Thursday, May 28, 2020
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 

 

 
 
click to go to advertisers website
 
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
A Town Called Panic an exhilarating cinematic joy
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

A Town Called Panic
Now Playing


A Town Called Panic owes a debt of gratitude to Luis Buñel, Stanley Kubrick, Tex Avery, and Barbara Peters. Barbara Peters? How did she make this list of diverse and distinguished film talent? More on that later.

A Town Called Panic is a feature-length stop-motion animated film based on a Belgian TV series with a cult following. The film screened at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals in 2009 and finds its way into extremely limited release here in the U.S. at the start of 2010. In fact, A Town Called Panic holds the unique distinction of being the only stop-motion animated feature film ever to screen at Cannes.

A Town Called Panic stars Horse and his excitable sidekicks Indian and Cowboy. Horse is the intelligent leader of the trio who gets caught up in the buffoonery of his buddies. Indian is only slightly less idiotic than the bottom-feeding, cowardly Cowboy. They live in a bucolic village that consists of their unconventional household (I wonder what rhetorical gemstones Pat Robertson would drop regarding their living situation?), the neighbors Steven and Jeanine, the neighbor's farm animals, a postman, and a policeman.

Things get rolling as Indian and Cowboy decide to build Horse a barbeque grill for his birthday (no word on what Horse planned on grilling). Due to some clever slapstick oversight, Indian and Cowboy accidently order 50 million (instead of 50) bricks.

Going from a bungled birthday gift to being in the bowels of the earth, submerged in an aquatic alternate universe, and trekking through expansive arctic landscapes aboard a rusty penguin research robot is simply de rigueur cartoon fun, with roots stretching back to Avery and Méliès, and filmmakers Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar do it with style. When the laughs are this inventive and come this fast, you won't have time to think about narrative plausibility.

This is classic situational comedy. Aubier and Patar are not re-inventing the wheel. However, the gleeful absurdity, clever sight gags, and modern references keep everything feeling fresh.

The painstaking process of stop-motion animation turned out nicely. Hundreds of figures were used in a shoot lasting over 260 days. The results are not as artistically satisfying as the animation in The Triplets of Belleville or Persepolis, but the art direction is distinctive and serves up the sight gags with verve.

Despite all my lofty musings, the best reason to see A Town Called Panic is for the pure exhilarating joy the filmmakers bring. It's not about a message (though I'm pretty sure they are making fun of Americans somehow); it is about absurd characters that keep making the same mistakes and end up in all sorts of crazy scrapes and inescapable cliffhangers. A Town Called Panic is just plain fun.

Oh yeah, the Barbara Peters thing: She directed the Roger Corman production of Humanoids from the Deep in 1980. Check out A Town Called Panic and you'll see what I mean.


Cera channels Belmondo in Youth in Revolt
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Youth in Revolt
Opening January 8


Michael Cera is a terrific comedic actor with superb timing. He wields the pregnant pause like a samurai slices warm butter. And just when you think his career has been compromised beyond repair due to typecasting as the awkward teenage nice guy he goes and channels Jean-Paul Belmondo in the better than average teen romp Youth in Revolt.

Nick (Cera) is sixteen, a budding intellectual, and the product of California suburban malaise. On a trip to Northern California, Nick falls for Sheeni (Portia Doubleday), the pretty blonde offspring of the worst kind of born again Christians (i.e. ones that live in double-decker trailer homes).

The teenagers find they have a lot in common. Namely, a love of literature, Frank Sinatra, and everything French, especially French movies. They also share a healthy disdain for their parents.

As Nick heads home to suburbia, he realizes the only way for the lovers to be together is to get his dad a job in Ukiah and get kicked out of his mom's house. But Nick is too nice, too morally centered, to do the nasty kind of stuff a kid must do to get kicked out. Thus Nick's alter-ego Francois Dillinger, a suave car thief with an evil streak and no capacity for remorse, is born.

Okay, Cera doesn't capture the extreme sexual energy that Belmondo oozed onto the screen in 1960. I mean, how could he? Belmondo's fast talking car thief is the sexiest male character ever to grace the cinema (and I stand by that superlative).

