Archive for December, 2007

Madame Tutli-Putli (2007)

“Madame Tutli-Putli” (2007)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

I can’t say this was not challenging for me, visually speaking, because it was. This is the work of really competent people, in every technical aspect. I specially enjoyed the placement of real filmed eyes over the built puppets. It added a lot to the hole mood. The sets are really fantastic, check all the different packages, clothes, accessories, and all the things stuffed in the train. Check how the characters were developed, how their expressions are really intentional. And than check the editing, with special note to the way sound effects (and music) are mixed with the image composition. This is really good work. But it didn’t stay with me, because it failed into challenging my imagination as it challenged my visual understanding of the scenes, sets, characters and pacing. In the end, this left nothing inside, it didn’t give me much to dream or even think about, even though it was clearly aimed at provoking those feelings. It even allowed my imagination to mentally review and re enjoy other films i had just seen, and when this happens to me, it usually happens because the images in front of me fail to capture my attention. Of course this may be a matter of personal choices, or finding in the images displayed elements to which one personally relates. I didn’t relate to what i’ve seen.

My opinion: 2/5 it may work for you, it didn’t for me.

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Le Manteau (2007)

“Le Manteau” (2007)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

this one had a good element to explore, but failed because it basically ignored that element. I’m talking about the title, the “coat” which could be the engine of something at the same time purely cinematic and specific to be worked as an animation. I say this because, for me, many animations fail when they try too hard to be “normal” cinema, and the animation processes are used to imitate what would have been done in reality captured images. I (usually) don’t appreciate that kind of films. Here we had that good thing i mentioned: a coat on which one character “sees” a “moving” close relative long gone. So, the “animation” is generated by the eye of this female character. So we have an animation (the dancing jacket) which occurs inside other animation (the film we are watching). The problem is, after this first and promising scene where we understand the gap between the female character and the rest of the characters, this idea simply ceases to be explored, and we no longer get the animated jacket, or any kind of visual “game” with that element in relation to the way the woman and the other characters see it. Pity, it could have been something interesting, but not the way it was done.

My evaluation: 2/5 good idea at root, but not well explored

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Ein Sonniger Tag (2007)

“Ein Sonniger Tag” (2007)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

when i check animations i really appreciate stuff like this. Here we have a simpler than simple story. We can’t even talk about story. This is just about “animating” common objects or entities which in reality are natural phenomena and justifying the mechanics of the physic “real” world based on pure imagination. In the same session where i saw this one, i watched in the first place a terribly awful “Toot & Puddle, i’ll be home for Christmas”. In common with this one, they have the age target (children?). And i was as upset with the first film as i was pleased with this one. This one has simplicity in the graphic expression, in the imagined explanations for the “behaviour” of the sun and in time: 6 minutes long. it’s hand drawing based, with a constant use of a kind of sand yellow and layered on that watered subtle tons. This works out challenging in visual terms, and understands the way imaginative minds work (the minds of children) and that’s why it is funny, exactly the opposite of “toot…” who treats children as total retarded beings.

Check this one

My evaluation: 4/5

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Prílepek (2006)

“Prílepek” (2006)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

Legs

This is very interesting work. This is not really animation (since every image is recorded and note “created”) though i got to watch it in an animation festival. But it’s ruled by the same kind of freedom of thought regarding physical rules and created realities/worlds as the good animations. So it is justified its inclusion in an animation festival. I really found several elements that got my attention:

. the acknowledging of cinema as a succession of images. There are, to my view, two possible lines of thought when one wants to take definitions to their limits: one is considering cinema as “moving images” the other is taking it as “succession of images”. Silent movies were, mainly for their technical limitations, understood by the viewer as a succession of images, and cinema was born on this basis (and in fact, every camera is just a really fast photography maker). Than we have that really important and genius film which is La Jetée, where Marker deliberately eliminated movement “inside” the image (except for a subtle eye shot) and made a film out of succeeding images one after the other (and yes, it is cinema in my dictionary). Here we have a compromise between both ways: transmuting image, and succession of images. In the end, in this film this shows with the way the editing is (superbly) well done, constantly using several separated images shifting fast and telling an “action” or the common 24fps which tell our brain we are watching one single image that changes every moment (reality?). This was really interesting on this film

. the point of view. We have a protagonist who spends the whole time lying on the floor looking, touching, feeling. The placement of the camera (and shifting between positions, editing once more) is very clever in the way it gives us great consciousness of the floor and the protagonist’s sensations. We get great attempts at sensuality in the touching of the legs, the short shots inside skirts, underwear, the looking down-up at the legs. This is a work of sensitivity, and a refreshing way to shoot an old (the oldest?) theme.

