a town called panic (stéphane aubier, vincent patar, 2009)

Another movie for "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." Week 33 is called "Current Host Week".

Well, friends, we've reached the end of our journey, and what better way to end it off then with a little self indulgence. I was hesitant to do a list of this nature last year as I hadn't felt I'd earned it and I didn't even have a list like this made. But this year, I think I'm ready. So, take a look at the films that personally drive my love for the medium, and enjoy the final week of the challenge. To everyone who made it this far, thank you for participating, as I really couldn't do it without you all. Have a great summer, and I'll see you next Season!

This week's challenge is to watch a film from my I Like These Ones list.

A Town Called Panic is a fun and silly stop-motion animated film from Belgium. It's narrative defies logic, but in a good way ... you never know what will happen next, only that it will be absurd. It's not chaotic ... you could make a timeline of what you see ... but the connections are dreamlike. Once you quit worrying about it making sense, A Town Called Panic is a delight.

It helps if you don't mind a movie with characters named Horse, Cowboy, Indian, Policeman, Mailman, and the like. The characters are "played" by toy-like figurines, and everything is treated as if it were normal, which I suppose it is in their world. Aubier and Patar aren't looking for the emotional tug of the Toy Story franchise ... they're just having fun.

The movie lasts 75 minutes, and it actually seems a bit long. The looniness can be overwhelming. But, as Roger Ebert wrote, "Because the plot is just one doggoned thing after another without the slightest logic, there's no need to watch it all the way through at one sitting. If you watch it a chapter or two at a time, it should hold up nicely." It's the kind of movie an adult and a kid can watch and enjoy together. And there's even a character named Steven! #964 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.


oscar run ix: girl with a pearl earring (peter webber, 2003)

Leaving the theater after watching Girl With a Pearl Earring, I overheard someone saying they were glad they'd read the book, because otherwise they wouldn't have known what was going on in the movie. Not having read the book, I can only say I think I knew what was going on just fine. It's a fairly straightforward movie about people in a time when to be straightforward was apparently forbidden. Everything in the movie is sublimated, and the film itself wears its low-key aura as if it expected an award for authenticity. Indeed, the movie is nominated for three Oscars, all of which are about the reproduction of Vermeer's time and place (art direction, cinematography, costume design). Beware a movie that gets many nominations, but none for best picture, or direction, or writing, or acting.

The above is too harsh on Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is slow-moving but not boring, low-key but not without points to be made, and which gets the job done in 95 minutes. Fine actors like Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson give themselves over to the director's vision, meaning that Firth plays Vermeer as a man given to pregnant silences and meaningful stares, while Johansson plays the titular Girl as a young woman given to know-your-place silences and meaningful stares. Both actors have been seen to better advantage elsewhere, but they fit properly into this film, and the look of the film is indeed Oscar-worthy.