The Last Station, director Michael Hoffman's melodrama about the last months in the life of Leo Tolstoy, begins with fog and sleep. Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) lives with his family in a compound at Yasnaya Polyana, taking walks and writing and being seen to by his wife and the adherents to his "movement", people dedicated to his ideas of pacifism, vegetarianism, sexual abstinence and communal property who have gathered in a forest camp not far away. His wife, Sophia (Helen Mirren) wars openly with the head of his movement Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), who she claims in his efforts to convince Tolstoy to sign the rights to his works over to the Russian people is trying to steal the wealth that is owed to her upon her husbands imminent death. Observing all of this is Tolstoy's new steward, Bulgakov (James McAvoy), a naive adherent who is torn between his love of the man and concern for his wife.
Hoffman's script, which is based on the novel by Jay Parini, quite often veers itself into confused territory, building up a complex tangle of threads and opaque motivations that ultimately don't resolve themselves in any satisfying way. The scope of the film is grand, and its story should reverberate just as Tolstoy, whose beliefs foreshadowed in some ways both the Bolsheviks' and those of pacifists like Ghandi. It unfortunately doesn't, it's un-unpickable, building up with much gusto confrontations that are constantly ravelling off into nothingness. The three-way relationship between the Church, the faithful Sophia and the unbelieving Tolstoy, for example, is referenced often. In the last section of the film a mute priest in a magnificent hat even shows up, but the script never expands on this beyond awkwardly inserting it into the story as an attempt at enriching it or providing some semblance of historical accuracy. There are a ton of details in the film, but not enough attention is paid to most of them and as a result the film feels cluttered, overburdened, energetic but unfortunately pointless.
At its heart is the love story between Sophia and Tolstoy, and that story, as baffling and cramped as it is, is the reason to watch the film. Mirren and Plummer are, unsurprisingly, the best things in the film. Plummer's Tolstoy is vague, at once confused and resolute, apprehensive and full of joy and certainty. Mirren's Sophia is in full panic, in a righteous lather, forced to watch and expected to be mute as her husband gives away his time, his possessions and his money to people who are unquestionably devoted to him but also clearly in possession of their own agendas. They're great performances, all the more so given the vast gulf between the real importance of the couple's place in history and the script's ability to support that, both Sophia and Tolstoy seem willed into the film by Mirren and Plummer alone, both making the best they can out of what meagre material is there. Giammati and McAvoy, both talented actors, are unable to do the same and Giamatti's Chertkov seems neither a revolutionary nor a thief (and not both at once, either) but rather a cipher, a stand-in for a whole package of unresolved anxieties and aborted historical impulses. The scope of this thing never boils down to anything, it hitches along, getting by on the strength of Plummer and Mirren and not much else. It's interesting and pretty, but ultimately unrewarding. 4.5/10
Trying to level any serious criticism at director Michael Lembeck's Tooth Fairy is like four hardened grizzled WW II vets hand-cranking one of those rotating anti-aircraft guns with four different barrels pointing at a bunch of screaming Japanese Zeros around so they can blast an orange kitten out of a tree. Except the kitten is kind of an asshole and it's 1956 so we're not actually at war with Japan anymore, so you know... maybe it's not the worst idea in the world.
Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson plays Derek "the Tooth Fairy" Johnson, the beloved bruising left-winger on the local minor hockey team. He started as a skill player, a dangler, an offensive prospect that had his dreams dashed by a shoulder injury, and he's now happy to play a couple of minutes a night, hammer the opponents' star player, and spend the rest of the game in his custom recliner in the penalty box. He's a cartoon pragmatist, dispensing hard truths about the impossibility of dreams coming true to young hockey players wanting to be just like him.
