Micmacs (Micmacs à tire-larigot) (Blu-ray) (2009)
|Category||Comic Fable||Theatrical Trailer-(1.51)|
|Year Of Production||2009|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jean-Pierre Jeunet|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There's a moment in Micmacs A Tire-larigot -a few moments actually - when a character goes spiralling past a billboard advertising an upcoming film. The film is Micmacs. That is just one example of the zany, surreal beating heart in the body of this 2009 French film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Anyone who has followed Jeunet's career with the slightest interest won't be surprised at the degree of whimsy and quirkiness in the film. Beginning with Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children (with directing partner Marc Caro) and hitting the "big-time" with Amelie, Jeunet even managed to make an offbeat Alien film - Alien Resurrection.Jeunet hasn't made a film since 2004’s A Very Long Engagement, an adaptation of a serious novel which saw his inner goofball restrained. In the time between Engagement and Micmacs, Jeunet was involved in the frustrating attempt to bring Yann Martels’ Life of Pi to the big screen.. This was no half-hearted endeavour; Jeunet spent three years working on the film including shooting 3500 stills as a "movie’ featuring models he made. At the end the studio said "too expensive" and Jeunet moved on. Ang Lee is now slated to direct it.
The title, Micmacs a Tire-larigot, has no simple English translation. The closest is perhaps "Non Stop Shenanigans" which gives an indication of the nature of this film - part surreal fantasy, part comic fable, part satire on the international arms trade.
For Bazil (played as an adult by Dany Boon), tragedy struck very early in life. His father was blown up by a land mine he was attempting to defuse. The young Bazil is poring over his father’s belongings when he sees a picture of the mine with a distinctive logo on the face. 30 years later and Bazil is a mild-mannered video store employee, watching The Big Sleep in French when a gunfight breaks out on the street outside the store. Investigating Bazil is accidentally shot in the head by a stray bullet. The doctors decide to leave it in his head rather than risk killing him by taking it out. Leaving hospital he finds that his apartment has been leased to someone else and his job at the video store has been taken by another. At least the new clerk gives him something interesting - a bullet casing from the shooting with yet another interesting logo on it!
After begging on the streets Bazil is taken in by the aged, friendly Slammer (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and comes to live with a group of misfits in a giant junkyard. It is a cast of oddballs: the mother figure Tambouille (the ubiquitous Yolande Moreau), the contortionist (Julie Ferrier), the aerialist (Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon), the inventor Tiny Pete (Michel Cremades) and other accomplices/housemates. Bazil, almost a cypher of a man,influenced by Jacques Tati, helps out the crew of misfits by collecting scrap. One day he finds himself on the street between the two icons he has burned into his underperforming brain and with his odd cronies hatches a plan to bring down the two arms manufacturers and their soulless and nasty bosses. One Nicolas Thibault De Fenouillet (André Dussollier) is a collector of celebrity body parts and the other François Marconi (Nicolas Marié) collects luxury cars, but he is no less odd, quizzing his young son on weaponry the way a father drills the times tables into his child.
Micmacs is a Looney Tunes of a movie where anything can happen. The team formulate the most complicated caper plan possible to bring down the armourers. Each draws on their skills - the contortionist is able to slip into small places, Tiny Pete makes the most useful steampunk-like mechanical contraptions and Slammer gathers the junk for the heavy duty work.
Jeunet admits that he drew influence from Toy Story for the quirky team and Mission Impossible (the TV series not the films) for the overly-complicated plan and execution. The performances are suitably over the top and the caper races along at such a dizzying pace that it can be hard to keep up. There is a mixture of tones at work and the comedy is sometimes decidedly black. However for one prominent US critic to complain that the opening scene of the father’s death is played for laughs is like arguing that Tom and Jerry make injudicious use of violence. The only prominent flaw with Micmacs is that it lacks a decent sub-plot, such that the plan to bring down the arms merchants takes half the movie. Special mention must be made of the extraordinary art direction. Every scene looks like it could be framed and put on a wall at an exhibition - a pretty odd exhibition to be sure- such is the dazzling vitality and ingenuity of the director and his production designer. The lack of a decent sub-plot (the love story between Bazil and the elastic girl is only half-played) is really only a minor quibble for an intoxicating, funny movie that deserves a place in the Blu-ray collection of anyone with an interest in foreign cinema.
Micmacs was shot on 35mm film and projected cinematically at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this Blu-ray.
The film obviously went through a lengthy digital intermediate phase as it looks completely unreal though not in a bad way. The colours are boosted and there is an odd hue about everything. That is not a criticism - just a comment. The look is striking and beautiful on Blu-ray. Those who don't like the "orange and teal" look that has become the byword of modern post-production should be warned that those colours are much in evidence here. The effect is to create a day-glo world, underscored with the gritty and grimy junkyard look.
Cinematographer Tetsuo Nagata has created a series of gloriously goofy close-ups, angled shots and stylistic devices to keep proceedings interesting. The transfer is nicely sharp and the shadows are inky deep.
The transfer to Blu-ray is impeccable. The film loves the added detail and the faces are superbly featured. There is a light grain about that suits the film. There are no technical problems with the transfer.
There are subtitles in English which are clear and easy to read.
Micmacs carries two soundtracks - a French DTS HD Master Audio and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 running at 640Kb/s. My player, for some reason, defaulted to the vanilla track.
The uncompressed track is pretty exciting - this is a film with a fair bit of surround action although the sub-woofer could have upped the thump a bit. The dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand.
The actors appear to be in audio sync.
The score is a mixture of music which matches the quirkiness of the film. The film makes heavy use of Max Steiner scores like The Big Sleep interspersed with Raphael Beau's whimsical Gallic original score. It is quite unlike any score in recent memory and is constantly entertaining.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are almost non-existant. The trailer is nice but no replacement for some decent material.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film has not been released outside of Region B to date. The Blu-ray in that Region is the same.
Micmacs is bundles of fun for those who are happy for their comedies to run a little on the madcap. What could not be filmed in the US without it seeming lame gains weight when Frenchified.
The Blu-ray looks and sounds great but some extras would not have gone astray.
|DVD||Pioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
|Display||Pioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||JBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer|