Obviously, the staff at /Film collectively views Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are with a certain reverence. The film is simply a win all around, tastefully exploring and modernizing the notions of imaginative nostalgia and vice versa that are so often exploited these days in the name of “geekdom” and “hipsterdom.” On a related note, I’ve always found it a bit profound that Ain’t It Cool and Vice magazine were started within two years of one another (’96 and ’94, respectively); both went on to make a positive, DIY impact on culture in the aughts unlike anything in new media this side of negative influencers like Matt Drudge and Rupert Murdoch. Back then, I remember thinking that Austin’s Harry Knowles was fat off movies (and ‘shrooms?) and the Brooklyn staff at Vice was lithe off drugs and deadlines, but there was something in common: they both ignored Old Media (now dying), didn’t give a damn about design trends, and did things the way they should be done, with knowledge, a cultivated attitude, and enthusiasm.
One the main and most important guys who has helped Vice see its way to 23 offices around the globe, millions of readers, and untold cultural influence is the mag’s long-term Editor-in-Chief Jesse Pearson. He also plays a role in the company’s video website, VBS.tv, where WTWTA director, Spike Jonze, serves as the creator director. On the eve of Vice‘s 15th anniversary and a coinciding $250K Halloween party in Brooklyn, we spoke with Pearson about the future of the company’s Vice Films (where Jonze is also involved) and regarding the mag’s recent, highly recommended Film Issue. He also shared a few of his favorite films and welcome ideas about the state of cinema, the ever-controversial fast-moving zombie, and the “Chaos Reigns” fox in Antichrist (not to mention the fetching photo shown above.)
Hunter Stephenson: Hi Jesse. Vice has released a film issue that arrives during a very interesting, chaotic time for cinema, especially in the States. And Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are is an important film that I think signifies a steamy unification between two of the aughts’ biggest influential youth movements; to the eye rolls of many on both sides: the geeks and the hipsters. And as such, it seems a great time for /Film and Vice to have a chat. Since Spike is the creative director at Vice‘s VBS.tv, what are your thoughts on his latest film in terms of its cultural relevance and do you agree with these notions?
Jesse Pearson: Right now, all I really feel qualified to gauge in terms of cultural relevance is the film’s trailer and all of the general advance expectations surrounding the movie. I know that I have rarely, maybe never, seen a trailer create so much visceral excitement in so many people. Friends have told me that they cried watching it. That seems a wee bit over the top to me. But, to partially answer your question, I think that the amount of drooling going on in advance of Where the Wild Things Are is very interesting and very telling. What it means to me is that people, lots of people, maybe people in the two much-maligned, very amorphous and perhaps not-really-existing-in-the-way-that-most-people-mean-it-when-they-say-it groups that you mentioned, geeks and hipsters… Wait, where was I going with this?
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Posted on Friday, October 16th, 2009 by David Chen
Note: The following will contain minor spoilers for the movie Where The Wild Things Are and will assume that you know the plot of the book it’s based on.
Let’s get this out of the way: Where The Wild Things Are is not a film for everyone. While Warner Bros. might hope to position this as a kids’ film, it lacks many of the trappings you might expect from the genre; Max doesn’t go on some grand quest with the Wild Things and, just like the book, not that much changes in the real world by the time you reach the end of the story. Even the aesthetic of the world, laden with its warm yet monochromatic look, doesn’t lend itself to conventional notions of whimsy. But what the film lacks in convention, it makes up for faithfully capturing many elements of the childhood experience, complete with its resplendent wonder as well as its crushing disappointments.
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This weekend, Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are finally hits movie theaters after two and a half years of post production craziness. A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down wth another one of my favorite filmmakers, Spike Jonze, to talk about the struggle to bring this children’s book to the big screen.
