Film a Week 15: Coraline (2009) Guest Writer Erik Luna of theeastsiderla.com

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Erik Luna is a contributing writer to The Eastsider LA and online editor and staff writer for the award-winning East Los Angeles College Campus News. Follow him on Twitter @ErikLuna814, read some of his stories at theeastsiderla.com and elaccampusnews.com, or follow on Instagram @thefake_erik

From the seemingly messed up mind of Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare before Christmas, comes the story of a blue-haired, annoyingly stubborn little girl named Coraline. Coraline was based off of Neil Gaiman’s 2002 horrific fantasy novella of the same name. Although Tim Burton didn’t contribute anything to this wonderfully filmed stop-motion picture, there are various Burton-esque qualities to the film. For example, Selick’s use of twisted trees and misshaped characters are straight from the Burton playbook. Despite it’s overall sinister feel to it, like the beginning credits showing some weird hand-like contraction that’s made out of sewing needles making a doll, the film has a heartfelt theme of not taking someone you love for granted.

The story starts off as Coraline, voiced by “Don’t call her North or South” Dakota Fanning, and her family move to the sinister looking old Pink Palace apartments. Coraline, having the spirit of adventure, decides to wander off into the foggy woods in search of an old well. At this point the character of Wybie is introduced. Wybie probably has one of the saddest back-stories for his name in animated film history. Coraline befriends this young man, but acts more like a bully towards him, which brings on the old adage “with friends like that, who needs enemies.” One day while her mother, voiced by Lois La… I mean Teri Hatcher, and father, voiced by John Hodgman, are busy working as botany writing specialists, Coraline decides to explore the 150-year-old house. It’s during this exploration that the young girl discovers a hidden door in the living room, but is disappointed to see that it has been blocked off by bricks.

During the night Coraline is awakened by some mice. They lead her downstairs to the door, but to Coraline’s surprise, the bricks that were behind the door are no longer there. She steps through onto what looks like the inside of a giant glowing caterpillar and onto a parallel world. In this world all the people have buttons for eyes and are extremely good cooks. Which by the way if Coraline was so hungry before having gone into the parallel world, why did she only eat one bite of that glorious looking turkey “other mother,” made? Ugh. Selick you bastard, let the girl eat. Yet, while in this other world Coraline realizes that everything is not what is made out to be and must face off with the evil that is Teri Hatcher – umm I mean “other mother,” or Beldam as she is later called.

The film uses stop-motion to an utmost perfection. Selick mixes in more adult scenes with this animated film to give it a more bizarre twist. Most notably the almost full frontal nudity of one of the characters in the Pink Palace apartments, yes, big – and I mean humongous – breasts were almost fully exposed. Woo, good thing this movie got that PG rating – wait – PG? Oh, Selick you lovable bastard, what will you do next? It’s really a great film with astonishing stop-motion graphics and wonderfully acted voiceovers. It’s dark humor and elaborate scenes are tantamount to its soundtrack, which adds on to the movies constant state of spine-chilling storyline. Scary, yet, adorable. Freaky, yet, loving.

Serg Beret’s Thoughts on Coraline“When I first saw Coraline, I did not know what to expect. I was sent into a world where wonder and madness intertwined and never did I get bored. The transformation of the Other Mother shifts the movie into dark territory as the world Coraline sought as her ‘perfect world’ gradually deteriorates before her eyes. Henry Slick’s direction along with Gaiman’s source material created a perfect blend and left me stunned”

Next week, Serg Beret is back to write for the end our month of animation with the mix of live action and animation fields by going back to the quote unquote masters of that blend, Disney. When a young boy named Pete stumbles upon a dragon named Elliot, the two become fast friends in the heartwarming musical Pete’s Dragon.

Film A Week 16: Pete’s Dragon (1977)- Saturday, April 27

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