Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
When I first sat down to watch A Town Called Panic a few years ago, I knew that it was the feature film adaptation of a well-liked series of Belgian stop-motion animated comedy shorts and nothing more. So I spent the next 75 minutes being blown away by this endlessly inventive, hilarious, and surreal thing that honestly felt like it had to right to exist. Here was a feature film starring a crudely animated plastic horse (named Horse) and his crudely animated buddies (Cowboy and Indian) that managed to squeeze a dozen charming and/or crazy gags into each minute of screen time, using stream-of-consciousness storytelling to barrel from one subplot to another at such a pace that you never realize that there’s not plot to speak of. A Town Called Panic begins as one movie and ends as a completely different movie and you have no idea how you got there. It’s sublime.
Now, seven years later, a sequel-of-sorts is here in the form of A Town Called Panic: Double Fun, which has unveiled a new trailer.
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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.
At a certain point, after watching so many movies for so long, you sometimes forget that films can still surprise you. I had no idea what to expect when Mother started, and every time I thought I was starting to figure it out, the film took me to new and disturbing places I could have never anticipated. As with Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder, the film has an oft-used murder mystery police procedural format, but through its unconventional protagonist and off-kilter tone it finds new life in a tired formula. Unlike most murder mysteries, it finds just the right emotional and thematic satisfaction in both of its plot threads: the present mother-son story that’s the basis for the movie, and the past mother-daughter story being investigated. Joon-ho’s ability to balance this bleak, solemn material with these raw moments of physical comedy is unmatched—perhaps because no other filmmaker would even think to try. What limits should one assume for a movie in which characters are at risk of being kicked in the face at any moment? Hardly any, it would seem; Mother is only limited by its need to tell a great story.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Blu-ray – Making-of featurettes (“Music Score”, “Supporting Actors”, “Cinematography”, “Production Design”, “A Look at Actress Kim Hye-ja”, “Behind the Scenes”).
|BEST DVD PRICE|
|Amazon – $21.49|
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|Amazon – $26.49|
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In this week’s /Filmcast, David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley express reservations about Paul Greengrass’s upcoming 3-D film, reflect on recent incarnations of The Three Musketeers, and respond to M. Night Shymalan’s recent interviews about race in The Last Airbender. Special guest Keith Phipps, editor of the AV Club, joins us for this episode.
You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us next week on Tuesday night at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST at Slashfilm’s live page as we review Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
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Here’s to a school of dagger-propelled, orange barracuda siccing any listmeister who jumped the gun and failed to consider A Town Called Panic for his or her top ten films of 2009. Undeniably the most entertaining and energetic movie of that now-caput year, I found myself funstruck from film’s start to its fireworks-laden finish; ATCP is also 2009’s best animated film, somehow scurrying and climbing past other visionary, grand entries from the oh-nine like Wes Anderson’s fireside-classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pixar’s latest crown jewel Up, and Disney’s strong, under-appreciated The Princess and the Frog. This superlative—and I realize how questionable it may seem to those unimpressed by the accompanying image—is not fueled by contrarianism or ostentatious indie preferences; this Fantastic Fest Audience Award winner is simply that effing good. Seek it out.
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As I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox and gradually sensed the darkness of the theater lose out to the autumn-colored, classy, stop motion shenanigans on screen, I began to accept that every silhouette in the audience—fat and small, rich and me—was dressed in ship-shape, semi-formal attire. I pictured moms silently imagining themselves speaking in snooty English accents and serving cups of Earl Grey. And kids ages five through nine on the verge of zzz’ing in handsome jackets of tweed and corduroy; mildly stimulated by what equates to a visually dazzling hipster Sunday School lesson taught with Adderall on its gums and Tryptophan in its belly.
In contrast to Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are—itself a furry and visionary 2009 adaptation of a famous kid’s book about nonconformity—Wes Anderson‘s Fox focuses foremost on family via adult characters. Whereas Wild Things united male Eighties Babies with its look at psychological distress, a side effect birthed by so much of that decade’s parental divorce and separation, Fox unites families of the aughts with an increasingly rare and welcome air of sophistication. One is a film about adults-as-wild-animals suitable for families, the other is a film about a child amidst wild animals suitable for would-be adults.
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A Town Called Panic was one of the more well-received films at Fantastic Fest last month, where it also picked an Audience Award. The unorthodox, stop-motion style of this Belgian animated film needs to be seen to be fully understood, as it taps a mesmerizing, madcap absurdity from the disposability of cheap, plastic toys (think a bag of multi-colored waxy dinosaurs). A limited release is now set in the U.S. for late this year and early next, which is rad given that countless glowing reviews accentuate the theatrical experience.
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