Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

I Lost My Body, or: A Bird in the Hand

Sometimes life feels without direction or meaning. It happens to the best of us. At other times, your purpose in life is abundantly clear; for example, if you are a reanimated hand that has been separated from the body you used to be attached to. This story is the latter.

The Film:

I Lost My Body

The Premise:

The animated tale of a severed hand on a mission to reunite with the rest of Naoufel, a young man with a traumatic past.

The Ramble:

To say Naoufel hasn’t had the best day ever is an understatement: lying on the floor near his severed hand, covered in blood as flies buzz around him. Later, his hand busts out of a medical waste bag, determined to be reunited with him. What is Naoufel determined to do? You know, chill.

As a child, Naoufel was interested in music and exploration: he dreamed of being a concert pianist/astronaut. Things related to touch and to seeking out the unknown, you’ll notice. Naoufel’s happy childhood was cut short when his parents died in a car accident. At the time of the crash, he was recording sound, and is therefore still interested in listening to and recording the everyday sounds of the world around him.

an astronaut and a composer holding sheet music look down at the viewer

Now a young adult, Naoufel lives with his uncle and cousin, neither of whom are particularly warm or supportive. An exceptionally bad pizza delivery driver, Naoufel is aimless, isolated, and feeling a lack of agency in his own life.

That is until our apathetic protagonist makes an unusual pizza delivery. Late as always, Naoufel is unable to open the lobby door leading up to the 35th-floor apartment. Though merely explaining the situation to the customer at first, the two begin an earnest conversation over the intercom. Starved of human interaction, Naoufel develops a crush on Gabrielle, the person behind the voice, and becomes determined to find her again.

a young man wearing a helmet holds a pizza box in the lobby of an apartment building

Recalling from their conversation that Gabrielle works at a library, Naoufel makes his way there. He just barely misses her and, based on information a good coworker would definitely not share with a stranger, follows her to a carpenter’s workshop. When he arrives and is called out for lurking, Naoufel lies and says he is there regarding a notice for an apprenticeship. He’s especially keen to work for the carpenter, Gigi, when it becomes clear that Gabrielle regularly visits to bring him medicine. Even better, Gigi has an apartment available so Naoufel can move out of his uncle’s place.

Though initially using woodworking merely so he can be near Gabrielle, Naoufel demonstrates a knack for the process and enjoys making things. When Gabrielle helps Naoufel with a splinter in his hand, the two have an opportunity to bond. As it turns out, both are extremely interested in the North Pole and long to see that vast, white expanse of land.

a man and woman sit on the ground on opposite sides of a table, a pizza box between them

This leads Naoufel to a grand romantic gesture: building a wooden igloo on a nearby rooftop. Gabrielle is impressed; however, when Naoufel uses the opportunity to reveal his identity as the delivery guy from all of those weeks ago who has been yearning to reconnect, she is skeeved out.

Meanwhile, the severed hand wanders around the city in search of Naoufel. Facing a harrowing journey, the hand is attacked by a pigeon, nearly trash compacted, brawls with rats, and is almost hit by a subway car. As a viewer, you will become way more invested in what happens to this poor hand than you may have thought possible.

an animated hand perches on the edge of a window sill, a darkening cityscape in the distance

So how did Naoufel lose that hand? And is he destined to keep missing every time he tries to reach out to another human being?

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

First of all, I feel for that severed hand (no pun intended). I wasn’t even distracted by questions that later occurred to me, such as how the hand could “see” its surroundings and feel pain, and whether it could die again. No–I was that invested in what happened to this hand, and I was rooting for it to find Naoufel and become reattached.

Naoufel himself, though? He sort of drove me crazy. It’s difficult to watch him stumble along in a depressed stupor, and especially so because he feels life is beyond his control. While I relate to these feelings, they don’t always make for a particularly sympathetic character. Also, I hated his decision-making process in virtually every situation. Desperate for human connection and afraid to admit the truth? I get it. Tracking down a woman at work, following her, and then making up a lie so she’ll have to see you regularly? Whoa, man. Let’s not do that. Worse, even though it was beyond his control (and even awareness), I will never forgive Naoufel for not reuniting with that severed hand!

I will admit that this film is gorgeous to look at, and the symbolism is highly effective. The idea of touch as a way to connect people to each other and to the world around them is clearly important, and the animation focuses on not only the severed hand, but also the use of hands to touch, create, and interact. Naoufel is also very interested in destiny, as the forces shaping his life to this point have felt very much beyond his control. Though this review paints a somewhat bleak picture, I appreciate that there is hope in the film. Naoufel learns it is possible to break patterns and to change the course that seems to be laid out. Beautifully, he learns to be at peace with the idea of not feeling whole. Too bad the severed hand doesn’t get a say there.

Was my blog wife okay with this one getting handsy or did she promptly sever all ties (and hands)? Find out in her review here!

a bee uses a device for collecting pollen from a pink flower
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bee Movie, or: Not the Bee Puns

Wrapping up our first free-for-all of 2018 is a first for our Blog Collab:  a dive into the world of animation!  Will we immediately regret stepping outside of our usual sharks, demons, and killer mermaid territory?  I mean, probably.

