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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp

Idiots and Angels - Review

plymptonHow do you look at a blank canvas and create a world where you are held back by language but want to tell a story that anyone can understand?

Artists have been doing this for thousands of years, trying to distill the innate things that connect every human being regardless of time or geography. Animator Bill Plympton may not be a Flemish master but his latest feature length film, Idiots and Angles, transcends every normal narrative construction and delivers a wonderfully realized world where a story about redemption doesn’t feel rehashed or tired.

When we come into the world of Angel we are brought not only into the world of a man whose sole objective seems to be how much more angry he can be than the day before but we’re introduced into a world where there is no dialogue, no voiceover, no transitions. In fact, the world feels particularly unique as Plympton’s animation is given to fits and starts of natural movement, a trademark of his, with the absurd becoming absolutely normal. To wit, Angel reacts harshly to a perceived parking slight from another motorist and responds by creating a fuse into the other motorists’ gas tank whereby that car delightfully explodes as it careens down a city street. However insane this world is, though, Plympton’s use of depth and perspective never feels jarring or out of place. It just is and we accept it because it’s the character who never utters a word, Angel, that is so fascinating to watch on the screen. Through a series of grunts and guttural noises that humans universally use to show signs of great pleasure or disdain we see what a vile seed Angel is. Plympton sets up this man who is, by all intents and purposes, a just plain unlikable and does what any person looking to shake things up with a little Kafkaesque bizarreness would do with this guy: make him sprout wings.

So, what follows is a story that has Angel growing a pair of wings that obviously cause the man great annoyance. But of course they won’t come off with a little clipping, but of course he can’t get rid of them, the joy of the film comes at seeing how others would wish to use Angel as a means to their own fortune and fame. The story takes shape around the themes of exploitation and naked ambition whereby no one, not even Angel’s doctor who he goes to for help, is able to resist thinking about how their own lives could benefit from the man’s tragedy.

Take this tale where you want, Plympton’s work is easily interpretable in many different fashions as it relates to the human condition and the shameless depths people will go to satisfy their own base desires before thinking of the needs of a human being in need of actual assistance.

Ballasted by a soundtrack that is simply exquisite, helping to serve as a gentle, invisible hand guiding you through the insanity that is this man’s life when it all spins out of control, the film relies on making sure we understand that there is something to be felt for this man, this Angel. Of course, what movie about redemption could be had without mentioning the conflict that will eventually bring us to a satisfying resolution. In a movie where nothing is based on any formal laws of normalcy it would be a shame to ruin a plotline that is almost too strange to put to paper but when jealousy rears its head Angel is the only person at the center of it.

Through a series of fantastic moments that could only come out of Plympton’s own sense of how to make the insane something glorious to witness, breaks laws of physics and reality along woth it, the film ends satisfyingly with a resolution that affirms that beauty can come out of chaos and that even though things can sometimes unravel in the worst way possible, with people showing themselves to be the greedy, self-interested animals they are, that there can be that one person who shows you there is something to believe in when it comes to humanity. That there can be redemption, in whatever form it takes. The mere fact that Plympton does this without ever uttering a word, that it could transcend geographic boundaries and be comprehended by even the meagerly educated is a triumph in itself, let alone knowing this film is representative of animation that can pierce the skin and speak to something intrinsic in us all.

Get Him To The Greek - DVD Giveaway

16cdwcg6I should not have liked this film simply based on its premise.

When you consider how many people thought that Forgetting Sarah Marshall was an exercise in mediocre filmmaking there was little hope that those of us who stayed away from this movie based on that would come out to see what would be a surprising hit. Filled with genuine laughs and a surprising comedic turn from Puff Daddy himself, Sean Combs, the movie is a much welcomed reprieve from some seriously bad studio comedies this year.

So now you can own a copy of the movie that will show you why Russell Brand is indeed the real thing and why Jonah Hill will always be a clutch sidekick. All you have to do is send an entry to Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com and I’ll enter  you to win. It just doesn’t get easier than this, kids.

About The Film:

Aaron Greenberg (Hill) gets things done. The ambitious 23-year-old has exaggerated his way into a dream job just in time for a career-making assignment. His mission: Fly to London and escort a rock god to L.A.’s Greek Theatre for the first-stop on a $100-million tour. His warning: Turn your back on him at your own peril.

British rocker Aldous Snow (Brand) is both a brilliant musician and walking sex. Weary of yes men and piles of money, the former front man is searching for the meaning of life. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have a few orgies while he finds it. When he learns his true love is in California, Aldous makes it his quest to win her back…right before kick-starting his world domination.

As the countdown to the concert begins, one intern must navigate a minefield of London drug smuggles, New York City brawls and Vegas lap dances to deliver his charge safe and, sort of, sound. He may have to coax, lie to, enable and party with Aldous, but Aaron will get him to the Greek.

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