- Titles: Eiga Daisuki Pompo-san, Pompo: The Cinéphile
- Genre: Comedy, Cinéma
- Length: 1h 34 min
- Studio: CLAP
Nyallywood is a town like no other. A town of magic and miracles. A town where dreams come true. That is if you can make them come true. Behind the glamour and the glitz of every great movie are back-breaking labour, sleepless nights and endless sacrifice. Pomponette the producer knows that she’s been around movies her entire life after all. And her assistant Gene Fini knows that too. He was never one for fresh-eyed optimism in the first place so this isn’t a big adjustment. Even young little ingenue Nathalie Woodwart knows it. She might look like one of those girls who can smile through anything but Nyallywood is a town that will chew you up and spit you out. A little country girl like her, working 3 jobs just to get turned down at every audition knows a thing or two about hardship. And yet, here they all are, toiling away to create just 90 minutes, even if it kills them. Because Pompon, Gene and Nathalie love movies.
I went to see Pompon the Cinéaste at Fantasia this year. Yup, in an actual cinéma. With a lot of safety precautions and I am fully vaccinated. I was glad about it. There was a short movie called Fire Craft that was presented with it. Both were having North American premieres so you may not have seen either yet.
Let me split them up:
Fire Craft or Hizukuri is a crowd-funded passion project. AniList does not name a studio for it and the little intro we got at the festival said that the director simply really wanted to make it on his own. Still he had the help of Yuuki Funagakure as art director and who seems to have done some visually interesting things. In any case, Fire Craft looks great.
The character designs are a bit unusual. The faces haveminimal traits that don’t move much, like masks and yet as the story progresses become extremely effective at refelecting emotion. Or maybe you just start to see what you want in them. In any case, I loved it. The backgrounds are often spartan but in an interesting way and the use of CG works well within context. I was impressed.
As for Pompo. I looked up studio CLAP. It seems to be their first substantial project having done one, one-minute production and a few music videos. And wow! I guess I can see the music video aesthetics. Pompo is a movie that talks a whole lot about editing and bot is the editing at the forefront of the production.
Depending on your taste you could call Pompo overedited at times but I think it worked. The art is interesting and consistent, occasionally there are some forrays into slightly different art styles to go with certain scenes. The colours are really rich and the designs are detailed. But all of it remains fairly realistic, at least in anime terms. It’s the editing that brings a surreal aspect to the entire movie.
There are a lot of different scene transitions and some are absolutely brilliant, playing with space and time in a way that will warp your perception without making you lose track of the story. It infuses energy into otherwise mundane scenes yet pulls back to let sombre moments play out.
A very fun film to see. I would recommend it t any film student on the merits of the production alone, even if it does occasionally get a bit frantic.
Story & Characters
Let’s go back to Fire Craft. Fire Craft is a bit of a sad story. On the surface, it tells the story of a young boy who has just lost his father to disease and travels by himself to the countryside to find one of his father’s old friends who might repair some gardening sheers they found in his father’s room. Through the story, you get glimpses of the boy’s guilt and pain regarding the sometimes troubled relationship he had with his loving dad. It’s a very quiet short film with minimal exposition. You discover this entire relationship through little images that play out without dialogue or sparse words that hang in the air.
And it’s very pretty. The entire short is infused with an air of rebirth and hope. It’s a tale of acceptance and understanding. It was sweet and I was glad I got a chance to see it. I hope the director will make more.
And now for our feature film. Pompo, as the title suggests, is a movie about making movies. It’s about making live-action movies but a lot of it is applicable to any form of media really. And it’s what I would call a clear-eyed love letter.
Pompo shows a world filled with generally nice people with varying degrees of talent trying to make a movie. And just how difficult that is. There’s nothing extraordinary. If anything, their movie shooting experience goes almost unbelievable well. Even so, it’s just so difficult.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate you need to figure something out right away or the entire scheduling goes off track. And you can’t just extend location shoots willy nilly. Talent is great but it’s sort of subjective and you need way more than just that. There was a nice little scene of a popular actress who works out every single day to keep her figure however when she has to shoot a movie she stops for a few days and tries to put on a bit of fat because people don’t like actresses with too much muscle. and she’s a B-list star.
But after all the excitement of pointing cameras at actors and framing the perfect moment in time. After the part we always see. Well that’s where the real work begins in Pompo.
That’s when you have days and weeks of editing to create a viable movie out of 72 hours of images and raw sound. Editing changes a lot about a movie. If you have ever seen the YouTube channel Editing is Everything, you might know what I mean. And Pompo the Cinéphile also attaches a lot of importance to the edit as it can completely change the impact and vision of a film.
That’s also why Gene Fini, the movie director is the one editing it as well. And editing your own movie is way more challenging than editing someone else’s. There’s emotions, and hubris that start seeping in. You can lose your way really easily. But if you stick with it, it’s a clear shining singular vision, with all the passion and focus that implies.
The third act of Pompo the Cinéphile is dedicated to the nitty-gritty. One could argue it’s the dull side of the movie business but it’s this inclusion and the importance it was given that really sold the movie to me.
It’s seeing Gene alone in a chair in front of a computer cutting and recutting scenes together for what seemed forever. It was how a slight production delay could cause a backer to pull out and the tedious and anxiety-filled exercise of trying to find more financing at the last minute for a risky project.
It’s about choosing what to sell to investors and what to sell to audiences. And the absolute nightmare of reshoots when you realize you need just one more scene.
There’s a lot of talking in conference rooms and fighting exhaustion in Pompo the Cinéphile. And all of it just looks like love after a while. It’s a love letter to the hardships of making movies because movies are great. It’s about everything you give up when you chase a dream. And it’s about how a film can be where you belong when you don’t fit in anywhere else.
At one point Gene asks Pompo why she chose him as an assistant and Pompo says he had dead eyes. Eyes that didn’t sparkle. He looked to be someone that didn’t have a great and exciting youth. Someone that wasn’t popular or having fun. And she’s right. From what we know Gene didn’t have a bad life but he was an isolated and withdrawn kid.
But you see, the point that Pompo is making is that people who have great lives shouldn’t make movies. It’s people who want to escape from reality that know how to create different worlds. They’re the ones with the practice of bringing hat isn’t there into existence.
And it isn’t sad. Because in movies, you can have that different world. You can create the magic that you’re missing. And in time, you can find the perfect place for yourself.
I had a very good time watching Pompo the Cinéaste. I should say that most of the anime movies I have seen in theatres were romances so maybe that’s why this one stood out. In any case, I enjoyed it a lot and I would recommend it if you can find it.
You might like this anime if:
You are curious about the art and business of making movies. You like editing!|
My favourite character:
This one is really tough. The cast isn’t that big and they are all pretty likeable. Maybe Martin Braddock, he really grew on me!
I wanted something witty but guys, there’s an actual cocktail called The Cinephile and it looks yummy.
- Every time Gene takes notes – take a sip
- Every time we see a movie poster – take a sip
- Every time Gene freaks out – take a deep breath
- Every time Pompo wants food – get snacks
- Every time we see film stock – take a sip
- Every time someone is watching something in the screening room – take a sip
- Every time Nathalie runs – put the snacks away
- Every time Pompo burts nto a room – take a sip
- Every time Nathalie eats – take a sip (I was a bit hungry when I watched this movie)
- Every time Gene becomes a total cinema nerd – smile
- Every time anyone blushes – gwaaah
- Every time Martin acts – clap!