The Film:

Bee Movie

The Premise:

Jerry Seinfeld made a children’s movie with a vaguely environmental message as an excuse to write a lot of cringeworthy bee puns.

The Ramble:

This should come with a warning label for the number of bee puns that are likely to induce physical pain.  I was ok with the first few, but slight amusement and eyerolls quickly transformed into resentment that made a movie less than 90 minutes long feel endless at times.

If you aren’t dissuaded, let’s continue.

Barry is a young worker bee who has just graduated from the equivalent of bee university and is now facing the prospect of choosing a career.  Or, rather, a mindless repetitive task he’ll complete every day until he dies.  This really begs the question of why bees even need to attend university and what they’ve even been studying if they have no idea what they’ll do for their short lives (AND other bees later reveal there are certain roles bees are bred to perform)…but, if like me, you think about this one too hard, your brain will implode.

a group of smiling bees wearing hard hats sits in a tram, facing forward
The longer you look at this image, the more convinced you become their eyes are moving.

Because the survival of the hive seems to be rather terribly planned out, the graduates have just one chance to pick the job they’ll do for the rest of their lives.  Unable to decide, Barry jumps at the opportunity to go out gathering nectar with the pollen jocks.  The pollen jocks are an oddly militaristic group of bees with nectar guns and a cartoon stereotype of a general as their leader.  Can I point out that the queen would really be their leader, and I can’t remember anyone mentioning the queen even once?!?!?  Does no one else find that bizarre?

To move on to the actual plot of the film (I’ll do my best not to analyze every single logical misstep in this movie from here on out), Barry manages to survive an unlikely number of obstacles when he is separated from the group.  While dodging rain drops, Barry finds shelter in an apartment belonging to Vanessa, a florist.  After she saves him from meeting the business end of a shoe, Barry decides he must thank her even though talking to a human is strictly against bee law (can I just point out that 1. this film spends more time on that over the fact that bees in the US magically speak English despite never talking to humans and 2. the highly important rule against talking to humans becomes nothing more than a vague recommendation after this moment).

a woman dressed in a pink sweater talks to a bee standing on a kitchen counter
Love at first questioning one’s own mental well-being?

Upon meeting Vanessa, Barry instantly falls in love with her (what) and she seems to reciprocate?  Or at least their relationship is significant enough that Vanessa eventually breaks off her engagement.  FOR REAL.

Now that Barry gives zero fucks about humans learning bees can talk, he and Vanessa spend their days together out and about in New York City (btw, Vanessa can somehow afford an apartment mere blocks from Central Park).  When the two visit a grocery store and Barry sees the amount of honey harvested from bees, he uncovers the truth that humans have been stealing from bees for centuries.  Determined to right this wrong, Barry decides to sue humanity–representing himself because who the fuck would represent a bee in court.

a bee in court presents evidence as the judge looks on
WHY IS BARRY WEARING A BLAZER, TIE, AND SHOES, BUT NO PANTS.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Barry wins the case.  Bees now own all of the honey they produce, begging the question of what bees would even do with money.  And there’s still half an hour left(???).  After the bees no longer have to work hard to make honey, they stop pollinating flowers and everything dies.  How can Barry possibly restore the balance again?  Will it somehow involve an unlikely scenario in which he has to land a fucking plane?

Yes.  Yes, it will.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I tried so hard to remember this is a children’s movie and is going to rely on imagination over logic in its storytelling, but the logical leaps are really difficult to overcome.  The message about bees contributing to the hive by completing boring, meaningless work until they die seems rather dystopian for a children’s movie.  At one point, a bee even points out how every job matters, no matter how small, which would have been a much better message if this film were going to choose one.  I don’t know what this movie was trying to say.  Yield to the inevitable, perhaps?

It’s also really difficult to believe that an adult human woman would put her entire life on hold to help a bee win a court case–a bee she may or may not be in love with.  And, honestly, what is the lifespan of a bee?  Spoiler:  Vanessa and Barry are in business together by the end of the film.  How long is that going to last and will it really all have been worth it???  Am I giving this film way more credit than it deserves as a philosophical reflection?

All of this I would consider overlooking if it weren’t for the fucking bee puns.  The bee puns, OH GOD, THE BEE PUNS.  I’ll give you just one terrible pun so you can feel my pain:  Sting testifies at the trial.  I could’ve forgiven this film for a lot, but I can’t fucking forgive that.

Overall, the plot is horrifically nonsensical, there’s no identifiable message, and I really don’t understand who the target audience for most of the humor was.  I’m bumping the rating up slightly as I am proud that we’ve gained admission to the exclusive(?) Bee Movie club, but I’m ready to return my membership card.

Would my blog wife defend this one in court or introduce it to the bottom of a large boot?  Read her review here to find out!