20 April 2014

I'm only human

Dan Slevin

7/12/2011 10:53:00 a.m.

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At the movies with Dan Slevin
EVERY SO OFTEN a film comes along that fits so squarely and neatly inside one’s own personal set of interests and enthusiasms that it is impossible to be objective about it. I try and keep my work here disinterested and arms’ length - clinical, if you will - but, y’know, I’m only human. Just so you know. With that disclaimer out of the way, then, here’s my review of Puss in Boots.
So. Much. Fun. Soooo. Much. Fun. As one of the smart Embassy staff pointed out to me afterwards, Puss (Antonio Banderas) has been basically single-pawedly keeping the Shrek franchise alive for a while so a spin-off was not only likely but necessary. And welcome.
A dashing feline hero - egotistical, narcissistic but with a heart of gold - Puss roams the countryside getting in to trouble with owners of shiny things and owners of lady cats. But he has a burden to carry: a tragic miscarriage of justice in his home town has made him a fugitive determined to clear his name. Full of witty dialogue, cat jokes, visual puns and immaculate comic timing, Puss in Boots is a must-see for cat lovers of all ages. If traditional animators can do such amazing and amusing work with only their mice to work with, why do we need all that new-fangled performance capture technology? Seems increasingly like a solution looking for a problem to me.
If you already have an interest in competitive Irish dancing, then Jig, about competitors at the 2010 World Irish Dancing Championships, is probably going to be catnip for you. If not, then you’ll be bored rigid - much as I was. It belongs on television - where fans can find it - which is presumably why BBC Scotland paid for it to be made in the first place.
Red Dog is for the dog lovers among you. It’s based on a novella by Louis de Bernières (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) which was in turn based on the true story of a famous canine character who spent the 1970s roaming the remote north west of Western Australia - and legend has it even further afield - making friends along the way. The town of Dampier is a company town, hundreds of mostly migrant workers open cast mining iron ore and salt in the brutal Australian sun. Red Dog does a fair job of evoking the uncompromising lifestyle that these men have chosen for themselves but that’s roughly where its qualities start to fizzle out.
Much more subtle is Céline Sciamma’s quiet little puzzle Tomboy. Ten year old Laure moves with her parents and younger sister to a new town. It’s the summer holidays and while her mum and dad are busy with their grown-up version of settling in, shy Laure tries to find new friends. When she is mistaken for a boy by Lisa (Jeanne Disson) she becomes Mikel and plays along with her new identity until society demands that she can’t simply choose her gender any more. It doesn’t hand you everything on a plate or dictate the response it expects you to have. It’s a film about a ten year old that treats you like an adult
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