Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Micmacs, though visually stunning, is far less obviously pleasing than Waking Sleeping Beauty. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, also the director of much-beloved Amelie and completely confusing other movies such as Delicatessen and City of Lost Children, is an odd bird. The screening I went to was supposed to have a post-film Q & A but I declined to go; my friend Fran told me to beware-- he can be pretty mean. Lo and behold, when introducing the film, he told a bunch of the audience to switch seats-- they were sitting too far away to "appreciate it". He seemed jovial but a little crazy, something that resonated with the tone of his films. Although Amelie has been on my top-5 favorite movies since I was 15, I just couldn't put my heart into any of his other films. I even fell asleep during City of Lost Children-- something I rarely ever do during films (although I was with my high school boyfriend at the time, and watching a movie is always tricky when 18 and in those circumstances). Maybe it's because Amelie is so good that everything else pales in comparison. Maybe I just don't understand his technique... a little grotesque, a little odd, a little... sexist?
Micmacs is severe anti-war political commentary masked as a surrealistic fictional feature film. A man who owns a video store is accidentally shot in the head. He is miraculously saved from dying, except the bullet has remained in his brain and he could pretty much die at any time. Cheerful, no? Returning home from the hospital, he has no job and no belongings, and finds a group of misfits who live in a junkyard and make beautiful things out of trash. The leader of the troupe is played by Dominique Pinon, whose pug-like but generally likeable demeanor is seen in every Jeunet film I can recall. Soon, however, the lead character realizes that the makers of the bullet that shot him and the makers of the bomb that killed his father years ago have their headquarters in Paris, and Micmacs soon becomes a revenge story, with the lead character attempting to get the two companies to destroy each other-- a passive aggressive, but brilliant, tactical strategy.
However, I had serious problems with the film. Its political aspect is quite shallow-- a Fahrenheit 9/11-type banter that seems outdated. There's the sense that Jeunet, although well-intentioned, is out of his intellectual comfort zone; Jeunet is best when confronting personal tragedies, or the little awkward and endearing moments of everyday life, qua Amelie. Taking on such large-scale events seems insincere. Additionally, the film is racist and mysogynist; although masquerading as feminist, the film's female characters are always secondary and only serve to help the protagonist males. They are constantly taken advantage of and slapped on the behind in characteristic French misogynist fashion; as I've constantly reiterated in my travel blog during my study abroad days in Paris, although the French are quite modern politically, their sexual politics are waaaay 20th century, and regardless of intentions their impulsive distaste for Arab cultures runs deep, and shows in Micmacs. To enjoy Micmacs is to revel in political incorrectness, something that is enjoyable for some but just plain uncomfortable to others.
Next up, SATC2 (even though it's currently at 0%... but I'm female, I have to... right?), perhaps Babies or perhaps Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The summer movie season always lags in quality but I'm determined to see every damn good film there is to see! Chicago cinema, here I come!