Hey guys, feeling kind of crappy lately, sleepwise. I know, what else is new? It's just kind of a bummer because even when I do sleep, it's all restless with weird and intense dreams and I just wake up tired. Anyone ever been through something similar? How do you deal? I'm about ready to give most anything I try, this shit's getting old and really starting to mess with my state of mind.
Anyway, not too long ago during guest week, me and the boydude went out and saw The Illusionist so I can at least say I saw everything in one of the Oscar categories (That would be animation for the fellow insomniacs who are not with it this evening).
So, a script from the great, departed Jacques Tati in a movie by Sylvain Chomet, who brought us The Triplets of Belville. Well, this pretty much has to be good. And it is. Duh.
*sound of the Cynic being beaten for not learning her lesson about puns*
Ahem, anyway, the movie follows our Illusionist, an old man sliding into elderly. He is a skilled magician and stage performer, but it's somewhere in the neighborhood of the late fifties and no one really gives a flying crap about stage magic anymore, at least not when there are gyrating British rockers to be had.
So the Illusionist and his psychotic white rabbit are forced into cruddier and cruddier venues until he ends up in a remote Scottish village, performing for the locals and accidentally entrancing a young inn-keeper girl named Alice.
Ok, so I was informed beforehand about the issues with Alice in the other reviews of the film that I read before seeing it. She's kind of shallow and really dumb. Her whole deal is that she's supposed to be this naive little highland girl and when the Illusionist makes the mistake of taking pity on her and buying her new shoes, she assumes he magicked them out of thin air. She is all like :O and runs away from home to travel with him, expecting him to make all her dreams come true via supreme magical powers. Maybe I'm just cynical (ok, more than maybe) but seriously, who's that ignorant of the laws of reality? Maybe if she was like, eight. Maybe. But she's at least a teenager-ish. She looks around twelve at first but once she starts sucking the old man dry for dresses and heels, she begins to look much older, which I'm sure is a metaphor but it just makes her belief that his magic is real that much less believable. And if she doesn't believe he's really magical? Then Alice is playing him and kind of a bitch.
Ok, let me back up here. This is a good movie. Really, it's just Alice that bugs me. I'll talk about the good things now: this movie is gorgeous. Just incredible. It's like a watercolor painting come to life. You could spend the whole movie looking at the backgrounds and the setting.
So the Illusionist and Alice live happy-ishly in a boarding house full of performers, like creepy puppeteers, tumbling triplets and an extremely depressed clown. The Illusionist continues to get less work but still tries to keep Alice's innocence sheltered by getting her shiny things. He has to get an extra job, with hilarious results. The plot is sort of episodic in a nature, which does make it drag a bit around the middle, despite the short running time. Also because there is practically no dialogue, which is impressive in the emotion and characterization they are able to get across without it, but it really does seem make long scenes that much longer.
Anyway, it all leads up to a final bunch of scenes where Alice and the Illusionist both must come to terms with the real world and where their lives have taken them. As it's been said multiple times, this is where the film shines brightest. The animation is breathtaking, the music poignantly pretty and the ending itself heartbreaking. Even with Alice being Alice. This is a fantastic little film, clever and sweet, and man if there isn't some stiff competition in the animated category this year. Pixar will most likely win as it always does. But damn, this movie deserves it too. The Illusionist pulls four and a half catapults out of five out of his hat.
This is Sugary Cynic, asking "is this your card? No? It's a fish? ...Wrong pocket" 'Night!
Roger Ebert on the film: "Chomet has drawn it with a lightness and beauty worthy of an older, sadder Miyazaki story. Animation suits it. Live action would overwhelm its delicate fancy with realism"
Oh yeah, that's why I like Ebert. I forget sometimes.