Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Movie Day Reviews: Robot Love, Iran Memoirs, and Creepy Spanish Orphans


WALL-E (2008): I think it is safe for me to say that this is the best movie of 2008 I've seen thus far. This film captured me like nothing Pixar has done previously (and I love Finding Nemo and The Incredibles). Beyond the incredible animation and the truthful message about the danger of consumerism, this is just really good story-telling. I loved the romance between WALL-E and EVE. I loved how engaging the character of WALL-E is, even without dialogue.I loved the tight balance between the realistic and the fantastic. Most importantly, I loved giggling like a little kid at the humor, the characters, and the beautiful animation. I felt a child-like sense of awe and delight walking out of the theater. It's a kid's movie in the best possible sense--a movie that brings out the kid in us.

Persepolis (2007): On a completely different end of the animation spectrum from Pixar is Persepolis. Nominated for an Academy Award last year, this moving memoir about a young girl's coming-of-age in war-torn Iran is touching and heart-wrenching. The story follows independent and idealistic Marjane as she grows up in Tehran. I was moved by her relationship with her parents and grandmother throughout the film. I was also impressed at the quality of animation; it was hand-drawn in mostly black and white, which created a fascinating atmosphere in the film. Being animated, the film could jump between extreme realism to dream-like fantasy and back again without feeling overly silly or abrupt. The film had a great pace and an intriguing plot; I would highly recommend it.

The Orphanage (2008): This might be one of the best horror films I've ever seen. Most horror films nowadays have a vague plot, terrible acting, and unoriginal ideas. Most revolve around no-name actors getting slashed up or are poorly-done copies of Japanese horror films. In contrast to its genre, this is a well-made horror film that has an original story. A woman, Laura, purchases her childhood home in order to start an orphanage for disabled children. When her young son disappears after spending time with an invisible friend, paranoia and desperation set in. The film follows Laura as she tries everything to solve the mystery of her son's disappearance and the origin of the invisible friends. The film doesn't rely on violence or overall shock value to get its scares (though it has those too). Instead, first-time director J.A. Bayona creates an atmosphere of creepiness and tension that makes you uncomfortable throughout the film. Slow shots of dark hallways, doors that creak closed on their own, and a silent boy with a sack over his head (see picture above) all leave the audience thoroughly creeped out. I don't even like horror films (for the reasons mentioned above) but this is a film worth checking out.

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