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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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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top 15 Worst Films of the Year

February 8, 2014 1 comment
This isn't on this list, you jerks.

Surprise! This isn’t on this list, you jerks.

I ended up seeing a lot of movies in 2013 – more than I had expected. So many, in fact, that when I was attempting to assemble a list of the Top 10 Worst Films of the Year, I managed to assemble a list of 15 candidates that I honestly felt were all very worthy of being placed here on the list. And so I saw fit to revise my previous plans and expand the list from 10… to 15!

Below are some of the worst things that Hollywood produced and released in the year 2013. Obviously, I didn’t see every movie in 2013, and so I couldn’t include some very likely candidates, like The Smurfs 2 or Battle of the Year, or the two rival horror movie spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie V. I can only take so much, so that’s why I call this list MY list.

Some of these are almost lengthy enough to be reviews, I admit. I got fairly passionate about the awfulness of some of the movies more than others. Some of the material, I admit, may find itself into an official, separate, and expanded review, as well, just so I can avoid the need to talk about it that much more if I do ever get around to reviewing the actual film. For a couple of them I already did review, and so you’ll see links attached to the titles.

For now, however, these are just considered summaries, ranking from least worst to worst worst. These represent the most boring, lazy, stupid, inept, and awful movies I saw this past year, and so all I can say is that I’m happy I made it out alive to warn you against seeing them. There were too many fun, enjoyable, and awesome movies released in 2013 for too many of us to spend our hard earned money on these films without at least wanting to see a bad movie. So… yeah. You’re welcome. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW – The Films I Didn’t See: May – August

January 19, 2013 3 comments

Men in Black 3 - Josh Brolin and Will Smith

Ah, summer — the time of tentpole blockbuster films that are meant to pad out the studios’ budgets for the next few months. I believe I saw most of the major films released during this period, at least at some point in the year, if not the theatre: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-ManMen in Black 3, Battleship… Overall, it was a more than satisfying year for quality summer blockbusters that pleased both audiences and critics. … Well, probably not Battleship. That movie was awful.

Battleship - Alien ship. Yeah, I remember that from the boardgame.

With so many films that release in theatres that are best seen actually on the big screen, though, it was only inevitable that smaller and/or less interesting films fell by the wayside of my attention span. Critically acclaimed features like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Oslo, August 31st would get unfortunately lumped in with similarly ignored-by-me crap like Step Up Revolution and That’s My Boy this past summer, which isn’t a commentary on their quality as much as it is a reflection of my time and budgetary restrictions. (I subscribe to a number of rental services and still buy and go see movies in theatres, but I can only do so much and thus prioritize quality spectacle films usually over the quality comedies and dramas.)

So while I do believe I got the most out of my summertime viewings that I possibly could, let’s go over the films that I somehow managed to not see as of the time of this writing, for better or for worse. Read more…

2011 in Review: The Films I Liked

January 13, 2012 5 comments

As I stated many times over in my overviews of films I didn’t see in 2011, I was a pretty poor person this past year, which limited the number of films I could see in theatres. Luckily, I was able to make up for much of these missed showings through rentals.

Of the films I saw in 2011, few of them were truly bad films. A few were disappointing, many were just about as average as I expected, and a few turned out to be surprises. While none of the films on this list were truly awful in my eyes, not all of them were that remarkable either, with few exceptions. Before I tell you which films I considered to be the worst and which were my favorites, I am once again going to lead you through the year in review of the mostly average films that I actually did see throughout and from 2011 by the time I made this list.

Read more…

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2011 in Review: Notable Films I Managed to Avoid, For Better or For Worse, January – April 2011

January 5, 2012 157 comments

A lot of people will say that 2011 was a dull year for film. Unlike previous years, there haven’t been very many huge Oscar-worthy films this year that I, personally can think of. Though The King’s Speech saw its wide release in 2011 (and I even saw it in theatres this past year), it was ultimately a film from 2010 and had, by this year’s Oscars, already won several Oscars and other accolades in the year prior, so it was no longer a contender for this spot.

Of course, 2011 had its share of noteworthy films, such as Moneyball and The Tree of  Life, both fo which I still have yet to see but hear fantastic things about. And there’s Hugo, which is a wonderful family film from Martin Scorsese and my top pick for the year. But 2011 was largely a year of recycling. Sequels aplenty, some great, some good, and some completely awful, with plenty of expected and unexpected revivals of old franchises, many of which were completely unnecessary and, yes, unwanted.  (Yes, I’m thinking of The Smurfs.)

2011 also saw the end of a few eras in film history, as well. The final Harry Potter released this year to high critical acclaim. For the time being, we’ve also gotten what is intended to be the final film in the Transformers trilogy (until Michael Bay decides he wants to have more money and toss in Jason Statham, who has been rumored to be taking over the lead human role for quite a while now). And we also saw Pixar release their first widely derided film ever in the admittedly-watchable-but-ultimately-thoroughly-mediocre Cars 2.

I went to the theaters plenty of times this year. Most of the films I did see were quite good, if at least enjoyable. A couple were quite bad. But there were still plenty of notable films that were released throughout the year that I didn’t see, neither in theatres nor in my own home. Before I tell you what were my least and most favorite of the year, I thought I’d go through the daunting task of a quick rundown of each notable film released in 2011 that I, for one reason or another, for better or for worse, did not see in theatres or get around to watching on home release. Read more…

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