A motley crowd of people in a Sydney apartment complex all search for the meaning of life in this Claymation feature.
With all the hoo-ha over "Up," the latest Pixar extravaganza, it would be a loss if the highly worthy little animated feature "$9.99" got buried in the avalanche. This stop-motion feature from Tatia Rosenthal – the first Australian-Israeli co-production – is not remotely kiddie fare. One of its voice actors, Geoffrey Rush, accurately described it as "a Claymation of Robert Altman's 'Short Cuts.' " Its characters include a homeless man (Rush), a lonely single father (Anthony LaPaglia), an even lonelier retiree (Barry Otto), and a dissolute model (Leeanna Walsman). Despite everything, many of us still think of animation as a kid's genre. "$9.99," based on stories by Etgar Keret who also co-wrote the script with the director, is an attempt to use the animation medium to express an entirely adult sensibility. The painter Edward Hopper, with his moody, dispossessed humanscapes, might have recognized in Rosenthal a kindred spirit. Grade: A- (Rated R for language and brief sexuality and nudity.)