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Genie In a Bottle - METROPIA and ROAD, MOVIE from Tribeca

Atma Hair Oil or D'Angst Shampoo, M'am?

The keys to the last two Tribeca films I've seen, Tarek Saleh's innovative new Metropia and the enjoyable Indian coming of-age tale, Road, Movie, both sound like they might be sold at your local pharmacy.

For young Vishnu, Atma Hair Oil (the family business) represents the cultural roots he would rather ditch like a parent on the first day of school, as he sets out for the coast in a dilapidated old truck. The truck, to be sold to a coastal museum, contains (along with two cases of the offending hair potion) ancient film projectors that allow it to function as a travelling cinema.

While crossing a parched desert, showing movies and collecting companions that include a wise-cracking boy, a beautiful girl, and his first mentor ("we're all lost, aren't we?"), Vishnu must face vicious cops, regional water lords, and his own selfishness. Overall, Road, Movie is a sweet and nostalgic ride.

On the other hand, the dandruff shampoo in Metropia, aptly named D'Angst, is so potent that it actually grows hair - hair which then imbeds itself into your brain, allowing for your thoughts to be heard and controlled by the evil TREXX conglomerate.

Such is the premise of this futuristic story set in Europe in 2024, which begins with Roger, a computer-animated man with a disproportionately large face (seemingly teleported from an Edvard Munch painting). His world exists in shades of grey with an invasive interior monologue that chimes, "Roger, you can't stop your thoughts."



It is unclear whether Roger is suffering from an acute anxiety attack. It is not until he screws his courage to the sticking place and ditches his drone job to follow Nina, the beautiful woman whose face adorns the D'Angst shampoo bottle, that all bets are off.

The plot of Metropia is confusing and the animation is eerie. But then again so are the film's allusions to a Europe controlled by big business, the media, advertising and reality television.

And yet, somehow, this surreal vision of one man against the system as he searches for meaning amidst the neural network of European city subways is both haunting and affecting.

-- Suzanne Lynch

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Chatelin Bruno
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