Michel Gondry

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Mood Indigo feels like a line in the sand. For the anti-appreciates of Michel Gondry‘s style, it could almost be taken as a dare. “You don’t like twee whimsy? HERE’S EVEN MORE OF IT.” For fans of the director, it comes across as a test. “You love this cotton candy stop-motion quirk? We will shove it down your throat for two hours (an hour and a half in the US cut).” In previous Gondry films, flights of fancy came within specific settings, like dreamworlds or sweded movies. The entire universe of Mood Indigo is a cacophony of magical doohickeys, alien practices and other phenomena that go both unexplained and uncommented-upon. Alarm bells skitter around on insect legs. People go on dates in flying cloud machines. When they dance, their bodies contort into weird, often unsettling ways. A contraption called a pianocktail mixes drinks based on what keys you hit on a piano. And so on and so forth. None of this fantasticalness is of Gondry’s invention. The film is a faithful adaptation of French writer Boris Vian‘s 1947 novel “L’Écume des Jours” (“Froth on the Daydream” or “Foam of the Daze“). All this weirdness springs from Vian’s imagination — Gondry and his crew are merely the enthusiastic translators from page to screen. If nothing else, the film made me want to check out the book and see just what kind of madness can come from the uninhibited possibilities of the written word.

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Mood Indigo trailer

Back away from your fluffy DVD collection, unhand that Cheshire Cat-smiling theatrical poster and give that cardboard box some breathing room — it’s time for us to hit you with a big, fresh smack of charm and colors and Audrey Tautou just like, totally dying. Michel Gondry is back, baby, and he’s got an extremely “Michel Gondry”-looking film to entertain his (adorably) rabid fanbase, all with extra Tautou sweetness to rope in the Amelie obsessives out there. It’s sort of like if drugs were made out of cotton candy and gentle nap time dreams. And, yes, that’s a very good thing. Looking more like the direct descendent of his The Science of Sleep (a film that I will champion until the day I die, if only for the yarn ponies) than a close sibling of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mood Indigo has Gondry again trafficking in charm, a word that will be used ad nauseum to describe the film, because it’s really the only one that fits. Based on Boris Vian‘s beloved novel of the same name, Mood Indigo sees Tautou and Romain Duris (he’s dreamy) meeting cute, falling in love, hitching up and dealing with imminent death. Wait, what? We’ll get to that, but until then, let’s just soak in all the Gondry-esque charm in the latest Mood Indigo trailer, okay? It’s sweet, we promise. Also, this trailer graces us with perhaps the most definitive and on-the-nose Gondry line ever: “I demand to fall in love, too!” Perhaps we will all fall in love with Mood Indigo, together and after the break.

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cloak and dagger poster image

Considering I do these weekly lists of movies to watch in order to highlight new releases as gateways to older works, it’s particularly fun to focus on something geared toward children. Young people aren’t as familiar with a lot of movies, so they’re more in need of such recommendations. A lot of time, though, the allusions they should subsequently become familiar with are for an older audience. At least one movie included in this week’s list inspired by The LEGO Movie, for instance, is definitely not suitable for children at all. Others won’t be of much interest to them. Meanwhile, there are a lot of obvious, explicit movie references in The LEGO Movie that I didn’t feel necessary to spotlight, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lincoln and any of the many DC superhero movies featuring some of the characters represented in LEGO minifig form. There are some fairly obvious titles included, though; the first half of the list is mainly movies that many critics have mentioned in comparison. And then there is the second half, which is filled with pretty obscure films, most documentaries, tied to LEGO in some way. As always, name any movies this one reminded you of as well as any you think we ought to check out next. Also as always, beware that there are spoilers for this week’s movie, so if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Movie, you need to do so right now and then come back to […]

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Is-the-the-Man-who-is-Tall-Happy-Key-Image-Credit-IFC-Films

Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? is a profoundly simple film, at least on paper. Michel Gondry sits down to talk with Noam Chomsky and makes it into a movie. The topics include Chomsky’s theories of linguistics, his early childhood, his ideas around the linguistics of early childhood, and a number of other wide-reaching but related subjects. Unadorned, such a documentary would be eminently watchable, if perhaps a bit tedious. Yet what Gondry has actually created is one of the most beautifully complex films of the year, and he does it entirely by way of hand-drawn animation. It’s a meeting of disciplines, one that takes a discussion of language and perception and uses its artistic sensibility to point out that maybe art and science are almost the same thing. With Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?, Gondry has attempted to animate the mind. Animation and verbal discussion are equals here, and the images do more than just dress up the words. Of course, they can’t obscure them either. Clever drawings of dogs, trees and rivers help explain Chomsky’s ideas in a way that makes them at least less befuddling than they would be normally. The first layer of the film is a very effective primer on some of the American academic’s signature concepts, aided by the historical and intellectual landscape into which he first proposed them. It also helps that the drawings themselves are so kinetic, charming and colorful, executed by Gondry himself along with animators Timothée Lemoine and Valérie Pirson. READ MORE

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One Day

Why Watch? Yes, Arrested Development is back, and yes, David Cross is hilarious in it (yet again), but it’s important to remember a time when Cross was dressed up in a giant feces costume. The actor donned the suit (complete with toilet paper scarf) to chase Michel Gondry around the city in the writer/director’s One Day…. Coincidentally, this short came out the same year that Gondry emerged as a feature film director with Human Nature. Fate’s timing is not without a sense of humor. As for One Day…, the absurdity of The Turd screaming at The Man about being his child is wonderful, and the guerrilla style prank overtures makes it feel a little like Jackass by way of the art house. As if the plot is all pretext to get Cross out in public in a crap costume. Plus, it solves an age-old dispute, finally confirming that pieces of shit have goatees. What Will It Cost? About 7 minutes. Keep Watching Short Films

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Michel Gondry: A Cinephile's Labyrinth

Why Watch? It’s Michel Gondry drunk on movies while exploring an awesome video store. If you don’t want to watch Tiffany Limos‘ latest short, I don’t even know why you’re on our site right now. What will it cost? Around 5 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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Mood Indigo

Though most of the people who read this site probably don’t speak French, you’re likely all going to want to watch the French trailer for Michel Gondry’s new film L’écume des jours (or Mood Indigo when we get a trailer in English) anyway. There really isn’t much talking here, and Gondry’s work is so visual that you’ll get the gist of what’s going on anyway. And Audrey Tautou… well, she does adorable in any language.

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Haircut Mouse Gondry

Why Watch? If you’ve ever wondered what a Tom & Jerry cartoon would look like with Michel Gondry behind the wheel (and haven’t we all?), the director is more than happy to oblige. In this scattershot short, a mouse opens up a hair salon but runs afoul of his feline neighbor. Experimentally going beyond Itchy and Scratchy, Gondry has created something fun and wholly irreverent here — from an opening shot of a man in a mouse suit bedding down for the night to the orgy of ink floating impossibly on paper to create the animation. The former is reminiscent of a certain Monty Python sketch; the latter is reminiscent of 3rd grade. Overall, it’s a manic delight. What will it cost? Only 3 minutes. Skip Work. Watch More Short Films.

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Michel Gondry has given us The Green Hornet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and Human Nature. His films, while at times having trouble with their narrative, have always been able to produce a visual flair that rivals that of the old silent Buster Keaton films. Here, however, while offering hints of that visual flair, is a film with almost no narrative and little flair to be had. The We and the I is set on the last day of school and shows us the long bus ride that a group of students takes on their way home from school. We are a fly on the wall in this bus as we see relationships strengthen and disappear over the film’s runtime. The thing about high school, and more importantly about high school students, is that they’re all children. Films such as The Breakfast Club and Election have painted a particular picture of high school by creating relatable characters. They deal with their own problems, which are also very self-centered and childish, in a way that audiences are able to associate with. In The We and the I, the problems of the characters at no point feel truly relatable in the same way as the aforementioned films. They immediately have a negative relation to your memory, almost saying, “How precious,” in the worst way possible.

