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A lot of thinking went into this project on part of film maker Ari Folman, I am sure, in particular with respect to the question which element should form the continuity of his career, the visual style or the topics. After the splendid and unsettling “Waltz with Bashir”,should he become the “Middle East Conflict Guy” or the “Stupefying Animation Guy”? It comes as a slight surprise that it is not another story of war and atrocities, or at least something dealing with the Middle East, but one of vanity and greed in Hollywood. This seems surprisingly light, friendly and anodyne a topic. Everybody knows, of course, that all of Hollywood is a bunch of supercilious twerps and 99% cent of them very bad people, too… can you squeeze something new out of this? You can, in particular in combination with that visual style established in “Waltz” and with the abundance of creative ideas introduced by the animation team.

Actually, there is less resemblance of the visual style introduced in “Waltz” than in what we know and love from Myazaki’s films – as the animation only comes in after the main character (played by Robin Wright and called Robin Wright, quite appropriately … she would be exactly the kind of actress that a Hollywood system would drop like a hot potato once she turned 31 and developed her first wrinkles, as happened to so many before. How many of those aging ladies will get a chance like real-life Robin Wright (or most splendidly American Horror Story’s Jessica Lange) to revamp their careers and jump over that gaping and unfair canyon that separates “pretty young girl” from “mature actress”.

So Robin Wright takes the only realistic option, she sells her image to the studio, allowing them to do with it whatever  improving technology will enable them. She has another career as an action hero, without ever setting foot on a soundstage again.

And then, when she gets invited to a Congress which discusses and celebrates the present and future of film making… then I stopped undesrtanding what this was about, but it was hypnotic. Upon entering the Congress area, we dive into animated territory, and it seems some form of civil war is about to break out. Robin Wright is important in this, she stands for traditional film making as well as for the future of disembodied animation, and maybe this war is all about her.

As mentioned above, given my limited knowledge about animation styles, I would call this Myazaki territory. Not just because of the actual style, but because of the abundance of free-floating fantasy, the overwhelmingly fantastic imagery, the lack of realistic boundaries. It certainly is gripping and looks splendid, even though I could not quite follow what was going on and who was fighting whom. A visual feast nonetheless, allowing us to enjoy the skills of Folman’s animation team in a more relaxed setting than in his previous effort.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_congress/

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