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When you think of revenge movies you generally picture a guy with a gun
taking a swift and direct action against everyone who has ever wronged
him. Guns are a theme here but not because our lead character, Bazil,
uses one to fight injustice but because two prominent French arms
dealers are responsible for his predicament. Bazil's father was killed
by a landmine and Bazil himself is unwittingly shot by a stray bullet
during a drive by shooting. Though he survives, the bullet remains in
his brain causing him regular discomfort and meaning that he might die
at any moment. This adds an underlying tension to the fairly subtle
story as Bazil, out of work with nowhere to live, finds comfort with a
group of fascinating sideshow style vagabonds who eventually become his
allies in his battle against the greed, murder and manipulation of
powerful arms dealers.
Aside from a truly riveting series of sly, witty and purposeful acts by this band of revengers, the film is also striking in its beauty with every scene presenting an intense array of colours fusing with incredibly intricate and detailed backdrops. These prevail particularly with the 'sideshow' who recycle scrap in to wonderful creations fresh from a fifties cartoon short. At one point Bazil sees a segment of an old cartoon where a character shoots another in the head. This depicts the correlation between the real world here and an animated fantasy-land with the epic and extremely clever revenge plan played out in much the same way that Sylvester chases Tweetie Pie or Wyle E.Coyote stalks Road Runner.
The films only fault is that sometimes is all almost too imaginative, barely allowing the mind to recollect what has happened before twenty or so other things occur, each steeped in a tranquil haze teasing the viewer's eyes like a mirrored tunnel encompassing a silent disco. Wonderfully indulgent movie, a treat for the eyes, ears, nose and mind.
I saw 21 films at the 2009 Toronto Film Fest, and while many of them were good, this one was the best by a wide margin. If you've liked any of Jeunet's movies in the past, you can put this one down as a sure thing (provided that your favorite isn't ALIEN RESURRECTION). All of the Jeunet elements you love -- colorful, quirky characters (in this case, a whole gang of them), other-worldliness, incredible color schemes, chain reactions, etc. -- in a new concoction that doesn't feel repetitive or derivative in the slightest. As a sympathetic character with a gift for physical comedy, leading man Dany Boon can hold a candle to Chaplin and Keaton. It's simply a masterpiece ... the kind of film that will keep me coming back to this festival forever.
Jean-Paul Jeunet, director of "Amélie" and "A Very Long Engagement"
returns with "Micmacs", the story of a lonely misfit named Bazil (Dany
Boon), who after being accidentally injured in a shoot-out, is adopted
by a band of other misfits. Together, they take on a band of
arms-manufacturers whose products respectively injured Bazil and killed
Bazil's father, by triggering tension between them.
As with previous films, Jeunet has produced a world of slightly-distorted reality, much like a dream. Although it does begin somewhat slowly, this is hardly a flaw, and the eventual escalation of the tension between the two forces of evil is truly winning. The ending, which I won't elaborate upon, is also delightfully funny.
There is one slight issue that I did have, which is not too big and actually has little to do with the film itself, but is still worthy of mention. As someone with a degree in French, I did find that the English subtitles were in some scenes passable yet not excellent replications of the original. Equally, I found it quite annoying that the subtitles provided in the British cinema version were clearly done for American audiences. I have nothing against American English, but it would have been nice for us over here in the UK to have had our own subtitles as opposed to a loan of the American ones. Yet enough with that groaning; "Micmacs" is a great near-perfect little film and I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
I saw this film in France today and it's a very good surprise... I
didn't know the plot of the story so the beginning was a little
surprising, but gets quickly to the general atmosphere of the movie. A
little crazy, but very well filmed, colorful, very good cast. Dany Boon
is finally a great actor. I like idea to laugh at the weapon industry.
This film made me think of Slevin (those who have seen will understand).
