Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

There is so much going on in this film I actually don’t know where to start.

Perhaps by saying that I liked it, though I didn’t love it. Then, I’m not generally one for animations so it must have been doing something good.

I liked the way that it acknowledged what even peripheral audiences know about Spider-Man, and so zipped happily through the back-story where necessary to keep thing moving along. I liked the way it captured the feeling of a comic book, with panels, sound effects and dots in the images. I liked that it did make me laugh.

Perhaps there were one (or two) too many Spider-people, as I felt that the little Japanese girl and her spider robot(?) got a bit sidelined towards the end, and the pig didn’t seem to have that much to do. (By the way, there’s a pig?) And I think if you are a big fan of the comic books then you will obviously recognise many more of the characters than I did. Also, even though I was definitely watching the 2D version, I sometimes felt like I had forgotten to put my 3D glasses on. I’ve read that the filmmakers deliberately did this to focus on the character at the centre of the screen, but it did make me squint and feel like I was missing something.

Anomalisa 

First thing to say is what beautiful animation! Every detail has been acutely observed – the way fingers curls around a cigarette, a hand opening a medication bottle – even the slight rise and fall of the chest as a character breathes gently. So, so exquisite.

I’ve seen comments that this film’s protagonist made this less enjoyable that it could have been. And while he is no saint, I was content to spend time with him because his unpleasantness and unhappiness stems from a very fragile sense of self, despite his outward success. Which we see peeping through from time to time.

So I liked this, and was happy watching it, except for the final 15 minutes. It’s not often I say a film could do to be longer, but it kind of hurtled towards a conclusion and didn’t seem to balance with the rest of the story. I felt there was a bit more to learn about Michael before we said our goodbyes.

The Congress

Robin Wright plays an actress called Robin Wright whose last role is to allow her image to be digitised and used by the film company as they wish.

What I admire very much about this film are the interesting questions it raises about image and longevity, given the current possibilities with CGI and film making. I also like that it looks at how our future selves may seek to deal with life’s difficulties, instead of turning to drugs/alcohol.

But at the point where the live action changes to animation for the first time, I have to admit I was lost for quite a while. There seemed to be a disconnect between the two parts which was only partially resolved for me by the end of the film. I came away with the feeling that there are two really interesting issues here which the film makers have forced into one film, when actually they would have been worthy of exploration individually.

But you have to admire the attempt to do something different.

L’écume des jours – Mood Indigo

Whimsy is a word I can’t abide, and Michel Gondry is a director whose films haven’t captivated me to date. The two may or may not be related. Add in getting-too-old-for-this-kookiness Audrey Tautou and I-always-have-a nasty-smell-under-my-nose Romain Duris, and I was having serious doubts about seeing this film in the first place.

Despite all of this, Mood Indigo turned out to be my favourite Michel Gondry film to date – not that the bar was ever very high.

So eccentric Duris lives in a quirky world and has a fantastical romantic connection with kooky Tautou, until their curious relationship turns sour and their wacky world is turned on its head. Strangeness aside, it’s a nice little story with some great use of colour, and a nice turn from Omar Sy.

What’s puzzling is that the cinema billed the running time as 125 minutes, yet it was all over in an hour and a half. Staff couldn’t clarify why this was, and I wonder if the longer version would have been a bit more satisfying, or whether I would have been overwhelmed in a world of whimsy.

Best quit while I’m ahead, I suppose.

Chico y Rita

Fictional story set against a factual background – Havana and New York in the 1940s/1950s.  It’s a really lovely, simple tale of star-crossed lovers – a singer and a musician – looking for their big break.

The fact that the film is an animation allows it to get away with just a touch of melodrama, but doesn’t make it too childish.

Best of all, though – the music is blimmin’ fantastic!  Worth it for the soundtrack alone.