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Entries in Michel Gondry (10)


Beauty vs Beast: Blessed Are The Forgetful

"Random thoughts for Valentine's day... Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap."

Jason from MNPP here, wishing everybody a happy Valentines (even if I do lean towards the incredulous sentiment expressed above). When you ask yourselves what the great romantic films of our times are, what answers do you come up with? Because I asked myself that question in order to choose this week's holiday-themed edition of "Beauty vs Beast" and it was Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (from whence that quote came) that was the very first movie I thought of...

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NYFF: Microbe & Gasoline

Here's Jason reporting from NYFF on Michel Gondry's latest film.

I've always been fascinated by, in this modern day-and-age of super handy internet pornography (ha ha handy), the cartoonish sort you'll sometimes stumble upon online - with access to the billions upon billions of pixelated private parts available at the click of a mouse just who's getting off to this hand-drawn stuff? Michel Gondry offers up the answer with Microbe & Gasoline, and of course it had to be Michel Gondry. The best known purveyor of cinematic hand-stitched whimsy, who's turned everything from dreams to clouds to memory itself into tactile seeming sensations, would want to get his mitts smudged with the detailing of wank-book pencil lines. 

This isn't as odd an entry point into Microbe & Gasoline as it might seem at first blush. The film, which tells the tale of the bloom and blossom of friendship between two teenage outsider princes, their crowns two matching heads of thick provincial locks, is somewhat obsessed with body functions, as teenage boys are prone to. It's not just getting laid (although that is there too, waving wildly) - it's haircuts and bathroom stops and strangers (putting the strange in stranger danger) wanting to caress your molars.

But then Gondry is our tightrope practitioner of phantasmagorical practicality - when he soars, he soars along a surface of scratches and knicks and splintered wooden beams. Whereas somebody like Christopher Nolan will go out of his way to scrub the surface of his imagination into a flat gleaming cube, inscrutably too scrutable, Gondry's gonna flip that mirror over and get to work on its underbelly, hammer in hand, nails in teeth.

It doesn't always work! It hasn't really worked in awhile, save moments here and there - I liked bits of Mood Indigo but it always felt like somebody else's story, too dour by several degrees. And don't get me started on The We and the I, which felt like being trapped in an echo chamber of humiliation and teenage horror which I hardly made it through - Gondry can almost be too generous a soul, allowing his folks to tip far too far towards screech instead of sing. Microbe & Gasoline though, it works. He keeps himself in check - the whimsy bumps and chugs along the road with precision-crafted engineering, and his two lead actors have an endearingly low-key rapport. It's his best film since Eternal Sunshine.

Microbe & Gasoline is screening at the New York Film Festival on Sunday, October 4 and Monday, October 5.


Review: Mood Indigo

Michael C. returning for duty. I'll be joining Nathaniel on the weekly new film review duties so you'll get two each weekend instead of just one.

My reflex reaction is to be protective of Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, and not simply because the director exists in a permanent state of grace for giving the world Eternal Sunshine. It’s because his latest film is such an easy target. To come branded with the moniker “quirky” is to risk immediate snide dismissal by those who would sooner face a firing squad than offer a stamp of approval to anything with hipster appeal, and Mood Indigo may well be the quirkiest thing that has ever happened. It is the black tar heroin of twee. 

This film is such a perfect culmination of Gondry’s work up to this point, it’s a surprise to learn it didn’t originate in his brain but is based on a novel much loved in France. Every frame is packed to bursting with Gondry’s signature handcrafted effects. Indigo’s hero, Colin (Romain Duris) lives in an apartment that brings to mind a French Pee-wee’s Playhouse by way of the Peter Gabriel’s "Sledgehammer" video (Ask your parents, kids). There doesn’t seem to be a single inanimate object in the place. Colin’s breakfast is a ballet of squirming stop-motion treats, and the doorbell scurries around the wall like an excited pet when there is a visitor. Even the piano is revealed to be a clever gizmo that dispenses cocktails to match the mood of the tune played on it. One cannot accuse Gondry of laziness. 


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Linking Time

Coming Soon Denzel Washington does the mandatory back to camera pose required of all teaser posters now for The Equalizer
Dazed Michel Gondry shares films he can't forget: Modern Times, Groundhog Day, The Phantom of Liberty and more
The Matinee's 'Blind-Spot' series visits the inspirational teacher movie Goodbye Mr Chips (1939)
Empire Tate Taylor will follow Get On Up with In the Event of a Moon Disaster, another period piece. The premise sounds cool but I don't understand how he'll find roles for Viola & Octavia and he's not allowed to work without them. Tis TFE's decree

Pajiba Pajiba turns 10. Happy birthday Pajiba!
Non-Fics on the 10 best documentaries about gay history ever made. Some surprises here. I haven't even heard of a couple of these
Daily Mail good news about Michigan only ever seems to come from Ann Arbor these days: Madonna's daughter Lourdes (aka "Lola") will attend U of M as an MDT major. (MDT programs are a good part of why I object to frequent complaints about the film musical these days. There are many professional actors trained as triple threats. It's just they're rarely asked to use all three skills.)
MNPP who wore it best - zombie boy ripoff edition via Mad Max: Fury Road
The Black Maria revisits the Monroe/Gable/Clift/Wallach classic The Misfits (1961)
Los Angeles Times Academy tightens up campaign rulings in the wake of that Alone (Yet Not Alone) business last season 
Variety 5 themes that might influence Emmy voters - I'm most intrigued by the idea of the last one "Endurance". I've also wondered that.
Vulture funny Jenny Slate (Obvious Child) interview
Awards Daily shortly after that imposing Streep-centric poster The Giver gets its official newly hideous poster utilising all the principles. Hooray?
Playbill interviews Jonathan Groff on his coming out and his subsequent quick rise in TV and film 

Spawn of Meg & Dennis. And you can see both of them so easily in his face!

