It’s the 3D test shot that’s going viral at the moment, and it’s not hard to see why. Futurama may have had its bookends bound shut by FOX, but the animated series, created and moulded by the people who brought us the Simpsons, is still a cult fave. Many people (myself included) want the show back and would have revelled in one more series. Instead we’ve been teased with a little unknown animator and his test shot conceptualising the Futurama title sequence in 3D. Ironically this version would have fitted well in the shows tradition of remixing their title sequences now and then. More importantly – it’s a stunning remodel of an already vibrant introduction.
Sunday’s are supposedly lazy days. I never get that. It’s certainly more chilled, but it’s also the day I feel most creative and curious, perhaps because I can’t really be distracted to do much else. I can scour the net for long articles, read books and draw and write from dawn till midnight. Sunday’s comes with this continuous sense of urgency that the weeks about to end and i need to make sure I fit everything I wanted to do during the old week into one day. Before a new week of things I have to do consume me.
Anyway, here’s something from Thenublk.
It may not resonate with all of you, but it’s a great insight into the lives of others. Wonderfully cut, shot and produced. An articulate commentary from a smart young woman about life in one of London’s gentrified hotspots, as a young black woman.
I’ve already started to spread the word. I’ve already tweeted about it. I have even ‘spotified’ the soundtrack. I went into this screening knowing full well that the buzz was favourable. Jon Favreau has been consistent in contributing to everything that’s key to enjoying cinema for the past decade be it as an actor or director. With the added draw of the impressive supporting cast – it was a win. So if anything, I was apprehensive about how far this film had to fall if I didn’t like it.
STORY: Restaurant owner Riva refuses to let his chef Carl Casper’s creative juices flow, giving him an ultimatum – either cook the dishes on the menu or leave. Although Carl sticks to the menu, bad reviews criticising his lack of creativity result in a Twitter war and he loses his job. With the help of his friend Martin, ex-wife Inez and son Percy, Carl opens up a food truck and tours the country with his culinary delights, rediscovering his passion for cooking along the way…
I was not disappointed. I would add this movie to my DVD collection. It’s that kind of good. The kind that has longevity. It’s feel good, it’s funny and it’s so gorgeous on-screen. It’s also no coincidence that I felt like I wanted to reach out and grab the food prepared on camera, it was so well shot and cut together, not a single frame is wasted. And to top it all off I was left drooling for all the right reasons.
Stripped back, the story isn’t revolutionary, but for the most part it’s an upbeat, refreshing take on the American Dream that doesn’t involve superheroes. There are continuous themes of grassroots, returning to simplicity and starting again throughout: the food Casper prepares and the way he distributes it; his relationship with his son; the clear conventions of embarking on a ‘road trip’ - it’s even clear to see the juxtaposition between what Favreau has been directing and starring in over the past few years. This is not about special effects and surround sounds, it’s a simple indie, and It feels like everyone who took part enjoyed it - it’s what translates so well onto screen.
Favreau as Riva, is affable, extremely talented; an everyman who knows his craft and loves it. It’s an effortless performance, here Favreau takes the reigns as leading man and he does so brilliantly. It’s perhaps his most multifaceted role to date and I sincerely hope he does more. Supported by what I could only describe as some of the funniest, appealing and likable actors ever gives this movie a little more welcomed star power without taking away from the films independent conventions. Sofia Vegara is a successful woman, mother and ex-wife to Casper and the nice touch here is that the two are still very good friends. The consistently brilliant John Leguizamo as Favreau’s right hand man, Martin, is brings a lot of the comic relief and support Casper needs on the road and when re-connecting with his son. Dustin Hoffman’s role as narrow-minded restaurateur, Riva, is cut to a few scenes but it’s a wonderful cameo that sets up the course of the story nicely. Oliver Platt is in it even less but becomes astutely villainous via the ever-present power of social media setting the tone of the very interactive production; Robert Downey Jr is in it for one humorous scene. It’s a conversation about the world we live in today, that much is obvious, but for whatever existential discussions that may arise when other critics assess it deeper, Chef is first and foremost a very good watch.
I have nothing bad to say about this film, only that I left it feeling hungry.
