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Friday, October 18, 2013

Film Review - @PolariFest AGLIFF "Animals"

We liked this one so much we wrote a couple of reviews for it, take a look!

By Adam Ruhl

‘Animals’ is probably the very best film I have seen at the festival both past and present. It is an incredible, creative work that should appeal to any audience gay or straight. It has US DVD distribution so when it becomes widely available I strongly recommend it. The film was not on my radar at all, but it has played film festivals and won several awards. This type of offbeat, unique film is right up my alley and I was blown away by what I experienced.

 The film is about Pol, (Oriol Pla) a teenager who attends an English language school in Catalonia. He clearly has some issues as we see in the opening scene when he is walking beside his teddy bear, as in, the bear is walking on its own and talking to him. The movie follows him as he deals with some unique sexuality issues and growing up in general. The set-up and flow of the film reminded me of Donnie Darko, but not as dark or heavy. It’s not a cheery film or a comedy, but there is ultimately something positive about the story and I never felt weighed down by it. The film is a journey with many interesting, but not too outlandish twists, which is as much as I’m willing to give away; this film needs to be experienced firsthand.

The movie is beautifully shot; capturing all the brilliance of the local landscape. Mountains, forests, and bridges are our primary setting; dipped in a lush haze that sets the atmosphere of the film. Director Marcel Fores crafts this story wonderfully and keeps his characters honest and away from stereotypical high school roles. There’s also a surprise appearance by Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit) as one of the school’s teachers. This is a gem from Catalonia and I really hope it gets the exposure it richly deserves in this country.

By David Massey

This evening, I had the pleasure of viewing Marçal Forés’ film ‘Animals’. It was a small affair, well off Austin’s beaten track but what a spectacular introduction to Polari (formerly AGLIFF – Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival). 

 Introduced as one of the fest’s darker offerings and having seen a tense little trailer that leaned toward the surreal, I was all set for a wanna-be horror film with some fantastic visuals and very little substance. About the visuals, I was spot on. Shot in a small, affluent community in Northern Spain, there is a dusky beauty to the image and a dreamy tone but the surreal is treated with such matter-of-fact confidence that I was reminded of the iconic Chris Cunningham.

Concerning substance, ‘Animals’ engages with a uncanny sense of grounded logic expressed through a young man’s (Oriol Pla) emotional attachment to his childhood teddy bear – who happens to talk (in HAL-like monotone) and walk about of its own accord.

If this sounds a bit like the movie ‘Ted’, you’re way off the mark. This isn’t heady art – there’s still a sense of humor throughout – but the angle the filmmakers have taken to express this teenager’s divergence from his budding sexuality is remarkable. The only point of reference I could give would be ‘Donnie Darko’, but ‘Animals’ isn’t nearly as indulgent of Science Fiction or fantasy. Of ‘Gay Cinema’, let me just say that there are good films and there are bad films and the sexual orientation of the filmmakers, cast, and crew is insubstantial to me. ‘Animals’ is a profoundly good film and I hope if finds an audience when it’s released on DVD in November.

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