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"A Town Called Panic" Mostly Extreme Quirk to Handle a Million Bricks

Animals and people are all jumbled up in this hyperactive Belgian puppet animation — as in A Town Called Panic's central ménage of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. The filmmakers, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, show little regard for scale and less for convention. Cowboy (Aubier) is a screeching hysteric, and Horse (Patar) is a slow-moving romantic hero who longs to play the piano and carries a torch for the local music teacher, a mare with an orange mane and sultry voice (Jeanne Balibar). Cowboy, Indian, and Horse share a house that sinks to the center of the Earth when Indian mistakenly orders a million times as many bricks as necessary to build a barbecue for Horse's birthday. Actually, that makes the narrative seem almost linear. A Town Called Panic embodies a sensibility that might be termed "extreme quirk." The movie has the manic whimsy of the dollhouse scenes in Science of Sleep and is even closer to child's play — noisy, overexcited, and pragmatic.

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