This film selection is part of the Launching Films UK Cinema Showcase:
By far one of the best films I have seen this year, and one I will forever list in ‘favourites’. Charming, endearing and beautifully composed. The combination of everything aesthetically pleasing, poetic and charming about French cinema merged with all that is wholesome, inspirational and adventurous when it comes to most American literature - makes for a stunning film in this beguiling adaptation. Think Tim Burton’s Big Fish meets T.S. Spivet’s director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s other whimsical film, Amelie.
Now I never read the critically acclaimed book this film is adapted from by Reif Larsen, but I did read an article recently that despite the book’s success and initial parade of Hollywood promises at his door – it took a long while before anyone would take it on. Why? Because, as the Larsen points out, so many were perhaps afraid of being faithful and that of course required a lot of hard work and capturing things perhaps a little too existential or too detailed to put on-screen. Larsen had a handful of directors he believed could do it, styles he had likened to his on paper. Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Jean-Pierre Jeunet*. It was Jeunet who got in touch when Larsen had lost hope – and he did so by pointing out the details that reminded him of his own works – Larsen was no doubt beside himself, and it’s not hard to see why.
STORY: Living on a remote ranch with his wannabe cowboy father, insect enthusiast mother, aspiring actress sister and unassuming brother Layton, T.S. has his own eccentricities – he’s a 10-year old with the curious and capable mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. After he finds out that he has been awarded a prestigious prize by the Smithsonian Institution for one of his inventions, T.S. sets off on a journey to retrieve his award in person; hitching a ride on a freight train to washington. On his cross country trip he meets new friends and inevitably is faced to deal with the sad memories of ones lost.
It’s a sort of coming of age story but not a complete one, because T.S is still very much a child. Though he’s an exceedingly smart one, much of the film (narrated and seen from the point of view of T.S.) is still explored from the eyes of a child - it just so happens this one is a very imaginative one. Anything T.S. does not fully understand is usually shown to the audience in beautifully nuanced detail that Jean-Pierre Jeunet is master of. When T.S. points out the glaringly obvious notion that his parents are so opposite, he can’t imagine what brought them together – Jeunet shows us a brief but beautiful corridor touch between the two adults. A smart child he may be, but still a child. Throughout the film there are obvious hints towards the unspoken sadness hanging over T.S.’s family; it’s only polarising because they’re all so different, what could tear them apart that brought them together in the first place? As kooky and oddly matched as they all are, it seems to be a family where each member’s idiosyncrasies are what makes them so similar. When that balance is tampered with, it’s from young T.S.’s view that there’s very little anyone can do to restore it.
The thing about T.S. Spivet is, I Loved every second of it; from its story to its execution. I cried, laughed and really sat back and enjoyed the 3D aspects, which considering the amount of 3D we’re exposed to is completely worth it. Not only is it done so well that it never feels gimmicky, it’s a reminder of how 3D should be used sparingly in cinema to be truly appreciated. The acting was nothing short of understated brilliance. Perhaps understated is the wrong word, but what I mean is, with established talent such as Helena Bonham Carter, Dominique Pinon and Judy Davis – everyone plays their part well and generously, never quite stealing the show or drawing on their celebrated eccentricities for screen time, but boosting a sweet and sometimes stagnant script with their presence. The standout performance for me comes from Kyle Catlett as the lead T.S. A child actor who can act is rare. A child actor who is on-screen 99.9 percent of the time, narrating the film and still managing not to be annoying? Unheard of. Not since Macaulay Culkin, circa 1990, have we seen a young man so equipped with the wonderful ability to play a sort of prodigy, but still retain the endearing innocent ten-year old kid as well as Catlett. I can’t wait to see what else the film world has in store for him.
Ah I could go on but I’ve probably given you too much! Apologies. I loved it, thought it was gorgeous. Musically, visually, acting, the story … the whole lot.
*nb I had written a couple of these directors likeness before i had read the article – it’s just so glaringly obvious what he was going for and the right people who could do it.
T.S. SPIVET IS OUT 13TH JUNE
all images courtesy of:
This film selection is part of the Launching Films UK Cinema Showcase: