Friday, January 22, 2010

A Town Not Called Malice

A TOWN CALLED PANIC / Panique au village
(Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar, Belgium/France, 2009, 75 mins.)

I can't think about this film without hearing the Jam song "Town Called Malice."
That said, the two have little in common, except that they're both a lot of fun.

Sitting 'round at home...watching the pictures go.

A Town Called Panic begins and ends with a hand-drawn credit sequence, but most of the movie consists of stop-motion activity. During the first few minutes, images of Gumby and Pokey, Mr. Bill, and Bob the Builder danced through my head, but then I got sucked into the story and most other stop-motion animations faded away.

The feature springs from the 2000 TV series of the same name, which Aardman An-
imations (Wallace & Gromit) released on DVD, and centers around the adventures of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. They appear to be made out of plastic, although I'd im-
agine it's actually clay, plasticene, or some other sort of malleable substance. If their facial expressions never change, the film itself is in constant motion. The figurines move quickly, but the story is never hard to follow, and there isn't enough dialogue to create subtitle-reading fatigue, though younger viewers may feel differently.

The three friends share a roomy house in the country next to Farmer Steven (Ben-
oît Poelvoorde, Coco before Chanel). If Indian (Bruce Ellison) and Cowboy (Stéphane Aubier) are swinging singles, Horse (Vincent Patar) carries a torch for Madame Long-
ray (Jeanne Balibar, Va Savoir), a sweet-natured music teacher with a long red mane. He's so enamored, in fact, that he decides to take piano lessons. (Because the movie is in French, the trio is actually listed as Indien, Coboy, and Cheval.)

But first there's a birthday to celebrate. And that's when the trouble begins...

Click here for part two

A Town Called Panic opens at the Varsity Theater on Fri., 1/22. The
Varsity is located at 4329 University Way NE. For more information,
please click here or call 206-781-5755. Image from OutNow!

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