Monday, March 30, 2020

I Lost My Body; I Found An Animated Masterpiece

José Alberto Hermosillo
I Lost My Body, USA Poster. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
“I Lost My Body” is a hypnotic and poetic animated masterpiece. Remarkable, surreal, bold, and fantastique!

The non-linear narrative unfolds in two parallel and symbolic universes, the Body and the Hand, which intricately converge at the heart-rending moment of separation.

The two leading players must face their unique reality. Naoufel, the body, is searching for love. The Hand, with a mind of its own, is searching for its body. Both characters struggle with a sense of belonging and intermittent reminiscences of their tragic past.
I Lost My Body, Gabrielle, and Naoufel. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
Working as a pizza delivery boy, Naoufel meets Gabrielle, a young librarian who leaves a lasting impression on him. This is the first instant someone shows a ray of affection towards him. Naoufel falls for Gabrielle.

Gabrielle is a self-absorbed hard-working woman who looks after her old father, the owner of a carpentry shop, which is in danger of closing.

To break his uninflected routine and to get close to Gabrielle, Naoufel gets a job at the older man’s shop, where his life will change forever.
I Lost My Body. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
“I Lost My Body” is an artistic representation of life, with existentialistic questions about the consequences of our actions and how we come face to face with destiny.

The sublime and intricate French production is an adaptation of Guillaume Laurant’s novel Happy Hand.
Jérémy Chapin, director and Guillaume Laurant, writer. I Lost My Body. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

Mr. Laurant received his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Amélie in 2001. He also co-wrote A Very Long Engagement in 2004. 

In Laurant’s newest collaboration, viewers can get a sense of his innovative “freestyle poetry” throughout his narrative, proper use of dialogs, and symbolism:

“That it must be peaceful to be cut off from the world like that. To see nothing... hear nothing...” Naoufel.

Jérémy Chapin, director of I Lost My Body. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

First-time director Jérémy Chapin took a modern approach to the narrative and structure from the book. The auteur teamed up with Mr. Laurant in adapting the script. Chapin’s style consists of making visible the invisible, which he masterfully achieves in "I Lost My Body."

Before filming, Chapin asked himself, "how do we make a hand a vibrant character?" He began by looking at his hand and discovered how to show the Hand's point-of-view, then he used that perspective to animate the inanimate.
I Lost My Body, The Hand. Photo courtesy Netflix ©2019
To give authenticity to such a unique character and to the rest of the film, Chapin went through an immersive experience with different techniques of animation: abstract hand drawings, computer-generated animation, and CGI imagery.

 CLICK ON THE SONG AND CONTINUE READING:


The stunning soundtrack composed by Dan Levy is cosmical, mystical, and whimsical. We perceive ambient sounds blending in with classic, electronic, ethnic, contemporary, French rap, and lullabies. Digging deeper, there is a fusion of Buddhist and Middle Eastern music that identifies with every character and complements the film's unique haunting atmosphere.

I Lost My Body, French poster. Netflix ©2019

“I Lost My Body” is a psychological fiction about lost love that reaches universality through its skillful presentation.

After I saw the film, I was intrigued by the similarities with the crawling hand of the 1962 Mexican masterpiece “The Exterminating Angel/El ángel exterminador” by Luis Buñuel. I asked the director if he wanted to make a surreal piece of animation? He said, "No. “I Lost My Body” is hard to place in a box... I avidly wanted to find what it means to be a human in the story." 

Chapin's experimental narrative explores different genres and mixes them all together; action, drama, suspense, romance, and even horror. The concept, bold and volatile, works perfectly.
I Lost My Body, Q&A. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

In animation, only a small number of films can be considered existentialistic, “Waking Life,” 2001 and “A Scanner Darkly,” 2006; both films directed by Richard Linklater ("Boyhood"). Salma Hayek's production of Kahlil Gibran's poems “The Prophet,” 2014. “My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea,” 2016, and the Oscar-nominated Swiss-made stop-motion animation “My Life as a Zucchini” also from 2016.

