Brief Thoughts On: Pompo The Cinéphile

Gene Fini has been passionate about film for years and finally managed to land himself a job in Nyallywood—the capital of filmmaking. However, He is little more than an assistant to the eccentric, pint-sized director Pompo. Until an unbelievable opportunity is suddenly thrust into his hands.

PHOTO: Gene and Natalie closely following the recording session from inside a tent.

Gene is promoted to the role of director and not just for one of Pompo’s trashy B-movies. He has to take charge of a feature film starring some of the biggest talent in cinema. With no prior experience outside of what he learned from years of obsessing over movies. Not helping matters at all is that Gene is rather awkward. He’s a sketchy-looking guy with terribly little self-confidence. He trips over his words constantly and apologizes for everything under the sun. Can a guy like him really cut it in the directing chair?

These peek-behind-the-curtain style of anime are always fun. Pompo The Cinéphile shows what it takes to produce a feature film; from the earliest drafts of a script to the final touches in editing. I can’t vouch for its accuracy—my film-making experience doesn’t extend past playing The Movies on PC years ago—but it is presented in an engaging way. Pompo particularly focuses on the role of the director and the staggering amount of work that they are responsible for.

PHOTO: Martin's character walks past the alps, paying no heed to any of the imposing scenery.

Fittingly for a movie like this, the visuals are splendid. This was my first encounter with both studio CLAP as well as director Takayuki Hirao, and I was impressed with both. The film is colorful and stylish, with snappy directing that had me smirking at how cleverly it was put together. It’s a beautiful movie, far above par for what you’d usually expect. Certainly from such a little-known studio.

Gene’s mission to direct his movie coincides with 2 other, major subplots. First and foremost, there is Natalie. Like Gene, she is a rookie in the film business. A wannabe actress lacking in skills, but in whom Pompo sees a sparkle of hope. She unexpectedly lands the role of lead actress in Gene’s movie and is put through a rigorous training regimen to compensate for her inexperience. Watching these two newbies cooperate on a movie far too advanced for their skill level is delightful, as well as inspiring. Rather than being frightened by the high expectations put upon them, they become determined to make it happen.

PHOTO: Gene editing video like a man possessed.

There is also the story of Alan, Gene’s former schoolmate. Where Gene is an unassuming guy with bountiful passion, Alan cruised through life on easy mode. He was talented, young, and charismatic, but a few years down the line that has all dried up. He is stuck in a challenging job that he has no passion for, nor the work ethic to compensate for it. A chance reunion with Gene, however, could prove to be the motivation he needs to turn his life around.

Pompo The Cinéphile has been one of the best, new movies I have seen in a long time. Its well-animated and directed, bursting with creativity, and tells a wonderful story with relatable characters. It sometimes felt sluggish in the second half, but we were already fully hooked on the movie by then.

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