An international cast of curious creatures in their native habitats stars in this charming Gallic duo of featurettes. Vivian Ostrovsky's half-hour compendium Ice/Sea is a celluloid aperitif for summertime, combining found footage of the world's beaches with the director's own archive of coastal material. Fun and free-associative, the movie ventures to Rio, Miami, Montpellier, the Dead and Black seas, and elsewhere, keeping a visual diary of lumpy beach bods, boardwalk architecture, and celebrity sightings (Esther Williams, Elvis Presley in his Hawaiian incarnation). Ice/Sea also showcases a zoo's worth of beachcombers: dogs, birds, a marauding tiger, and rounding out the first half of the title, smooching penguins. Enjoy those icebergs while they last!
The main characters in Nicolas Philibert's hour-long Animals and More Animals are relics of relics: stuffed beasts stowed away in cabinets and storerooms for the quarter-century since the zoology wing of the Museum of Natural History in Paris closed to the public in 1965. Shot between 1991 and 1994, while the museum's employees readied for a grand reopening, the movie watches the skinning, stuffing, and styling processes and listens in as staffers track down artifacts ("Do you know where I could get a sheep's skull? A male one?") and debate technique (a standoff over dust-proofing the insect displays is particularly tense). Understandably, Philibert is most enamored of the museum's vast collection of unheimlich mammalian heads and grants them many a haunting close-up.
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