This highly original European animation is set apart from Hollywood’s conventional narrative by exploring more daring subjects with a fresher approach. If "I Lost My Body" was Pixar, the Hand would be talking.
I Lost My Body, sign. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

“I Lost My Body” won numerous awards, becoming the first animated film to win the Critic’s Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2019, COLCOA Audience Award, and Best Feature Award at the Annecy Film Festival. It also won three Anny Awards, including Best Independent Animation, Best Music, and Best Writing. The film crowned its award season with a César Award, and an Oscar-nomination for Best Animated Feature.

To say, "I lost my body" is equal as declaring, "I lost myself." Symbolically speaking, in life, one is not only losing a part of the body but losing dreams, goals, jobs, friendships, parents, love, and hope.

A melancholic feeling permeates the entire movie. In a society that continuously alienates individuals, and pushes them down to a complete state of emptiness, one must find a sense of belonging.

“I Lost My Body” has plenty of excitement, evocative moments, thought-provoking questionings, and hopes to remind us about the forgotten dreams we had when we were kids.
Jérémy Chapin, director. Guillaume Laurant, writer. I Lost My Body. Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019
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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Troop Zero; Young Earthlings on an Astounding Mission

José Alberto Hermosillo

AFI FEST FILM REVIEW: “Troop Zero” is one of the most refreshing movies of the year. An unforgettable underdog children’s adventure based on real-life events that are captivating audiences on Amazon Original - Prime Video.

In 1977, NASA sent out to space two Gold Records with "The Sounds of the Earth," inside the Voyager spacecraft. NASA extended an invitation to children from all over the world to record a greeting in their native language.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration commissioned a small town in Georgia to represent the country. Local children team up to compete for a slot in the recording.
Troop Zero cast at the AFI FEST red carpet. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

In there, we meet Christmas Flint, performed by young and talented Mckenna Grace (“Gifted,” “How to Be a Latin Lover”). The absence of her mother makes the young dreamer feel that someone out there in space is listening.
Mckenna Grace, Troop Zero, AFI FEST. Photo José A. Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

To reach her goal, Christmas recruits a group of Birdie Scout misfits to compete against other more "normal" groups. The purpose is to earn the most “merit badges” to succeed in the mission. 

Participating in those trials will bring children together and will leave in them fond lasting memories of their experience.
Director Bertie, writer Lucy Alibar, and "Troop Zero" cast. Photo José A. Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

According to the directors Bert & Bertie, this vibrant and colorful film took two months of preparation and thirty-two days of shooting.

After reading the script, they were inspired to work in the original story of “the voice recording to space set in the 1970s,” something they considered meaningful because unconventional children were involved.
Bertie co-director of Troop Zero. AFI FEST Premiere. Photo José A. Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

Bert & Bertie collaborated closely with screenwriter Lucy Alibar, who also wrote: “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in 2012. Miss Alibar mentioned that she was open to suggestions, letting the actors collaborate during rehearsals.

In terms of creating such “diverse” characters, she said that "they never put colors on them." They only knew that they had to be racially mixed. Alibar also mentions she was inspired by her close friends: “They are so cool and different.”

According to the filmmakers, staging the dance scene was the most challenging part to accomplished.
Allison Janney and Viola Davis in "Troop Zero." Photo courtesy of Amazon Original ©2019 Prime Video

Having two Academy award winner actresses in the cast, Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), and Viola Davis (“Fences”), made the young actors feel star-struck. But as soon they started working together with the celebrities, the youngsters gained the necessary confidence to act at their level. The young actors' performances are authentic and praiseworthy.

The audience may feel that the action of this “brat pack” movie takes too long to take off, but in the end, “Troop Zero” is a rewarding movie to watch.
Troop Zero cast, AFI FEST Premiere. Photo José A. Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

Other successful films that empower children and embrace the much-needed diversity in Hollywood are “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Hunting for the Wilderpeople.” These movies portrayed both adults and children in their unique and fantastic world as well.
Troop Zero cast. AFI FEST Premiere. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
The film teaches us that winning is not that important. What matters is to embrace our differences, accept each other the way we are, and to gain confidence by participating in something larger than life, that leads to personal gratification. 

