City of Lost Children, 1995 - First things first - this film is in French. You're reading this, so that means you can also read subtitles. (Don't grumble)
The film starts with evil Santa Clauses and screaming, similar to quite a few incidents from my own childhood before my mother gave up on trying to get me to pose for holiday photo ops . You're then transported into a gritty dream of surreal characters and steampunk gadgetry. Lots of brass and widgets. (remember, this was in 1995! pre-steampunk steampunk?)
Ron Perlman (who, for the longest time, I believed to somehow be the same person as Tom Waits) looks astonishing - tender eyes under that massive brow and this pale perfectly muscled body. His ugly beauty is a real feat considering how visually amazing everything else is in this film. And just wait until you see the face on Krank, under his dreamcatcher helmet.
There's a bit of a Léon-esque love story, costumes by Gaultier, Ron Perlman speaking French perfectly even though he doesn't speak it at all, a talking brain in an aquarium, a marvelous cooking scene with conjoined twins, plus! It was directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also directed Amélie, one of my favorite films of all time. And there's a happy ending. And an explosion.
So of course I like it.
Verdict: 4 out 5 stars.
p.s. Since this movie involves children and creepy nightmares, Mike was afraid this would be like that horrible Pan's Labyrinth. But it isn't. Promise.
p.p.s. Mike only gives this a 2.5. He says that, while it was a great movie to look at, the story kind of went off the rails halfway through.