Where the Wild Things Are
The first fifteen minutes of Spike Jonze's new film are possibly the most convincing representation of a child's world ever committed to celluloid, vividly capturing the magpie consciousness, the foreshortened perspective and the frustrations and loneliness of its young hero, Max. But when Max, after an argument with his mother, escapes to an island of fantastical monsters it becomes apparent that Jonze and his collaborator Dave Eggers, in their adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book, are more interested in making a film about children, than one for children. The undifferentiated monsters of the book have been given names and personalities and, except the occasional wild rumpus, what a miserable, fucked-up bunch they are. Jonze and Eggers use them to explore the psychodramas of childhood rather than to provide a gripping story; the endless playground squabbles threaten even an adult's attention. However, there remains much of interest: the otherworldly Australian landscapes; the wonderfully top heavy puppets; and, most of all, the sheer oddness of it all - an $80 million children's movie which channels Bergman and Cassavetes rather than Disney.