Still, Cera takes a fun turn as Francois, alter ego to nice guy teen, Nick Twisp, and he takes a baby step toward playing a different character than we saw in Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno, and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. He's also pretty cute in skinny white Euro-trash pants and sockless white loafers.

Portia Doubleday may have the best actor name I've heard in a while, but she gets eclipsed by Cera and the ensemble of veterans including Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Fred Willard, and the ever irascible Steve Buscemi. Doubleday is fine; she just has little to do other than be a pretty prick-tease who dreams in French and can't make up her mind between two vastly different boys.

High praise goes to the bevy of veterans in flat thankless roles. They make the most of what they're offered. Willard had me rolling as the aged pinko commie activist who aids and abets illegal immigrants. His tripping on mushrooms scene should go down in history. Buscemi is always fun to watch in everything he does. We haven't seen enough of him lately and I'd prefer to see him in better material, but he takes what could have been a cliché and turns it into something more.

This is a decent film that's a tad bit smarter than most in the genre (hey, two characters know who Jean-Paul Belmondo is). Cera is a great actor within his narrow element and could be interesting in other roles as he gets older. For now, I encourage him to make a bazillion dollars doing as many insipid teen flicks as he can line up before that cherubic face grows whiskers and lines and his shtick starts to look like Woody Allen redux.


Tom Ford: A Single Man's other man
The fashionista-turned-filmmaker dishes on his directorial debut, the loss he endured to make it and why it's more than a Gay movie

by Chris Azzopardi - Special to the SGN

All you know about Tom Ford isn't it. The style-savvy man we're familiar with through the fashion-world lens - as Gucci's former creative director for 10 years - is more than that debonair hunk-and-a-half. Much of Ford's unknown facets are in his directorial debut, A Single Man - award bait starring Colin Firth as George, a suicidal Gay man suffering from his longtime partner's death.

Ford spoke with us about reactions to his first film, what the movie says about him personally and why - as a Gay man - he'd have no problem taking a whiff of a woman.

Chris

Azzopardi: The film has picked up numerous award nods and lots of Oscar momentum. You're floating on Cloud 9 now, aren't you?

Tom Ford: I'm on Cloud 9 because everyone has responded really almost unanimously positively. That's a great feeling, when you know that you've created something that speaks to a lot of people.

Azzopardi: Is this attention giving you a push to pursue film further?

Ford: Well, I'm so stubborn that I was going to do more no matter what. [Laughs.] I never intended to make just one film; I always intended that this one would be my first. So even had I really failed, I would be doing it again. I can't wait to get started on the next one.

Azzopardi: Despite the universal, humanistic quality of the film, it still felt pretty Gay, though you don't like to call it that, right?

Ford: I hate categorizing things. I wanted to depict a Gay relationship in a very matter-of-fact way, and that was one of the things that always drew me to Christopher Isherwood's writing, because when he wrote this book in 1964, it was a landmark piece of Gay literature. It was so matter-of-fact. There was no issue. I've lived with the same man for 23 years, and much of the film is taken from my own life. I will have someone still say to me, "your lifestyle." And I say, "My lifestyle? What is that?" I live with somebody I love. We make dinner at home together. We lie around and read books and watch television and walk our dogs and go on vacation and argue occasionally - that's a lifestyle? That's what I meant. That's what I wanted to depict - just a very straightforward love story.

Azzopardi: While making the film, did you think about how you would react if you were in George's shoes?

Ford: I was in George's shoes, but it wasn't over the loss of a lover. It was really the loss of a career, and I had made a major shift and left something that I had been doing for 15 years. All of a sudden, I had no identity and I had no voice in contemporary culture, and it fell at a time when I had what is really a very classic midlife crisis. I was lucky enough to have everything early in life, including a great relationship and everything the material world can offer - a successful career, lots of money, a great life, friends - and yet I couldn't find a certain kind of happiness. When I left Gucci, it just really pushed me into a kind of tailspin because I had no way to express myself, and I was really grieving that. That was my relationship to the book.

Azzopardi: So reading Christopher's book later on in life influenced you differently than when you first read it?