As a result, he is summoned to Fairyland, and sentenced by head fairy Lily (Julie Andrews) to two weeks' duty as a Tooth Fairy, a real-deal winged creeper with a bat-belt full of spy gadgets and a lanky, awkward case worker with fairy aspirations of his own (Stephen Merchant, co-creator with Ricky Gervais of The Office). Lessons are learned, a whole bunch of obvious groaner gags are hatched, and everything, eventually, from a guitarist kid's fear of failure to a single mom's love to a future hockey star's cockiness and on and on is resolved in a Really Pleasant Way.
It's a kids movie, pure and simple, endlessly saccharine and full of pratfalls, Healthy Moral Lessons and magic fairy dust. It's also incredibly dull, and a massive waste of what's actually a great cast - Merchant is consistently funny and Billy Crystal is in vintage form as Fairyland's gadgetmaster Q equivalent, and Johnson is as charming as ever. Six year old kids will probably laugh their six year old heads off, but the dullness of the script, the predictability of the gags and the moral convenience and simplicity of the story is going to bore anybody not actually invested in the "ok wait is there actually a tooth fairy or not, dad" debate.
You want this film to be better, just because it could have been. It's stuffed full of legitimate talent and it remarkably doesn't feel like a cynical cash-in, it just feels diluted. It is going to accomplish its ostensibly stated goal, entertaining children, but outside of a few laughs here and there it's not going to do much for anyone else. 4/10
Austrian director Michael Haneke's icily beautiful The White Ribbon is a film very close to the perfection of a certain cinematic type. It lingers, it unfolds slowly and resolutely and unfolds further still when you start to try and unpack it after the fact - the film gets better in retrospect. Set in a small Protestant village in northern Germany in 1913, the film's various narrative threads interweave elegantly, obscurely, dreadfully until eventually, the bottom drops out underneath them all.
The film is narrated by a school teacher (Ernst Jacobi as the elder, Christian Friedel as the younger) reflecting on the time he spent as a youth in the village of Eichwald. Picturesque and seemingly idyllic, the village is shaken when the town's doctor is thrown from his horse after riding into a wire strung across his path by dun dun dunnnn... persons unknown. Is it the weird group of extremely polite creepazoid kids? Is it the humiliated midwife? The resentful libertine Baroness? As the schoolteacher attempts to woo a young nanny working for the Baron, a series of strange events unfold, small mysteries playing out: a barn is burnt, the son of the Baron is kidnapped and abused, the Pastor's bird is killed, the handicapped son of the midwife goes missing. The mysteries pile on top of each other, each small and unexplained, dour omens. The schoolteacher is witness and participant, observing without knowing a revelation of the dark, anxious and cruel character of the village.
While Haneke and the cinematographer and frequent collaborator Christian Berger do an astounding job of very very slowly ratcheting up the tension in the film, it eventually becomes clear that they're not particularly interested in the MacGuffin details of any of the small, petty cruelties the film documents. Instead, it becomes cruelly clear that the film, as Haneke himself has said, is about the origins of terror, a story about the lashings-out of a town in the repressive grip of the state, the church and above all else a moral code mandating repression, self-control and the keeping-up of appearances. Haneke's film with its worm-holes of petty violence, cruelly and sexual abuse mining their way through a very crisp, fastidiously maintained faÃ§ade of order and control is his own architecturally constructed, logically designed statement on the specific human flaws that led a generation later to the rise of Nazism.
Haneke's film is the rarest of things, a bit of very clever sleight of hand that doesn't leave its audience resentful or surly at having been misled, as the point of the film, its sub-textual ending-place is much much more interesting and a much better bargain than the film seems to be offering for the vast part of its textual bulk. This is something that Haneke does (but not always well - in his English-language film Funny Games he tries a similar trick and in that film it's incredibly irritating) and when it works, like it does in The White Ribbon or in his previous film CachÃ©, we're given works that are the literal antithesis of so much disposable generic fare, one that offers unexpected insights and rewards careful attention, and offer more the deeper into them one digs.
