ParaNorman

[2.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Usually I am pretty OK with ostensibly-for-kids animated movies. But I didn't like this one much. Maybe I was in a bad mood? As always, your mileage may vary.

Norman is a nice kid, but he has a problem: like Haley Joel Osment, he sees dead people. Nobody believes him, of course. His dad yells at him, his sister scorns him, and he's bullied at school by the large, obnoxious Alvin.

Blithe Hollow, where Norman resides, is kinda like Salem, MA: famous for its supernatural past. Specifically, a condemned witch once cursed her accusers for eternity. Since then a townsperson has been given the annual task of protecting the town from the curse. Currently, that's Norman's uncle, but he passes this duty onto Norman just after he kicks the bucket. Mistake! Because Norman botches the job, putting the town into peril.

There's some clever stuff here, but it's overwhelmed by (a) action and (b) Message. The action is frenetic, endless, loud, and not particularly interesting. The Message is an unsubtle mixtape of every Earnest Do-Gooder's middle-school lecture: bullying, intolerance, and fear are bad. Everyone's just misunderstood. Zzz.


Last Modified 2013-01-16 9:55 AM EST

Sound of My Voice

[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This little movie appears to have been made for about $3.98, but that's OK. I was surprised to see that the actors involved have reasonable-sized credits at IMDB, because it seems more like a film-school project.

Peter and Lorna are sorta-journalists looking for a hot scoop as they investigate a secret cult. They arrive at a house where they're ordered to disrobe and shower (using "a lot of soap") and then taken, blindfolded, to the cult leader. Improbably, it's a young woman named Maggie.

Maggie claims to have arrived from the future; she doesn't know how or why, but claims to provide helpful advice to her followers, enabling them to survive the coming bad times. She asks them to perform various disgusting/degrading tasks; she preaches banalities. She sings them a song, which is OK until someone points out that it was originally by the Cranberries. And she tosses out cult members who point out that she hasn't offered the slightest bit of evidence that she's actually from the future.

Eventually, she asks Peter and Lorna to do something sketchy. But Peter is no longer the hard-nosed investigative journalist; instead he's halfway seduced by Maggie's spiel. What will happen? Assuming you care.

There is a lot of ambiguity, and a number of untied loose ends. I'm sure that's intentional, but I don't care for it. The actress playing Maggie, Britt Marling, also wrote the screenplay.


Last Modified 2013-01-21 10:24 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2013-01-14

  • Enjoy Capitalism The Other McCain does the dirty job of watching Michael Moore's recent movie Capitalism: A Love Story. The movie is (of course) tendentious. But also just plain bad. And Moore's also doing a poor job of hiding the sheer ugliness of his thoughts:

    A preference for blame over understanding is a hallmark of prejudice. There’s not really that much difference in hating “the rich” and hating any other group of people.

    Using loaded language about “greed” and labels like “Corporate America” isn’t any less prejudicial than talking about how Mexicans are sneaking over the border to take away American jobs. As a matter of fact, Democrats spent a lot of time the past year talking about “outsourcing” and “shipping jobs overseas,” which is really just another method of xenophobic blame-shifting: The Foreigners! Are Taking! Our Jobs!

    Why don’t we recognize the language of the Left as expressions of prejudice? Why is demonization of ”the rich” accepted as a substitute for actual understanding of how the economy works?

    The showing was on Current TV, recently in the news for making Moore's buddy, Al Gore a pile of money. Is that irony? I can never tell.

  • A couple weeks back, we looked at the comments of NH state rep Cynthia L. Chase, who deemed the participants in the Free State Project to be New Hampshire's "single biggest threat". That bit of progressive demonization got quite a bit of publicity, even outside the Granite State. In a brilliant move, some Free Staters got together and sent Representative Cynthia a… lovely thank-you bouquet.

    But wait, that's not all: the editorial writer from my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, was not amused.

    We understand, that as with any fledgling movement, there needs to be a growing-up process. But childishly delivering flowers to Chase as a thank you would indicate the FSP has a ways to go.

    Foster's apparently has a bee in its bonnet about the FSP, one that induces complete humor-impairment in its writers. Sad!

  • But, despite the flowers, Tim Condon of GraniteGrok recommends that Cynthia call her therapist lest she happen upon this Forbes article about Free Stater Mark Warden and his Porcupine Real Estate. (Mark is exactly the kind of person Cynthia considers to be a "threat".)

  • Did you watch the Golden Globe awards last night? So didn't I. But apparently it consisted of wealthy Hollywood denizens telling each other stories about how brave they are.

    There's this quote I remember. It starts: "You keep using that word…"