france

A perfectly crafted, poignant charmer.

Zucchini looks to the sky.

My Life as a Zucchini is one of the most wonderful films of the year, which has resulted in its much deserved Oscar nomination this year for Best Animated Film. Zucchini is a stop motion animated feature from France and Switzerland about a nine year-old boy, Courgette (which is French for zucchini), who loses his mother and father and is taken to a foster home where a handful of other orphans reside. The brisk 70 minute film follows Courgette as he befriends the kindhearted policeman who takes him to the foster home, and then learns to love and trust the other foster children in similarly unfortunate situations. The animation is colorful and simple, yet each shot is overflowing with heart. My Life as a Zucchini is not meant for very young audiences — the subject matter may be beyond a young child’s understanding and there are some bits of nudity and substance abuse. And yet, I recommend audiences of nearly all ages see My Life as a Zucchini because it beautifully tackles how all people, including children and adults, can rise above their surface-level differences to love each other, even in the face of tragedies that affect their lives in unexpected ways.

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“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.” -Anton Ego, Ratatouille

There will be no negative criticism here. Ratatouille live at the San Francisco Symphony was absolutely wonderful, highlighting both the magnificent award-winning score by Michael Giacchino and the brilliant animated masterpiece that is Brad Bird’s 2007 Pixar film. Audience members of all ages, including many families, entered Davies Symphony Hall over the weekend to watch Ratatouille. The SF Symphony has delivered numerous memorable film screenings accompanied by live scores, and this one sits near the top.

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Thomas Salvador is VINCENT

Thomas Salvador is VINCENT

For me, one of the many highlights of SFIFF58 was seeing Vincent, the new French “superhero” film from dir. Thomas Salvador. Having previously made only a handful of short films, Mr. Salvador took the plunge into feature films with this new wonderfully understated audience charmer, which he directed, wrote, and stars in. I sat down with the funny, polite, and reserved filmmaker to discuss Vincent, which has one more screening this Thursday, 5/7 at 6:15 (info here):

The trailer for Vincent says ‘the first film of French superhero”. Are superheroes just not as popular in France?

Not really <<laughing>>. The superhero movies have a lot of success everywhere. But as there are many, people are a little bit bored. It’s a real US kind of movies. Like westerns. You can’t imagine a superhero outside of United States. It’s a marketing way to present the film. If we think deeply, it’s not a real superhero movie but it was the marketing way to bring people into the theater. <<laughing>>

Well it’s you now. You’re the first!  You’re the first European superhero!

I’m not sure that, maybe there have been other people in French films with something special, special gifts. Maybe I’m the first. I didn’t do this movie for that. I did it because I feel it.

How did you decide on water as the source of power?

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The 56th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) is in full swing.  From April 26th through May 9th, Bay Area cinephiles, filmmakers, and movie lovers of all ages can visit select theaters on either side of the bay to see exciting new films from all over the world.

Here at Spinning Platters, we’ll shine our spotlights on a few films we’ve had the pleasure of seeing and other festival events we’ve had the pleasure of attending.  We encourage you to follow along and also visit the SFIFF website at http://festival.sffs.org/ to learn more about upcoming screenings!

Ernest & Celestine
(France/Luxembourg/Belgium 2012, 80 min)

Ernest & Celestine

Ernest & Celestine

The unlikely friendship between a hungry street-busking bear and a spirited young mouse takes center stage in this delightful French animated film.  Based on the series of children’s books (which I haven’t read but now intend to), Ernest & Celestine is a charming story about friendship told through excellent voice work, a great musical score, and beautifully painted images.  I was smiling all the way through.  This is a title you shouldn’t miss!

Next Showing:
Wed., May 1st at 7:00PM – Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

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