Posts Tagged ‘Animation’

Archipel (2021) IFFR 2021

Dir.: Felix Dufour-Laperriere; Documentary with FlorenceBlain Mbaye, Mattis Savard-Verhoeven; Canada 2021, 72 min.

Canadian director/writer/producer/editor Felix Dufour-Laperriere has created a visually striking portrait of his hometown Montreal (Quebec) with only a few real names and an assortment of mostly animated super-imposed images making any attempt at categorisation near impossible. One could call it a journey into poetry, music and live action held together by the voice-over of the two nameless narrators: a woman and man trying to communicate.

 

 

We never leave the titular Archipelago: old maps, footage and pictures give us an idea of times gone-by: people dominate, working, playing and wandering around in the delta. Names mentioned are Pierre Vallieres, a Quebec separatist politician and Jacques Verron, a reformist doctor. With animation and live-action correlated, we do not always know if this is a dream, even though the change of framing is a further point of reference guiding us, but also threatening to engulf us in this labyrinth of images. The score of Feu Doux underlines a semi-narrative of stream of consciousness and magic. Cryptic, often poetic, musings are like signs in a watery jungle landscape. The Saint Lawrence River keeps the boundaries in place and a native Innu-Aimon poem strikes a poetic and artful tone too hard to define in this multi-dimensional adventure composed of myriad art forms. It certainly  transcends any filmic reference, exuding a timeless quality which is both beguiling and discombobulating. Words may dominate, giving us some directions, but overall the enigmatic Archipel does not want be to classified, just to be watched like an seamless adventure; wild, untamed and free. AS

Rotterdam Film Festival | 2021

Away (2019) ****

Dir: Gints Zilbalodis | Animation, Latvia, 74′

‘Staying Alive’ is how best to describe this symbolic and gorgeously fluid ‘boys own’ adventure from Latvian animation wizard Gints Zilbalodis.

Away is the culmination of a decade spent honing his craft in a series of  delightful short animations such as Aqua, Priorities and Oasis whose focus is the main character’s lone struggle to overcome a powerful force. In this case a King Kong-like shape shifter that pursues him through a preternatural jungle with the aim of swallowing him alive.

Throughout this dreamlike often hazardous odyssey the boy’s only companion is a small yellow bird who he cares for with the utmost tenderness. The film seems to connect with our own everyday battle to keep going in these uncertain times, and above all, to make the right choices.  In other words, Away is a metaphor for life that echo Miyazaki’s delicately rendered animes which can work on a simplistic or subliminal level offering appeal for kids and adults alike.

More minimalist than Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo or even The Red Turtle but just as beautiful and and driven forward by an evocative soundscape the film shirks narrative conventions to tell a story that is firmly tethered to the natural while also teetering towards the surreal. Zilbalodis controls his entire project from 3D animation and script through to editing, soundscape and production.

The tousled-haired, wide-eyed teenager lands by parachute on a lush and mysterious island and has to find his way across often perilous landscape to reach sanctuary using an old-fashioned motorbike. Amongst the creatures he encounters on his odyssey are a flock of white birds, a large tortoise and his family, and a pack of black cats who guard a powerful geyser that shoots out of a deep circular crevice, a grassy metaphor for Dante’s Inferno.

Although Away lulls us into a hypnotic sense of tranquility there is always the unsettling presence of the shape-shifter to keep us alert to danger as we start connecting with the angst of the struggling boy hero and his little bird, and indeed the tortoise, who at one point slivers down a snowy slope and on to its back, our hero coming to its rescue in one of many random acts of thoughtfulness. A beguiling and magical first feature with echoes of the best of Studio Ghibli. MT
Gints Zilbalodis (b. 1994) is a Latvian filmmaker and animator. He has made seven short films in various mediums including hand-drawn animation, 3D animation and live-action, often mixing their characteristic aesthetics.
https://youtu.be/B-2xxKAPssk
ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD PLATFORMS 18 January 2021

 

 

Away (2019) ****

Dir: Gints Zilbalodis | Animation, Latvia, 74′

‘Staying Alive’ is how best to describe this symbolic and gorgeously fluid ‘boys own’ adventure from Latvian animation wizard Gints Zilbalodis.

Away is the culmination of a decade spent honing his craft in a series of  delightful short animations such as Aqua, Priorities and Oasis whose focus is the main character’s lone struggle to overcome a powerful force. In this case a King Kong-like shape shifter that pursues him through a preternatural jungle with the aim of swallowing him alive.

