Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IFFB 2010 Closing Night: Micmacs

The news hit Twitter on Monday - Saturday Night would not be the closing night film; for whatever reason, it wasn't available. Fortunately, they had lined up a replacement: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new comedy, Micmacs. The news was incredibly well received - my favorite response was "Verdict: Upgrade!" - and I suspect that very few people who had purchased tickets for Saturday Night opted for a refund.

It's an example of just how completely crazy running a festival must be - you lock up your closing night film, use it in advertising, etc., and you must be pretty darn certain that it will play, only to have the rug ripped out from under you mid-festival, while you're busy trying to make sure that guests are happy, the hundreds of people in line outside the Somerville Theatre know which auditorium they're supposed to go into, and now you've got to get on the phone with studios and distributors and try to book a new movie on two days' notice - and not just any movie, but one impressive enough to be the closing night film for a pretty decent festival. That's crazy, and it impresses the heck out of me that they managed to pull it off.

(Also, nice job on throwing only the softest of back-handed disses to Saturday Night. I think that the festival staff maybe once said "it's better" rather than "it's even better.)

Makes my grumbling about having to take a taxi because my errands in Harvard Square took just long enough for me to see the 66 bus I needed to take pull away look pretty pathetic, so I will save my rants about how taking cabs drives me insane beyond all reason for another time.

And now, three weeks after this eight-day festival, it is good to be done with the reviews... Wait, what's this? Three or four screeners that I specifically asked for and that the producers paid postage on on...? Well, at least their details won't be falling out the back of my head as I try to get to reviewing them.

Micmacs à tire-larigot (Micmacs)

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 28 April 2010 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (Independent Film Festival of Boston)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's newest film took a few days to grow on me, but that's the nature of Jeunet: The years between new films and intricate detail are often associated with weighty, "important" films, but Jeunet has a light touch at his best; his biggest mis-steps have come when trying to tell bigger stories. Here, he's mostly just having fun, and while that doesn't seem like much, it makes Micmacs a joy to watch.

Fun movies don't usually start with someone getting shot in the head, but that's what happens to Bazil (Dany Boon), a video store clerk who chooses the wrong moment to step outside. The doctors decide that the immediate risk of removing the bullet outweighs the fact that it could kill him at any time, so he's let go, but once he comes out of his coma, his job and apartment are gone. A group of misfits living in a nearby garbage dump take him in, though, and soon go along with his scheme to strike back at the munitions manufacturers who made both the bullet in his head and the land mine that killed his father.

Yes, the lovable misfits really do live in a garbage dump, albeit an unusually tidy one; Jeunet and co-writer Guillaume Laurant are not exactly hiding a metaphor there. They don't feel the need to shout it at the audience, though there are moments when the whimsy is pushed back. The extended flashback to Bazil's father, for instance, has a veneer of childish sentimentality to it, but is serious enough to give Bazil a layer of melancholy even though you could otherwise argue that getting shot in the head was a good thing for him (it led him to wonderful friends). And while there is a serious idea or two underneath the whimsy - merchants of death too concerned with one-upsmanship to care about the effects of their business - Jeunet never loses sight of his primary goal being to entertain an audience.

Full review at EFC.

1 comment:

Harry Hilders said...

Your review made me curious, I will watch it one of these days :)