I'm a sucker for handmade films. The work of Jan Svankmajer leaps to mind as paragon of the form, especially his seminal interpretation of Alice. Now there's another magical adolescent in the arena: Coraline Jones.
A true indicator of a film's awesome factor is its effect on youth. Bored kids in the theatre are worse than a bout of Dengue fever, talking on the phone or with each other, hurling epithets at the screen and generally running amuck, caring nothing for the experience of anyone else unfortunate enough to be there. If you are at a screening of Wild Strawberries, it would be entirely in keeping with social mores to soundly evacuate the ruffians and restore necessary calm; at a matinee of The Nightmare Before Christmas, on the other hand, you might need to take the chaos as an indicator that the film has failed to reach its target audience. Fortunately Henry Selick, the director of Nightmare, knows how to create an engaging story for all ages and there have been a dearth of riots at screenings of what is recognised as a handmade classic. Selick has struck again and dare I say surpassed himself with his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline.
I arrived at the evening show ready to enjoy the film. It was my birthday and judging from the buzz surrounding Coraline, I was expecting it to be good. Just how good, however, I could not imagine. Nor could the noisy adolescents who came rumbling into the theatre in the midst of previews. Great, I thought, the night is ruined. They settled in a couple rows away and proceeded to mock the 3D glasses and whatever preview happened to be showing, either Pixar's UP (the simple premise of which could be promising) or Dreamworks' Monsters vs Aliens (a Pixar wannabe that nevertheless could be fun). Within a few minutes their racket died down, coincident with the start of Coraline, and was never heard again: they were completely and utterly silenced by the film, and like me found themselves in a mesmerized state for the next 90 minutes.
What stronger recommendation do you need?