Throughout this dreamlike often hazardous odyssey the boy’s only companion is a small yellow bird who he cares for with the utmost tenderness. The film seems to connect with our own everyday battle to keep going in these uncertain times, and above all, to make the right choices.  In other words, Away is a metaphor for life that echo Miyazaki’s delicately rendered animes which can work on a simplistic or subliminal level offering appeal for kids and adults alike.

More minimalist than Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo or even The Red Turtle but just as beautiful and and driven forward by an evocative soundscape the film shirks narrative conventions to tell a story that is firmly tethered to the natural while also teetering towards the surreal. Zilbalodis controls his entire project from 3D animation and script through to editing, soundscape and production.

The tousled-haired, wide-eyed teenager lands by parachute on a lush and mysterious island and has to find his way across often perilous landscape to reach sanctuary using an old-fashioned motorbike. Amongst the creatures he encounters are a flock of white birds, a large tortoise and his family and a pack of black cats who guard a powerful geyser that shoots out of a deep circular crevice, a grassy metaphor for Dante’s Inferno.

Although Away lulls us into a hypnotic sense of tranquility there is always the unsettling presence of the shape-shifter to keep us alert to danger and we start to feel for this unknown boy and his little bird, and indeed the tortoise, who at one point slivers down a snowy slope and on to its back, our hero coming to its rescue in one of many random acts of thoughtfulness. A beguiling and magical first feature. MT
https://youtu.be/B-2xxKAPssk
AWAY OPENS IN UK AND IRISH CINEMAS from 28 AUGUST 2020

 

 

BUÑUEL in the Labyrinth of the Turtles (2020)

Dir.: Salvador Simo; Animation with the voices of Jorge Uson, Fernando Ramos, Cyril Corral, Luis Enrique de Tomas; Spain/Netherlands/Germany 2019, 80 min.

Salvador Simo’s fluid animated feature is a treasure chest for film historians, and an entertaining jewel of inspiration for newcomers to the legendary artist’s work.

Based on Fermin Solis’ graphic novel about the making of Luis Bunuel’s 1933 documentary Land without Bread (Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan) it all starts at the premiere of his scandal ridden feature L’Age d’Or 1928 in the Paris cinema “Studio 28”. With the audience leaving in great numbers, there is clearly no doubt that Bunuel (Uson) will have difficulty finding backers for a new project. But luck is on his side in the shape of a winning Christmas lottery ticket purchased by his friend, the anarchist painter Ramon Acin (Ramos). The money provides finance for Land without Bread. Surrealism is victorious again. The jackpot also provides Bunuel with a new car, and he sets off with Acin and the photographer Eli Lotar (Corral), armed with  Mauricio Legendres’ book about the region of Las Hurdes (Western Spain). Pierre Unik (de Tomas) makes up the foursome, who will serve as ‘Girl Friday’ during the shoot

But the journey to Las Hurdes is full of surprises. In a small village they come across a bizarre wedding ceremony: the prospective brides riding on horseback through streets, tearing off the heads of live chickens hanging from a rope. A later scene sees the filmmakers paying a farmer to repeat the act, as they stand by in trepidation. Bunuel soon goes a step further, shooting a mountain goat, who tumbles down spectacularly into a steep ravine.

Meanwhile Bunuel comments to Acid.: “We are here to help these people, not to mess around and pretend to be artists”.  At night he plagued by dreams of his traumatic childhood, and his constant fear of death. In one dream, he encounters death, begging to live longer, because “I have so much more to do” Death simply replies: “you are not important, who says I have come for you?”

Other dreams feature his tyrannical father, who shows him a giraffe from whose open stomach birds fly. Yellow butterflies recur in many of these dreams, showing how Bunuel was trying to shake off Dali’s influence. 

Land Without Bread was banned in Spain and France. Only in 1936 did the Spanish Republic allow screenings, but the name of Ramon Acin – who had been executed along his wife by the Spanish Fascists – at the beginning of the Guerra Civil – had to be scratched off because of his anarchist past. In 1960, when Bunuel created a restored version, Acin’s name was re-instated, and Bunuel gave the money from the re-release to Acin’s daughters Katia and Sol.

