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Friday, May 23, 2008

Balloons and their boys

Earlier this week I saw Flight of the Red Balloon, Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien's serene new art-house film that opens at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema on May 30. Partly the film pays homage to Albert Lamorisse’s "The Red Balloon,"a classic French film that's about 34 dialogue-free minutes and is (or at least used to be) a perennial film for elementary, middle and high schoolers. Earlier this month, Slate's David Haglund wrote an appreciation of both films that posed the question "Do boys today still have time for red balloons?"

I saw Flight of the Red Balloon on Wednesday, then checked "The Red Balloon" out of the library and watched it with my daughter on Thursday. (As far as she's concerned, it still holds up.) I must confess that I had trouble watching both films without being reminded of "Billy's Balloon," a cartoon by the brilliantly twisted Don Hertzfeldt. I suppose that this is technically work safe, but be warned that it's one of the absolutely darkest pieces of dark comedy that I've ever seen:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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