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Askew Review 15

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THE DISTRICT (Atopia) 2005. Animated Satire. 95 minutes. Color. Not Rated. Hungarian with English subtitles. In this highly original animated feature, a group of Hungarian teens concoct a scheme to strike it rich by going back in time and burying a herd of mammoths, then returning to the present to drill for the oil the creatures produce. Their activities draw the attention of Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair and, naturally, George W. Bush. Adding to the fun are several musical numbers featuring Hungarian hip-hop, and a riff on the Romeo and Juliet love story.
  So often when I receive a review screener, the film itself falls far short of living up to the description on the DVD box. Iím delighted to say The District (MySpace) exceeds my expectations by several degrees. There are flashes of the animated style of Ralph Bakshi and (as a quote on the box notes) South Park, but The District is ultimately a unique vision, and a very entertaining one to boot. Thereís so much to see and hear, youíll want to re-watch this one to catch what you missed the first time. The animators incorporated a number of tools via computer to create this film, including motion capture and a modern rotoscoping technique. The result is a bright collage of images that look both flat and three-dimensional at the same time. The story is original, the musical numbers are fun and catchy, and thereís a clever political message within it all. Donít worry though, it isnít preachy, and if you donít mind reading subtitles, youíll have a ball with The District. This is adult stuff, with flashes of nudity and no shortage of foul language, but itís not gratuitous. The District is seriously one of the most imaginative animated features youíll see, and I recommend it highly. The DVD includes a 30-minute making-of doc and excerpts from the original television series that inspired the film. - Budd Layman



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