The animation is about simplicity and clear lines, there is no grandstanding, and this approach goes well with the many clips from the original documentary: in both cases, the lighting is crucial and central to the aesthetic. Arturo Cardelos’ plangent piano score subtly champions the struggle between surrealism and realism, fought out by Luis Bunuel. AS    

PREMIERING ON BFI PLAYER ON 9 JULY 2020                       

Ruben Brandt, Collector (2018) **** Edinburgh Film Festival 2019

Dir.: Milorad Krstic; Animation with the voices of Ivan Kamaras, Gabriella Hamori, Zalan Makranczi; Hungary 2018, 96 min.

Milorad Krstic (66), director, designer and script-writer of his debut animation feature, won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlinale in 1995. Premiering here at Locarno Film Festival Ruben Brandt is mostly hand-drawn with some CG elements and very much resembles in style and narrative of the recent Folimage animation feature A Cat in Paris , even though the tone is much darker.

Psychotherapist Ruben Brandt (Kamaras) suffers from dreams and hallucinations: He is attacked by figures from famous paintings like Velazquez’ “Infanta Margarita” and Botticelli’s “Venus”. Nevertheless, Brandt goes on treating his four patients, through role-plays of stories such as Little Riding Hood. They are all highly skilled burglars; so is Mimi (Hamori), who puts Ruben’s plan into action; he wants to possess thirteen famous paintings, so Mimi heads first to the Paris Louvre, hotly pursued by detective Kowalski (Makranczi), who has been hired by various insurance companies, who put a 100million dollar bounty on Ruben’s head. But Brandt becomes increasingly desperate, his dreams growing ever more violent. We see little Ruben, his neurologist father making him watch cartoons, a favourite is Rusalocka in “The Little Mermaid”. The thieves embark on a world cruise to steal Van Gogh’s “Postman Roulin”, Titan’s “Venus of Urbino” and Picasso’s “Woman with Book”, visiting the Uffizzi, the Hermitage, Tate and MoMA. There are flying cats, and the pictures start to interact with Ruben. In the Pantheon, Ruben is asked to participate in a Western duel, before being whisked off in a plane to Arles in Provence. Matters become even more complicated it emerges that Kowalski is Ruben’s half-brother. Their father Gerhardt was a Stasi spy who defected to the USA and worked for the CIA on neurological research. He has just died, and Kowalski’s mother tells his son, “ I had to leave your father, so you could have your own dreams”. Ruben meanwhile is meeting the painter Renoir, and is trying to unravel his father’s life. After a wild hunt, when the six are hunted down by two oil-tankers and a helicopter, the chase ends in Tokyo, during the attempted theft of the last painting, Warhol’s “Double Elvis”.

On one level Ruben Brandt is a haunt caper, one the other a trip through European film history from ‘Caligari’, Eisenstein, Hitchcock to Wenders. Krstic is clear about his intentions: “To be haunted by ghosts or zombies in nightmares is a cliché, it’s more exciting to be haunted by Velázquez’s ‘Infanta Margarita’ or Botticelli’s ‘Venus.” And paraphrasing Godard he explains his aesthetic concept: “For me drawing is imagination, and animated film is imagination twenty-four times a second.” His attempt at an ‘audio-visual symphony’ might be strange at times, but is always fascinating, and even in its most absurd moments Ruben Brandt is utterly compelling. A unique, magical, trippy experience, a throwback to the Sixties with its echoes of Pink Panther.

EIFF 19 JUNE – 30 JUNE | ANIMATION STRAND | PREMIERED AT LOCARNO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018) **

Dir.: Andy Serkis; Cast: Rohan Chand, Matthew Rice, Freida Pinto and the voices of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis; USA/UK 2018, 104 min.

Do we really need a new version of Rudyard Kipling’s story collection The Jungle Book (1894) so soon after the success of John Favreau’s 2016 version? The answer is no, and not this sinister one by Andy Serkis and written by Callie Kloves which takes the much loved children’s classic to a darker more violent place where there’s no singing or dancing  – and no appeal for its fanbase or anybody under the age of twelve, for that matter. A hybrid in every way, the five-year labour of love is an uneasy mix of super-hero yarn and identity conflicts.

After the hungry tiger Shere Khan (Cumberbatch) has devoured Mowgli’s parents, the young boy (Chand) is nurtured by wolves. Bagheera (Bale), the panther and Baloo (Serkis), a not particularly cuddly bear, keeping him safe from Shere Khan, along with python Ka (Blanchett). But Mowgli will never become a proper pack wolf after he is abducted by apes, and reared in a village where hunter Lockwood (Rice) and his gentle wife (Pinto) try to ‘humanise’ the wild child. But after seeing Lockwood’s trophy cabinet, Mowgli has second thoughts.

