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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

PANIQUE AU VILLAGE / A TOWN CALLED PANIC (2009)

If you’ve ever wondered what might happen when a couple of plastic figurines (Cowboy & Indian) tried to order 50 bricks on the internet . . . and mistakenly punched in 50,000,000,000!, this is the film for you! Two crafty Belgian miscreants, Stéphen Aubier & Vincent Patar, are largely responsible for this bit of stop-animation heaven about a small town populated with toy figures on little pedestals who live, work, go to school & play in a world of model vehicles, faux terrain & putty homes. It’s a dreamscape for a playful seven-yr old, with a kid's fits of impatience & sudden violence added to the circular logic of Edward Lear, the speed & technical breeziness of SOUTH PARK and the try-anything tone & goofy charm of SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS on acid. You, and any youngster you may know, will either sit in stunned silence at the absurd adventures on land & sea, particularly at the derring-do & romantic nature of Horse, or you may giggle helplessly as the town tumbles from crisis to crisis, panicking at every turn. Best of all, this silly childhood idyll comes a la carte, without a speck of snark or wiseguy cultural Pop references in the mix. (Take that, DreamWorks!) Zeitgeist distribution didn’t have a clue on how to market this treat in the States - an innocent Belgian kiddie pic for hipsters? - but don’t let that hold you back. Why not try this as an entry into subtitles for early readers? Train ‘em while they’re still young.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The comically speedy small town postman in PANIQUE is something of a European tradition. (Except in Italy, where he’s comically slow! - see IL POSTINO/’94.) It’s a running gag that long pre-dates Jacques Tati in JOUR DE FÊTE/’49, but where does it come from?

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