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Pompo the Cinephile (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000225027
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 10/3/2024 19:36
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    Review for Pompo the Cinephile

    10 / 10


    I love movies about movies, (says the guy who’s yet to watch Cinema Paradiso). There’s something appealing about cinema getting introspective, commenting on itself, whether it’s a love letter, or a parody. Bowfinger gets a regular spin in this house, and the Japanese movie industry takes particular pleasure in examining itself (Takes time out to once again recommend One Cut of the Dead). One of my favourite anime movies is Millennium Actress, and while the Shirobako series was all about an anime studio making a TV show, the Shirobako feature film spin-off had their characters turning their TV anime into a movie. I think it’s the meta aspect of this particular genre that really appeals to me. Pompo the Cinephile from 2021 is another such entry into the genre, where a humble production runner gets placed unceremoniously into a director’s chair.

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    Joelle Davidovich “Pompo” Pomponett is a prodigal producer. A young woman who inherited her position in Peterzen studios from her grandfather, she has a passion for producing b-movies, finding and nurturing talent, and has a maxim that no movie should be longer than 90 minutes. She’s supremely, and deservedly confident, which is something that can’t be said for her assistant Gene Fini, a nervous introvert who never gets enough sleep, constantly races to serve her every whim, and incidentally tries to learn everything about everything in the film industry.

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    That kind of devotion gets noticed, and one day Pompo gives her latest script “Meister” to Gene, and tells him that he’s going to direct the movie, starring the greatest actor in the world, Martin Braddock, who’s come out of retirement after ten years to make the film. The script has been specifically written for Nathalie Woodward, an untested ingénue who has never acted before. But this script is anything but a b-movie, and this is Gene’s only change to live out his dreams.

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    The Disc

    Pompo the Cinephile gets a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this Blu-ray disc, with the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese and English, with optional translated English subtitles, Hard of Hearing English subtitles to accompany the English dub, and Spanish subtitles as well. It’s an excellent transfer of a recent film, with great detail, rich colours, and no sign of compression visible at all. The aspect ratio switches to 2.35:1 for the “Meister” sequences. It’s a wonderful experience, imaginatively directed, and snappily edited. It’s a vivid and lively piece of cinema. The audio lives up to the quality of the image, nice and immersive and really well designed. The actors suit their characters well, and the music is really a driving impetus behind the narrative (the film begins with an awards ceremony musical number). The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos, although they are in that white font that has a very thin black outline, which can get lost against busy backgrounds. Also, the end theme lacks lyric subtitles.

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    You get one disc in a BD Amaray case, with a reversible sleeve. The disc boots to an animated menu. For physical extras, you’ll want the collector’s edition, but this standard edition comes with the following extra features.

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    Feature Length Storyboards (93:43)
    Trailers & Songs (5:47)
    Character Design Gallery slideshow (3:18)
    Commentary by Director & Crew

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    If you could refine, distil, and bottle exuberance, and then somehow take that elixir and infuse it into a movie, you’d get Pompo the Cinephile. I haven’t wholeheartedly enjoyed losing myself in a movie as much as this for a long time, maybe even as far back as One Cut of the Dead, although this is a completely different animal. Pompo the Cinephile is an unadulterated love letter to the art of cinema, and I wound up loving every frame of this energetic and vibrant feature film.

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    It wasn’t love at first sight though, as the film certainly felt tropey in the beginning. There’s a habit in anime of putting cute and underage characters in positions of authority. It’s a comedy short cut that many productions employ, and in this case Pompo was giving me flashbacks to Kate from World Conquest Zvezda Plot, the pint-sized Bond villainess. Gene Fini with perpetual bags under his eyes, and milquetoast manner also seemed a bit of a cliché. And the film makes no excuses for its use of serendipitous coincidence to advance its plot. Gene gets enamoured of his muse from a passing glance on a commuter train, before he actually meets her in the studio and learns that she’s to be the star of his movie.

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    The film revels in the world of movie making, taking us behind the scenes of the films Pompo produces, revealing her to be a regular Roger Corman in the kind of stories she brings to the screen, and the efficiency with which she organises her studio. With a starlet, a director, and a digital backlot, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what she can make, but she sticks to crowd pleasing schlock and a philosophy borne of butt-numbing movie watching with her grandfather, that no film should exceed 90 minutes. But then she comes up with a script that is no b-movie, and she entrusts a first-time director, her assistant Gene to make it reality.

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    There’s an ease to the filming process, delightful actors, a cooperative crew, and in Gene a nervously self-assured director that makes it all look too simple. It’s fun to watch, but may not exactly ring true, and while the film is alive and wholly holds the attention to this point, it doesn’t really inspire. But once the film shoot wraps, and Gene gets into the edit booth, he hits a road block, and it’s at this point that the film grabbed me emotionally; it’s at this point that Pompo the Cinephile elevates to a veritable modern classic. Invested in the character, the film reveals its trump card, an exploration of what cinema really means to fans of the medium. It leads to a somewhat indulgent conclusion, but by this point, Pompo the Cinephile has so sold its message that you just hold on for the ride, basking in the schmaltz. It’s a perfect little piece of entertainment, and is well worth watching.

    Pompo the Cinephile is available in Collector’s Edition and Standard form direct from Anime Limited, from Anime On Line and from mainstream retailers.

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