Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Film Festival review # 2

Here are three more films I saw last week at the Auckland Film Festival, all of them animated and all winners.

The Triplets of Belleville is a French animated film with no subtitles; it didn't need any as there was very little dialogue, like a Jacques Tati film. The animation was quirky and full of very French character. The Triplets in the title were a jazz-singing trio from the 20s we see in their heyday under the opening credits. After that, the story switches to a young orphan boy who lives with his grandmother. He grows up obsessed with bikes because of the picture on his wall of his parents with one, and ends up a professional racer with devoted and feisty grandmother as trainer, bike mechanic, and masseuse. He gets kidnapped during the Tour de France by mobsters, and grandmother and dog pursue them to the city of Belleville where they join forces with the now ancient but very lively Triplets to rescue him. The cyclist, identified only as 'Champion' in the credits lacks any real personality but that's more than made up for by his tough club-footed grandmother, his train-obsessed dog (we get to see his dreams) and the wonderfully eccentric Triplets. The scene of one of them acquiring their dinner is a masterpiece, as is what they do with their newspaper, fridge, and vacuum-cleaner.

Tokyo Godfathers is a great story about three homeless people in Tokyo who find a baby in a rubbish dump at Christmas and decide to find her mother. The three 'godparents' are a 'family' group: a man who once had a family of his own, a transvestite who always wanted a baby, and a runaway teenaged girl. Each of them are people we come to love as they follow clues through winter Tokyo to find the baby's mother, encountering the Yakuza, teenage louts, a dying old tramp, their pasts and the truth about them, and ultimately hope. The animation is gorgeous, the characters likeable and real, and the story a ripping one with its twists and turns and a real cliff-hanger climax.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds is science fiction from the wonderful Miyazaki, set a thousand years after ecological disaster--and after humanity reached the stars as is mentioned in passing. Nausicaa is the princess of a small farming community living in a valley and relying on wind-power to pump clean water from underground. This is one of the few human settlements still holding out against the Sea of Decay (toxic plants, acid water, and enormous insects called ohms). Nausicaa is brave and resourceful, like all of Miyazaki's heroines, travelling well into the Sea of Decay to explore, investigate, and find things to help her people. She also seems to be the one who fixes any broken wind-tech. Her empathy with animals (which wins her an adorable fox pet called Teto who travels on her shoulder) makes her a potential bridge between insects and humans. As in all of Miyazaki's films, his love and concern for nature and the environment come through, and the women are strong and powerful--the commander of an invading and more advanced nation is a woman. Actually, she was an odd mix of Servalan and Travis with her beauty and artificial arm--and legs.

Three films I'd love to see again.

Tags: films
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