Steve James is apparently incapable of making an uninteresting
documentary, even when his subject matter might presumably be
thoroughly played out. James, who has already garnered enough
film-festival awards to merit multiple mantelpieces, tackles
Chicago's soaring crime rate, and in particular the work of
CeaseFire, a community-based interventional program founded by
epidemiologist Gary Slutkin.
Life During Wartime is something of a direct sequel to Solondz's 1998 film, Happiness, with one catch: All the characters are played by different actors. If you haven't watched Happiness in 12 years, it's not such a shock. Otherwise, the effect is disconcerting, like tuning in to your favorite soap only to find everyone has a new face.
This whimsical, thoroughly Belgian import imagines a primary-colored world in which the tiny toy cowboy, Indian and horse figures we all had as children (well, those of us who grew up in a pre-Transformers world) come alive and find themselves in all manner of goofy yet compelling adventures. The subtitled French-language film has won a cult following already, not least because its creators have been steadily churning out variations on this same claymation horse/cowboy/Indian theme for almost a decade now with occasional help from Britain's great Aardman Animations. Grade: B-.