Ford: Oh yeah. Reading it when I was young, I was living in L.A. and I was single and I fell in love with George. I loved him as a character, and it was so perfectly written I really imagined I might just run into him somewhere. And I did run into him in his real-life form as Christopher Isherwood. When I reread the book three and a half years ago, I was relating to what George was going through and to his somewhat suicidal thoughts, because he couldn't figure out why he's living, what's the point to life, what is this all about, why do we struggle every day. I could certainly relate to a man who came to a point where he could not see his future and he questioned the meaning of life.

Azzopardi: Did you have the idea of turning it into a film the first time you read it?

Ford: Oh no. Not at all. At that time I was an actor and I worked quite a lot in television commercials, but that was about all I did. Most of the time I went to nightclubs and did all the things that people when they're 20 years old usually do. [Laughs.] So, no, I wasn't thinking at all about making film. It was really maybe about 12 years ago that I started to really become serious about making a film, and then when I left Gucci almost six years ago, I opened my production company and decided this was the time to do it.

Azzopardi: How did being a fashion maven - and having that aesthetic eye - assist in the direction of the film, especially the art direction?

Ford: I'm used to framing an image through still photography. But what helped the most was the way I'm used to working, which is with a large group of people, making very quick decisions and creating an environment where everybody feels they can give you - and wants to give you - their absolute best, and then in leading and guiding all of these people in achieving your ultimate vision or point of view. And that is exactly the same in film as it is in fashion. And my age helped me. A lot of first-time directors are in their 20s and I'm - I hate to say it [Laughs.] - nearing 50. I've been around. I've got a certain amount of experience, and if someone threw a tantrum, which nobody did, I would've known how to handle it.

Azzopardi: One of the morals of this movie is to cherish the little things in life. For you, what are those?

Ford: A lot of them are in the film. When I was writing the scene with the hustler in the parking lot, my little smooth fox terrier, which is in the movie, was curled up on my lap. One of the greatest pleasures of my entire life is my dogs, and I've always had dogs going back to when I was a little kid. I really thought about the things in life that I'm going to miss [when I die], that I'm going to want to take with me. And they're never material things. You're not going to wish that you worked more. You're not going to die thinking about a car you had in 1970-whatever. You're going to think about the connections that you had with other people. The moment in life where you felt truly connected to someone.

Azzopardi: A lot of people didn't foresee you taking this path and making a film. What are some of your other hidden talents? Besides making a convincing straight man on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Ford: [Laughs.] I wasn't trying to be a straight man on the cover of Vanity Fair. If you're a Gay man, why can't you sniff the back of a beautiful girl? I'm completely Gay, but I have a lot of women friends who, sometimes, I want to touch because they're beautiful and they smell great and I love them.

I don't think most people knew that I'm extremely romantic, and I'm extremely emotional and insecure and shy. I kind of always pose in the same way. I don't let a lot of people very far into my life. I've always kind of presented a surface veneer, which works for fashion.

A lot of people maybe thought that's all there was to me. I have a very good friend that I've had for about 20 years, and he said he's always thought of me as a beautiful lacquered box from the '20s with a platinum handle, but he had no idea there was anything inside the box. [Laughs.]




Campy Xanadu a true pleasure
------------------------------
Gay Bingo 2010 kick-off a staggering success
------------------------------
Best of Travel
------------------------------
Seattle Spit brings capacity crowd to Wildrose
------------------------------
Fresh Air benefit an evening of outrageous entertainment
------------------------------
Jihad Jones a smart, tight tasty one-act
------------------------------
Hunter Gatherers an outrageously dark farce
------------------------------
Work-in-progress play carries strong message
------------------------------

------------------------------
Prop 8 Trial Re-enactment
------------------------------
Trovatore returns to golden age of singing
------------------------------
A Town Called Panic an exhilarating cinematic joy
------------------------------
Cera channels Belmondo in Youth in Revolt
------------------------------
Tom Ford: A Single Man's other man
------------------------------
Native Hawaiian artists, Phoenix and Kathy Griffin kick off 2010
------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------
Vive le Phoenix!
------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
------------------------------

------------------------------
Book Marks
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Surprise disappointment at Seattle Symphony
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Deadly Sins steamy dance night = Lust
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2009

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News