L'illusionniste at the Cameo

Cameo cinema
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
There's a scene in Sylvain Chomet's beathtakingly beautiful L'illusionniste (The Illusionist) in which the Jacques Tati character stumbles into the Cameo cinema, in which Mon Oncle is playing (there's also a poster for Belleville Rendez-vous outside!). We see the interior with a few rows of seats dotted here and there with people, and its classical columns and arches either side. And I'm watching the film in that very same cinema - how cool is that?

An animated cartoon film about a conjurer? That's about as daft as putting a ventriloquist on radio - but it works, the tricks are just as beguiling! It's also about the death of variety, which is pretty ironic as here we are 50 years later and all around all manner of live acts are entertaining the punters in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Some people have said the film is slow moving, but the pace is about what you'd expect in a Tati film - it's based on an unpublished script of his, written in 1956. Its glory is in the gorgeous drawing and attention to detail - from the awesome panoramas of the Western Isles (it has to be seen on the big screen) and the aerial tracking shots of 1959 Edinburgh to the chip shop menu, the cars and buses and the many steam trains (I spotted 4472 Flying Scotsman near the end and the others depicted looked spot on). The sound effects are also remarkable. Wet and hilly Edinburgh has never looked so beautiful. If you do go, take some tissues - it's ultimately a sad and moving story - and don't leave before the credits have rolled - there's a bonus bit at the end!

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