the ‘other mother’ figure and the perils of only wanting instant gratification explored with sumptuous hand crafted animated set pieces. The themes come alive through a living garden, a musical mouse circus and scary transformation scenes when the fun starts to disintegrate. Coraline has to battle to save her own hard working but loving parents from a super-evil stepmother figure who kidnaps children’s souls and keeps the alternate world under a tyrannous reign of forced fun, even sewing smiles onto the inhabitants.

There have been a lot of complaints about the suitability of Coraline for its intended age group. It’s really not that scary, you don’t actually SEE any eye gouging. It is exciting scary, in the way adults watch a film to be thrilled. It seems that we could be too sanitised by Disney and its bastard cousins to look at a new children’s film objectively. Films that break out of the formulaic, unimaginative, repetitive children’s paint by numbers films are often viewed distrustfully when they should be tightly embraced and force fed to glassy eyed children.

When Cinderella’s ugly sister cut her ankle off or the witch got peckish just as Hansel and Gretel wandered up the garden path children, being naturally devious, loved it and I think they (and you) will love this too. 10/10

Coraline is showing at the Odeon now. Also special 3D showings at the IMAX. Go see it, take a child if you can find one.

Laura Moffitt