this space intentionally left blank

August 29, 2006

Filed under: movies»reviews»capsule

Triple Threat

The Triplets of Belleville

It is not a trick: the English audio track on the DVD for The Triplets of Belleville is almost completely in French. I think there's some English at the start and the end, but it was muffled and it might have just been my imagination. But the charm of this movie is that it doesn't matter. There's almost no dialogue in The Triplets. Instead, it merges an art style that's reminiscent of 1930's caricatures with the attention to movement detail of Miyazaki. The story is ostensibly about an old woman and her dog, who set off to the distant city of Belleville to find her grandson, who was kidnapped while riding in the Tour de France. It's a surprisingly dark little story, with moments that are strange but not surreal. By the end, you haven't really learned any profound lessons, but you weren't really meant to. The old woman is charming, the sense of humor is sly and understated, and the sound design is exceptional.

Brick

You have probably heard good things about Brick. It's a throwback to film noir, but set in a rough suburban high school, complete with drama club femme fatales and a kingpin who runs drugs from his mother's basement. I watched it twice--partially because I enjoyed it very much, and partially because I couldn't catch it all the first time. It helps very much to be familiar with the conventions of noir, because Brick doesn't go out of its way to explain the plot, which is complicated and filled with doublecrosses. Almost every character is lying about something, and the hard-boiled mumbling can be hard to follow. But if you don't sweat the plot too much and crank the volume, some real gems can make it through the marble-mouthed dialogue, like when the main character tells the manipulative gangster's moll "I can't trust you. If I got your help, I'd have to tie up one eye to watch both your hands, and I can't spare it." Like any neo-noir after Memento and The Usual Suspects, Brick can be too complex across acts for its own good, but scene by scene it's razor sharp.

Downfall

This is a movie about the last days of Hitler's life, stretching about two and a half hours. I couldn't make it through. It's not that it's badly done. It's more that we are already aware, I hope, that Hitler was an insane jackass. No matter how cunningly acted and shot, there is no real sense of discovery here, unless you are realizing that you are really glad you weren't in a bunker with Hitler. Again, that shouldn't be a kind of revelation.

Future - Present - Past