Mary and Max Steals the Show!
written by Johannes Wolters
Stop the printing machines! Hold everything! I have seen the film of the festival.
Sorry, but I am still under heavy shock and I think my feel-good hormones are still busy on the merry-go-round called my brain. And this happens only, when I see a truly overwhelming film.
It had been an already busy day full of big events, when we, me my friends and I went to the Grand Salle, sat down and saw “Mary and Max.” And this one hour and 32 minute long stop-motion movie turned out to be an outstanding, brilliant movie, which has to, which must, which will win the Cristal for best feature. The Clay Puppet-Movie tells the story about a strange and bewitching pen-pal friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, an 8-year-old Australian, and 44 year-old obese Jewish American Max Horowitz. Based on a true story, the funny heartwarming film was written, directed and designed by academy award winning artist Adam Elliot from Down Under, who already enchanted us with his four short films, the trilogy “Uncle”, “Brother” and “Cousin” and of course the beloved “Harvie Krumpet”.
“Mary and Max” is a tour de force of a great story about friendship combined with brilliant gags and a big tear-moving finale that will stay in your mind forever. If there is justice in the world of animation and movie making this feature film has to nominated for each and every prize possible including the academy awards and golden globes. And please, not only for “Best Animated Feature,” there is so much more. This masterpiece explores the absurdities of life, tells you how to deal with fear, anger, career, relatives and how not to handle house-pets. The exquisite screenplay by Elliot based on a true story is a contemplation about life and the ever unexplainable “conditio humana”. Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna) as the “Narrator” keeps everything together with his great voice, Toni Colette as Mary and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Max as well as Eric Bana, Bethany Whitmore and many other add their talents to the movie, which has been produced by Melanie Coombs. Please, pretty please try to see this great film.
What else in the feature film competition as the festivals grows nearer to its closing ceremony?
Runners up for the Cristal are Henry Selick’s “Coraline” and Tomm Moores “Brendan – The Secret of Kells” both wonderful imaginative movies, full of heart, art and beautiful design. Selick´s extraordinary picture doesn´t need any further explanation, you simply have to see that movie- period! “Brendan” by Tomm Moore sweetened my first day at Annecy and was my favorite movie until I saw “Mary and Max.” The Cartoon Saloon Production has been sold to the United States, the next feature is already in early stages of pre-production. So we will meet those wonderful artists again at Annecy.
Also in competition is Dreamworks “Monsters vs.Aliens,” directed by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon. The delightful 3D-film full of references to monster films and many other movie-classics uses the new stereoscopic tool in a cool and dramaturgically great way, but the film will most certainly have no chance at a festival, which is in this year hailing the non-commercial, non-mainstream visions of single artists.
My Dog Tulip, directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, tells a personal love story based on the eponymous book about a man and his dog, written in the late sixties. And so the film is very lovable and has a strong point about how and why to keep a pet at home, the story is a little bit to short or better not strong enough for a long feature film.
“Jeh Bool Chal Shee E Ya Gee - The Story of Mr. Sorry” is a film from South Korea, a little bit longer than an hour and made by five women: Eun-mi Lee, Hae-young Lee, In-keun Kwak, Il-hyun Kim and Ji-na Ryu. The story tells how Mr Sorry becomes a spider and is based on a famous song by an even more famous Korean singer/songwriter.
“Battle for Terra”, also a 3D-stereoscopic movie, directed by Aristomenides Tsirbas, tells the story of a interstellar conflict between the people of a peaceful world and the warriors who want to inhabit it. The film was produced in the USA and can certainly be seen as a comment on the Bush-Era.
Red Line by Takeshi Koike and produced by Madhouse, Inc. is a story about love, conspiracy, mass-destruction and the battle to survive revolving around the world´s deadliest automobile-race. These themes have never been before tackled by Japanese animation and unfortunately the screening of this film had to be cancelled.
Last but not least, there are two films left, which should be very special mentioned.
“Boogie, El Aceitoso” directed by Gustavo Cova from Argentine, produced by ILLUSION STUDIOS is worth a look as is the norvegian production “Kurt blir grusom – Kurt Turns Evil” by director Rasmus A. Sivertsen and produced by NORDISK FILM AS.
So, that´s quite a range of style and story, and this year´s competition has proofed to be an excellent one. And of course “Mary and Max” will win the competition.