Topics we go over in the 22 minute interview include the “death” of the music video director (or the dawn of the Internet filmmaker), the urge to make short films after such a long shoot, the incredible soundtrack, the task of turning a very short book into a feature film, how everyone has a personal connection to the book more akin to a poem, not writing a movie for an audience, age group, or demographic, how expectations can and will effect the audience’s reaction, is this Spike’s most personal film, the decision to use real creature suits in real locations instead of cgi, working with puppeteers vs. traditional actors, recording and filming the voice over sessions theatrically, how the voice actor performances influenced the suit actor performances, Giving Max Records things to react to, making a “special effects” movie, a John Lasseter easer egg or just a coincidence? What we might expect on the DVD, and are we going to have to wait seven years for his next film?
Watch the video interview embedded after the jump.
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While in Ireland this week for a set visit, two of the more interesting dinner discussions amongst peers regarded the dismal state of studio poster art and the box office potential for Where the Wild Things Are. It’s my belief that if WTWTA is a hit, it will signal a shot-call for a new era of mainstream films, ones that put creative cred, talent, and integrity ahead of this generational notion that people are generally dumb as shit and desire basking in dumber shit. But before the latest tracking figures for the film arrived, the general sentiment— one I didn’t share–was that the film would not open to boffo numbers; even $20 million was said to be unlikely. Now the inside word has the film tracking surprisingly well, possibly even as high as $40 million. If this becomes a reality, it will partially be due to the same 20somethings and teenagers decried by the olds for not watching and fellating The Hurt Locker.
No “shit.” While many people associated with the film and even staffers at /Film feel the movie strays from the family film norm (omg no!), the connected, youthful branches of WTWTA run deep underneath a dying and blind old media. As a whole, the project represents nothing less than an important pop cultural movement, one that encompasses a generation’s best rock groups (Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), fashion cachet via establishments like Opening Ceremony, and the global new media influence that is the Vice corporation and its video offshoot VBS.tv. Spike Jonze is the hands-on creative director at VBS, and as such, they are releasing privy interviews with the creatives behind Wild Things. Below is a very cool and candid interview with Sonny Gerasimowicz, an art school drop out and graf artist hired by Jonze to envision and help create the look of the creatures (with WTWTA creator Maurice Sendak‘s blessing, also discussed) for the cinema.
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Someone has created a trailer mash-up of Gremlins 2: The New Batch and Where the Wild Things Are and it’s surprisingly A LOT better than you would think. And for that matter, a lot better than the real Gremlins sequel… Watch it after the jump.
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Where the Wild Things Are, which finally opens quite soon (October 16), is one of the only major studio movies that really fascinates me this year. So I’m torn on how to approach it. On one hand I want to know everything, I want to see all the production drawings and learn just how Spike Jonze and his crew made the film. On the other, I want to let it be a film, and a thing that has some mystery and wonder. Not in a sense of retaining childlike wonder with respect to the book, but just in the sense of not wanting to reduce something that looks like it is fueled by true creative alchemy into a formula of costumes and effects.
Fortunately, the long video interview with the film’s production designer, K.K. Barrett, manages to satisfy both impulses. Along with a discussion of some of his other work (Being John Malkovich, Lost in Translation) this interview reveals much about Where the Wild Things Are while keeping the film’s true secrets safe. Read More »
The Furies versus The Furries? Spike Jonze‘s official blog for Where the Wild Things Are, We Love You So, is currently running a fan art contest—prize: WTWTA skatedecks—and entries thus far have been rather inventive and/or delightfully hokey. For instance, while the above image is sans iconic creatures, the positing of the film’s child character, Max, alongside The Warriors gets the imagination firing down corridors previously closed-off. We’ve posted a few more superlative mash-ups after the jump…
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:
Last week, Warner Bros premiered four new character banners for Spike Jonze‘s big screen adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. Tonight WB has released a second batch of character banners, which includes the following Chris Cooper as DOUGLAS, Forest Whitaker as IRA, Paul Dano as ALEXANDER, Michael Berry Jr. as The Bull. Check out all of the new character banners after the jump.
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