$9.99/ dir. Tatia Rosenthal/ 2008/ Australia/ Israel
It’s that time of year, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) has started and I am planning on seeing all the animated features at SIFF this year. So I decided to take off early from work last Thursday and head to small theatre at the end of Broadway, the Harvard Exit. The first animated movie I saw was $9.99.
I have wrote this before, but stop motion is a bitch and I give much credit to those animators who are working in that medium. I also appreciate a film maker who is willing to take a chance and make an animated movie that is NOT geared towards children. $9.99 is an all stop-motion animated film that is not for children. Right from the spectacular opening scene, you know that $9.99 is not filled with cuteness and fairytales, but is filled with real people with real life problems.
$9.99 is tells the story of several people living in an apartment complex and their struggle to find their meaning of life. The main main character is named Dave Peck, an unemployed twenty-something who lives with his father and brother. One day he buys a book about the meaning of life for $9.99 from there every other person’s story mirrors their path to finding that meaning. Each story intersects at some point in the movie, but the there is no cliched big event that brings everyone together (thank goodness).
The writing, especially with the dialogue, was witty and thought-provoking enough to keep me engaged throughout the whole film. I’ll be totally honest though, some stories fell flat in my opinion (there is one about a dude trying to get past his frat days), while others really excelled (the one with the little boy saving up to buy a soccer action figure). And after that awesome opening scene, everything else about $9.99 seemed slow paced and not as exciting. I understand why this is since this dealt with real issues and life tends to play out slowly, but still…
Anyway, the stop motion was done really well. All characters had that great “real” human feel to them, which is great since this film is in the all about that human interaction and feeling. There were no vibrant colors which made sense, since trying to figure out the meaning of life is not always a bright happy thing. I did have a little issue on the textures of the characters. They seemed a little too shiny and toylike to me, but once again, I’ll give a lil leeway to stop-motion animators, especially ones that aren’t backed by a CEO of Nike.
In the end, I’m not too sure if anyone found out the meaning of life. And that’s how it should be.