His Dark Materials
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Election is a clever film that pretty much gets by on charm. One thing that left me a little cold was the way the movie treats its characters, which are more like caricatures. Everyone in this town is either vice-driven and malicious or perfectly innocent but dumb-as-a-rock. Everyone gets the short end of the stick in Election, and it ends up feeling a little nihilistic.
The comparison has to be made between this movie and American Beauty, which came out in the same year and also focused on revealing the seedy underside of the suburbs. This movie is more shallow, but more fun. Neither film is as complex or as fun as David Lynch's Blue Velvet, however, which did the same thing fifteen years earlier.
Dog Day Afternoon is not a showpiece. It doesn't present you with a clear message, or criticize its characters. You will not have a grand revelation while watching this movie.
What you can get out of it is some damn fine acting. It reminded me of The Lives of Others - everything is understated. Some of the lesser supporting roles could more or less be pulled out of any competent by-the-numbers bank heist drama, but the principal cast are all give performances so naturalistic and layered that every small gesture and expression becomes weighty and meaningful.
Another rich, inventive animation from the man himself - Satoshi Kon! This one might not stand the test of time like Perfect Blue or Paprika just due to it's humble subject matter, but I can see it becoming one of my Christmas standards.