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REVIEW – April and the Extraordinary World [Avril et le Monde truqué]

September 10, 2016 Leave a comment
April and the Extraordinary WorldDirected by: Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci
Produced by: Michel Dutheil, Franck Elkinci, Marc Jousset
Screenplay by: Franck Ekinci, Benjamin Legrand
Edited by: Nazim Meslem
Music by: Valentin Hadjadj
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, Jean Rochefort, Olivier Gourmet, Marc-André Grondin, Bouli Lanners, Anne Coesens, Benoît Brière, Macha Grenon | English: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tony Robinow, Mark Camacho, Tod Fennell, Paul Giamatti, Susan Sarandon, J.K. Simmons
Inspired by the work of Jacques Tardi
Year: 2015 (France/Belgium), 2016 (U.S.)

 

Just when it seemed like steampunk had died, along comes April and the Extraordinary World to potentially reignite interest in the once unavoidable not-quite-underground subgenre. A French/Belgian/Canadian coproduction featuring a world guided and inspired by renowned French comic artist Jacques Tardi, Avril et le Monde truqué (as it is known in its native language) is a film that’s a throwback to a great number of things: the sci-fi of Jules Verne, the grand adventure of Tintin (as well as sporting a similar ligne claire art style), that period of time in the 2000s and early 2010s when steampunk was seemingly the new black, and also the bygone days when science was universally understood in terms of all the positive changes it could provide the world, rather than obsessing about how it could potentially destroy us all, regardless of benign or malicious intent. That last point, in particular – the responsibility of science as a force for good in this world and for humanity – is primary focus. Read more…

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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Suicide Squad

August 11, 2016 3 comments
Suicide SquadDirected by: David Ayer
Produced by: Charles Roven, Richard Suckle
Written by: David Ayer
Edited by: John Gilroy
Cinematography by: Roman Vasyanov
Music by: Steven Price
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Karen Fukuhara, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Adam Beach, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck
Based on characters from DC Comics
Year: 2016

 

Well, DC, at least you’re making money off this one (so far…?).

Don’t get me wrong – Suicide Squad is nowhere near the overlong, overstuffed disaster that Batman v Superman was. That movie was crammed with events, aggressively downbeat, and was edited to the point of absolutely no breathing room in its theatrical cut. (I still haven’t seen the extended cut.) Suicide Squad, by comparison, is lean, surprisingly fun, and – most importantly – its story is coherent. Why, then, the disappointment? Read more…

2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)

January 31, 2015 2 comments

The Skeleton Twins - Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader

I’m not going to waste too much time this year on introductions. For this third and final part of my review of films I didn’t see, we’re going through the prestige Oscar-baiting season. You know — hammy acting, controversial subjects, beautiful cinematography, politics… It’s often a mixed bag, and for every stunning masterpiece, there’s often a lot of films that misstep and come off like a cheap cheeseburger dressed up to look like prime rib. … I’m hungry.

This is by far the biggest portion of films I didn’t see, largely due to a lot of them coming out so much more recently and not being available to rent, if I missed them in theatres.

Yes, 2014 may have been a record year for me seeing the most movies from that year, but there were still movies I never got around to or never even had the ability to see due to either foreign or limited release. I still like going over them, however, as this process often leads  to me finding some unexpected gems that I might enjoy. Some of these I might become so interested in that I see them before I even get to the films I did see, so there is actually a possibility you might see these films reappear in this 2014 in Review series if that becomes the case.

Anyway, here are many of the films from September to December 2014 that I didn’t see, for one reason or another. It’s by no means complete, but that’s what you get when you’re using Wikipedia and Best of/Worst of lists from other sites. Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “Elysium”

August 15, 2013 5 comments
ElysiumDirected by: Neill Blomkamp
Produced by: Neill Blomkamp, Bill Block, Simon Kinberg
Written by: Neill Blomkamp
Edited by: Julian Clarke, Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Ryan Amon
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Faran Tahir
Year: 2013

 

Already not nearly as universally praised as District 9, Neill Blomkamp’s second theatrically released film isn’t poised to achieve the same surprise Best Picture Oscar nomination the way that his previous film did. That’s okay though because, flawed though it may be, Elysium is an incredibly entertaining movie with plenty of spectacle, gory action, and an intriguing but surprisingly disagreeable lead character. Read more…

Independence Day Review: “Live Free or Die Hard”

Live Free or Die HardDirected by: Len Wiseman
Produced by: Michael Fottrel
Written by: Mark Bomback (screenplay and story), David Marconi (story)
Edited by: Nicolas De Toth
Cinematography by: Simon Duggan
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Cliff Curtis, Maggie Q, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jonathan Sadowski, Kevin Smith
Based on the Wired article “A Farewell to Arms” by John Carlin
Year: 2007

 

People understandably lament the quick devolution that John McClane has undergone over the course of the four movies that have followed the original. The quick-witted everyman cop trying to win back his wife has become more known for performing ridiculous stunts and frequently being in the wrong place at the wrong time and yet just the right man for the job. The issue was already apparent in the incredibly dull Die Hard 2, and by the third film, the coincidences of his involvement become too glaring to ignore unless you suspend your disbelief and pretend like this is something that regular cops have to deal with every now and then in the Die Hard world. (Considering the ties that were later made to the TV series Chuck, I wouldn’t put it past them on that point, though.)
Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Purge”

June 9, 2013 4 comments
The PurgeDirected by: James DeMonaco
Produced by: Michael Bay, Jason Blum, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Sébastien Kurt Lemercier
Written by: James DeMonaco
Edited by: Peter Gvozdas
Cinematography by: Jacques Jouffret
Music by: Nathan Whitehead
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis, Tom Yi, Chris Mulkey, Tisha French, Dana Bunch, Peter Gvozdas, Karen Strassman
Year: 2013

 

Bad news: This thing’s probably making money on its opening weekend. I went to go see Mud last night (excellent movie, by the way), and the lines for this movie, which disturbingly included several families with young kids, were pretty large. Look forward to next year’s sequel, people. I kind of regret paying into the box office success by going to this, but my friends were all chattering about it so I guess I kind of felt obligated to see it, if only because we were all coming up with theories as to what would occur in the movie, and I would’ve felt left out if I was the only one who hadn’t seen it come Monday’s carpool.

I have to admit, aside from maybe one little plot point early on, none of our predictions came true. Guess we don’t see that many crappy movies to actually get a handle on how these kinds of movies work. Oh, and spoiler alert, if you couldn’t tell already, I hated this dreadful excuse for a movie. Read more…

Review: “Battle Royale” (バトル・ロワイアル)

September 18, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Produced by: Masao Sato, Masumi Okada, Teruo Kamaya, Tetsu Kayama
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Cinematography by: Katsumi Yanagishima
Music by: Masamichi Amano
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano
Based on the novel Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) by Koushun Takami
Year: 2000

 

Director Kinji Fukasaku once said that he took on the duties of directing this adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel thanks in large part to his experiences as a 15-year-old, working in one of Japan’s munitions factories during World War II. When he realized that the government had been lying to them about war, he grew to distrust adults, a resentment that apparently had carried on well into his own adulthood. Though I haven’t read the original novel, it’s easy to see why he was so drawn into the project, given his history. Battle Royale seems to take the stance that teenagers need not necessarily always listen to their elders and should always question their reasons for putting them through the systems that they set in the way as they head into adulthood. In this case, the system is represented through the titular 3-day, all out battle to the death between teenagers selected at random by the government in a post-millennial attempt to curtail the rise in youth crimes and once again regain the respect the younger generation no longer holds toward their elders. Read more…

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