Saturday, September 23, 2006

Two reviews in one!

These are as-yet unedited. If you are lonely enough and have a careful eye, maybe you'll notice some minor changes to these in the coming few days. If you do and you happen to tell me, then you get a cookie.

The Science of Sleep

“Guy’s making me smell the sperm!” Stéphane’s coworker shouts in one of many dream/reality moments in The Science of Sleep.

Michel Gondry’s latest film explores Stéphane’s (ever-gorgeous Gael García Bernal) inability to separate his dreams from reality and his borderline-creepy love for his neighbor Stéphanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

At times The Science of Sleep becomes a film about film narrative. It can be quite impossible to separate the dream sequences from the fictional reality, thus adding to the fun of picking apart a Gondry movie.

Visually the film is phenomenal. The animation stands out as possibly some of the best CGI in years. It bears many similarities to the kind seen in some of Jan Svankmajer’s films, only it’s much less grotesque and more integral to the narrative (seriously, has anyone actually seen Lunacy?).

If you are able to hear through the obnoxiously loud hipster guffaws that come up every three seconds in the theater, then pay close attention to Stéphane’s exaltations for Stéphanie—they can reveal a much darker aspect of a bright and superficially self-aware cute indie film.

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon

In 2003 a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during the American bombing of Iraq. This is the lions’ story.

Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) writes his story from the lions’ perspective as they trample their way through the rubble while, as the birds claim, the sky is falling. While a simple story, Pride manages to comment on a controversial conflict in the spirit of Watership Down and Animal Farm—through talking animals.

At times Vaughan’s agenda can be a little overbearing, like the constant debate over the definition of “freedom.” In one scene, a group of US soldiers stand over several bullet-ridden animals. One asks if they’re wild in Iraq, and another tells him, “No, not wild. They’re free.” Cue the bird flying into the smoke.

Pride may not be worth the $20, but it’s at least worth reading for free in some crevice of the bookstore. It’s quick and it makes you think, but it’s nothing to go fanboy over. But then again, what is?


Moxie Hart said...

I want to see The Science of Sleep sooooo badly.

Moxie Hart said...

Have you read Marjane Satrapi's new book, Chicken with Plums?

John said...

I haven't yet. I believe it's coming out on October 3, which I'm super-excited for. Is it already out or something? I think I need to run to a bookstore and find out!