Thankfully, Haneke is a skilled enough craftsman that his film doesn't wait until its conclusion to offer up its rewards. It's not a lecture, or a lesson, it's anything but hard to sit through. It's arrestingly beautiful, shot originally in colour and desaturated in post, classically composed and beautifully lit. The performances match the script - minimal, ascetic and austere - and from this very careful control the film spins out slowly a very real, insidious, creeping dread and human anxiety, a Hitchcockian unease and suspense. It's smart without pretense, complex without disappearing into itself, slowly paced without boring. It's masterful, a dark pleasure to watch and even more so to unpack in the hours and days after seeing it, and if it's not the best film of the year, it's very very close. 9/10
Youth in Revolt stars Michael Cera as Nick Twisp, the nebbish-gone-wild hero of Miguel Arteta's adaptation of C.D. Payne's cult-favourite novel of the same name. Trying and failing to win the attention of the sexually sophisticated Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday), Nick is visited by the realization that he needs to create an alter-ego, an edgy bad-boy named Francois Dillinger. Francois has blue eyes and a moustache, he smokes, he trashes Nick's record collection and coaches him through a spree of arson, property destruction and sexual triumph.
The film, like Payne's book, is slightly… off, in a very good way, three quarters heart-warming, smart character study and one quarter aggressive comic nihilism. There's an edge here, a very very pleasant one. It's left-field humour and frankness about boners makes the film feels like the work of people who are interested in the film as a funny film rather than as a vehicle. It's old-fashioned, a little punk, a little tiny bit jagged and very funny. The cast is outstanding, including performances by Jean Smart, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Zach Galifianakis and newcomer Adhir Kalyan as Nick's partner-in-crime, Vijay. Arteta has filled the film, whose script is dense and literary, with more than enough visual humour and style to keep the film from getting too bogged down in its own witty verbosity.
Arteta (who rose to deserved indie prominence with the excellent Star Maps and Chuck & Buck) has found in Cera a really rare comic actor at a really rare moment; a genuine talent on the verge of deserved super-stardom. Cera absolutely mastered (at 15 or 16 seemingly) the smart-funny anxious and awkward comedy of sweaty palms and gawkish, aware nerd-hood, starring as cousin-loving Michael in "Arrested Development" and Evan in his breakout hit Superbad. He's doing similar things in the very funny Youth in Revolt but what matters, what's exciting, is that Cera seems willing to modulate his image (an image that's worth literally millions of dollars) by taking roles in films like Arteta's not-exactly-totally-run-of-the-mill teen sex flick and this past summer's very neat, very brave Paper Heart. His role in Youth in Revolt belies both a self-awareness and a willingness to take risks, to poke and twist his safe "Paulie from Juno" image. Which is why he's still funny, despite the occasional disaster (Year One, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist). It's suggestive of longevity and legitimate wit, and as somebody who wholeheartedly loves funny people in funny films, it's exciting.
My score: 8/10
Harry Potter-on-a-budget meets Twilight-for-tween-boys turned off by that filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mushy stuff, the really really poorly titled Cirque du Freak: The VampireÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Assistant is a mixed bag. Following the adventures of golden-boy Darren Shan (Chris Massoglia) as he is inducted into the Vampire/Freak brotherhood by the hilariously coiffed Larten Crepsley (the really funny John C. Reilly), the film details the end of a truce and the looming epic war between feuding vampire factions the Vampires, who do not kill their human meals, and the Vampanese, who do.
Crepsley, tired of the battle, finds satisfaction in a traveling freakshow, led by the very tall Mr. Tall (Ken Watanabe) who also has a very oddly shaped head. It features Patrick Fugit as a green snake-boy, Salma Hayek as a bearded lady and a wide variety of other freakish, supernatural outcasts. Their peace is threatened by the puffy, gross Mr. Tiny (Michael Cerveris) who longs to see a final showdown between the feuding factions and puts into motion a plan to turn two one-time best friends, Darren Shan and Steve Leonard (Josh Hutcherson) into warring leaders of each clan. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very convoluted, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clear that the film is based on a lengthy, multi-volume book franchise, as the book struggles inelegantly under the weight of exposition and back-story.
