Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: Micmacs (2009)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is probably one of the most visually interesting directors working in film today. Along with Tim Burton and Pedro Almodovar, he makes some of the most gloriously idiosyncratic visual images to be found on the big screen. And, unlike Tim Burton, he is actually capable of telling a decent story as well. He showed this with his enchanting A Very Long Engagement, which is sort of like if Tim Burton's Big Fish wasn't a rambling mess.

It is somewhat unfortunate, then, that Micmacs is not a particularly good story, nor is it particularly well told. In fact, the plot actually doesn't make any sense. So... there's this guy, and his dad is exploded by a land mine when he's a little kid, and he gets shot in the face when he's an adult (but the bullet doesn't kill him because... he was watching The Big Sleep?) and so he loses his job and his apartment (because when you've been shot in the face as an innocent bystander in some sort of violent altercation, everyone just thinks its perfectly fine to steal all your stuff) so he goes and lives in a magical garbage dump with a whole bunch of tramps and hobos who are all idiosyncratic but utterly charming and comical. Apparently hobos aren't drug addicts and hobos after all, but mechanical geniuses and people who can talk in coherent sentences. Well, it's France, maybe their hobos are cleaner or something. And then, rather than deciding to track down the people directly responsible for him being shot in the face, or for the death of his father, he decides to attack two weapons manufacturers instead! Because they are the ones who are really responsible - not the people who actually placed the bomb, or the people who actually were shooting in the middle of a French street, but the arms manufacturers.

Look, I'm as against arms manufacturers and their massive profits based largely off of the misery and death of others as the next anti-gun left-wing what-have-you, but I really don't think this man should be holding a personal grudge against people who had no direct input into his downfall. I mean, there are people in the world who were far more responsible for the death of his father and for him being shot in the face. Like, the people who placed the bomb, or the people who were shooting at each other! Those are the real bad guys here! And yes, the arms manufacturers were enjoyably evil and villainous, and they did do terrible things all throughout the film, and I did get some satisfaction out of seeing them punished. But it didn't really make any sense that it was this guy to be dishing out the vengeance.

All that total-lack-of-story-cohesion aside, this was an enjoyable film. The ingeniously-ridiculous ways in which our hero goes about punishing the arms manufacturers were very, very fun to watch. It was basically like a really good con movie, except that most of the plans were bat shit insane. Like that plan that involved the giant cannon made out of scraps of stuff found in the junk yard. What was that cannon even for, even in the context of the rest of that plan? There was absolutely no point to it - it was just very fun to watch.

Was... was this film racist? All of the black characters were either terrifying or silly and effeminate. It did sort of worry me while I was watching the film - why aren't there any just, you know, regular black people? Why are they all caricatures? And is it less or more racist to feature no black people at all, or to feature only black people who are either terrifying or kind of stupid?

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