World Panorama – 6 Short Films

World Panorama was one of the short film roles on this year’s Anilogue. It featured 6 short films, all very different in styly, topic and mood, which made it a little difficult sometimes to make the transition between the films. But it was an interesting selection.

After the jump, I’ll talk more about each film separately.

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Metropia (2009)

[Anilogue.]

Metropia is Tarik Saleh‘s first fiction film, starring the voices of Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard and Alexander Skarsgard.

Plot:
2024. After using up the world’s ressources, Europe is in shambles. A huge underground network connects all the subway lines of the major cities, controlled by the Trexx corporation. Roger (Vincent Gallo) tries to avoid the subway as much as possible, going so far as biking to work (which is illegal). But when his bike is broken, he enters the subway station, starts hearing a voice (Alexander Skarsgard) in his head and suddenly sees Nina (Juliette Lewis) – the girl from the shampoo commercial and his dreams. Nina kinda leads him down the rabbit hole into a huge conspiracy.

Metropia has a strange aesthetic, an interesting premise and great voice acting. Unfortunately the animation itself is not that great and it loses itself a bit in the plot.

[Slight Spoilers]

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Denshinbashira Elemi no koi [Elemi] (2009)

[Anilogue.]

Elemi is Hideto Nakata’s first movie, starring the voices of Tomoko Okumura, Kazushi Watanabe, Kyozo Kudu.

Plot:
Elemi (Tomoko Okumura) is a telephone pole in need of repair. When repairman Takahashi (Kazushi Watanabe) shows up, Elemi falls in love with him. In a complete breach of pole rules, Elemi actually contacts Takahashi (via telephone, of course) and they get along very well.

Elemi is very sweet. The story is pure romance and the (stop-motion) animation is very well done. It could have done with a bit more energy, though.

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Technotise – Edit I Ja [Technotise: Edit & I] (2009)

[It’s Anilogue, baby!]

Technotise is the first film by Aleksa Gajic, starring the voices of Sanda Knezevic and Nebojsa Glogovac.

Plot:
Beograd, 2074. Edit (Sanda Knezevic) is a psychology student, who keeps failing one exam (apparently, because her teacher wants sexual favors from her and she won’t oblige). To finally give said teacher no more excuse to fail her, Edit gets a stolen military chip implanted, that kinda serves her as an additional memory.
At the same time, Edit works with a young “autistic”* man Abel (Igor Bugarski), who is also a math genius. When Edit sees the Theory of Everything Abel has developped, something strange happens with her and her chip.

Technotise has a fantastic concept and the world building is very good (though it heavily borrows, too). But it would have deserved a better filmic treatment. It’s just noticeable in every shot that this production had no budget to speak of (and not in a charming way), which hurts so much more because the basic idea is that good.

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Gekijô ban Tengen toppa guren ragan: Guren hen [Gurren Lagann the Movie: Childhood’s End] (2008)

[This is the last of the Anilogue movies.]

Gekijô ban Tengen toppa guren ragan: Guren hen is a movie edited from Gainax‘ anime series Tengen toppa gurren lagann. It was directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi.

Plot:
Simon and Kamina are brothers who live in a village that’s completely underground. The villagers believe that there’s nothing above ground but Kamina, the older one, doesn’t want to believe that. When Simon stumbles upon a robotic device and a giant roboter comes crashing through the ceiling, closely followed by a young warrior called Yoko, their lives are about to be changed forever.

I don’t know the original anime, maybe it’s different for people who do, but this movie was a complete mess. The pieces that have been edited together refuse to form a coherent whole, the character development is ridiculous and more care seems to have gone to show Yoko’s boobs as often as possible than anything else.

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Ibara No Ô [King of Thorn] (2009)

[Still Anilogue. Penultimate time.]

Ibara No Ô is the adaptation of the manga of the same name, written by Yūji Iwahara. The movie was directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama and written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi. [Apparently, this movie was shown so early at this festival that there isn’t even an imdb entry for it yet. (I feel so cool right now.) Anyway, a little more info’s here.]

Plot:
Humanity is plagued by a mysterious and deadly virus called Medusa, which turns people to stone. When every other form of treatment fails, 160 people worldwide are selected and put into suspended animation. The story mostly follows Japanese school girl Kasumi, who was chosen but has to leave her twin sister Shizuku behind. Everything works fine until Kasumi and the others wake up, to a pretty much post-apocalyptic world. Strange and dangerous animals stalk them in the facility, but most of all a huge plant with thorny tendrils seems to have swallowed the world. The survivors have to fight for their lives while trying to figure out what exactly happened.