As is seemingly unavoidable with these kind of adaptations Ã¢â‚¬â€œ adaptations aimed at an audience that the filmmakers may feel would be poorly inclined towards wholesale changes to the source material Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the film is replete with moments that are obviously explicated plot points in some book somewhere, but sit like leaden, confusing lumps in the middle of the film. Darren is turned into a Ã¢â‚¬Å“half-vampireÃ¢â‚¬Â, but it is never explained exactly what that means, or how the process of turning someone into a half-vampire differs from turning someone into a regular vampire. Who is Mr. Tiny? Who is Mr. Tall? What relationship do the magical freaks actually have to the feuding vampires? All of this is left unexplained in a film that already groans and staggers to a dead stop near the end of the second act, as character after character takes his turn explaining their take on the current state of vampire/human/freak affairs. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stolid, cumbersome and really only comes to life when ReillyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Krepsley is on-screen. He comes close to saving the film, which isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprising, as he and Willem Dafoe as fellow Vampire Gavner Purl are the only actors who put anything approaching archness or levity into their roles.
The film has a bunch of neat ideas, a bunch of neat moments, and a couple of great performances but it ultimately suffers from the cardinal sin for this kind of kiddie fantasy: it bores. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s way too much going on, and the film spreads its real first-half momentum so thin, over so many different plot points and sub-plots, that the second half just grates and ultimately feels like a slog. 4.8/10
In short: Meat falls from the sky. Completely hilarious and 100% awesome through and through. Take your kids to see this, now. Or just go alone on your lunch break....
In a world (ours) where the kidsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ section of the video store is dominated by movies boasting farting animals, instantly dated pop-culture references and jive-talking stunt-cast celebrities, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a huge relief to report that thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a legitimately great CG-animated family movie out that isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even produced by the bar-raisers at Pixar! I was surprised, to be honest, to find myself laughing out loud through most of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, while at the same time feeling impatient for it to end so I could call my sister and insist that I take her kids to see it immediately. No rapping penguins, no dependency on toilet humour, and no Robin Williams. The film treats its young audience as the sophisticates they actually are, rather than playing down and dumb, and at the same time permits an entrÃƒÂ©e to the best kind of rainbow-coloured imaginative, anarchic fantasy land, one where it snows ice-cream and a giant pancake with two pats of butter and a flood of maple syrup can destroy an elementary school.
Written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the guys behind the underrated, short-lived Clone High 2D animated series), CWaCoM is a loose adaptation of the kidsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ story of the same name. Having not read the book (I read grown-up books for I am a grown up. I see childrensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ movies because that is my prerogative, thank you very much), I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really comment on the adaptation (apparently they changed a bunch of stuff), but as a film on its own, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fantastic. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s genuinely hilarious, absolutely ridiculous, really, really smart and bursting with energy.
Despite a bit of a lag in the middle and the tedious doling-out of some slightly over-wrought life-lessons, this movie has one of the best-written scripts for an animated family comedy that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come across. The humour is as high-brow as it is screw-ball, and never betrays the tone of the story or its lovably crafted characters. And as out-there as the story is, the film is smart and self-aware enough to poke fun at itself (and other more serious sci-fi/disaster films tropes) whenever possible, but never as an exclusive wink to the grown-upsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ rather, the film assumes that everybody, young and old, has seen enough cheesy sci-fi/disaster movies and can recognize the clichÃƒÂ©s . For example, while showing footage of food destroying the Eiffel tower and the Great Wall of China, a news anchor comments on how the food storm seems to be attacking famous monuments first before heading off to more boring parts of the world. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a joke that any adult thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seen a Dean Devlin film would surely get, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not that out there to assume that kids would understand why thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s funny as wellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.
