The besties review
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Belladonna of Sadness
I love the unconventional, painterly animation style here. Though I was really impressed by the smooth, hand-drawn sequences, my favorite bits were the slow-moving tracking shots. In those sections, the perspective moves so slowly that it almost feels like you’re walking alongside a mural, taking in the story as you go. Apart from the recent Van Gogh film (Loving Vincent), this has to be the most beautiful painted/drawn film I have ever seen. Though the plot played out more like a myth or a fable than a fully fleshed out narrative, you just can’t deny the power of that imagery. Oh, and it’s also kind of a musical? Awesome.
This 1997 movie about an Internet persona that starts to take over a young celebrity's life didn't predict the future at all.
One really cool thing about this movie is how it just happens to be animated. Up until the last third of the movie, Perfect Blue just played like a really good psychological thriller. I still would have liked it if it stayed in that lane, but the final act of the movie really takes advantage of the animated medium in a way that elevates the film. Though it’s just an 80-minute anime film, Perfect Blue is a singularly fantastic drama. It was also the inspiration for Aronofsky’s Black Swan, so if you that piques your interest at all, I’d certainly give this one a watch.
Team America: World Police
Quite dated and not really my type of humor. This is the kind of movie that might be an effective satire for some, but show this to a 13-year-old boy and they will love it for all the wrong reasons.
The fact that America keeps swooping in and ruining shit for the whole movie is clearly the best part, but those moments do little to offset the rest of this so-called comedy. This was probably pretty slick for 2004, but we can do better in 2020.
The Secret of the Kells
This is my first experience with Cartoon Saloon, and if all of their films are animated this beautifully, I’m in for a real treat. If I’m being honest, I think my least favorite part of this was the ending, but everything that led up to it was so mesmerizing I can’t even fault it. One thing I was not expecting was how Irish this movie is. I haven’t seen a lot of Irish cinema, nor do I know much about Irish culture or folklore, so the stories portrayed in this film were completely foreign to me. The character design, fractal-like patterns, and gorgeous settings were enough to make me smile, and I think I’ll only grow to love this film with more viewings.
That Lots-o'-Huggin' Mayor went Immortan Joe on they ass...
Okay, so I didn’t vibe with this as much as I wanted to, but there were still moments I found really entertaining (the Man with No Name sequence comes to mind). The animation style is undoubtedly unique and the character design is easily one of the film’s greatest strengths, but unfortunately the narrative doesn’t really come into its own until the final act. Still, the voice performances, references to classic Westerns, and Roger Deakins’s cinematography are all top-notch. So with that in mind, if you’re an animation fan, definitely don’t skip out on this cult classic.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!