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Movie Review: Sita Sings the Blues

Alternate Title: The Art of Storytelling

Story: Nina Paley (http://blog.ninapaley.com/ ) is the writer, director, producer, animator, blood, sweat, tears, brains and just about everything else that has to do with this delightfully, inventive and entertaining film.

How do you connect the centuries old Indian folk tale, the Ramayana with the dissolution of a relationship in contemporary times? Well, Nina Paley does it with aplomb. Through painstaking digital, hand drawn and collage animation we get to witness the story of the Ramayana.

Prince Rama is exiled with his bride, Sita. She is kidnapped by the evil Ravana, then rescued by the monkey warrior army and well - it is not really confusing at all. It is fun, wildly colorful and very unconventional storytelling.

My favorite part was her use of three shadow puppets, whose contemporary voices add hilarious critical commentary and annotations to the telling the the story.

Paley's use of singer Annette Hanshaw's recordings added just the right touch to this cautionary tale of a woman's love and loss. If you do not walk out on the rolling credits in most Pixar or CGI spectaculars you will notice they go on and on and on. Do stay for the credits in this fun film. Nina Paley adds a little fun to this part of her film as well.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y5_zJ1xfQs

Acting: Annette Hanshaw (the singer), Aseem Chhabra, Bhavana Nagulapally, Manish Acharya, Reena Shah, Sanjiv Jhaveri, Pooja Kumar, Debargo Sanyal, Aladdin Ullah, Nitya Vidyasagar

Trivia: Annette Hanshaw's (1901-1985) wonderful recordings are sung including: "Here We Are", "What Wouldn't I Do for That Man", "Daddy Won't You Please Come Home?", "Who's That Knockin' At My Door?", "Mean to Me", "If You Want the Rainbow, You Must Have the Rain", "Moanin' Low", "Am I Blue?", "Lover Come Back to Me", "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling", "The Song is Ended")

Predilection: I like all things Indian.

Critters: My oh my - we get to see a delightful array of animals including the contemporary cats. In the Ramayana we see, frogs, monkeys, peacocks, herons, birds of all types, cows and more.

Food: I do not recall anything being eaten.

Sex Spectrum: Purity is a big issue.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: See Annette Hanshaw tracks in Trivia above.

Visual Art: A wildly wonderful visual treat from beginning to end.

Theater Audience: My buddy (not the Indianologist) and three other people. We had smiles on our faces throughout the entire film.

Weather: The weather was fine through the ages.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: If you do not know this tale the level might be moderate.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Probably not Oscar bound but Paley has won a Guggenheim Award that allowed her to work on this wonderful film. She also hands out an award of her own called The Golden Ego Award. Check it out here: http://www.ninapaley.com/goldenego.html

Big Screen or Rental: I always push for the big screen but I did notice that when I was at the Rubin Museum this weekend it is already out on DVD.

Length: 90 minutes or so.