The character design is fairly averageÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ nothing you havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen before. You can tell Lord and Miller did their best to bring their signature angular, hand-drawn style to the CG realm, but obviously they had to cut corners (literally) in order to make their usual expressive, borderline-cubist character designs come to life. Any sharp facial features are rounded and smoothed over, and any would-be interesting character profile is made less so in order to allow the necessary camera movements of CG animation to demonstrate just how fleshed out this CG environment really is. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too bad they couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have pushed the design a bit further to come up with something as stylistically unique as their past work, but still, nobody in the film had any nostrils which was nice to see. (EditorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Note: What the hell, Rajo) And thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing bad I can say about the animation. While IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen more impressive stuff done by Pixar, watching the giant food rain down in 3D was an absolute blast, and as usual, the Real-D technology did not disappoint.
It was the kind of movie you walk out of and think, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wow, I just saw a great movie!Ã¢â‚¬Â The voice actors weren't annoying (Mr. T did not ONCE say "I pity the fool"), the story was funny and charming and I just can't get over how awesome it was to see a giant jello-mould bouncy castle... I haven't had Jello in ages! I can't wait to see it again. Really. 8.2/10
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a sea-change in the inchoate zombie population. They started out as Haitian voodoo dudes suffering mind control, which IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that happy with, but that had to have been better for them than the cursed, magical, lurching, rotting wrecks that guys like George A. Romero changed them into. They remained thus until just recently, when movies like 28 Days Later and the remake of Dawn of the Dead stole their eldritch supernatural mojo, gave them some kind or another mutant blood virus, and let them sprint rather than shamble (much to the chagrin of dudes like the one seeing Romero speak recently at TIFF, cheering and wearing a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fast Zombies SuckÃ¢â‚¬Â t-shirt). What the zombies think about their new status as speedy, ill unfortunates is unknown. They seem angry though.
As the zombies themselves have matured, so has the film genre itself. Ruben FleischerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Zombieland is an example of a recent spate of genre flicks that are twisting up their common tropes to tell stories that arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in any particular traditional way about, say, the zombies that their characters spend most of the film killing (the Spierig Bros. upcoming Daybreakers is another example, a corporate thriller set in the Vampire Apocalypse milieu). Zombieland is at its heart a shy-boy-meets-girl love story, its just that the boy and girl are two of maybe the only four non-zombie humans on Earth.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a funny film, led by Jessie Eisenberg as Columbus. He has the same thing going on in this film as he did in this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very very good Adventureland: a self-assured Woody Allenish nebbishy aggressiveness that is equal parts entertaining and off-putting (as my movie partner pointed out halfway through the film, he has an impossible-to-ignore-once-you-notice-it staring problem).
The film positions itself at a point farther along in a theoretical zombie apocalypse than the normal zombie fodder does, at a point in which the survivors are not particularly scared of the zombies, having developed and honed their survival skills and lethality to the point that they represent little more than a nuisance. The film trades in the traditional zombie movie scares for laughs and gloriously disgusting zombie gore, as the heroes and the filmmakers find more and more brutal ways to kill them. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a scene in the middle of the film that is completely, utterly unexpected and absolutely hilarious, so much so that the film feels like a lead-up to and denouement away from the 8 or 10 minutes smack in the middle of it. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unfair almost, as its so good that it makes the rest of the film, which isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in any way bad and is in fact filled with beautiful riotous moments (including a spectacularly pretty title sequence), seem dull in comparison. It can never quite hang together. Taking the fear out of the zombie genre takes the suspense out, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a big hole in the heart of this film that is almost filled with humour and character, but unfortunately, not quite. 6.6/10
Harmony Korine warned us, and a lot of people didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t listen. I caught a screening of his latest feature, the micro-budget freak-out acid test that is Trash Humpers, at a screening at like 10 on a Tuesday morning at TIFF, in a half-full jumbo theatre at the Scotiabank movie omni-plex downtown. He seemed sheepish as he was introduced, the one time enfant terrible who wrote Kids at 22 and made Gummo a few years later, saying Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ all the people whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d want to see the film are still in bedÃ¢â‚¬Â. He plead with us, saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the kind of person that walks out of films, justÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ walk out right now, pleaseÃ¢â‚¬Â. Nobody did, not at that point, anyway.