This latest MOWGLI lacks the humanity of Kipling’s vision: it’s more a Flight-Club in the jungle than anything else. Yes, the effects are stunning, DoP Michael Seresin pulls out all the stops, and other production values are equally convincing – but it always feels like a hijack, not an adaption. Perhaps Serkis wanted to distance himself completely from anything Disney-like – but by doing so, he has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Mowgli sits uneasily  between semi-horror and a stale lecture about identity politics. At the same time it’s downright conventional picturing the partnership between Lockwood and his wife in the redundant cliché of hunter and carer. Most of all though, it lacks emotion: a muddled concept of true solidarity (the opposite of Kipling), this Mowgli is reduced to a soulless race for the line. See what you think. AS

ON RELEASE FROM 7 DECEMBER 2018 | NETFLIX

Anomalisa (2015)

Writer| Director: Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson

With the voices of: Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Thewlis, Tom Noonan

90min Animation | Comedy | US

Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) is joined by stop-motion specialist Duke Johnson for this gloomy but watchable dystopian tale, which raises the odd laugh in spite of its depressing outlook.

Michael Stone (Thewlis), a small celebrity and author of a Customer Service bestseller, lands in Cincinnati to speak at a congress. In the bland hotel Il Fregoli, he feels lonely and ‘phones his ex Bella, a woman whom he left abruptly 11 years ago. They meet in a bar and we are shocked to hear her speak with the voice of Tom Noonan. Michael tells her about his unhappy marriage and Bella runs off, frustrated. Back in the hotel, Michael still feels depressed so he knocks on a few doors and eventually meets Lisa (Lee), the only woman with a female voice. After much drinking, he seduces her and promises her the Earth. Disillusioned the next morning, he returns home to his wife Donna and his little son.

There something very intriguing about ANOMALISA despite its banal premise and is largely due to the fascination of the puppets. Endearing and rather cute, they have soft downy looking faces and move a round with a jerkiness that reminds us of the TV series ‘The Woodentops’. Sometimes the upper end of their faces sometimes becomes unhinged, so we can see the electronics of their brains. The women all look more or less the same and the individual male characteristics are not much more developed facially, although Michael’s intimate parts are fully formed. Everyone lives in a state of emotional regression and there are clearly anger management issues resulting from emotional stress of 21st century and talk in cliches picked up on TV or from advertising. Michael is a banal character who is disconnected from reality or the consequences of his actions: when he picks up a present for his son, he ‘overlooks’ that he is in a sex-toy shop, presenting his son on his return with an antique Japanese sex doll, which secretes sperm in the hand of the minor.

Kaufman is, as usual, very clever: The Fregoli syndrome is a psychiatric term for a paranoid development which allows the person afflicted to see all his attackers as one being. One of the causes of the condition is the long term use of anti-depressants. There are hilarious moments in Anomalisa, when Lisa sings a heartbreaking version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cindy Lauper in Michael’s hotel room. But overall, Anomalisa suffers from a detached approach where the audience is not always sure if Kaufman is laughing at or about his protagonists. The puppets are stunning, but the whole experimental atmosphere feels too orchestrated and contrived. A maximal aesthetic effort contrasts with a rather lightweight and schematic narrative but worth seeing for its original look. AS

NOW ON GENERAL RELEASE 

Rémi Bezançon | Film Director| Zarafa

*contains spoilers*

Rémi Bezançon was born in Paris in 1971 where he studied film at the École Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle and the École de Louvre.  After his feature Ma Vie en L’Air, he found success with The First Day of The Rest of Your Life in 2008 which won him Best Director, Best Writer and Best Film at the Césars in 2009.  He followed this with Un Heureux Événement, a frank an intimate exposure of motherhood, which starred Pio Marmaï (Delicacy) and Louise Bourgoin.

We met him and his co-writer, Alexander Abela, for the UK Premiere of his film ZARAFA, a finely wrought and delightfully intelligent animation based on the true story of a Giraffe gifted to French royalty…

AR: First of all, congratulations on Zarafa.. a magical film. It felt like you chose a musical feel of Lawrence of Arabia..?

