Today Only: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection" starting at $68.99 For one day only: Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection are at a one day special price. Offer valid on November 26, 2015, applies only to purchases of products sold by Amazon.ca, and does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants and other sellers through the Amazon.ca site. Learn more
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful animated parable on caste systems that will really show off you HD television.Aug. 13 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
This is another gem in the series of foreign animated films from GKIDS being distributed by Cinedigm. Starting with the fabulous "Chico & Rita" (a must for fans of Latin jazz) and moving on through "The Rabbi's Cat", the films (which I urge you to get on Bluray) are a joy to behold. Though "Chico and Rita" will probably remain my favorite "The Painting " by French animator Jean-Francois Laguionie may be the most artistically beautiful. I recently bought a new Hi-def TV and the Bluray discs I've been watching lately have been great but the brilliant colors in this 78-minutefilm blew everything else away! It's that captivating.
The "plot" of the film is how characters on a large canvas in an artist's studio actually are part of a caste system. There are the "Allduns" (fully finished), the "Halfies" (the characters that the artist has not yet finished) and the "Sketchies" (the ones which are only a pale outline). As a parable on modern society, we see the first group as the "wealthy", the second as the "middle class" and the third as the "downtrodden". Trust me, it will all make sense. You might find yourself - as I was - so enraptured by the artwork (which uses CGI graphics along with - in a few cases - real images) that you lose the story line and have to go back and watch the film again.
Unlike many of the other GKIDS, this film has an English audio track (as well as the original French one with subtitles), this works great.
There are a few bonus features including a 10-minute "Concept Art Slideshow" to a music score and a 30-minute-plus "Making of Featurette". I was really looking forward to the latter but haven't made it through that yet because it is in French with subtitles. This would be fine but the subtitles are in small print (even on my 40" screen TV - and in white lettering which is often hard to read because some of the scenes have a white background! (This has been an issue on a few of the GKIDS bonus featurettes.
But even with the problem of reading the "Making of" featurette, this Bluray gets five stars from me. It's truly an animated "work of art", which, of course, is appropriate, given its title.
The combo pack includes both the BD and a DVD copy.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I Love It!May 28 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Just brilliant. The visual style is unequalled: hand drawing and wet media meet computerized rendering in a uncommonly successful merger. The social message is about tolerance at many levels, to the point that skin color is the least of the issues. Characters have some depth (maybe not all that much, but some) and really make you want to like them.
But, at least one serious irony inflicts itself, and in multiple ways. The Alldunns, the self-proclaimed higher caste who identify themselves by their fine rendering, elevate themselves above the mostly-finished halfies, and everyone abhors the loosely-drawn Sketchies. Well, declaring yourself superior based on some trait over which no one has any control is human enough. In this case, though, the loose and painterly style even of the Allduns looks like kindergarten scribbles compared to the hyper-realists of the 1970s and 80s, or even to the oil masters of every century up until this. For them to declare degree of finish to be degree of value simply devalues themselves, when taken in the wider context of what painting can be.
And, in a second irony, I think of Rembrandt's etchings. Central characters appear in passionate detail. Just a few inches away, minor character fade out to circle faces, dot eyes, and lines for mouths - if that. Rembrandt used degree of finish as a way to direct the viewer's attention - "Here, this matters, there's a lot to look at." The more loosely drawn characters don't detract from the composition, they define it. They are equal members in Rembrandt's compositions, and I do not feel qualified to dispute Rembrandt's judgement in creating effective imagery. I do feel qualified to defend every level of detail in his renderings - loss of any would be a loss for all.
So, I love the imagery (except for some of the motion, but I quibble). I like the in-your-face message about equality, even if Dr. Seuss's Sneetches said it more directly. And I like the rich visual style. I find a few points not so much to my liking, but that's just life. My highes recommendation, for anyone who wants a bit more from their animations.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Lots of potential, but falls shortAug. 22 2013
Randall F. Miller III
- Published on Amazon.com
I'd imagine that most American critics will be tripping over themselves to sing the praises of this visually stunning French animated film. Hey, it's got a great premise AND it's subtitled, so what's not to like?
Quite a few things, unfortunately. But first, the good: this film's terrific and unusual style literally feels like a painting come to life. A handful of scenes also blend more realistic CGI and live action footage with the colorful CGI characters in a convincing, surreal manner. The story itself features a number of interesting allegories, especially the representation of class division based on appearance (sketches, half-finished drawings and finished characters), which could be substitued with the race/culture/relgion of your choice. At the end of the day, it has a good message that, thankfully, isn't just aimed directly at kids. Most American audiences equate all animation with children's movies, and I'm glad films like "The Painting" exist to prove otherwise.
So why didn't I like it more? The allegories are, at times, heavy-handed and a bit too obvious. Two of the central characters are of different "class" but fall in love (talk about predictable), and the film feels padded even at less than 80 minutes. The ending also falls flat, closing on a half-note that would feel more appropriate in a short 7-8 minute production, not a feature-length film like this.
Two other complaints, sadly, stem directly from this Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The dialogue at times is a bit corny, but mainly because the English subtitles are simply a port of the optional English dub track. They're not a more literal translation of the original French audio (also included), which is unfotunate. I almost feel like I can't give "The Painting" a fair and objective review because of this...but since I don't speak fluent French, I can only make do with what we get.