If you know Jean-Pierre Jeunet's filmography you can blindly jump in. It's difficult to do quality and quantity, but when you see his work you have no doubt about what he choose.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I will be honest - I am a huge Jeunet fan but I found this film to be one of his weakest. This is more like City of Lost Children than Delicatessen. Visually of course there are plenty of nice shots, it's always interesting to look at. However, the big problem is the very linear story - there is no major drama here, we don't get to identify that much with the protagonists which is a huge shame, we just get to watch a series of events leading up to the revenge but even the villains are not fleshed out that well. This film would have been so much better if the characters had more time to develop. If you like Jeunet I guess this is a must see, however a lot of people are going to wonder what the fuss is all about. Overall I would rate this as one of his weakest works by a long way and I feel really disappointed in having to acknowledge that.
By the director of Delicatessen and Amelie, this is closer to the
earlier one. It's that mad jumble of images and daring camera-work
again. And again it turns out to be a film quite unlike the one you
were expecting. I'm sure someone has said this somewhere already, but
it's worth repeating. I'm talking about Fellini on acid.
After an electrifying prologue in which our hero is orphaned, the screen explodes into a big-budget retro Hollywood opening and the story begins.
Almost right away our man Bazil, played by star of the French screen Danny Boon, is wounded by a stray bullet, losing his job after a long spell in hospital. He's saved from oblivion by a family of freaky misfits who live underground, surviving by rescuing the junk society throws out and giving it new life.
What Bazil really wants is to get his own back on the two arms manufacturers who messed up his life, and his new friends are the perfect mates for carrying out such a scheme. They include a human cannonball, a numbers genius, a circus contortionist and a robot inventor, and their plots are just as wacky as they are.
Talking of plots, the story, packed though it is with fantastic imagery as if it were a story about bad adults written by very clever children, races along regardless. The scene where Bazil gets shot is itself so much more than a simple zap with a bullet. It's a short film in itself, and the whole thing is full of chunks like that. It really is too much to eat at one sitting, and I would recommend a second look. You'll probably see me there, in the front row, my jaw in my lap.
Micmacs a tire-larigot (2009); Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet;
Starring: Dany Boon, Julie Ferrier, André Dussolier, Dominque Pinon et
The announcement that Jean-Pierre Jeunet was making a new film made me happy and after seeing it I am even happier. Mr. Jeunet has delivered some weird, but exquisite films and this one is no exception. It is like a crossover between his earlier films with Marc Caro and his later ones. There are the whacky characters with weird hobbies from his earlier work, but it's not as dark as those. It actually has a bright atmosphere, like "Amélie".
In the film's opening we see a soldier failing to disarm a mine. Then follows a cut to some apartment in Paris where a phone rings. Some boy's mother picks it up and starts crying, while we're watching the boy's face sadden. Jeunet doesn't need any dialogue to convey what has happened. We move forwards in time and we see the now grown up boy, named Bazil (Dany Boon), working in a video store, watching a classic film. Outside a chase is going on, shots are fired and a pistol falls. Bazil stands up to watch this scene unfold, when he's hit by a bullet. The camera moves in on the TV screen and when that film ends, the Warner Brothers logo appears and "Micmacs" starts. The opening credits remain in the black and white of the finished film and a classic Max Steiner score plays gloriously over the credits, which was great to see once more on the silver screen. In these first minutes alone we already witnessed some of the most creative film-making of the decade. Jeunet has always been a very visual filmmaker and this prologue alone proves that he masters the art of visual storytelling. There's no need for dialogue. After the titles we see a doctor deciding Bazil's faith. Getting the bullet out of his head can permanently paralyze him and leaving it in can cause death at any moment. A coin decides for the latter option. At home he's in for a surprise though: his apartment has been rented out and his job has been taken. Luckily he can get his hat back from some neighboring kids, but that's about all he has left. He decides to earn money by performing on the streets, where he is picked up by Placard. He takes him to a scrap yard where he lives alongside other outcasts of society. These are all weird characters in the best Jeunet fashion. There is Tambouille, who takes care of them like a mother. There's Calculette, the daughter of a carpenter and a sowing lady, who can measure up anything and anyone with one look. There's Petit Pierre, who makes strange puppets from old materials (like a dancing dress). Then there's a person obsessed with his Guinness Book of Records entry for fastest living cannonball, Fracasse. Last but not least, there's the snake lady named Caoutchouc, who can assume all sorts of unnatural stances. And let's not forget Remington, who is part of the gang too. Their little society collects junk, making it into all sorts of sellable things, thus giving it a second life.
