(This is a column where I review movies that I have never seen, but SHOULD have. Being a film Geek, I have seen a ton of films. But life is also very short, and for one reason or another, there are quite a few flicks that I have never got to. Sure, it probably doesn’t matter if I ever see a movie like PARENTAL GUIDANCE, but a movie like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA…. well, I should have seen that already. I’m a film geek for God’s sake! I have now decided that I should get on that before I get too old. I have compiled a list of films that I WANT or NEED to watch, and am going to start watching them when I have spare time. So I will randomly be posting reviews of movies that I have always wanted or needed to see. Enjoy!)
I am a pretty big fan of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Loved DELICATESSEN, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN and AMELIE. I even liked ALIEN RESURRECTION with its silly supporting cast. I haven’t seen A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT yet, but I will soon enough. When I first saw the trailer for MICMACS, I thought it looked fantastic! And then when Harry Knowles from Aintitcoolnews hailed it as a masterpiece, my expectations rose. Some things you just can’t explain, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why the hell I haven’t seen this yet. So I was very happy that I finally got to see it!
Like Jeunet’s other films, MICMACS is a tale full of whimsy and wonder. The focus of the story is on a man named Bazil. He works at a video store and loves to lip-sync along with old movies. One night at work, he gets shot in the head by a stray bullet from outside. He wakes up from his coma and tries to go back to his ordinary life, but his apartment has already been sold and his job has been replaced. Being homeless, he is found by a ragtag group of misfits who live underground. They are dumpster divers, gathering all sorts of junk together in order to survive. There is a lady contortionist that sort of takes a fancy to Bazil, a guy who used to be good at being shot out of a cannon, a guy who can makes inventions out of anything, and some other weirdos. Bazil gets a crazy idea to get revenge on the place that manufactured the bullet that got him, and not to mention the bomb that killed his father when he was a boy. With the help of his wacky new friends, Bazil comes up with the perfect plan that will bring justice to these war mongers.
The story is out there, but so are the rest of Jeunet’s films. I was hoping it would be this strange. The good news is that MICMACS has the same look and feel of his previous work. It has this colorful, warm look that is just astounding to look at. The cinematography is just as audacious and imaginative as ever. There are some really inventive sequences in this too. The trick they play on the arms dealers in particular, was very amusing. The movie is also full of unique characters who all have their own eccentricities. This is a very loud & lively film.
The one thing that I love about Jeunet’s films, is that even though his movies are really bizarre, the story always has a heart. The bad news is… that’s not the case with MICMACS. While AMELIE and CITY OF LOST CHILDREN were full of sympathetic characters you truly cared about, everyone in this movie is surprisingly bland. Sure, they all talk loud and look funny, but there isn’t really anything to them. I couldn’t really tell you anything about anyone. I have no idea who these people were! And that sucks because the images on-screen are fantastic. But it just felt like the actors were merely tools just so the director could show off his visual style. There didn’t really seem to be a good reason for any of the plot developments other than the fact that it let us SEE something really cool. I don’t know…..
The acting is fine. Everyone on board seemed to be giving their most energetic performance, but if you don’t have a character to play, it’s all kind of moot. Jeunet still displays talent behind the camera. Almost every shot can made into a beautiful picture on its own. Everything is very carefully blocked and storyboarded. Unfortunately, this kind of care wasn’t put into the script. You can’t just have blanks slates, and then call them characters. You actually have to flesh them out. And Jeunet should really know better, because his other films didn’t have this problem.
If all you care about is some spiffy looking visuals, then you might find more enjoyment out this than I did. But the film just had no soul. It’s superbly directed but the story just isn’t involving and the characters are empty shells. Knowing how awesome this director can be, MICMACS was a major letdown. ★★ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for some sexuality and brief violence.
– Running time: 1hr 44min.
(MICMACS is available to rent on DVD from Netflix)