He has such an earnest, real style which you can see in the lovely short film I'm Here.
click image to see the entire film
He also directed the recent nostalgic feature-length film Where the Wild Things Are which is based on the famous children's book of the same title.
I was dying to see the film when it first came out, but didn't get to. But then a few days ago I managed to check it out. It wasn't what I'd expected at all! Actually, it was more than I could have hoped for from a feature-length film based on a nine page book.
These critics assume that children cannot handle certain subjects/concepts and, in my opinion, seeks to keep children (rather unrealistically) in a bubble. And I think that sort of attitude is rather condescending. Children can understand a lot more than people give them credit for. When they don't, they ask questions. To me, if a film has children curious about its characters and wanting to know more, it's doing something right. It is a little dark and a little frightening, I suppose, but I think that's also exciting. Maybe the less adventurous children should stay away...
The only actual (minor) criticism I have is that it was so random at times it was reminiscent of the way in which children tell stories: fantastic, but a little all-over-the-place. But then, considering that it is from a child's perspective and it's based on a child's book about getting into the imagined world of a child, I wouldn't say that's a negative thing really. I think it invites you to a place where you just have to accept the things you see and the things that happen.
Like most people, I knew about the book first. Unlike most people, I didn't know it from my childhood. I had done a (very) brief study of it in college in a Children's Literature course and thought it was okay - nothing special. I had no nostalgic ties to the book, but I really enjoyed the film. It transformed the book's story into something much deeper; a story that left you with a lot to think about and you could really sink your teeth into. I absolutely love the way every character and the whole ambiance of the film feels so real. After seeing it, I'm thinking about ways to possibly fit it into my dissertation...
The characters in the film are very real. At one point the protagonist, Max, did annoy me a little... but then most child characters do. (That said, I did well up for him at the beginning for being all lonely and friendless...)
spoiler(?): Max just goes home after having completely
There's just so much I could say about this poignant and delightful film. I really really loved it. And I'd recommend it to any child or adult.