RB Yes.. and we drew on Omar Sharif for Hasan too, not just the music and Maurice Bejart for the choreography. We wanted a lyrical style of music, an epic, old-fashioned style of adventure music.

AR And the style of the animation…

RB Jean-Christophe Lie has a style more like Chomet (Belleville Rendezvous) a very good style, but I wanted something more like Miyazaki for this film, like Spirited Away, Totoro -Studio Ghibli. I wanted to go more towards that style where you might get a shot of someone’s hair moving.. more descriptive.

zarafa_03

AR It reminded me also of TinTin.

RB Yes, TinTin- in France we sit between Disney and the Japanese… the style is called ‘clear line’, like TinTin all French animation, historically, is based on the clear line, from Hergé onwards.

AR: I was interested whether you were wanting- as a director- to work in different genres, or whether the story dictated the genre.

RB The story always dictates the genre… always. My adult films are ‘poetic-realist’. For this one, I wanted to make it in a way that children would like and also a way that I would have liked to see as a child myself.

AR From what I pick up from your other films, like Women For Sale (Vendue), which concerns the European Mafia trafficking women and prostitution and here again with slavery… do you believe that your films are political?

RB Firstly, I only co-wrote that film and I didn’t direct it.

Zarafa

AR Understood but, even so…

RB My films aren’t very political and in a way the most political film I have made is Zarafa, because it’s a film that I believe has many resonances with how we live today; colonisation, integration, liberty and relationships between foreigners within society. We are living in countries that are closed, so it’s a film that talks about freedom in a political way.

AT In effect then, that is quite a political statement.. no?

RB Yes.. Strangely, it is more political than any of my live action films. It seems I have to make a children’s film to be able to make a film that has actually a bit more of a political bent.

AT You say you like Kurosawa, Ozu, Spielberg, Scorsese…

RB Yes, how did you know? I love these directors, Spielberg, Ozu, Kurosawa, Scorsese…

AR Do you feel they are influencing your work?

RB Yes, Seven Samurai influenced me with Zarafa, but my films are French, not in the mold of those I like, but I am inspired by them more in the way they tell a story.. but it’s important it’s not just copied, it has to be digested. But my live action films are much more inspired by the Italian films of the Seventies.

AR With this film you chose a very classic three-act structure…

RB Very classic. When you make an animated film, you have to stick to the classic. And it works for children- it works for everyone!

AR Your grandfather made home movies… on a Bolex?

RB Yes, on Bolex..

AR Do you feel this had an influence on you becoming a filmmaker?

RB Yes of course, I found it fascinating to use a little Super 8 camera to make small films of my own when I was very young and then using the first video cameras, when they came out. So I used to line up my model soldiers and film them when I was very little. But I told real stories.

AR Do you still have these films?

RB No, no (unfortunately), nothing.

AR Your next film is Nos Futurs (now out in France) Can you tell me anything of this?

RB It’s a Punk movie.

AR: A punk movie..?

RB A comedy about midlife crisis, starting filming at the end of this year.

AR: Ok. Oh, tell me, who came up with the idea for the solar eclipse (in Zarafa)? I liked that very much.

RB Me. I love the transitions..

AR: This is where you find great creative input…

RB Yes I love these things. Thank you.

ZARAFA IS ON GENERAL RELEASE ON 8 OCTOBER 2015

 

Tales of the Night (2011)**** Les Contes de la Nuit

Cert12  84mins    Fantasy Animation

Fairytales have reached a point in cinema where they have been dumbed down so as not to frighten or shock children in any way.  Who remembers the unnerving “Tales From Europe” or even “The Water Margin”?  These tales were deeply sinister and wicked without being bloody. violent or foulmouthed in any way.  Kids love that element of fear and edginess on screen especially when set, as these are, in a charming Medieval style with beguiling black silhouettes delicately rendered against a lusciously colourful background.

The five animated fables filmed in cutting-edge stereoscopic 3D are enchanting and wonderful to watch.  Best of all, they have appeal for adults as well and weave a web of intrigue shot through with strands of ingenious morality retaining the ancient tradition of fierce dragons, beautiful princesses and brave knights all set to an eerie chamber choir ensemble.

This is an intelligent family film that will capture the imagination of kids and adults alike.

Showing at the Everyman Hampstead on 21st September 2013

TALES_OF_THE_NIGHT_3Meredith Taylor ©

 

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