In Simone Lia's "Fluffy," an ordinary man is apparently burdened with a small, talking bunny who thinks the guy is his father.
Michael Pulcino seems, at first, highly annoyed by Fluffy, the tiny, child-like rabbit who follows him around, continually asking questions, dispensing trivial facts and generally acting as needy as any real child. Fluffy is a child, really, and, in the time honored tradition of such storytelling, the reader at first assumes that this talking bunny is there to disrupt Michael's life.
It goes along with this understanding, but once you meet Michael's family on a trip to Italy and learn a little more about his irritating love life, it becomes obvious that Fluffy is actually a grounding existence in the man's life. For a man without a kid, Fluffy actually fulfills that need for purpose and functions as a physical anchor into which Michael can put all he has to offer but the rest of the world seems to reject.
Lia's cartooning is charming and her storytelling is depthful without being complicated. "Fluffy" unfolds matter-of-factly and the larger themes are not intrusive to a gentle and funny tale. Fluffy himself is a riot, a little lump of perpetual energy that challenges a man whose life might otherwise sink into the mire of casual soap opera, like every one around him, so self-obsessed that the man with the talking bunny is the sane, down to earth one.
Congorama (Facets Video)
"Congorama" did quite in Canada, winning several awards for best film and found its way easily into their top 10 films of 2006 -- this new release gives audiences in the United States a chance to find out why. It's a delightful film, a voyage of self-discovery via one clumsy visit to Canada, that starts out as one film and then turns itself inside out, becoming something else entirely
Oafish Michel (Olivier Gour-met) is a would-be Belgian inventor who can't seem to invent anything that fires the imagination -- or the purses of big business. His best inventions are a solar-powered robotic lawn mower that no one wants -- most people assure him that they like mowing the lawn -- and a wire de-icer that doesn't inspire much in the corporations he tries to sell it to.
When Michel finds out he was adopted in Canada and brought to Belgium, he mixes a business trip with a gratuitous attempt to retrace his roots. He bumbles his way through it until it all ends abruptly, giving director Philippe Falardeau the chance to invert the entire experience and start the film over again, presenting the whole thing from an entirely different viewpoint. It starts out as a slice of life light comedy, but ends up as a comedic conspiracy film criticizing the movement of corporations and countries in co-opting the ideas of the small guy.
"Congorama" is also a film about identity and how a person forges his own. Are the shadows we live under those of biology or culture -- or are they a mix of both that take strange forms and cause us to react in ways we don't even understand -- and might never? It's a film that investigates secrets and realizations and how those conspire to create events with the illusion that there is a plan, rather than a series of interlinked accidents.
Babylon Circus - Dances of Resistance (Mr. Bongo Records)
Kicking off with "Circus" a rampaging track that recalls early Oingo Boingo, French rockers Babylon Circus quickly move into energetic reggae and beyond to reveal their name as particularly apt -- they really are a three-ring circus of exotic party music.
"De La Musique Et Du Bruit" rock out some more traditional French sounds, while "Interlude Barbare" mines early jazz. "La Caravane" adds in some Middle Eastern stylings with its frantic revelry, while "L'huille Sur Le Feu" bangs out a horn-driven rock fury with a ska feel.
Being French, there's plenty of sizzling accordion regardless of the song style.
This 10-piece band started out as a straight ska outfit but branched out as their creativity took hold. On "Dances of Resistance," the band brings a multi-language anti-war theme to the lyrics, singling out -- no big surprise here -- Iraq as the center of their protest. The message is simple ---- the future revolves around the energy of music, not violence, and Babylon Circus is one more great entry from French music scene that deserves notice.