THE FILM YAP » imagination We Never Shut Up About Movies Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:45:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Heroes of the Zeroes: Zathura Tue, 14 Dec 2010 05:01:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

Rated PG

“Zathura” understood kids’ inclinations to transform dens into forts, view a cocked thumb and forefinger as a laser gun or attempt to make the biggest explosion sound ever with their mouths.

Reminiscent of 1980s movies with effects that didn’t come at creativity’s expense, director Jon Favreau’s 2005 fantasy knew bad-guy aliens didn’t need to run amok down the street to inject tension a la “Jumanji,” to which this was a quasi-sequel.

Despite the best creature-stalking sequence since “Jurassic Park,” tension derived more from bickering brothers with age-based differences than any interstellar dangers.

Ten-year-old Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and 6-year-old Danny (Jonah Bobo) are antagonistic brothers who are temporarily left at home alone after they inadvertently ruin one of their dad’s work projects.

Danny finds a board game in the basement called Zathura. Upon starting to play, the house becomes a suburban-style spaceship and the brothers must work to get back home.

The game’s attention to rules (specifically turn-taking and cheating) is both a challenge to Danny and Walter and a source for several laugh-out-loud bits. And MTV personalities attempting to act rarely succeed, but “Punk’d” lackey Dax Shepard is heroic, helpful and humorous in a role offering a great twist.

“Zathura’s” copious excitement comes from wowing sights of a living-room meteor shower, a renegade robot in need of reprogramming and meat-eating, planet-burning lizard aliens called Zorgons.

But its appeal comes from knowing kids could act out its astronaut character by strapping on a backpack and letting their boundary-free imaginations rip.

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Heroes of the Zeroes: Where the Wild Things Are Thu, 02 Dec 2010 05:21:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Where the Wild Things Are”
Rated PG

Spike Jonze’s 2009 “Where the Wild Things Are” told a remarkably wondrous fable about a fantastic land, offered earthy parables about imagination and emotion and meditated on childhood viewpoints from which we all must move on.

Jonze is a filmmaker focusing on imagination’s nuts and bolts as much as its bells and whistles. Together with co-writer Dave Eggers, he finds a natural, unforced elasticity to Sendak’s simple story about Max (Max Records), a troublemaking 9-year-old who escapes his dreary home life to the land of the Wild Things.

Angst prevails even in this world of magical creatures (in which Lance Acord’s warm, sweeping cinematography holds sway), and Max is aware his imagination is simultaneously an escape from, and evocation of, his reality — a coping mechanism.

The Wild Things are giant lumbering creatures, a high-tech/low-tech mix of suited actors and computer-generated faces. Freedom of movement is so thorough that they pick up clumps of leaves in their haunches, and feelings beam through with the most lifelike digital faces since Gollum.

Best among them is Carol, given verbal life by James Gandolfini in a performance so winningly childlike you’ll wish there would’ve been an Oscar category for it.

The unforgettably organic and otherworldly “Things” encourages embracing all that we are, but it’s not presumptuous enough to suggest what “it” is. Jonze and Eggers know it’s not the same for every child.

Profoundly and unexpectedly moving, “Things” urges a coexistence of love, responsibility, compassion and rambunctiousness that is intelligent and intimate.

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Heroes of the Zeroes: Secondhand Lions Wed, 22 Sep 2010 04:01:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Secondhand Lions”
Rated PG

2003’s “Secondhand Lions” contains little flashiness, save for an unexpected helicopter landing. But don’t equate that with a lack of inventiveness. “Lions” forsook the lowbrow sap of a lesser movie in favor of engaging creativity and a message that, through some characters’ tough choices, actually penetrated.

In a narrative stuffed with treasures, none held more value than Robert Duvall and Michael Caine’s acting — Duvall with the flashier speechifying and Caine with his elegant stateliness. Together, by film’s end, each meant something different enough to Haley Joel Osment’s Walter so it didn’t merely feel like one character copied.

They’re his uncles Hub and Garth, whose idea of relaxation is iced tea and shotguns on the porch — the latter for traveling salesmen who never learn. Walter stays with them for what he fears will be a summer of perpetual boredom, but as he uncovers the secret of their inexplicable wealth, internalized adventure takes hold.

Writer/director Tim McCanlies (co-writer of “The Iron Giant”) delivers what feels like a perfectly unified collection of short stories. Through flashbacks lovingly evocative of “The Princess Bride,” Garth recounts his and Hal’s globetrotting adventures. Filmed like serial-matinee swashbucklers, they’re campy but exciting. Whether they’re true is the subject of great debate (albeit with a final answer).

“Secondhand Lions” cranked up its emotional wattage for the resolution, but neither ignored opportunities to elicit big laughs and heart nor made everything pat for everyone. This wonderful family film stressed the importance of imagination as something in which to believe.

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