I started thinking about it, and I've watched a number of new films this weekend. Here is my quick breakdown of each, in no particular order:
The Science of Sleep. I adore the work of Michel Gondry. His visual stylings are some of the best around. However, as visually pleasing as this one was, I felt like it failed on the story front. Whether or not he meant to, he built so many opportunities that he forgot to add the story, a fact that was even more disheartening as the characters were rather interesting creations. I really just wish we could have cared about them a little bit more. It's a stunning watch, but it didn't feel any more enlightening than simply watching his body of music videos.
Let the Right One In. I'd heard this was good. I'd hoped it would be good. And it still exceeded my expectations. Tomas Alfredson takes horror back to its roots of atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. Plus, he weaves in--as all vampire stories should have--a touching love story amidst the violence. Each scene reeks of tension. And the climax of the film is simply gorgeous. Seriously, one of the last few shots of the film is so good it hurts. If you can stomach a little blood and are looking for a MOODY horror film rather than the current trend of big bangs and gorno, this is one of the better films you'll see.
The Promise. I usually love these kinds of films. More often than not, the visuals override the story, and I'm completely sucked in. And while many of the sights were quite stunning, the cheesy computer effects often ruined them for me. Don't get me wrong, it's not a terrible film by any means, it just doesn't quite have the same flare and styel of, say, a Yimou Zhang film. You might check this one out, if you are a fan of these types of films, but don't expect too much.
Henry Poole is Here. For some reason or another, I resonate with Mark Pellington's films. His visual style wonderful--to me at least. So, I've been bummed that it's taken so long for him to follow up Mothman Prophecies. And after he gave us such a wonderful thriller--despite Richard Gere--I was a bit worried about him directing a heartfelt dramedy. However, he succeeds. This isn't a film for everyone. Most will probably find it too cheesy or be turned off by the religious themes. But it's a well-produced story about what it means to live, find hope, and love. It might not be as compelling as Mothman, or even Arlington Road, but I'm eagerly awaiting, once again, Pellington's next release.
Coraline. Technically, this one isn't new. But I saw it in 3-D and it felt like a new film. I don't care what you say about the story--I think it almost works better in the film than the novel--this film is so stunning and visualy breath-taking that any animation/aesthetiphile should see. Henry Selick is a very under-valued director in today's film world. I can only hope his relationship with the production company, Laika, stays well.