microbe & gasoline

FilmWatch Weekly: DIY art is the order of the day

New movies from France, China, and Mars (sort of) hit screens this week.

Recycled TV shows may dominate this weekend’s box office numbers, but our focus is on filmmakers who utilize pre-existing materials in more literal ways, as well as those who explore recurring themes through constantly varying stories.


“Microbe & Gasoline”: French director Michel Gondry tells a low-key (for him) story about two misfits who become friends and build a tiny car which they use to escape their humdrum lives. (Living Room Theaters) READ MORE


“Mountains May Depart” and “Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang”: The newest film from the Chinese auteur, which takes place over a 25-year span, screens along with a documentary about the filmmaker, one of global cinema’s leading lights. (Northwest Film Center) READ MORE


“A Space Program”: Artist Tom Sachs has constructed several installation/performance pieces over the last several years that mimic trips to the moon or Mars, but with equipment made out of plywood, Tyvek, and other ordinary materials. This documentary chronicles his latest effort. (Living Room Theaters) READ MORE


FILM REVIEW: Teens & tiny cars in “Microbe & Gasoline”

French director Michel Gondry's latest finds him in his low-key, moderately whimsical mode rather than overdosing on twee.

French director Michel Gondry is, at least sometimes, his own worst enemy. Ever since graduating from music videos to feature films with the Charlie Kaufman-scripted “Human Nature” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” he’s been strongly identified with a certain twee, handmade aesthetic.

And yet, when he’s given full reign to these cellophane-and-balsa-wood constructions, the results have been uneven, to say the least. “Be Kind Rewind,” “The Science of Sleep,” and even the obligatory, misbegotten Hollywood foray “The Green Hornet” each had their moments, but Gondry’s penchant for whimsical production design and cheeky conceits feels crepe-paper thin without the intellectual penetration that Kaufman brings to the table.