Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"The Spiderwick Chronicles" is a terrific entertainment for the whole family, except those below a certain age, who are likely to be scared out of their wits. What is that age? I dunno; they're your kids.
But I do know the PG classification is insane, especially considering what happens right after a father says he loves his son. This is a PG-13 movie, for sure. But what will cause nightmares for younger kids will delight older ones, since "The Spiderwick Chronicles" is a well-crafted family thriller that is truly scary and doesn't wimp out.
Based on a well-known series of books, the movie involves a soon-to-be divorced mom and her three children who come to live in a creepy old mansion. This is Spiderwick, named after her grandfather Arthur Spiderwick, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The house itself is one of the stars of the movie, looking Victorian/Gothic with countless nooks and crannies and shadows and scary sounds. Is it haunted? Nothing that comforting. It's ... inhabited.
The mother is Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker), who is battling with the rebellious Jared (Freddie Highmore), one of her twin sons. He doesn't like being away from his dad, is homesick, doesn't want anything to do with this dusty and spiderwebby old ruin that was left to his mom by her aunt. Jared's brainy twin Simon looks identical, no doubt because he is also played by Freddie Highmore, born in 1992, a gifted young actor best known for "Finding Neverland," "August Rush" and "The Golden Compass." The twins' sister is the plucky Mallory (Sarah Bolger), a fencer who seldom goes anywhere without her sword.