On a day though, Bazil finds the weapon manufacturers responsible for making the landmine which killed his father and the bullet which struck him. He decides to get his revenge, but only with the help of the unique talents of his comrades. His plan is weirder than you could possibly imagine. It basically involves getting the two manufacturers to destroy each other. How this is done is truly unique and very funny. They gradually turn up the heat and start irritating both in the name of the other. The way in which the plot moves forward and how the characters interact is typical Jeunet. It's by no means a serious film, but Jeunet delivers his fantasy world with great conviction, yet not taking it too seriously. That's why all of it works and makes perfect sense within this fantasy world and why it's great fun. Jeunet also provides a lovely touch by making some self-references. On multiple occasions we see our main hero driving past a poster of this film and in one scene he's eaves dropping on one of the weapon tycoons, when he accidentally lowers his microphone in the wrong chimney and overhears a scene from "Delicatessen". Another great touch was showing the power of modern day media like Youtube.
All actors played their characters well, with their strange characteristics brought forward in a very believable and endearing manner. Dany Boon shines in a performance reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin. He makes his character funny, touching and sad without the aid of dialogue, relying solely on body language. He does have some dialogue, but it is kept to a minimum. Dominique Pinon is a joy to watch as always. Although we've seen him as strange characters before, he remains fresh and he delivers another great oddball performance as Fracasse. Julie Ferrier plays Caoutchouc, who is in need of love and a great deal of attention and she acts really convincing. During the course of the film she and Bazil fall in love, which is shown very subtle. This makes it a joy to watch and when they finally kiss, it is such a tender moment. The other actors making up the gang are also wonderful, as are the two weapon tycoons. They're played by André Dussolier and Nicolas Marié and they make for very convincing villains with some bizarre habits.
Beautiful visuals and shots add even more, making this film a treat on all levels. It's incredibly funny and sometimes very touching, but above all it made me laugh and smile. The film still delivers a serious message about weaponry though, without it getting lost in the fun and without giving you a guilty feeling about feeling happy afterwards. This film is like a cool summer's breeze: completely refreshing.
The unfortunate well-meaning Frenchman Bazil (Dany Boon) finds himself
wishing ill upon wealthy industrialists Nicholas Thibault de Fenouillet
(André Doussillier) and Francois Marconi (Nicolas Marié), the heads of
two corrupt artillery corporations, who are responsible for both the
tragic death of his father when Bazil was a boy, and the silver bullet
lodged in his head and set to explode at any moment. Assisted by an
abnormally-skilled gang of other military victims, Bazil endeavours to
bring down the two perpetrators and strike a damaging blow at the
The aforementioned plot could potentially deliver a grim and bloodthirsty heist thriller, but French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has other intentions. The opening scene in which the little boy Bazil (here played by the young Noé Boon) witnesses his father being blown to pieces amongst the familiar scenery of sandy deserts and Arab costumes, and the following event of Bazil being accidentally shot in the head by a rogue army officer, carry some suspense and sorrow. These serve as a succinct and sufficiently grave acknowledgement of the atrocities of terrorism, yet thankfully Jeunet has the intelligence and frivolity to drop the solemnity at this point, avoiding overstatement of the point and unleashing riches of wonderfully liberating and delightfully unpretentious entertainment.
Bazil's accomplices, or rather, kind and caring companions, are an extremely lovable and splendidly colourful bunch of very uncomplicated characters. Living in a cosy makeshift home, they support each other using their special talents, which range from the remarkable innovation of an expert inventor (a charming Michel Crémadès) to the incredible flexibility of a charismatic contortionist (Julie Ferrier's infectious spunk matches perfectly with Dany Boon's priceless quirks). Their plans to foil the two villains are extremely creative and utterly unexpected, providing most of the film's subtle and beautifully simplistic humour.
