All posts tagged “cops

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Zootopia, Byron Howard & Rich Moore (2016). April and the Extraordinary World, Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci (2015)

I swear, sometimes I can’t tell if I’m a total snob or a total goat. My standards are on the one hand absurdly high; on the other hand it appears I’ll put just about anything into my eyes. Cartoons (or “animated films”) are an interesting test. I can be and have been persuaded equally by the assertion that they are only for children and the assertion that people who think they are only for children are myopic snobs. Anyway.

Zootopia strikes me as very American and very much of the moment. It’s super preoccupied with proffering a morality, but it’s so desperate not to get anything wrong or offend anyone that its moral message becomes garbled beyond comprehension. It seems to be against discrimination, graft, prejudice, biological determinism, anti-intellectualism, unfair drug crime sentencing, racism, the police state, urban blight, and all sorts of other bad things, but the categories of who’s supposed to be bad, and who good, and who’s being represented as bad but is actually good only society has made him bad, etc., get totally out of hand. This fellow parses out the problems well and in detail. I’ll only add that the happy ending is that the bunny and the fox, supposedly blood enemies, become best friends. But they’re also both cops. I don’t get it.

April and the Extraordinary World is French to the core. Twilit, melancholy, witty, fanciful, open-ended. It’s concerned with utopia and dystopia too, but far less concerned with determining tidy moral categories, which ironically opens a path to a far stronger sense of moral imperative. There’s also an abundance of historical consciousness here, which I love. Not least, it’s a lot more fun to look at the spiky, messy, impressionistic world of this cartoon than the uncannily smooth and bright world of Hollywood animation. I like that there are a lot of pratfalls in this, too. One thing that makes a cartoon good for grownups is a certain enforcement of silliness.

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Sicario, Denis Villeneuve (2015)

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I haven’t seen any of Villeneuve’s earlier movies, but now that I’m looking them up online, I bet I’m going to like them too. This one is pretty terrific. The narrative is generic. A naive and idealistic cop (the hardworking and dependable Emily Blunt) stumbles on a kind of Sonoran Chinatown, coming to realize to her horror that the cartels are everywhere, in everything, on both sides of the border. There is no here vs. there or us vs. them; good and evil are inextricable and sometimes even indistinguishable; etc.  Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are the CIA cowboys who teach her how the drug war is really fought, with a little less Miranda and a little more torture than she’s accustomed to. The acting mostly consists of people looking at things intently with their teeth clenched and eyes narrowed,  but the photography and direction are Michael-Mann-level phenomenal. The opening sequence, in fact, reminds me of the opening sequence in Heat, which, as faithful readers will know, is about my favorite policier of all time. Fantastic tension in the editing, perfect flat washed-out Portra colors in the desert sun. Nice.