Get to this.

My opinion: 4/5

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Over the hill (2007)

“Over the hill” (2007)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

I really like the mood of this one. And the way the graphic choices support that mood.

This shows up as a memory of old American cartoons, by Warner Brothers and others. The lettering of the credits, the watered flat colours, and the simplified drawings, very expressive with not so much complexity (less is, in this case, more).

So, if the expression of the thing takes us to an American old way of producing animation, the theme (and mood) takes us to the tea pot England, aided by the constant use of several wall paper patterns which cover the whole screen. So we get an amusing story which subverts some of the (many) English clichés, related to tea, tricot and society old ladies. We have and “adventure” (an amount of unreal events in an unreal scenario and situation) which end up in climax, happy ending, as the old cartoons used to.

So we have no genius here, but it’s interesting work mainly for the references it chooses and the way they reflect here.

My opinion: 3/5

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Le programme du jour (2007)

“Le programme du jour” (2007)

Cinanima 2007

IMDb

this is cinematically as cold as the theme it depicts. Usually that would be a good thing, and a statement of coherence and balance between the theme and the medium. But here i place this observation as a fault which kept me from enjoying this. We have digital animation in use, but it is quite inefficient, despite technically competent.

I did enjoy the initial shot, which was made (at least it appeared so) after those cubic structures Escher used to draw to suggest infinite space. The way the virtual camera is used is really exploring the possibilities that animation brings into exploring space, as an advantage in relation to physical shots. This was well done here, and well finished as well, with the good detail of the corpse cube covering the only light spot.

But than what happens inside the cube, between these two shots is just vapid and meaningless. I didn’t care much about this version of the empty unhappy contemporary world, because everything was so cliché here, every element was used over and over whenever an empty idea is forced to look like a deep one.

So, except for how it started and how it ended, this is not such a good experience.

My opinion: 2/5

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Eastern promises (2007)

“Eastern promises” (2007)

IMDb

one kiss too long, one eye less

*** This comment may contain spoilers ***

One has to separate what has been done here, with how it has been done. For what i’ve seen, Cronenberg is always competent enough to deliver pieces which are well crafted, but lately he’s been unable to feed may visual mind. I suspect that is part intellectual laziness (age showing up?) and the comfort of relying on formulas.

I see myself as a rookie in the world of visual grammar and narrative construction, more eager to learn, than experienced to comment. And so i use commenting on films as a way to state what i’ve understood every two hours of film i get to see, and thus try and learn more. Cronenberg has already injected some colour into my personal film world sometimes, but here i think he fails. That is because he is so attached to cinematic convention now, to high budget production and the huge masses distribution, that he stopped considering the possibilities of the medium, he stopped (for now, at least) wondering about what he can do gather image and narrative in original ways. This is basically the reason why, despite this is a well crafted piece, with competent performers involved, it didn’t work that well for me.

We have a specific world underlined here, that of the Russian immigration (and its mafia). That world is perfectly defined in its limits and its rules, and it is inserted into another world which we probably know better, that of London. London is not so definitely assumed, we have no predetermined establishing shots, no British cliché, so we can place a different city in our imagination if we don’t know London that well, or we don’t know it at all. So far, so Cronenberg. He does this kind of “world within a world” very often. But he usually drifts between worlds, of imagination and reality, of cultural differences, etc. Not here. After this set up, we get a story, opera like, linear straight story, and the whole thing sticks to the thin interest of knowing what Mortensen’s character is really up to, and what will happen to Naomi Watts and her family. No big cinematic intensity or angle, we “just” have a competent photography, editing and performances (we get a danish descendant, a french, a German and an Australian all performing Russian or Russian descendant!).

Two specific scenes were the bottom line and the confirmation that i was not watching a film by the director of Crash and ExistenZ, but minor work of someone who knows the job, but doesn’t really want to go deeper into being imaginative anymore: the scenes i’m talking about are the pact between Cronenberg and Hollywood: we get the unnecessary, lush and useless kiss between Watts and Mortensen, and we get an eye being ripped off in the sauna as Mortensen moves for survival, in a time when the eye owner seemed already dead and revives in the way of bad horror movies, to frighten the audience and extend the action.

My opinion: 3/5 this is well put together, but there’s not great cinematic content into it.

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