Although the film's simplicity does comes at a cost, dragging it far away from Oscar-worthy greatness. It also results in a slight lag in the middle, where its lack of depth truly takes its toll after the initial burst of exuberance momentarily ceases to resonate. However, this barren stretch of reel precedes and is redeemed by the ultimate serving of ingenious wit and hilarity.
All in all a sumptuous treat for everyone, proving just as effective across the language barriers.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet loves the hell out of being a filmmaker. By this I
mean you can just see the how much he enjoys doing everything that a
director with a keen visual sense and imagination and admiration for
his actors loves doing. Even when I've only somewhat loved his films
(Amelie and Alien 4), you can still see that he's working his own kind
of world into the medium, a vision that is comparable to others but not
really like anyone else in the humor, the directness of the
compositions and lighting, the surreal touches and flamboyant qualities
of the characters, and how fantastical everything is. Micmacs is no
exception, but the key here is that it finds him back in the
crazy-great terrain of his early films; I don't think I've been this
excited about a project he's done since City of Lost Children. And
while this time Micmacs takes place in the 'real' world, I felt like I
couldn't be anywhere else except in a Jeunet picture, right from the
first surprise explosion onward.
It's a tale of outcasts getting payback, or rather one in a group of them who has very good reason to. At the start of the story Bazil (Dany Boon) doesn't have much, as his family sent him away as a kid after his father died unexpectedly from a land mine explosion by a dastardly weapons manufacturer. But when he's shot by a stray bullet that was made by the same company that killed his father (and the bullet, which hits him in the head but somehow he's saved in the nick of time, stays in his brain), he's let go from his job at the video store from being, you know, presumed dead, and he can't get another work anywhere else. But he catches the eye(s) of a group of misfits and other homeless folks living at a junkyard; we even see their billboards... or perhaps this is just an in-joke. Are they they Micmacs a tire-larigot as a real group, or just... well, you can decide.
What we do know is that Bazil keeps on spying on the nefarious businessmen who were responsible for all of his misery, and then some as weapons manufacturers who deal to any buyers who will pay up. He has some tricky ways of doing it, like microphones and just common snooping, though when the others in the Micmacs group - including Francesse (Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon), a ex-cannonball man with a once world record, Tambouille (Yolande Moreau) who is the mother figure of the group, and Caoutchouc (Julie Ferrier) who is a cheery contortionist - find out his plans, they tell him he'll either do it alone, or altogether with the group. They plan their revenge, but not in the usual fashion of typical violence. For these war-mongers and arms dealers they have an intricate plot worthy of Ocean's Eleven: get the two dealers facing off one another (one of which the steely eyed Nicolas Thibault played by André Dussollier with underlying lunacy to him with his prized "objects" like Marilyn Monroe's molar). It's a game of pranksters, but all serious stuff deep down.
I loved practically every moment of this film, as Jeunet engineers it as a madcap comedy with twists and turns every step of the way. He doesn't forget the nature of the crimes these two villains have perpetrated, but then these become mostly foils for him. Micmacs works its wonders like a cartoon with a touch of a carnival or the circus, or for that matter a silent movie comedy where physical comedy becomes a marvel to watch. Just seeing Pinon when he does his 'cannonball' bit, how it backfires from the unreliability of the scrap-metal, and then his come-back, is a highlight in the movie, particularly what happens with the bees. Jeunet's camera rarely takes a beat to slow down, which is joyful to watch. And the music he uses, from Max Steiner's old Hollywood movie compositions (he opens the movie as well with old-time titles), compliments the madness that ensues very nicely. If I wasn't laughing watching the mayhem ensuing from the Micmacs, I had a big smile over my face.
