December 16, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Metropia

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Metropia, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this is yet another of the interesting-sounding films I've heard about completely randomly through Netflix's "New Releases" RSS feed, a list I encourage everyone to join, in this case a cutting-edge animated pan-European venture about a post-oil, nearly apocalyptic EU, and a giant underground transit system for the continent that may or may not be inserting subliminal thoughts directly into their riders' brains.

The reality: So do you know about this tech-based sociological issue known as the "uncanny valley?" I just had a chance to talk about this over at Facebook the other day, in fact, when author Mark Brand was talking about how oddly disturbing The Polar Express is -- it's the theory that once something artificial like CGI or robots achieve a nearly identical look to real life (think Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" films), we find it fascinating, and also find it fascinating when just a cheap, clunky approximation can be made, but that there exists a space between these extremes where the result simply creeps us the f-ck out, in a dead-eyed, slightly-too-smooth way that we find hard to describe but easy to identify. Usually of course this is a detriment to an animated film, but here in Metropia the filmmakers use it to their advantage; because this is in fact supposed to be a bizarre, hallucinatory nightmare, helped immensely by their decision to take multiple photos of real people and locations and simply tweak them into ludicrous proportions for their movie, adding artificial movements to what started as static images, giving the whole thing the feel of a Terry Gilliam "Monty Python" animation but the exaggerated, freakishly off-putting look of someone like Drew Friedman. As usual with movies of this type, the plot itself is nothing to write home about, a fairly simple tale about neo-fascist mind control that plays many of its moments for dark laughs; but also as usual with movies of this type, it's not for the story that you're renting it out, but rather for the admittedly flabbergasting visual look it achieves, a stunning experimental style that will stay in your head long after the film is over. Featuring an English soundtrack here in the US filled with indie veterans like Vincent Gallo in the lead, this is a solid recommendation to just about anyone who's a CCLaP regular, the exact kind of little yet influential project that all your acquaintances are sure to be talking about at various hipster cocktail parties next year. Make sure to check this out when you have a chance, so that you can be in on the conversation too.

Strangest piece of trivia: The establishing images of the main character came from a chef who worked at a restaurant where the animation team were regulars.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:37 AM, December 16, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |