As he did in Amelie, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells a simple fable with witty visuals, colourful characters and a warm heart. It's an utterly winning story of tenacity that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in their own family. Which is pretty much everyone. So even if it feels a bit light and goofy, it has a strong emotional kick.
On a sprawling Montana ranch, 10-year-old TS (Kyle Catlett) couldn't be much different from his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davis). While TS questions the laws of nature, Layton is a boyish cowboy like their dad (Callum Keith Rennie). And their teen sister Gracie (Niamh Wilson) and insect-obsessed mother (Helena Bonham Carter) are just as individualistic. So no one notices when TS enters his perpetual-motion machine into a competition and wins a top accolade from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. But the competition official (Judy Davis) hasn't a clue that TS is only 10, or that he has run away from home to hitchhike cross-country to accept his award.
Based on the Reif Larsen novel, the story has a whiff of the fantastical about it, only occasionally reflecting the real dangers the young and prodigious TS would face on his epic journey. But that's not the point: told through TS's limited perspective, this is a story about discovery. TS may think he's capable of anything a grown-up can do, but there are some very hard truths waiting both on the road and back home. And he's also about to learn that there might actually be some benefits to being a little boy.
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After being shot by an errant bullet, Bazil (Boon) becomes homeless. Taken in by the Micmacs, seven misfits living in a secret lair under a rubbish heap, he discovers that rival Parisian arms dealers manufactured the bullet that hit him and the landmine that killed his father when he was a child. As he plots his revenge, his new friends all want in on the plan, so they set about inventively using their salvage to get the company owners (Dussollier and Marie) to square off against each other.
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In 1849, we find ourselves on a French island colony near the Canadian coast, a cold and inhospitable land with few inhabitants. In a night of drunkenness, Auguste (Emir Kusturica) and his friend kill a local man. Auguste is sentenced to die. The only problem -- there's no guillotine on the island, and no executioner either.
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'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.