Wednesday, July 29, 2015

City of Mice 2

The second of the Persian movies we saw, courtesy of Daricheh Cinema, who brought us A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, illustrates the perils and pleasures of going into a movie completely blind. Apparently, City of Mice was a movie from about 30 years ago, which in turn was based on a TV show, about a bunch of mice who live in a city and in fear of their arch-nemesis, an evil creature who is largely referred to as, roughly, "He Who Is Not Named".

Actually, the construction is somewhat more awkward (at least in English) and used in a number of roles, to mean "cat", both a specific cat, minions of said specific cat, all cats and kittens, and possibly things that look like cats.

It's quite cute, clever puppet show with some nice musical numbers, and way better than Sharknado 2. I don't mean to keep harping on that point, but every movie we've seen since Sharknado 2 has been better, regardless of the budget, and a reminder that "low budget" doesn't have to mean "crap".

I don't have any idea what the budget was here, but it wasn't huge, and the puppet technology isn't quite at the level of "The Muppet Show" in 1978, but a whole lot of care was put into this and it shows. The little mouse city is charmingly crafted, somewhat reminiscent of Ernest and Celestine, and the lighting and camerawork is careful and well thought out.

I won't bring Sharknado up again. Even if Sharknado 3 is the top Twitter trend right now.

Anyway, although it's aimed a children, much like the muppets, it's got enough clever parts to hold the interest of adults, and I imagine for adults in their 30s, there's a special nostalgia in seeing all the old characters again—who, if I'm not mistaken, were also made 30 years older, and whose kids are now fighting the evil cat. (Confirmed: My 28-year-old Persian co-worker saw this and loved it, having watched the show as a kid.)

I liked thinking that they were the grownup versions of the former characters, anyway; I hope it's true. I can't quite tell from the trailer for the original, though it's easy to see how much better they've gotten at puppetry.

Also, because it's not American, whatever "political correctness" they may have is lost on me. I would've thought, for example, that the underlying message was a bit subversive for the Mullahs—the kids disobey authority constantly, and there's no mention of Allah or Islam—but now that I think about it, if it's like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, it was shot here in the states, rather than back in Iran.

Anyway, it's kind of refreshing seeing the nagging busybody wife villain (not unlike Absolute Rest), the kids fighting evil with slingshots and scratchy gas. Oh, and also burning and blowing up their enemies.

It was a hard movie not to smile along with, even if it wasn't the sort of thing we'd normally pick.

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