Friday, 13 July 2012

filmbore pick of the week - A Town Called Panic

A Town Called Panic Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Screenplay: Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
Starring: Stéphane Aubier, Bruce Ellison, Vincent Patar, Jeanne Balibar
Year: 2009
Language: French
UK Rental Release: November 2010

Rotten Tomatoes

Something a little avant-gard this week...Stéphane Aubier's and Vincent Patar's brilliant, loony tale A Town Called Panic (Panique Au Village) - those of you who are a fan of Cravendale's "Milk Matters" adverts will recognise the animation style. This crazy stop-motion film from Belgium is beautifully imaginative and unique, and if you fancy delving into something funny but a little bizarre and quirky, you'd be hard pressed to find anything better. spin-off from the 2000 animated series of the same name, this is a frequently unpredictable story of three unlikely companions. The unculturally-affected friends, Cowboy and Indian, want to get something special for their other friend's birthday, Monsieur le Cheval, or Horse for short. The three of them are diversely affected by the strange choices and actions made by both Cowboy and Indian. What ensues is a non-stop adventure into the surreal, with frantic storytelling, quick editing and hallucinatory visuals, as they are taken to wondrous places around the earth and under it.

What's really strong in this film though is the humour. This is a hectic story, so be prepared for a bashing of the senses, but in the right frame of mind you'll be laughing till you ache. In fact, it's astonishing how intelligent the editing is in this film to create the comedy, especially as it is handled purely as's treated as a live action piece, giving it real humanity.

The other characters in the film have real charm too, and are just as off-the-wall as our leads, if not more! But our three central characters really keep the core of the piece, and the directing pair have created a nice relationship between them, evident from the off: Cowboy and Indian, the two troublesome brothers up to no good and Monsieur le Cheval, the partially responsible adult who sometimes can't help but get involved in the mischief. It's quite sweet that not only is Horse the more mature, but he's portrayed as quite wise...maybe the wisest horse in movies? (sorry Mr Ed) even get treated to a bit of a love story with Horse, as he's distracted by the charms of music teacher Madame Longrée (voiced by Jeanne Balibar, Don't Touch The Axe, Code 46). The change in story arc brings a sweetness to the tale, which is a nice chaser to our usual poison of jet-propelled dementia throughout.

As the tale concludes you crave for more hectic Belgian craziness, as a wave of sadness hits you and the treadmill goes into cool down mode. This, to me, is evidence that Stéphane and Vincent have successfully created a wonderfully original fairytale on a kaleidoscopic carousel that you don't want to stop...even if it keeps hitting you in the brain like a wonky Duplo nightmare!


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