Urville: Utopia Everywhere

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10/18/2010 10:18 AM |

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Angelia Christlieb’s Urville is running at Anthology Film Archives through Thursday.

Presumably inspired by the intricately ideal Mediterranean island city imagined in the drawings of the artistic artist Gilles Tréhin (who goes unmentioned here), Angela Christlieb goes looking for utopia in Urville and finds it, in three eponymous French villages. At intervals, Christlieb recites politically correct composite statistics over somewhat Alphaville-an decontextualized time-lapsed and superimposed cityscape collages, but mostly Urville is a travelogue of places so quaint the the GPS points out cows fucking on the side of the road (serendipitous animal sight gags abound, deadpan-cute as Stereo Total’s droll bells-and-whistles title tune). Are guides are the mayors, sheepish in their ceremonial ribbons, and the locals themselves, taking Christlieb, and us, around the cemeteries, farms, butcher shops and champagne vineyards. They’re hearty, philosophical folk, “quirky” even if they’re not the designated eccentrics—an itinerant family of circus performers and a real-estate agent who lives in a teepee with his “squaw” and a cardboard cutout of Bill Clinton—and the pleasure the film takes in humanity, as is, is palpable and hopeful.