Monday, November 22, 2004

The Incredibles

In the corrosive sumps of Broog’s homeworld, where compounds virulently antipathetic to the birth of life were stomped into atomic oblivion by Broog’s mighty monocellular forebears, there is little room for the tender emotion. The cannibalistic leanings of infants of Broog’s species and the need for frequent surgical chastisement of one’s peer group likewise do not foster a close acquaintanceship with chumminess, let alone the profound meeting of minds and hearts which could be rendered in your culpably inexpressive tongue as ‘love’. Broog’s people, however, are to these obstacles what Mako sharks are to a beach party, and thus have evolved into splendid if massively violent romantics. Thus Broog himself transcends the boundaries of phylum, convention and reality to announce that he has fallen in love. The inky chambers of Broog’s colossal heart are lit with scented candles, and the Chamber of Ten Thousand Fire Beetles is hung with bunting. Though your northern hemisphere slips into gelid winter, in the house of Broog, all is radiant heat energy; where before there was darkness, now there is Edna.

Brad Bird’s cape caper is a hoot. Forcibly retired, the crusaders of yesteryear are cut off from themselves and each other, unable to express their innate specialness. Even family relationships are strained as Mr. Incredible tries hard to save the world one insurance claim interview at a time. If the story proper takes a while to kick off, the setup is a joy to behold, and though Broog could have withstood a little more super and a little less human emotional drama, the flick rattles along and the details are pleasing enough that there’s no danger of boredom. Pixar’s editorial decisionmaking remains adult - as with Finding Nemo, the consequences of failure in The Incredibles are real and horrible, and death is an integral part of the madcap heroic world the characters inhabit. Broog will not speculate on why American pop culture appears to be obsessed with baroque war machines and ranting idiot-savants whose attacks can be foiled only by nice-but-dim heroes and their thank-God-more-talented female cohorts, nor why those amply capable female cohorts cannot simply be left to take care of the situation without dunderheaded male interference. He will simply lie back and take delight in the show.

And then there is Edna. Voiced by the multitalented Bird himself, Edna is muse, couturière and überbitch to the caped community, and her self-obsessed machinegun patter reduced Broog to worshipful hooting. By turns dismissive, knowing, and oddly caring, Edna conveys an impression of omniscience and somehow sets the characters on the road to fulfilment as though her openly amoral ‘me, me, me’ were a pious ‘you, darling, always you’. The paltry cost of admission is worth this treat alone.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

After the Apocalypse

Broog hates potato movies. When Broog’s minions scour the Earth for the felons of the aesthetosphere, they will root out the makers of potato movies, sow their fields with salt, stampede their tiny women and beat their cattle until they moo for mercy. A potato movie being a movie in which the search for, cultivation of, or consumption of root vegetables or other basic produce is vital to the plot, you might foolishly imagine that the number made in a given year is relatively small; not so.

Yusuaki Nakajima’s wilderness picture veers close to this dangerous territory, but manages to remain on the ‘human drama’ side of the precipice, and delivers an affecting portrait of five survivors living a ragged life in the aftermath of your civilisation’s collapse. The film is attractive to look upon and the voiceless communication of the protagonists is touching, but the action never lives up to the initial claustrophobic promise of a man in a gas mask having to lift it in order to drink some much-needed water. A competent outing in need of Event.