“Troop Zero” is simple, but its freshness and lively characters exceed expectations making the audience enjoy the ride all the way to the end and beyond. 
Troop Zero cast and film critic José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

Related Articles:
I Lost My Body; I Found An Animated Masterpiece
“My Life as a Zucchini” The Animated Life of a Swiss Boy
“KICKS” A BUNCH OF KIDS OF COLOR ROAMING IN SUBURBIA

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING - OSCAR WEEK 2020

José Alberto Hermosillo
Makeup & Hairstyling - Oscar Week www.FestivalinLA.com

For the 92nd Academy Awards, the Academy implemented a few new rules increasing the number of nominated films in the Makeup & Hairstyling category, from three to five. With more nominees, the competition is stimulating. However, the foundation remained unchanged, taking into consideration the pre-established literary genres, such as contemporary/drama, time-period/horror, and Sci-Fi/fantasy.

After viewing the 344, seven minutes “baked-off reels,” members evaluate the eligibility and attributions of each movie. Then, the Academy shortlist ten semi-finalists to name the five final films on Nomination Day.

Rick Baker is a legendary Makeup Artist, seven times Oscar winner. His body of work includes An American Werewolf in Paris, Planet of the Apes, Men in Black, Ed Wood. Photo: Gabriel Romero ©2019 Festival in LA

The Makeup & Hairstyling branch is relatively new. The category was established in 1982. That year, the Academy named Rick Baker as the first Oscar winner for his outstanding job in “An American Werewolf in London.” 

Since then, Mr. Baker has won six more times. His second Oscar was for “Harry and the Hendersons” in 1988. The extraordinary work executed in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” earned him his third award in 1994. He won again for “The Nutty Professor” in 1996, “Men in Black” in 1997, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in 2000, and “The Wolfman” in 2011.
Makeup & Hairstyling. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

And the nominees for Outstanding Makeup & Hairstyling are:

“Bombshell” Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker
“Joker” Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
“Judy” Jeremy Woodhead
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White
“1917” Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole
    Makeup & Hairstyling. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

    “Bombshell” 
    Oscar Winners:
    Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker

    “Bombshell” recounts the scandal over the sexual harassment charges against Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, by a group of female employees.

    The makeup department exhaustively researched a massive amount of books and photo files to recreate each character to perfection. Actors were a big help in achieving the desired look.

    Eye makeup was crucial in the creation of every character. The shape of the eyes was essential to give form and expression to the rest of the face. 

    The stunning haircuts and the dramatic prosthetics were vital in achieving the look.  They defused the makeup with an airbrush. This process was pre-established with digital technology and 3D prints.

    The team had three hours to apply the makeup to 90 different characters. They used heavy-forced makeup to accomplish the specific look of a “Barbie Doll” for some of the main actresses.
    Vivian Baker, Anne Morgan, and Kazu Hiro, Makeup Artis nominees, Bombshell.  Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Bombshell makeup display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Bombshell makeup & hairstyling display Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Bombshell. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Bombshell. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Vivian Baker, Anne Morgan, and Kazu Hiro, Makeup Artis nominees, Bombshell.  Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
      Kazu Hiro, Makeup Artis OSCAR WINNER for Bombshell.  Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

    “Joker”
    Oscar nominees:
    Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou

    Inspired in Marvel’s iconic arch-nemesis, “Joker” is the story of one of the most famous anti-heroes in literature. The film focuses on the psychology of the character from its initial transformation into a public enemy.

     “Joker’s” Oscar nomination for Best Makeup & Hairstyling can be academic at first. The truth is that the creation of the character was much more complicated.

    The makeup & hair department spent months of planning, logistics, and copyright clearances, from the studio and from the clown itself, which is a registered trademark.

