©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:
The Triplets of Belleville

Filthy says:
"It ain't so innovative after they repeat it the tenth time.

I expected to have my socks knocked off by The Triplets of Belleville. Why else would I go to Denver in 20-degree weather to see a movie at the Landmark Mayan? That was a cool old theater south of downtown that the Landmark beancounters chopped into little cubes. The main theater is still sort of cool, but they turned the balcony into the two least comfortable theaters outside the porn industry. The worst part of the Mayan is the self-absorbed dumbshits who fill it up. God, it's the biggest bunch of fucking phony pseudo-artsy-fartsy losers I've ever seen and they make watching a movie more of a chore than a room full of drunk teenagers in baggy pants. Every time these goateed, designer-eyeglassed turds laugh too loud at the jokes to let everyone know they get it I want to ram a rusty stevedore up their asses. Shut the fuck up and just enjoy the movie, or don't. It's not about letting everyone else know you're so fucking smart you get it.

Mayan crowds turn movies into a God damn chore, something they have to do either to be seen, or so they can tell everyone about this "great Icelandic homosexual coming of age movie." The Mayan usually caters to these turtlenecked poseurs who don't care about quality so much as they care about seeing something IMPORTANT. The aforementioned foreign language gay coming-of-age movies in are beloved because you see not only a movie with subtitles, but one that also tells everyone how fucking open-minded you are. The Landmark Mayan is where horrible romantic comedies magically become "charming" because they're from eastern bloc countries and filmed in 16 mm. Brutally dull stories about little girls in war-torn countries are celebrated by nimrods as "powerful," and bad French movies like The Triplets of Belleville are celebrated for telling tired old jokes, but in French!

Occasionally the Mayan shows a good movie, like City of God or Ghost World that nobody else in town is showing. Sometimes the movies are worth surviving the urban bores and their "I live in the city so I'm hip" attitudes. I thought The Triplets of Belleville would be that good. I heard good things, that it was original and inspiring. It might have been good if it were sixty minutes shorter. But I got bored quick, and annoyed slowly.

Of course, I might have enjoyed the movie more if the crowd hadn't been so eager to be pleased, so willing to laugh and applaud at bad jokes translated into French just to show those around them that they love French pantomime animation. The Triplets of Belleville is the almost completely unspoken story of a French boy who loves bicycling. His mother trains him for the Tour de France, and during the race he is kidnapped and taken along with two other cyclists to a New York-type American city, Belleville. It opens with a jazz number by the Triplets of Belleville, a singing sensation.

In Belleville, he and the other two riders are chained to a device where their cycling power drives a gambling device for organized criminals. The mother and the boy's loyal dog journey across the sea to rescue him witht he aid of the forgotten and much oder Triplets. Most fo the movie is a rehash of the inventive first 15 minutes, over and over.

The movie looks pretty cool, a mix of 20s and 30s Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons. A character who looks like Django Reinhardt makes a cameo. In the first ten minutes, the Triplets of Belleville, a trio of jazz singers, do a hot number and I thought this is going to be pretty good. Then it gets stuck in a rut. The characters are as flat and unimaginative as Kansas. Each is given a single quirk that gets old long before the movie ends. They look cool, but why can't they also be interesting? The plot is similarly simplistic. There is nothing clever beyond the setup, which is basically repeated over and over. Nothing in it kept me wondering what would happen next, and even less dazzled me after I saw it for the first time at the movie's beginning.

The movie is nearly wordless, which is an awkward stab at being artsy. Some dialog would have fleshed out the plot and themes out, and made the movie seem far less tiresome and overlong. Instead, writer-director Sylvain Chomet keeps hammering at the same basic themes without every expanding on them. The one worth exploring, that France's old guard should not be discarded but used to protect French treasures from being Americanized (like the Tur de France being turned into a wagering game), isn't really explored. In fact, i just said as much about it as the movie does. Other themes aresimplistic and childish meditations on loyalty (dog for man), maternal love, concluding in a spectacularly lazy climax: a car chase through the big city. Good fucking God, Chomet makes fun of Americans for being fat and lazy, and then stuffs his gaping maw with America cinema's fattiest whopper. Those Frogs sure can be pretentious assholes.