VF Hollywood Meg Ryan making her directorial debut. Tom Hanks will cameo but the lead role, a teenager bike messenger, will be played by Jack Quaid (son of Meg & Dennis) whose film debut was in The Hunger Games (2012)
Empire Ben Wheatley's thriller High Rise (based on a JG Ballard) has quite the cast lined up for shooting next month: Elisabeth Moss, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, and James Purefoy
Coming Soon Ben Kingsley joins Lupita, Idris, and ScarJo in the voice cast of the new Jungle Book, which mixes live action with animation. He'll play Bagheera 
THR Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes join the Coens comedy Hail Caesar, giving us the Budapest Hotel reunion we were hoping for. Also: Channing Tatum!
Variety untitled heist comedy from Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess will star Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig
/Film Rooney Mara to produce and possibly star in kidnapping drama A House in the Sky 


Visual Index ~ Eternal Sunshine's Best Shots

In the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series we ask participants (all are welcome) to post a single shot that they think is the chosen movie's best and tell us why. "Best" is open to interpretation of course and often highly personal... and subject to change, just like memories. Memories are the environment and subject of this week's film, Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The film celebrates its 10th anniversary on March 19th and feels as essential as ever. 

Though we usually list the Hit Me With Your Best Shot collective choices in chronological order, memories aren't linear. Instead we're sharing the best shots in rough reverse chronological order of when we received them. Read them all for the opportunity to see the movie with new eyes: someone else's.

Meet us in Montauk... 33 images after the jump

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Is The Man Who Is Tall Eligible? No, Sadly.

Glenn here to discuss a true one of a kind film. That it's directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) should make that statement come as little surprise, but surprised I was. The film has the unwieldy, and yet simple and effectively evocative, title of Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky. Needless to say, despite being animated, Gondry's film is not planning a head to head box office battle royale with Disney's Frozen (which we're going to discuss very soon).

Another arena where the two will not face off is the Academy's Animated Feature category. Despite clearing the animation percentage bar with ease, and beautifully so too for that matter - it's certainly the most incomparable and charming animation of the year - the film was not submitted. It is, however, on the longlist for documentary features, but so are 150 others and I doubt a relatively simple back-and-forth conversation between director and subject, albeit one as different as this, can make much headway amongst bigger, loftier titles.

I wonder why the studio chose to not submit it for the animated feature? Especially in such a dire year for the category, I wouldn't have put it past the branch to have nominated it based on style alone. It really can't be said how majestically hypnotic the animation in Gondry's film is with its mass of bold colors, hand-drawn forms and techniques. He weaves in crude psychedelia, superimposed collage projections, chaotic flashes, and even moments of tribal imagery that recalls the experimental work of John Whitney Jr not to mention any number of groundbreaking experimental animated works. The film is nothing if not dazzling to watch. I imagine audiences in the 1970s would have had a field day, if you know what I mean. It is full of personal anecdotes from both scientist and philosopher Noam Chomsky as well as Gondry. When it sidesteps the sometimes head-scratching physics and heads into personal territory, like a third act detour to WWII, it proves to be remarkably effective.

The film has its problems, definitely. For one, Gondry with his thick French accent thinks he is as much a star of the film as his subject. If you're going to make a film about someone like Noam Chomsky it's best you just shut up and let the man talk. Of course, the catch 22 is that for many - including myself, I admit - much of the talk will fly right over their heads. I do, however, feel smarter for just having watched the film, whether I understood all of it all not. It was wise of Gondry to use animation to tell the story since whether you "get it" or not, you will be able to marvel at the eye-popping animation. I'm also not sure exactly why it was made in the first place, but it will ultimately prove a fascinating gem to anybody investigating the careers of both men years into the future. It feels like a film one stumbles across at 1.30am on cable and then can't turn away until you realise it's 3 in the morning and you're as wide awake as ever, your mind expanded in a way one can't comprehend until morning (or next week). 

Look, I'm sure the last thing on Gondry and 84-year-old Chomsky's mind is an Academy Award nomination, but such a thing can help bring a film like this to a much wider audience. I mean, I can't imagine many people had seen The Secret of the Kells before nomination morning. So it's baffling why they wouldn't at least role the dice on Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy. With only 18 other titles to compete against they had a much easier try there than they ever did in documentary. Meanwhile, The Croods may be laughing all the way to a nomination. Sigh.

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? closes the DOC NYC festival tonight and opens in limited release this weekend.