    The collaboration between director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix achieved the Joker's final look. Joaquin lost so much weight that made his characterization impeccable.

    Talented makeup artist Nicki Ledermann (“The Greatest Showman” and “The Irishman”) spoke about the layers of makeup she had to apply to Joaquin’s character, and how she had to be aware of continuity. For the bloody scenes, she used different types of products, including solvable or waterproof makeup.

    The Joker's hair demanded a very distinctive tone of green. Hairstylist Kay Georgiou went to the produce section of a nearby market and found the perfect broccoli green color.

    They applied wigs and makeup in 15 minutes every day. The clown makeup was used 30 days out of the 60 days of the shooting schedule.

    Nicki Ledermann, makeup artist nominee, Joker. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Joker's hair's color: Broccoli green.  
    Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
     Joker makeup & hairstyling display.  
    Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Joker makeup & hairstyling display. 
     Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
     Joker makeup & hairstyling display.  
    Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Joker makeup & hairstyling display.  
    Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
     "Joker" makeup & hairstyling, Oscar nominee.  
    Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Nicki Ledermann, makeup artist nominee, Joker. Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

    “Judy” 
    Oscar nominee: 
    Jeremy Woodhead

    “Judy” is the tumultuous biopic of Judy Garland that focuses on her last trip to London in 1968. Renée Zellweger gives an Oscar-worthy performance portraying the legendary actress of "The Wizard of Oz."

    In charge of the stupendous makeup & hairstyling design is Jeremy Woodhead. For the characterization, he used prosthetics, wigs, and contact lenses. The makeup process transforming Renée into Judy took two hours every day with staggering results.
    Judy display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Judy display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” 
    Oscar nominees: 
    Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White

    In Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” the dark forces doomed the family ties between Maleficent and her goddaughter Princess Aurora. New allies and evil characters will try to impede the nuptials. Envy, ambition, and prejudices play a big part in this fantastic flick.

    The design of the makeup & hairstyling of “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” required prosthetics, hair, horns, and a good foundation. The entire composition took two to five hours to apply to most of the actors. 

    The design of the faces had to match the environment harmoniously. They camouflaged their appearance with fur and feathers accordingly.

    The most challenging task for the makeup department was continuity. During the dramatic scenes, they had to match one take to the other. For Angelina’s lips, forty shades of red were not good enough; she wanted a more specific type of red. 

    The makeup department paid close attention to detail. The hands and nails of the female characters were oil paintings. For the male characters, they used silicone prosthetics.
    Arjen Tuiten, makeup artist nominee. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. 
    Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
      Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil makeup display. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Arjen Tuiten makeup artist nominee for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.  Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA

    “1917” 
    Oscar nominees: 
    Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole


    In “1917,” two young soldiers are commissioned to deliver a crucial message to the front line to save hundreds on April 6, 1917, during WW I. As the story progresses in this war-movie, the challenges for the makeup and hair department were enormous. 

    To get the real facts, the makeup artists went to the Imperial War Museum in London to research the human anatomy and composition of the diverse ethnicities represented in the film. They did an exhaustive examination of medical books and photographs, focusing on facial and body hair, broken teeth, and even how the soldiers bled at that time. Coincidentally, the British Museum was founded in 1917 as well.

    The film unfolds in one take. In reality, the filmmakers did it in 30 continuous shots. The makeup crew had a very short amount of time to work with the actors - for the bleeding scenes; they built a rig to pump the blood on cue automatically under their uniforms.

    Another fascinating challenge was the use of the "blending point." The blending point is a technique used in movies to camouflage editing. In this epic war-flick, the makeup department had to utilize this approach to make a character turn “blue” when he dies. 
    1917 makeup display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    1917 makeup display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    1917 makeup display. Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    "1917" dental implants, makeup display. Photo José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Photo: José Alberto Hermosillo ©2019 Festival in LA
    Naomi Donne, Oscar nominee for "1917.."
     Photo: Gabriel Romero ©2019 Festival in LA
    Related Articles:

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