RUBEN BRANDT: COLLECTOR – Review by Martha K. Baker

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Ruben Brandt: Collector draws on art.

Nominees for Best Animated Film of 2018 were lackluster to say the least, but the list for 2019 will be led by the astounding Ruben Brandt: Collector. The plot is tiny and almost unessential, but the execution of the animation will open your eyes and the music will alert you to more art.

So here’s the plot: a psychotherapist — his face bearing the proboscis of a mandrill — has violent nightmares. These are not ordinary dreams: they are wrapped like cancers around works of art. Here a Botticelli, there a Manet and a Valezquez. Art, says the therapist, is the key to the troubles of the mind.

A criminal quartet of his patients offers to traverse the wide world to steal the paintings so that the therapist can own them consciously to control them subconsciously. In the police world, Brandt becomes known as The Collector with all the credentials known to that type in the world of white-collar theft.

Following the heists, however, is not the reason to see Ruben Brandt: Collector. You go see this work of animation to revel in writer/director Milorad Krstic’s attention to detail, again, not in the story but in the execution. You go to see the taupe and khaki at the start, punctuated by a sole red pump, a stiletto dangling off the trim ankle of a woman named Mimi with her green-tipped hair. You go to see the colors as they spill across the screen. You focus on the coffers in a ceiling, in the Klee-like soup, in the underbody of a car.

You go to catch the allusions to The Godfather or Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, for all those cats, and for the dark whirlpools of comedy and tragedy. Most of all, you go for the simply amazing animation.

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Martha K. Baker

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.