Trash Humpers is really easy to explain and really hard to deal with, and it might be great. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not smart enough to really know, and although I know a lot of smart people like it, I find people that are smart enough to have argument-worthy opinions about the relative worth of these things to be untrustworthy. I certainly liked it (a great deal), when I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actively wishing it was over. The film is intended to function like a piece of faux-found art, a Ã¢â‚¬Å“tape youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d find in the gutterÃ¢â‚¬Â, complete with poor tracking and video-toasteresque titles. Korine, in costume and character records his friends (accomplices? confederates?), actors put into gruesome old-face, the kind of geriatricization that Spike Jonze and Johnny Knoxville employed in Jackass, except these actors arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t intended to pass: theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re made old, and made weird. None of the characters lips or eyes move properly, and the female characterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skin has a distinct greenish tinge. And nothing else on the characters is made up Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they have the hands and legs and arms of young people Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and they smash boomboxes, cinder blocks and lightbulbs with psychotic, aggressive youthful enthusiasm.
Korine calls his film Ã¢â‚¬Å“an ode to vandalismÃ¢â‚¬Â, which it could be. The four characters break things, get drunk and murder people, abduct children, pour soap on pancakes, screech and screech and screech. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s made a follow-up to Gummo that has abandoned that filmÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s semi-traditional aesthetic beauty, its colour and vibrancy, as well as its hopefulness, what hopefulness there was in it anyway. Trash Humpers is a film about America 10 years later, about America where people upload 20 year-old snuff tapes of ill people being murdered by karate instructors to youtube. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dark and difficult and really really interesting, if hard to sit through (certainly for the 20 or so people who didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take Korine at his word and walked out halfway through the film). ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s certainly not going to win him any new fans, but for people that me that love his work, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a thing of gross-ass beauty and legitimate, considered depth. 8/10.
A Town Called Panic is the anarchic, frenetic feature film version of the popular Belgian cartoon of the same name. Technically crude but all the better for it, the film like the cartoon is stop-motion animated using what look like (and in some cases are) the cheap plastic toy figurines that came by the dozens in bags, complete with plastic bases affixed to their feet. It stars Indian and Cowboy, two best-friend troublemaking goofs sharing a room in a house with the older, more serious Horse. They live in a small village with an angry farmer, his patient wife, their legion of pigs, chickens and cows (who take music lessons from Madame LongrÃƒÂ©e, the red-maned object of HorseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nervous affection) and a policeman in charge of keeping the peace.
After a birthday celebration goes awry, Horse, Cowboy and Indian are left with a mystery that leads them on an adventure that takes them in 20 minutes from the centre of the earth to the north pole in a battle with bizarre terrorist scientists, to the bottom of the ocean and back. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s riotously creative and thoroughly enjoyable, a kids movie that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pander or play down, with enough solid character-based humour to sustain itself with older audiences over the long haul. It suffers from being a little one-note, especially at an hour plus, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a small complaint. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t drag at all.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a great example of how creativity, real creativity and a solid, technically sound script can eclipse the need for effects, giant lighting kits, lingering close-ups on beautiful emoting womensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ faces and all of the other expensive cinematic Ã¢â‚¬Å“fundamentalsÃ¢â‚¬Â that can stand in the way of a dude with an idea and a hundred bucks and a finished movie. A Town Called Panic is inspirationally small-scale Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unless IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m desperately stupid, the total cost for everything that makes it on screen couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be more than a couple thousand bucks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but manages to convey a convincing, charming sense of adventure using only wit and effort. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s d.i.y. to the core, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inspirational.