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Entries in Michel Gondry (11)


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.


Team Top Ten: Best Directors of the 21st Century

Steve McQueen didn't make the list but Fassy still loves him (as do many of our contributors)Amir here, to bring you the first edition of Team Top Ten, a communal list by all of Film Experience’s contributors that will sit in for our regular Tuesday Top Ten list once a month. For our first episode, we’ve decided to rank the best new directors of the 21st century. These are all directors who have made their first film after 2000. (Short films, TV and theatre work didn’t render anyone ineligible. Only feature length fiction and documentary films were considered.)  

I had a blast compiling the 18 lists of our contributors to arrive at the final ten because their submissions were incredibly eclectic and surprising. I’d made a bet with myself that Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) would top the list, and lo and behold, he failed to make the cut altogether, though by a very fine margin. Korean director Bong Joon Ho was also left off, despite showing up on more than a handful of lists. Jason Reitman, Joshua Marston, Rian Johnson and David Gordon Green all came very close too but this was a tightly contested race, evidenced by the three-way tie for our tenth spot. Overall, 71 directors got at least one vote. We travelled all the way from Japan to Portugal, from Greece to Mexico, via documentaries, comedies and superhero films. We loved stories about Muslim families, gay romances, World War II and the beautifully painted worlds of Sylvain Chomet. What we didn't like very much turned out to be actors-turned-directors, as current Oscar champ Ben Affleck got only a single vote, and George Clooney and Tommy Lee Jones failed to manage even that.

In the end, these are the twelve men and women Team Experience considers the best (thus far) of the 21st century crop:

=10. Michel Gondry
Human Nature, Eternal Sunshine, The Sciene of Sleep, Block Party, Be Kind Rewind, etcetera

Gondry's films are shaggy fantasies powered by a boundless imagination. They're more than a little goofy, speaking quirky as if it were a language, and they have an endearing handmade quality, with their maker's fingerprints visible around the rough edges. Bent as they are toward romance and optimism, Gondry's miniature worlds provide a little solace from reality.
- Andreas Stoehr

11 more directors after the jump

Click to read more ...


The Link and I

tumblr screenshots without pausing of Zero Dark Thirty's hallway showdown scene
MNPP on responsibility in film criticism and Michel Gondry's The We And I 
Unreality the Han Solo in carbonite business card case. I keep wondering if Patrick Bateman would love this
Pajiba sounds off on the official poster for Mad Men Season 6, which features an illustration of Don Draper looking at... himself? in passing.  I cannot cannot wait. You?
Antagony... follows up that best oscar wins list with its evil twin counterpart: worst oscar wins

the greatest sitcom?
I've been really impressed with Vulture's #sitcomsmackdown which has made all sort of insightful points about the state of the situation comedy throughout the past quarter century, even if I wish Vulture had been more clear about how much rewatching they've asked their selected writers to do. Glenn at Stale Popcorn sounds off on the uproar that greeted Sex & The City's win over 30 Rock. But, as Glenn points out, if you read the actual original essay the writer clearly loves both series and makes really salient engaging points about why she chose Sex as the winner. But alas, people don't read. They just choose sides and fight. I'm thankful I don't have to choose the ultimate winner from the past 30 years but many of the shows battling it out for the top slot would make my top 10.

weird coincidence
So this week while instant-watch surfing a few films I'd seen before, which I do on occasion to refresh my memory, I watched a few scenes from both Head On (1998) and from Trainspotting (1996). Both films were critical hits and bold in-your-face indies about hard-living young men. The two films served as major launching pad for two exciting actors (Alex Dimitriades and Ewan McGregor, respectively) though their careers didn't exactly turn out the same. And then yesterday while link surfing, I chance upon a piece about how hard it is for men to turn 40 that featured Alex Dimitriades and the news that Danny Boyle still wants to do a Trainspotting sequel and that, finally, Ewan McGregor may say yes. The article suggests that one hurdle has always been residual director/star strangement dating back to the days when Boyle threw his young start-up muse (Ewan had also been with him for his debut Shallow Grave) overboard for Leonardo DiCaprio on The Beach? I felt like the internet was reading my mind! 


Burning Questions: Is Michel Gondry Lost In The Clouds? 

Kate Winslet with Michel Gondry filming Eternal Sunshine Michael C. here back with the return of Burning Questions, the weekly column where I answer all the most pressing film issues of the day, and, more importantly, address whatever is rattling through my head at any given moment. It’s a pretty sweet gig. First up is a growing concern I've been nursing for one of our best filmmakers.

If I hadn’t known the Mood Indigo trailer was for the new Michel Gondry film I might have wondered if it was an incredibly skillful satire. Like those spoofs that show films directed in the deadpan style of Wes Anderson it plays like an exaggerated showcase of all the director’s idiosyncrasies. The tone of melancholic whimsy. The frequent detours into magic realism. The loving devotion to the handmade over the slick and polished. The presence of Audrey Tatou in particular seems specifically engineered to provoke a chorus of cooler-than-thou Internet smart-asses to point fingers and shout “Twee!” “Twee!”

Twee, clouded?

I hold Gondry in high esteem and unashamedly enjoy his all the quirks listed above, but at some point you have to ask: Is Gondry ever going to come back down to Earth?  Currently Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sits in the middle of Gondry’s filmography as a glorious anomaly... [more]

Click to read more ...


Link in Sixty Seconds

Carpetbagger Oscar envelopes get a makeover. Er... it looks like McDonalds is handing out the prizes.
AV Club Michel Gondry is adapting Philip K Dick's Ubik. I predict that before the end of civilization every sentence Philip K Dick ever wrote will be put on the big screen.
The Wrap Adrianne Palicki will be TV's next Wonder Woman. I wish nothing but happiness and success for everyone who has ever been on Friday Night Lights. I do.
Just Jared another collaboration for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. They just won't stop!
i09 Zach Snyder's Superman may be in trouble.
fourfour "wagon wheel watusi" Oh, Burlesque.
My New Plaid Pants the moment I fell for.... Andrew Garfield
Scott Feinberg is still pushing Melissa Leo for the gold. Here are some statistics to consider.

Finally Empire Online is hosting a "Done in 60 Seconds" contest in which readers have submitted one minute films spoofing some of hte greatest movies of all time. There are 20 finalists, one is even made by a regular Film Experience reader (who alerted me to the contest -Congrats!). Quite a few of them show real ingenuity but my favorites are the ones that don't merely recreate but remold the film in some other image. There's a spoof of The Terminator that cleverly uses Toy Story characters. It obviously cost nothing but, then, neither did the original Terminator. Ghost is similarly lowfi with teddy bears but totally works and I loved the voicework even if it did seem to be taking its cue from those 30 second bunny films.  The Wizard of Oz short is really more of a redo of a trailer of a hugely popular 90s movie (I'll leave you to guess which one). And there's two Social Network films. One of them (contestant #9) is an amusing send up of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher rather than the movie itself.

Did you like Benjamin Button? Do you wanna go back to that?

It totally had me giggling. The last musical cue is hilarious. So, that's the one I voted for. Are you going to vote?

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