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What is Movie News After Dark? Like any great franchise that’s been in your heart for many years (or just over one year), it keeps coming back whether you want it to or not. Always with more big questions. Not always with more answers. Maybe we can get Damon Lindelof to write this, too. It could use a good rewrite now and again. We begin this evening with a look at Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, a film that brings Gondry back to the world of the surreal. It’s got a delightful could car in which Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou ride. Adorable.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

As 2011 crawls to a close and 2012 peeks its head over the horizon, many of us wayward souls find ourselves using the changing of the calendar as an excuse to make big changes in our lives and start over fresh. ‘Tis the season for resolutions. Some of us will resolve to cease destructive behaviors, others will vow to start new things that will enrich us and make us better people. But for each the goal is clear – we’re done with the past, finished with who we were, and starting from this moment forward, it’s going to be a new day. Naturally, all of this thought about what my resolutions are going to be and who I want to be in 2012 has me thinking about movies that I’ve seen where people are trying to let go of the past and begin a new journey. More specifically, I’ve closed in on two movies from the early part of the last decade that are about relationships ending and their messy aftermaths. The Michel Gondry-directed and Charlie Kaufman-penned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is about a fictional service that will erase bad relationships from people’s memories, it stars Jim Carrey as a man wrestling with the question of how to best deal with painful memories, either by blocking them out or by accepting and processing them. Two years before that, Philip Seymour Hoffman starred in a movie called Love Liza about a broken man dealing with a relationship that had […]

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Tim & Eric

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of things you’ll want to read, even if they didn’t originate on this website. We know, we know, all the good stuff can only come from Film School Rejects. But every once in a while (at least 8 times per day), other websites strike gold. And we’re here to celebrate their modest victories. We begin tonight with an image from Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, one of a number released today by Magnolia Pictures. It features Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim as… well, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. But apparently people find this funny. Having watched numerous episodes of their show, I’m not convinced that they’ve ever been funny. But who am I to argue with the masses? Oh right, I do argue with the masses. Seriously, guys, this stuff isn’t funny. At all.

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The Green Hornet was a brief interlude into the mainstream (or as far into it as he could go) for Michel Gondry. The director seems far more at home when working with the fantastical, the sweetly bizarre, and the effects that are done in-camera. Fortunately, he’s got his passport stamped and he’s ready to return to that world. According to Variety, Gondry will be adapting the Boris Vian novel “L’ecume des Jours” for the screen. According to Google Beatbox, that translates to The Foam of Days, but they’ve added another “the” in for good measure. The plot focuses on a man who invents an instrument that plays both for the ears and nose who falls in love with a woman, but after the two are married, they discover a rare medical ailment which demands that she always be surrounded by flowers. As if that weren’t Gondryesque enough, it also tells the story of another couple and their quirky issues. Plus, he’s got a hell of a cast lined up.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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Kees van Dijkhuizen’s work is kinda great. While most fan edited montages of films you see online feel stilted and blandly cut together, Dijkhuizen’s don’t. Just watch the “this year in film” tribute videos he cut together for 2008 and 2009. They’re excellent. And for the past few months he’s been releasing love letters to some of the most praised directors working today. Dijkhuizen has covered David Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Danny Boyle, Wes Anderson, Baz Luhrmann, and now with his best one yet, Michel Gondry. They’re all worth a watch, especially since they’re all directors known first and foremost for their style. Side note: This video is also a nice reminder that The Green Hornet is better than it’s given credit for. I’ll take Gondry’s anti-superhero pic any day over Green Lantern and — yes, I’m going to say it — Thor.

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It seems likely that Michel Gondry makes 14 movies a year that never see theaters except the one in his home. Short films, animations, stuff he’s shot with the camera he always seems to have on-hand. That would make a hell of a Criterion release. As for movies that we’ll get to see from the visionary director, his talk with the New York Times brought a few more into perspective. For one, The We and the I – his film shot entirely on a school bus – is now most likely going to shoot this summer. For two, he reconfirmed his work on an animated film based off of discussions he’s had with Noam Chomsky about language and philosophy. That, in particular, sounds like it could be incredible (because I am a huge, huge dork). However, the biggest and newest news was that he’d convinced Audrey Tatou to come on board for an as-yet-untitled, French-language flick by making an animation of him asking her. How do you turn a director down when he does something that would normally end up as a Youtube video titled “Cutest Marriage Proposal Ever!!!”? Frankly, any new Gondry work is to be anticipated, but considering the offbeat performances he’s pulled out of his actors (most notably Jim Carrey and Tim Robbins), it’ll be especially exciting to see him work with Tatou.

