I am going to start with reposting the reviews of films that I had listed for the Unseen Films Film Festival that I had floated a couple weeks back on twitter. I will expand the list as we go. I've lso asked the Unseen Films family to suggest titles.
I am doing this on the fly right now so once I work out a long list of suggested titles I will post that as well. Right now just bear with me since I am literally making this up as I go along.
First up NOCTURNA which is one of my favorite films of all times. It is such a favorite that this is the very first film I reviewed here at Unseen Films
This is the story of Tim. He's a little boy who lives in an orphanage but doesn't get along with the other kids there. He is very afaraid of the dark and has to pull his bed by the window each night so that he can be watched over by "his star". One night while looking out over the city he notices that the stars, including his star, are going out and he rushes up to the roof of the orphanage to see what is happening. There he meets the Cat Shepherd. The Cat Shepherd is in charge of the cats that go out at night and put all of the children to sleep. When Tim refuses to go to sleep' he wants to try and find out what is darkening the stars, the Cat Shepherd is forced to take Tim to the head of Nocturna, the night world, in the hope that he can help find out what is behind the darkness.
This is simply put one of the most magical films I've ever seen. It perfectly explains what is going on in the world when we are all asleep. If you wanted to know why you're hair is messed up, or who makes the weird noises in the dark, or why you're socks go missing, its all explained here. There are several wonderful set pieces with extrememly clever dialog and verbal puns that play on differing levels. The film is also a grand adventure as Tim is forced to travel across the city in order to stop the Darkness from wiping out everything. In typical, but not preachy, fashion Tim also grows up. Its so nice not to have the moral beaten into out heads.
In many ways the film will remind you of things like Monsters Inc, Moon Girl, Spirited Away and a few others. But the connections to other films will be fleeting as this film creates its own marvelous world of its own. I've seen the film upwards of ten times now and each time I do any notion of the film being a copy of any other film becomes less and less. Nocturna is a film and a place that is uniquely its own (one need only look at the design to see that). As I've said elsewhere the odd flashes of recognition actually work to make the film better because in a weird way it makes it all more real.
One of the joys of the film is that it plays to both kids and adults. I've shared this film with some people where I work so they could show it to their kids. In every case where I did so this turned out to one of those films that both the parents and the kids could watch and enjoy repeatedly.
The repeat viewings is one of the reason that I love this film so much. Adria Garcia and Victor Maldonado who wrote and directed the film did something wonderful with this film, they made a film that gets better with each viewing. Here is a film that grows as you see it each time. What you learn at the end effects the beginning on the next viewing. Characters that you barely notice in the background at the start of the film, are seen in the fore front later on so that when you watch the film over and over again you notice how neatly the film is all tired together. Its all throw away stuff but it adds weight to the proceedings.
I love this film a great deal. It is easily in the top something or other of my favorite films of all time. Certainly its one of the few recent films of any stripe that I have happily sat down to watch more than once. (And no I don't think it's perfect, the denouncement of that the Darkness is is weak, but I don't care because the rest of this film is so wonderful)
If you love great adventure or animation or just great movies you have to try and find this film. It is an absolute shape that this film does not, to the best of knowledge, have a US distributor.(This is the one Unseen Film that I am constantly asked by parents if there is going to come out on DVD so they can pick up copies for friends)
NOCTURNA can be seen streaming on Amazon (It is $3.99 and worth every penny) or you can order the DVD
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