It might be said that Jeunet is an acquired taste. I'm sure that within the first several minutes of this film just as with Delicatessen and City of Lost Children that you'll know if this is your guy or not. He's interested in the absurd and finding that line in a tightrope walk, all while doing creative movements with his camera, as if this is all real to him and he just needs to keep up with these characters, such as "Calculator" and the "Writer", who is used later by Bazil for great comic effect (an arms dealer with a writer's touch). But what's refreshing, as in Jeunet at his best, is the sense of unpredictability. Even with the light air of comedy, things can become intense and uncertain as to what direction a scene will take, or what character will do what next. This isn't to say the movie gets too twisty, only that the film is refreshingly free of conventions, save for those of the comic-book variety of a gang of outsiders getting their payback.
Hell, Jeunet even gives a little time for romance (or mostly implied until near the end) between Bazil and the contortionist. Nothing inspirational passes him by, and he's firing on all cylinders as a filmmaker in his element: hilarious set-ups and pay-offs, outrageously modulated acting, delirious sights like the puppeteer's work and Bazil's (animated!) brain-exercises, and the occasional wild violence, all in the name of good fun. In fact save for a brief moment of eroticism (not so much nudity except for, well, more like an animated bit of business) it would be perfectly fine for children. Micmacs is what is one of the most overused words in adulation: wonderful.
French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet marks his return to the film world
this weekend with Micmacs. For those of you unfamiliar with Jeunet's
previous works, he is probably most known for his sugary goodness of a
film that is Amélie. With Micmacs, Jeunet proves that he has not lost
We begin the film with a group of men in the desert. Each man is dressed in his best bomb-squad attire and is combing a strip of sand for landmines to diffuse. We focus on one man as he carefully locates and unearths a single mine. Just as he begins to diffuse it we are treated to a long shot of all of the men working as our friend blows up. The film zips away from this scene to the wife and son of the departed as they are informed of his death. Through several jump cuts, we are able to see that this event will affect the young boy's entire life. We then fast-forward to a small video rental store in modern day France. Bazil (Dany Boon), the young boy we previously met, is now fully grown and works at the video store. Bazil is presented as a simple and somewhat happy man with a love of film. He amorously recites the lines of the film he watches matching the cadence perfectly. At the same time, a high-speed car chase spills over into his world. As the chase passes by the video store, Bazil runs out to see the commotion. Just as he exits the store, a stray bullet flies out from the action movie taking place outside and catches him in the head, wounding, but not killing him. He is transported to a hospital where the doctor decides that he does not feel like chancing the surgery and leaves the bullet in Bazil's head.
As Bazil attempts to return to his life, he finds that everything has moved on without him. His apartment has been rented to someone new and his job has been giving to a cute young girl who gives him the bullet casing that was found in the street, remnants of the moment that changed everything. Bazil attempts to live a normal life, panhandling in order to get by. He is soon taken in by a group of eccentrics that will act as his family. While gathering junk he notices a building that bears the same symbol that was on the bullet casing. He then looks across the street and sees the symbol that was on the landmine that killed his father. The rest of the film then follows Bazil and his group as they seek to take down both companies.
The first thing that must be said about this film is how beautiful it is. Jeunet proves that a great filmmaker truly is an artist as each shot is more beautiful than the next. The viewer is never aware of just how fast the film often moves. Despite numerous jump cuts, a signature of Jeunet, the film feels very smooth, somehow avoiding the feeling that the film was edited by a child with ADD on a sugar high that often occurs with this technique. However, the film does have its flaws.
There is little character development throughout the film. The most well developed character, no surprise, is Bazil. The peripheral characters all seem to be one note jokes that are simply there to help both the story and Bazil move forward. I can honestly say that I cannot name any of the other characters in the movie, often referring to them as The Mother Figure, The Bendy Chick and That Human Cannonball Guy just to name a few. Of the eccentric group that Bazil runs with, each one has his own quirk with little to no development past that. The viewer is expected to accept these quirks and not dig any deeper into the characters. There truly is no fully three-dimensional character in the film.
Micmacs is consistently funny and ends in a way that will leave you smiling. The film is a feast for the eyes despite its lack of character development. If you like Amélie, you will like Micmacs. After five long years, it is great to be able to reenter Jeunet's world of whimsy.
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