As for the A/V quality and extras, they're fairly good. The 1.78:1 transfer looks crisp and colorful with minimal problems; there's some moderate banding during at least one sequence, but it's not overly distracting. Non-music surround effects sound flat at times, but there are moments when they create a convincing atmosphere. Extras consist of a 34-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a self-playing art gallery and the film's trailer. Not bad for a lesser-known French import.
So "The Painting" is still enjoyable from a visual standpoint...but like many modern animated films, the story doesn't consistently reach the same level. It's still worth a look for animation fans 13 and up, as I doubt younger kids will really get much out of it. There's also brief artistic nudity, mild language and one or two violent (not gory) scenes, if that makes a difference to you.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful And Thought Provoking: A Beguiling And Sophisticated Animated Adventure From FranceAug. 17 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I really didn't have any particular expectations going into the animated feature "The Painting" by Jean-Francois Laguionie. I must say, though, that I found it absolutely captivating. I'm not prone to unnecessary hyperbole, you won't catch me proclaiming every movie ever made as "the best." But this audacious picture succeeds both as a parable of tolerance and as a stunning exploration of the art world. What appears to be simple on the surface is startlingly complex underneath. Oftentimes an animated feature can be dismissed as a kid's film or as a more sophisticated entertainment for adults. "The Painting" is completely suitable for older kids, and might even be a great conversation starter. Beyond that, though, it is a film filled with striking ideas that will appeal to anyone who loves the art world. If that weren't enough, it is also quite beautiful in its fluid hand drawn animation. Its unique visual style totally compliments the artistic themes behind the plot. In many ways, the movie is a metaphysical contemplation of art as seen by the figures rendered inside a painting. It's really something special.
As "The Painting" begins, we are introduced to a land divided. Within one unfinished painting, the inhabitants have sectioned off into caste groupings. There are the high brow Alldunns (completely painted characters) lording over the land with privilege and entitlement, the Halfies (painted figures that haven't been completed) who yearn to move up the social ladder, and the Sketchies (hand drawn figures that haven't been painted) who are the lowest form in the pecking order. Divided by race or class (depending on how you look at it), the intolerance displayed here expertly mirrors real world discrimination. As the Alldunn leaders seek to rule the land with a Fascist glee, a small band of characters escape into uncharted worlds. As they get to the edge of the painting, they discover they can jump from one canvas to another in the artist's studio. Not only does this provide quite a bit of humor, it showcases many different aspects of the art world. Finding out that the world is more open than they first imagined, they plot to find the actual painter in the hopes that he will complete the land they live in and make everyone equal.
I won't spoil any of the movie's surprises. The ending, however, is incredibly effective. Laguionie has crafted a really special movie with "The Painting" and I can't recommend it with enough enthusiasm. Bonus Features include a Making-of Featurette and a concept art slideshow. One of my biggest complaints in recent years is when companies dub a foreign masterpiece with an American cast and present that English language version as the definitive DVD/Blu-ray release. While I understand that may broaden the appeal of the movie to a wider audience, it saddens me not to have access to the original vision in subtitles. Thankfully, GKIDS has taken this into consideration. So here, we get a dubbed version as well as the original version in French with an English subtitle option. That way you can choose. "The Painting" was one of the more pleasant surprises I've encountered lately, an easy and definite recommendation for anyone who truly loves the art of film. KGHarris, 8/13.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Simple, thoughtful fable with lush & vivid artFeb. 16 2014
William Timothy Lukeman
- Published on Amazon.com
The world of The Painting is a riot of color & imagination -- but not all of its inhabitants are complete. The Alldunns are finished figures, opulent & very full of themselves & their sense of natural superiority; the Halfies, lacking some color, are second-class citizens; and the poor Sketchies, little more than rough line drawings, are fair game for the cruelty of the Alldunns. Thus far, an obvious allegory of social status, as well as a satire of religious snobbery & intolerance, as evidenced by the leader of the Alldunns, the Great Chandelier, who claims The Painter is never coming back & thus he, the Great Chandelier, should speak for Him.
But what happens when a young man of the Alldunns falls in love with a lovely Halfie girl?
Since this isn't a Hollywood film, the story takes some unexpected turns. The young Alldunn is determined to find The Painter -- but when he flees through the Forbidden Forest of the Death Flowers, it's not with his beloved, but with her best friend, as well as a Sketchie. And when they emerge from The Painting into The Painter's studio, some interesting philosophical & theological questions are raised. The love story is a real plot thread, but an increasingly minor one as the film progresses.
I won't spoil the rest of the story for anyone. Instead, let me praise this beautifully animated film for actually making inventive use of computer graphics, not to mention its welcome lack of fleeting pop culture references. The only culture referenced here is the rich history of painting. While certainly an all-ages film, there's no dumbing down for children, who are given credit for being intelligent viewers along with the adults. And the final scene is pleasingly inconclusive & open-ended, as is life itself for anyone who seeks his or her own answers to the Big Questions.
For anyone who wants something different in the way of animated films, this is a fine place to start -- highly recommended!