I’m at the Ann Arbor Film Festival this week, and will post little thoughts on everything I’ve seen here. The first day was weird, in that I actually didn’t see anything in the festival. I saw two other films playing close by, so I’ll just log them here.
The Mermaid: My first Chow, largely because the trailers I’ve seen haven’t seemed like my thing. (My only reason for seeing it now is because it’s the largest grossing movie in China.) So I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Chow takes a stab at China’s pollution problem (this could just be me grasping at straws, for this is A Dumb Movie) and envisions a world where slapstick comedy is second nature to most and cartoonishly insane things happen. The CGI looks atrocious, but that’s the desired effect here: a live-action cartoon. I never found myself fully embracing that aesthetic, but I was slowly being worn down by the movie’s likability. The more personal moments captured my attention most, with the silly instances seeming more sentimental. The larger set pieces are impressive on just how wild they can be but feel cheapened by how fake they look. (I know, it’s the desired effect. Still doesn’t mean I like it.) There’s certainly a lot going on here, with Chow taking different angles for oddball comedy at every turn. One scene has a woman trying to hit a man with several objects, with all of them later coming back to hit her. Another has men rolling on the floor to exit a room for no apparent reason other than “it’s funny.” Scatterbrained indeed, yet adds to the madcap humor being presented.
Psycho-Pass: The Movie: Probably the best movie that could’ve come from the Psycho-Pass universe. Urobuchi returns to try and clean up the mess the (horrible) second season of the show made, and largely acts like it never happened. More babble occurs about living free versus government control, philosophers are quoted for no reason other than for the film to sounds smart, and horrible violence occurs to add a dark element that’s not needed. It’s a fitting conclusion, but one that doesn’t really resolve anything. More of a “one last job” type of film, which is good, for in my eyes the material has been mined enough. There’s interesting glimmers here and there, but my biggest problem with the whole series is this unbelievably self-serious tone given the ridiculous premise. This became apparent with the (again, horrible) second season and once again here with the ending. There’s some nice closure to the relationship of Akane and Kogami and the action is relatively impressive, so it’s still of some interest to fans. Just don’t come to it expecting all of the series’ misgivings to be gone.
And that was it for my first day. Coming up will be new film from Jem Cohen and an older classic from Chantal Akerman.