As I wrote yesterday, I saw first Yonayona pengin, then Ibara No Ô. In hindsight, it would have been much better to have it the other way round. Because Ibara? IS HUGELY DEPRESSING. It’s so very sad. It’s also really good, one of the most interesting, fascinating SciFi stories I’ve encountered and beautifully done. But it leaves you with the definite urge to drink. Like A LOT.

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Yonayona pengin [Yona Yona Penguin] (2009)

[Yeah, you guessed it, Anilogue.]

Yonayona pengin [translates to, I think, “Every Evening Penguin”] is the newest Mad House movie by Rintaro, written by Tomoko Konparu.

Plot:
6-year-old Coco loves Penguins, of all kinds. She has a special penguin costume that she got from her father, who disappeared quite a while ago. Every night she explores the world around her in this suit, believing that one day it’s going to make her fly. One night, she meets Chaley, a goblin who takes her to its world. The goblin world is under threat by Bucca-Boo and his henchboy Zammie. Because of an old prophecy, the goblin people place all her faith in Coco to save them.

Yonayona pengin is wonderful. Sweet and funny and great. It was the one movie during the Anilogue that was actually meant for children, though adults can enjoy it as well [it has quite a few nods for the adult audience a child is not going to get]. That means that the story might not be the most innovative around, but the loving details make more than up for that. And it’s beautifully animated, with an incredible production design.

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Panique au village [A Town Called Panic] (2009)

[Still with the Anilogue Programme.]

Panique au village is a stop motion animated movie by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, who not only directed, but also wrote all and spoke most of the movie.

Plot:
It’s Horse’s (Vincent Patar) birthday and Cowboy (Stéphane Aubier) and Indian (Bruce Ellison) completely forgot to buy him a present. So they quickly order 50 bricks over the internet to build him a barbecue grill in the garden. Unfortunately, due to a slight typing accident, they order 50 million bricks instead. Ultimately, this leads to the destruction of their house and a trip basically around the world for the  three of them.

Panique au village would have worked perfectly as a short film (and apparently, it’s based on one), but at 75 minutes, it was definitely too long. The voice acting was incredibly unnerving and it didn’t help that I actually had to listen because the subtitling was being done live and that didn’t quite work out* (well, at least I understand French). Altogether, it was more annoying than entertaining.

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$9.99 (2008)

$9.99 is a stop motion animated movie by Tatia Rosenthal, based on short stories by Etgar Keret (who also wrote the script) and starring the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia. Again, I saw it during the Anilogue Festival in Vienna.

Plot:
The movie is about the various inhabitants of an apartment home in Sidney. Dave (Samuel Johnson) is 28, unemployed and still lives with his father Jim (Anthony LaPaglia). When he sees an ad for a book explaining the meaning of life for only 9.99, he buys it. Unfortunately, nobody wants to listen to him explain it all. Meanwhile his brother Lenny (Ben Mendelsohn) falls in love with the model (Leeanna Walsman) moving into the building, while a boy called Zack (Jamie Katsamatsas) falls in love with his piggy bank. Ron (Joel Edgerton), on the other hand, gets visited by two inch tall guys after his girlfriend (Claudia Karvan) breaks up with him. In another flat, retiree Albert (Barry Otto) is incredibly lonely until he is visited by a rather bitter Angel (Geoffrey Rush).

I quite liked $9.99. It has no big revelations, it’s not going to make any best of the decade lists, probably, but it’s sweet, has a fine sense of humour and is nicely absurd. The design of the characters and the set was especially good.

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Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is an animated movie by Adam Elliot, starring the voices of Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries and Eric Bana. I saw it during the Anilogue Festival in Vienna.

Plot:
Eight-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette) is a slightly strange and lonely child living in Melbourne with an alcoholic mother. One day, she tears a page from a New York phone book and writes at random to Max Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Max turns out to be a fourty-four-year-old autistic who, after overcoming a panic attack triggered by the letter, answers Mary. A lifelong exchange of letters and friendship follows.

I can not tell you how perfectly wonderful this film is. It is funny, charming, sweet and incredibly well written, has great performances and is beautifully narrated by Barry Humphries. On top of that it looks amazing. Get your hands on a copy now.

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