“There’s A Clock In The Walls. We Don’t Know What It Does, Except… Something Horrible…”
Primarily known for being best buds with Quentin Tarantino which has helped establish a directing back catalogue which is seeped in R-rated nastiness, with Hostel and Cabin Fever being the ugliest standout releases thus far, Eli Roth returns for a second cinematic swing this year after Death Wish with The House with a Clock in Its Walls, a 12A rated adaptation of the 1973 novel of the same name from American author John Bellairs which sees Owen Vaccaro’s (Daddy’s Home 2) Lewis move to Michigan in order to live with Jack Black’s (School of Rock) flamboyant uncle type, Jonathan Barnavelt, in the confines of the titular creaky, gothic inspired mansion after the sudden death of his loving parents. Mixing Spielberg-esque moments of fantasy adventure with elements of witchcraft and wizardry in the ilk of the Christopher Columbus directed entries in the Harry Potter series, Roth’s latest is a rather awkward cinematic piece, a movie which although slapped with a 12A rating seems too childish for adults but similarly too freaky for the youngest of audiences, and even with Jack Black giving his most School of Rock performance since, well, School of Rock, Eli Roth’s trip into family friendly escapism just isn’t worth shouting about.
With an opening half hour in which the audience is slowly introduced to the sparkling wonder of Jack Black’s Jonathan, a mediocre warlock blessed with magical tricks and the current incumbent of a free-spirited, spooky and clock-filled household, the opening act of the movie is fairly entertaining as the narrative balances Lewis’ discovery of not only his new residence and family, but school-time friends and foes who are eager to pick on his strange existence and penchant for wearing over-sized ski goggles. As the movie slowly shows its’ hand however, the venture into the central plot involving Kyle MacLachlan’s (Twin Peaks) aptly named Issac Izard, a evil alternative to Jack Black’s good-natured father figure, results in Roth’s movie swiftly falling into the trap of becoming yet another generic and wildly predictable fantastical ride, emphasised by a concluding set piece featuring a complete absence of threat or engagement which makes you stare at your own ticking watch as you count down the minutes before the credits finally roll. Even with the added inclusion of the always reliable Cate Blanchett as Black’s well-spoken, neighbouring witch, one bound with a reluctance to utilise her powerful abilities, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is not original enough to stand the test the time or engaging enough to be a throwaway fun ride and ultimately fails to live up to the brilliance you would expect from such a wonderfully reliable leading cast.
Overall Score: 5/10
Life of Riley
When it comes to my final countdown of this years’ best and brightest movies, at least two films within that list will be that of an animated pedigree, with the first being the wonderful Song of the Sea, released only two weeks ago, which proved to be one of the most blissfully entertaining and emotion rattling films that I had seen so far this year with gorgeous visuals, a simply gorgeous design and a soundtrack that rivals any classic musical companion to date. The second on that list however, without a doubt, will be this weeks’ new Disney Pixar release, Inside Out, a film so masterful in reaching all its’ cinematic targets and avenues that it begs the question whether Disney can ever outdo itself ever again in creating a film that not only touches the heart, but touches the mind too with concepts and ideas that are set to bring a overarching sense of joy out in everyone, even if they are too stubborn to admit it.
The story of Inside Out focuses on the life of young Riley Anderson and her five manifestations of emotions that reside within her mind who control the way in which her life is run, whether it be saving memories of joy and happiness, creating islands of Riley’s personality or just finding solutions to day-to-day problems and situations young Riley finds herself in. Of these emotions, Joy (Voiced by Amy Poehler) believes the best way for Riley to live her life is to constantly be happy and only resort to the other emotions of either Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness if completely necessary, yet Riley and her emotions are turned upside down when she is forced to relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco, resulting in a range of stark changes that set Joy and co. on a wild quest to adapt to their inhabitants sudden and relentless changes. From the plot synopsis alone, it is obvious that Inside Out is a movie that can be related with by almost everyone and anyone, regardless of age, with the youngest audience being there for the gorgeous visuals and design, the high comedic and slapstick output and relationship to the character of Riley, whilst the older audience being there to enjoy the relationship between Riley and her parents, helped by a deep understanding of the films’ main idea that growing up brings with it a rafter of changes, both physically and mentally.
Of the many positives within the film, the simple, yet brilliant concepts that continued to pop up were astounding to behold, with trains of thought, islands of personality, imaginary friends and subconscious fears all being expertly designed, resulting in a roller-coaster ride of emotions with moments of sheer sadness, uplifting joy, and an overall sense of wonder that the film willingly creates. For example, one young girl in the cinema showing I was in actually broke down in tears during the film and although I was never going to follow suit, I have to admit, there were times my tongue was being well and truly bit, particularly in regards to the final scene of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong. I’m such an emotional wreck. These collage of magical elements that encompassed Inside Out throughout its’ runtime results in making the film not only one of the best of the year, but a true Disney Classic, one of which will live long in the memory of all that choose to watch it.
Overall Score: 10/10
After all the excitement that came with David Lynch and Mark Frost announcing a new series of the masterful Twin Peaks for 2016, it was inevitable life would’t be that good to its’ beloved fans after news filtered through today that the series might not be getting off the ground after all. In an Q and A with the audience at the opening of the Between Two Worlds exhibition in Brisbane, Lynch stated, “I’m not sure at this point if it’s happening,” with the reasoning behind such being “complications” with contracts. With Kyle MacLachlan stating he will be returning as FBI Agent Dale Cooper, I can only hope such complications between Lynch and whoever can be resolved soon, and the original release date of 2016 can be adhered to. Time for some damn good coffee.
According to IMDB, the fear that had gripped Twin Peaks fans across the globe may have been premature with Showtime sources stating, “Nothing is going on that’s any more than any preproduction process with David Lynch. Everything is moving forward and everybody is crazy thrilled and excited.” Phew.