Monday, September 25, 2006

Renaissance Noir

Well, there are 'review holds' for the Mill Valley Film Festival press screenings, so I won't be able to babble on about a couple of GREAT PIECES I've seen until next week! Let's just say that I think I've seen Helen Mirren and Peter O'Toole win their well deserved Oscars! However, not part of MVFF and something that I was interested in, especially after reading Michael Guillen's 'Evening Class Interview' with director Christian Volckman:

"Renaissance" (dir. Christian Volckman, France, 2006, 105 mins.) This felt more like an experiment in technique than an attempt at entertainment. It is shot in 'motion capture' and animated in stark black and white. The result pushes the film noir aesthetic to its most extreme. There are times it is breathtaking and a true wonder to behold. There are other times where the 'cheat' to get the silhouette is a bit obvious, to the point of being out of continuity. The cityscapes and especially the car chases are thrilling to watch. The technology displayed is so complex though, that the 'souls' of the characters get lost in the highly stylized details.

This French production has been dubbed by actors from the U.K.: Jonathan Pryce, Craig Daniels, Ian Holm, et al. The dubbing might account for the quirky sound balance. The musical score by Nicholas Dodd, who has enormous conducting credits, never seemed to pause for a break and just blasted away. The sound effects are flat, coming out of the center without much surround differential.

The script itself (credited to no less than four writers) is sort of confusing, but it does sort itself out by the end. It thrusts the viewer into Paris in the later half of this century. There is no real explanation of the background of this situation, which appears to have evolved over many years. This is a pity. Even though narration is a pet peeve of mine, it could have been used here and been completely appropriate for the 'film noir' styling it was striking at so harshly.

Even with those hesitations, the time does fly! It is NOT a dull flick, by any means! However, I think it may be more trivial than landmark, as Rodrigues accomplished a much richer affect with "Sin City", using footage of the actors themselves and Peter Jackson's WETA perfected 3D facial expression motion capture. But I think the visual flatness of strict B&W here all but eliminates subtleties, so true involvement with the characters and their complicated plot was more difficult than necessary.

But it has moments of visual bliss....

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

"Such a pretty bird!"