The movie is also accompanied by an animated short that is supposedly a collaboration by Salvador Dali. The short just reminded me that Dali didn't really have many ideas. If you've seen his paintings, then you've seen this short.

Really, though, The Triplets of Belleville was at a disadvantage. It was never going to live up to quality of the pre-show entertainment.

As I approached the Mayan's outdoor ticket window, a fellow walked ahead of me. I could smell the cheap leather before I saw him in the dark. As I got closer, I saw he weaselly, with a weak little goatee, as though he hadn't fully committed to the idea of facial hair, but was waiting for someone to tell him it was cool before he went all the way. There was a hollowness to him, a lack of confidence in his gait, the sort of guy who doesn't like foreign films, but likes hanging out with people who do. The kind of guy that just loves Noam Chomsky's bullshit without understanding it at all, mostly because he once was obsessed with some girl who dug Chomsky.

A cute girl was in the ticket line. She was a petite brunette, and a scared one at that. Well, she didn't seem scared until she saw our dead-eyed hero. Seeing him, she literally shrank, like she was trying to withdraw her limbs into her torso.

"Hello," he said in a voice he meant to sound friendly, but ended up sort of menacing, like there were a lot of bitterness about unreturned phone calls and lame excuses. They knew each other. I eavesdropped and learned that they were two in a larger group who were meeting for the movie. There were a lot more awkward pauses than words exchanged between them. Maybe she didn't know he was going to be here.

I thought I had drawn all the drama I could get out of this pair and went in to the mostly empty theater. A few minutes later, our hero, the brunette and four friends come in looking for six seats together. Or hero was sticking pretty close to the girl. There was a shitload of empty seats, but they had to sit dead center and crowd the people who arrived early. One row lower or one row higher just wasn't good enough. Typical, over-privileged yuppie assholes. They spotted six empty seats together on the far end of a row. Two decided to rudely wade across the people already seated rather than go all the way around and get all exhausted. One of the remaining four said, "Let's go around."

Seeing our hero begin to make his way around, the brunette made a bold decision; she darted into the row. Our hero froze, like a deer caught in the headlights. Should he walk around and risk losing his chance to sit next to the girl? If he reversed course and followed her down the row, he'd look pathetic.

He didn't care. I bet he's used to looking pathetic. Or maybe he thinks doggedly pursuing an uninterested girl is the way to win her over. If he sticks by her every minute of every day, drilling into her skull with those dull, moist eyes, one day there might be a split second window of opportunity when, while brushing her teeth or folding laundry, she lets her guard down and forgets he's as creepy as peepshow janitor. By being vigilant and present, he can jump in at the chance and latch himself like a lamprey to her heart. A dim hope like that can keep a guy going for a lifetime.

So, after sacrificing his pride, our hero got to sit next to his girl. She looked uncomfortable, like someone was running hot piano wires down her spinal cord. He looked ready for love. Turns out, though, there were only five seats, not six, and so one seat too few for the group. Our hero was forced to ask the couple next to him to move over, which they graciously did. The boy slid one seat to the right, and then everyone else followed to make two vacancies on the end for the fellows who walked around.

That's what you'd expect. Except the brunette didn't budge. She let our hero move a seat, and she was supposed to occupy his old seat. But either the thought of sitting in the warmth from his ass or being next to him was so unappealing that she didn't budget. And one of the fellows who walked around was to climb over four friends to fill the seat between the brunette and our hero. Awkward? You bet. A hell of an effective way to send a guy a message, though.

Our hero looked pretty fucking sad. I bet he enjoyed the move less than me. It sure as hell made my day, though. More than finding those day-old Neusecken Nutcorners in the bin behind the Rhinelander German bakery. It's so refreshing to be reminded you're not the only guy who scares girls. In fact, at this moment, it's not you at all. It's him.

Two Fingers for The Triplets of Belleville and Five Fingers for the hungry, lonely heart of a sad man.

Help Filthy || Want to tell Filthy Something?



Shawn Edwards of FOX TV - Kansas City

Barbershop 2 is "The best comedy of the year!"

The Perfect Score is "Four Stars! (It) swings with a swagger and maverick-like attitude that made flicks like The Breakfast Club and Risky Business so cool!"

Filthy's Reading
Peter Biskind- Down and Dirty Pictures

Listening to
The Flaming Sideburns - Save Rock and Roll


The Lavender Hill Mob