Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tree of Palme (2002) (NYICFF Flashback)

This is second in a series of reviews of films that played at the New York International Children's Film Festival in years past. This is also a review of a film that is more for the adventurous film watcher, well no that's not right, this is more for those who like to see truly beautiful movies since this is a stunningly beautiful work of art, but is not all its cracked up to be in the drama department.

Actually I'm going to be very honest here and say this movie is wildly too long and may very well try your patience, however the art work of the animation is truly amazing. Then again I've read somethings on line that have spoken glowingly and have called it one of the truly great animated films. Since there is debate there is choice...and here's an opportunity to decide for yourself.

The film is a variation on Pinocchio, with a broken down robot that lives with a scientist being refurbished and sent on a mission by a passing warrior. Along the way the robot has adventures and changes those he meets.

The trouble is that the film drifts along in its own way not always making it clear how it got from point to point and place to place. The film often moves at a snails pace as sequences meander along as if the director didn't know when to stop.

Takashi Nakamura, the director, has said that this was a labor of love for him. Its a deeply personal story that has great meaning for him. I like that he got to bring his dream project to life, however this seems to be a case where the director is much too close to the project. I like Nakamura's work, if one looks at his list of credits at IMDB one can see that he has done some great work, including a stint at Studio Ghibli and directing an animated film I really like, Catnapped. However it's also clear that his strong point is the visuals, since most of his work has been as a designer.

And his visual sense is AMAZING. If you want to know why I'm mentioning this film, its the visuals. This film is a throw back to the days of Disney but fused with the sensibilities of Japanese anime. Its a film that you want to take out and put on just to watch to see how it was animated. The images are often moving masterpieces. Say what you will about Nakamura's story telling here, you can't fault his visual sense which make the film worth seeing. Look at the details in the early sequences. Look at the composition and use of space. Look at how the characters move. Its masterful.

Okay maybe I'm being overly technical and overly gushy about the technique, but when its this beautiful I want to make people look deeper then the surface.

Is this film worth seeing?

Its worth a shot if you think you can go with a film that's better visually then dramatically. (Then again as I said I've read some reviews that speak glowingly of the film as a whole). If you're not one to groove on the sights you may want to stay away. (This is one of those "okay" films that I'll mention in passing from time to time because I think its worth letting people know its out there so you can decide)

Its widely available from a variety of sources so I think you shouldn't have to go out of your way to find it. You may even have a friend who has it that you can borrow it from. Actually I think you should probably rent this or borrow it rather then buy it just in case it doesn't click. I also recommend you have a second film in case this films two and a quarter hours becomes too much.

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