FlixChatter Review: The Congress (2013)

TheCongressBnr

An aging, out-of-work actress accepts one last job, though the consequences of her decision affect her in ways she didn’t consider.

I’ve been wanting to check this movie out of sheer curiosity. The idea of mixing animation with live-action is tricky, and I always wonder how a filmmaker would pull this off. This is from the same filmmaker who brought the Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, and I must say The Congress is an ambitious and absolutely bizarre film. Whether or not the film works for you depends on how much the eccentricities bothers you, plus the structure of the film is also not straightforward to make it digestible. But the way I see it, I’m glad I saw it and the thing with certain art form is, one can still appreciate it even if we don’t fully comprehend it.

TheCongressStill1

The story is loosely based on Stanislaw Lem’s sci-fi novel The Futurological Congress. In the film, Robin Wright plays a fictionalized version of herself as an aging actress and single mother of two, and her son’s hearing and eyesight are slowly deteriorating. A Hollywood mogul from Miramount (Miramax & Paramount) offered to buy the film rights of her digital image so in the future studios could make films using only CGI versions of her, provided that she’d never act again anywhere.

It’s twenty years later when her contract’s about to expire that the animated adventure came alive. At the entrance of Abrahama City, where Robin is to attend Miramount’s “Futurological Congress,” she’s given a chemical so she transform into an avatar of herself in order to enter the strict animated zone. Trippy is the word I would use here and I can’t even begin to explain what the plot is about.

TheCongressStill3In fact, when the movie’s over, I thought ‘what the heck was it that I just watched??’ Part of the film seems to be a commentary or satire on the mercenary nature of Hollywood, but other times it’s a mother-son story, and then there’s a love story between Robin and Dylan (voiced by Jon Hamm), who claims to be her animator. It’s hard to tell what it’s about, it’s really quite discombobulating as things get more colorful and more surreal. You’ll notice a bunch of famous people in the animated world, from deity, famous entertainers, sports figures, etc.

TheCongressStill2

The fact that the film somehow still retains my interest is Wright’s heartfelt performance, even in her animated format she’s always engaging and sympathetic. The supporting cast are excellent too, Harvey Keitel as Robin’s agent, Kodi Smit-McPhee as her son, and Danny Huston as the studio mogul. The most emotionally engaging moments are between Robin and Paul Giamatti who plays the kind doctor who treats her son.

The altered sense of realism is to be expected in a live-action/animation hybrid format, but messy structure of the film highlights the narrative problems. I kind of knew going in this film would not be an easy watch however, but still it can be frustrating. I think some people would have serious issues with the film, much like they would with say, Holy Motors, and I can’t say I blame them. But there are some enjoyable and funny moments, I always appreciate originality even if it’s a little on the bizarre side. I’d love to connect more with it and the characters, but overall it’s got enough going for it to warrant a recommendation from me.

3halfReels


Have you seen this film? Well, what do you think?

Everybody’s Chattin’ – Vol. 26

EverybodysChattin

Happy Friday everyone! It’s the last day of May but sadly I’m still wearing jackets these days… with umbrellas in tow!! It’s been a pretty lame Spring, and it looks like it’s gonna be slow going Summer too 😦

But hey, I’ll be seeing Man of Steel is exactly 11 days, so THAT definitely puts an extra spring in my step!! I usually get bothered by the endless amount of movie marketing, and this movie has certainly been bombarding us with endless TV spots… but y’know, I don’t mind at all. I don’t think anything can dampen my excitement for this, ahah. Ok, normally I don’t post interviews but allow me to indulge a bit today with this Henry Cavill interview with Vanity Fair:


I never said this about anyone but Mr. Cavill is like the 8th wonder of the world … [sigh]…

Ok, now that I’ve regained my composure (somewhat), let’s get on some awesome posts I’ve been reading in the past week. I’m going to put a number on each of the Everybody’s Chattin’ posts from now on, just so I can keep track 😉

Kavalier & ClayWell, since Superman’s been on my mind lately, I’ll start with Cindy Buchman‘s post on this awesome book Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, which takes the story of Siegel and Shuster and loosely fictionalized their partnership and their account of creating the comic strip we know and love today. I’m gonna see if Amazon has this!

While we’re at it, Bubbawheat asked the burning question Why do superhero movies appeal to you? It’s definitely an intriguing question, one which I attempt to answer recently in my Superman & Me post, but it’s great to hear what everyone else has to say.

Cavill_ManOfSteelRich also did a fabulous write-up on how Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner’s vision of the Man of Steel has been the standard-bearer for superhero films in general for many years and inspired millions. He argued why Henry Cavill [and the new film] would need  to escape Reeve’s shadow an be compelling enough to stand on its own. I totally concur and from what I’ve seen so far, I needn’t worry 😀

Now, switching gear to a Marvel superhero, Lady Sati just recently did her review of Iron Man 3. I always LOVE her reviews with all the awesome photos and even more awesome rating system!

A film’s artistic sensibility sometimes begins even before the film itself. Michael has been featuring great Opening Titles on his blog (with this super one being one of my all time favorites, natch) and the latest one he featured is from the sci-fi mystery Contact. I’ve been wanting to see it for a while but just haven’t got around to it yet.

What I love about the blogging community is discovering day in and day out how various films affect fellow cinephiles differently. Keith and his Public Movie Defender posts are awesome as he picks movies that have been lambasted by critics [even audience alike] and serve up his own defense why he disagree with them. The latest one was on Terminator Salvation, which I happen to enjoy quite a bit despite the flaws.

WaltzWithBashirRyan at The Matinee (who was the inspiration behind this Everybody’s Chattin’ series btw) started something great with his BlindSpot series. I’ve been discovering a bunch of posts that opened my eyes to films I’ve been blind about, such as this Israeli animated feature Waltz With Bashir that Josh just reviewed.

Speaking of another indie, the one I missed out on last month due to a thunderstorm, well Terrence’s review of MUD made me even more curious about it. Unfortunately we didn’t see eye to eye on EPIC though, but still, it was an excellent one-word-title double reviews, so check it out!

I haven’t done a Birthday tribute in a while but you’ve got to check out Novia‘s heartfelt and beautiful poem to her beloved idol Cillian Murphy on his 37th birthday. I love how loyal she is to her crushes, as she remains in love with Cillian even though she’s been caught up in the British show fever 😉

For good Friday fun (or any day for that matter), check out John’s mighty creative Movie Directors’ Baseball Jerseys! My favorites are the Scorsese, Coens and Edgar Wright Jerseys!

Now, last but not least, you’d want to head over to FilmHipster to take a stab at his latest Guess the Movie & Win sweepstakes for a chance to win one of four awesome Blu-rays!


Stay tuned for my Monthly Roundup coming this weekend, as well as mini reviews of Epic, Now You See Me and other movies I haven’t got around to reviewing yet. Of course there are more Man of Steel countdown posts, one courtesy of Terrence from The Focused Filmographer 😀


Well, before you’re off to any of the links above, tell me, what’s your weekend viewing plans?