Coraline Q&A with Neil Gaiman

February 15, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Film) (, , , , , , )

I went to see Coraline at the Dublin Film Festival this evening. It wasn’t advertised but following the film there was a Q&A with Neil Gaiman which was delightful. Mr Gaiman give every impression that he is generally the lovely soul you’d hope from reading his books.

The highlights for me were his telling of the nightmare that was attempting to get Good Omens made back in the very early 90’s. It would seem that some of the executives involved thought that Tom Cruise would be a good pick for Newt. So it not getting made is not all bad. He said that getting burned with that set him up for some of the better collaborations he’s now managed to make happen. 

Also he told us of the Gilliam nightmare that went down when it came to a different (I think) version of the same. Gilliam nearly had the money together went to the US looking for a paltry $15 million and a distribution deal from one of the studios was resoundingly ignored and then the English company putting up the rest went bankrupt. All he needs is $75 million or so and he could do it, so if you’ve got it spare send it to Gilliam because I would love to see his Good Omens. I am almost certain that it would be utter genius. 

Gamian spoke of the origins of Henry Selick’s involvement in Coraline and it would seem that he sent Selick the first draft (minus one chapter) and within a couple of weeks Selick was back to him and shortly there after on board. Gaiman it seems was taken with Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach so persued Selick from the start. It has taken 8 years to get the project to screen and I assure you it was worth the wait, the 3D is used in a really interesting and different fashion but I’m still not 100% sold on it as a storytelling device. 

Neil Jordan was present in the audience as he is undertaking the adaptation of the Graveyard Book. News which had managed to pass me by but which I am pretty glad about. This after all is the man who managed to adapt The Butcher Boy. He spoke briefly about his impression of the 3D and his excitement about the project. 

Finally he discussed some of the intricies of the technology and a bit about Stardust (I have my doubts about how happy he is with the final product). It was interesting and a highlight of my year so far. 

Disclaimer: These are my general ramblings about the discussion if I mis-heard or got the wrong impression apologies contact me and I’ll change it. Thanks.


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The Goonies

January 5, 2009 at 1:03 am (Film, Review) (, , )

***SPOILER ALERT** If you have not seen The Goonies what the hell is wrong with you? Go watch it it and for Gods sake do not read the following.

I am assured that I was brought as a small child to see The Goonies in the cinema. I don’t have any recollection of that what I do recall is rainy Saturday afternoons spent engrossed in it. The digression from the focus of this blog is prompted by watching it on TV today despite the fact that I own it. I even missed the very start because I was having dinner. 

The Goonies is the filmic incarnation of the dream we all had as kids that we would save the day and prove ourselves to be the adventurers that we pretended to be in back gardens, playing fields, fields, abandoned building sites, playgrounds and forests (depending on where you happened to have grown up). It represents when you believed that kids could gang together and foil master criminals and your daydreams were really practice runs for when your time came. It’s the perfect adventure. 

The Goonies are a group of neighbourhood kids the likes of which (if you were lucky) you probably belonged to as a kid. A round up of misfits who were friends firstly because they lived close to one another and then because they’d been friends forever. The warmth and mockery between this group is lovingly created and rings completely true. They are awful to one another and blindly loyal at the same time.

The adventure is driven by Mikey (played by an alarmingly young Sean Astin) who insists they investigate a treasure map found in the attic of their home. He sees it as the only way that they can save their homes. He is assisted by Data, whose lunatic inventions are exactly the kind of thing you’d have tried to make as a kid. They have a wonderful Acme kit feel to them, Wiley Coyote would have ordered them (in fact I think he did have oil slick shoes). There is Chunk the fat kid, Mouth the mouth, and the older brother (played by an also alarmingly young Josh Brolin, is it ok to perv on him now when I’m older if still do now and did in a ‘he’s ever so dreamy’ sort of way when I was younger?). There is also the cheerleader girl (as there always was in the 80’s) and the nerdy best friend played with humour and just the right amount of scarcasm by Martha Plimpton, and who I wanted to be when I was younger. 

Peril in this movie comes from two directions. The first and the most frightening is the aforementioned need to save their homes. They are all going to have to move to new towns because the local rich guy has bought up all the mortgages so he can develop the lands their homes are on. There is no horror close to the thought that your parents are helpless when you are a kid. The Goonies parents can’t stop the destruction of their families’ lives. No amount of goodwill or good parenting can save them from moving out of their homes and leaving their friends. This is a less terrifying thought as an adult but The Goonies can certainly make you weepy for the time when it was the worst thing you could imagine. 

The other is the Fratellis a criminal gang headed by their mother. A truly reprehensible distortion of the mother figure if ever there was one. Responsible for the terrible damage done to Sloth, who develops a bond with Chunk and who you will love unless you are the living embodiment of brain freeze. Ultimately  they are cartoon villains and and so lack the real world threat of being made leave your home and friends. They’ll be vanquished by our plucky heroes, you know that as surely as you know the Famous Five, the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew will win. 

I have to mention the design, the booby traps set by One Eye Willy, the pirate whose treasure they seek, are blessedly rickety and look so authentically home made that as a kid they feel utterly real. The pirate ship is much cooler then anything you’ve seen in Pirates of the Caribbean, with skeleton’s of dead pirates and one or two remaining traps. It makes me wish that sometimes film makers these days would give up on their dependance on CGI and just build some cool stuff. 

As you can probably ascertain this is a film drenched in nostalgia for me and, I suspect, for many people my age. I think you can only love it a certain way if you saw it at the right age and believed it was true. I’d like to give it out to kids of 7 or 8 and make it mandatory viewing. In the world of Hannah Montana and (God help us) High School Musical this is the real deal. A proper adventure, one worth having and one worth believing in.  

The Truffle Shuffle

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