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Sympathy for Delicious is Mark Ruffalo‘s directorial debut. It explores themes of faith, selfishness, and also artistic integrity. It chronicles the story of a man, Dean (screenwriter Christopher Thornton), who discovers he has the gift to heal others. Ultimately, he selfishly uses this gift to his profit alone. He’s a sellout. Instead of doing something bold and wonderful, he does the opposite. One could apply that idea to many actors working who don’t act under the purest of intentions. Some see it as a business and some see it as an art form, and Mark Ruffalo falls into the latter category. Ruffalo reminded me quite a bit of his character Paul from The Kids Are All Right. He didn’t come off as an oblivious hipster, but one of those rare people — mainly, actors — that seemed completely comfortable in his own skin. Even over the phone, there was a laid back and open quality to him that set a smooth and easygoing tone for the conversation. The actor/director was nice enough to make the time for an interview while on the set of another one of his little ensemble indies, The Avengers, and we discussed at length the challenge of keeping artistic integrity in a business, the themes of Sympathy for Delicious, finding realism in take 100, and even Michel Gondry.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with sex symbol and film legend Angie Dickinson, discuss the parasitic relationship between studios and theaters, talk Bellflower‘s marketing strategy, and play a game we’re calling “Co-Directors.” Former assistant theater manager, massive film fan, and creative director at Rock Sauce Studios John Gholson explains how studios and theaters work together. He also makes a sex comedy featuring Andy Griffith seem just as enticing as it is in real life. Angie Dickinson has starred in over 50 films, played iconic roles from Rio Bravo to Ocean’s Eleven, and she was kind enough to spend some time talking to us about working with Sam Fuller and Frank Sinatra, creating her characters, and how movie-making has changed. FSR’s own Culture Warrior (and one of the Talking Heads) Landon Palmer braves a segment where we come up with directors we’d like to see work together, pitch a project for them, and figure out if it has a chance of getting made. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Murder sounds like it could be a massive hit. Plus, our very own Jeremy Kirk matches movie news wits with Peter Hall from Hollywood.com. Who will triumph at the sound of the correct answer bell and who will be forced to narfle the garthok? Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Editor’s Note: In a fashion that is very unlike what you’d expect from us, we begin our Cannes Film Festival coverage early this year. In fact, this will mark the first time we’ve ever covered the event — previously, the only thing standing between us and Cannes was our unwillingness to wear ties. And a giant ocean. In order to pull it off this year, we welcome guest blogger Simon Gallagher, best known for his work at ObsessedwithFilm.com, as our special Cannes 2011 correspondent. We look forward to his excellent coverage of all the action taking place along the French Riviera. So, time is creeping on, and with the May 11th Opening Ceremony to this year’s Cannes Film Festival looming on the not too distant horizon, now is probably a good time to run through what’s going on in the world of Cannes so far. I’m positively bursting with pride to be bringing this news to you, and also to be given the opportunity to cover the festival for Film School Rejects – and to anyone worried I won’t fit in: fear not, for I also have a beard.

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An attraction inspired by director Michel Gondry’s film Be Kind Rewind started at Paris’ Centre Pompidou yesterday, and Gondry himself was on the scene to help kick things off. The attraction is a filmmaking workshop called L’Usine de film amateurs that allows groups of people to sign up and create their own amateur movies from scratch, just like the Jack Black and Mos Def characters from the film. The process, from conception to wrapping, takes three hours, you leave with a DVD copy of your film, and it’s all free. If I were in Paris I would go do this for sure, and if you’re going to be there any time between now and March 13th you could do just that. The coolness of the workshop wasn’t the big news that came out of Gondry’s appearance, however. While there he announced that he is to begin work on a film adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick novel “Ubik.” Anybody who has done any studying of Science Fiction literature knows something about Dick, but for those unfamiliar with this particular book, here is the synopsis from phillipkdick.com:

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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