Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.
A starving gendarme, wasting away from hunger, is reduced to grabbing castoff snacks from fat American tourists. When he sees as old woman feeding pigeons, in desperation he hits on the ... See full summary »
An enthusiastic filmmaker thinks he's come up with a totally original idea: animation set to classical music! When he is informed that some American named "Prisney" (or something) has ... See full summary »
When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.
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An animated short set to the tune of Pat Boone's Exodus Song satirizing the history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant. "I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene ... See full summary »
Consuming Spirits 16mm to HD, is an Independent feature animation, chronicling the lives of three characters who live in a rust belt town called Magguson, and work at its local newspaper ... See full summary »
The movie is about Sita, the Hindu Goddess from the epic "The Ramayana", who accompanies Lord Rama on a 14 year exile in forest. Sita is abducted by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. This movie tells the story of Rama and Sita, along-with a biographical account of the director's relationship with her husband. Written by
The intermission in the movie is a tribute to Bollywood, the Indian Film Industry. See more »
The musicians are shown playing with the left and right hands reversed. The clarinet, like all woodwinds, is played with the left hand at the top. The violin is held with the left hand and bowed with the right. But in the movie, the clarinet player has the right hand at the top, and the violin is held with the right and bowed with the left. See more »
Nina Paley is the kind of filmmaker that makes the auteur theory look dated. This isn't a case of a director putting her vision on the screen via a crew of technicians and a cast of actors. This IS her vision, down to all of the designs and animation, which she did over the course of five years (a dedication of time that recalls a director like David Lynch on Eraserhead or Inland Empire). It was all done on computer- reportedly only one intern helped animate some of a battle sequence- and it's being presented for free on the website for Sita Sings the Blues. And yet, if you have a chance (as I had) to see it on the big screen, it's one of the events of the year if you love animation and daring in film-making.
It's a personal story of Paley's break-up with her boyfriend (who did it, savagely, over email), and put into a context of the story of the Ramayana, an ancient Indian story about a woman, Sita, and her bond with the blue-skinned Rama over a lifetime. At the same time Paley uses animation and music and documentary and the free-wheeling expression of cinema to make it unconventional. We see Indian drawing figures ala Monty Python animation discussing story points as they go along, which name is who's and what detail really happened, etc. And then there are musical segments put to Annette Hanshaw, a 1920's jazz singer, to illustrate Sita's journey through the turbulent ups and downs of romance.
Sita Sings the Blues is joyous entertainment. One can tell that Paley was exorcising some past strife, namely from her own break-up that we see in the film in a scraggly Dr. Katz style of animation, but what's most striking is how it's tragedy is never ever a downer. On the contrary this is a comedy in a fresh sense, where the absurdity keeps coming in little unexpected ways, like with the figures of the monkeys in battle, or how the discussing members talk over the details of the Sita cast members. And the musical numbers are just about the best one has seen all decade (which goes without saying the lack of competition, but still), as we see Sita sing her feelings and thoughts, sometimes in happiness and sometimes totally down in the dumps (re: her pregnancy and abandonment after being rescued).
There's a complex web of emotions that Paley navigates through, and she does it so confidently that it's hard not to marvel at her achievements here. It's an independent film in the best sense of the word, the truest sense, uncompromised by studio interference or for any kind of 'demographic'. It's a dark comic feminist musical fable that includes an intermission, a cast of hundreds (animated, not voiced), and it strikes up your heartstrings in the best possible ways. It's a post-modern breakthrough, and I can't wait to revisit it, oh, right about now I would say.
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