Commentary 25 May 2007 08:35 am
- I have to admit that there are finally a couple of animated features I’m interested in seeing. They sound adult, intelligent and thought provoking. No, I’m not talking about Surf’s Up with it’s tedious, jerky, completely unoriginal style of animation. I shouldn’t comment so negatively about a film I haven’t seen. But the point is I won’t see it; there’s nothing about this film that attracts my interest.
However, Persepolis has my hopes flying, and Paprika allows me to hope for the best.
- Any stragglers still unconvinced that animation can be an exciting medium for both adults and kids will run out of arguments in the face of “Persepolis.” Like the four-volume series of graphic novels on which it’s based, this autobiographical tour de force is completely accessible and art of a very high order. First-person tale of congenitally rebellious Marjane Satrapi, who was 8 years old when the Islamic Revolution transformed her native Teheran, boasts a bold lyricism spanning great joy and immense sorrow. In both concept and execution, hand-drawn toon is a winner.
The film had already created a political stir when Iran, this week, officially protested the screening of the film at Cannes. This made for a very heated Q&A for Marjane Satrapi, the film’s creator and co-director, at Cannes. She refused to speak to the “irate Iranian journalists” and defended herself by saying, “I simply didn’t want to nourish this dispute. It has blown up out of proportion and I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. I accept criticism. I believe in freedom of expression and speech.” There’s a fuller article about this controversy at Bloomberg.
I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t read about this incident on any of the big animation news sites I visit.
See part of the press conference here.
See the trailer for the film here.
By the way, Marjane Satrapi wrote an Op Art/editorial for the NY Times in November, 2005. You can still read this on the Times’ site.
The Japanese film, Paprika, has an enticing trailer, and I’ve liked the two other films I’ve seen by the director, Satoshi Kon. Three Godfathers and Millennium Actress both were thoughtful and mature, and both were entertaining enough to make them more riveting than the average Anime. They both felt a bit too wedded to live action films for me to be completely satisfied with them, but they represented a clear voice whose work I want to follow.
The film’s reviews today are sterling. All of the New York papers glowed with praise. Here are a few quotes:
NY Daily News‘ Elizabeth Weitzman writes: Whatever it is you’re looking for – comedy, horror, parades of singing frogs and dancing kitchen appliances – you’ll find it in Satoshi Kon’s anime adventure, a jaw-dropping feat of imagination.
Manohla Dargis in the NY Times wrote: A mind-twisting, eye-tickling wonder, this anime from the Japanese director Satoshi Kon bears little relation to the greasy, sticky kid stuff that Hollywood churns out, those fatuous fables with wisecracking woodland creatures selling lessons in how to be a good child so you can grow up to be a good citizen. Model behavior isn’t on the menu in “Paprika,” and neither are dinky songs and visuals.
and Gene Seymour of Newsday & AP wrote: Whether viewed as science-fiction in the manic, shape-shifting tradition of Philip K. Dick or as a hyperbolic analogue to the movie industry, “Paprika” is like little else you regularly experience in animated or live-action movies. Those for whom the pictorial style of Japanese anime holds no charm won’t care about its densely layered narrative or about how clever it is with its cinematic references. The rest of us can once again wonder why so few animators in this country even try to take their art to such exotic extremes.
The story about manipulating wild dreams isn’t something I’m interested in, but I’ll take the leap for the sake of this director.
Perhaps someday I’ll be enthusiastic about the opening of an American film in the same way.
Shrek 3 was one I chose to pass, despite the invitation I’d received to a screening. (Shrek #1 was ugly albeit funny; #2 was uglier and not funny; I’ve wasted enough time on this franchise to see #3. Sorry.) They’ll make enough money off it – always a positive thing when an animated film is successful – even if I don’t want to see it.
The aforementioned Surf’s Up looks like a bad blend of Madagascar and Happy Feet.
Ratatouille is probably the only one of the Hollywood films I’ll see in a theater. I do like Brad Bird‘s work. The Incredibles actually had a couple of fine acting performances that Bird had pulled from some animators. (I wish I could name the animators, but the system in cgi just doesn’t allow us to connect any hand, other than the director’s, to animated acting.) However, the nine minute clip I’ve seen from Ratatouille looks entertaining and obvious and completely impersonal in its construction. I won’t judge it, though, until I’ve seen the whole film. I do also have to say that it’s going to take some doing for me to sympathize with a rat as the lead character. (I am amused by a film, whose marketing feels compelled to tell you how to pronounce its title. That doesn’t read big box office to me.)
If you’d like to see the recipe for Ratatouille success, go here.