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Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec
BD, pronounced bédé, is short for "bande déssinée", the French equivalent of the comic-strip or graphic novel, which has long been accorded a popular affection and cultural standing well beyond that of its anglophone equivalent. Luc Besson says he was weaned on BD, which comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with his films. The only surprise is that it has taken him so long to direct an adaptation of one. But here it is - his eleventh full-length live-action directing credit - Les aventures d'Adèle Blanc-Sec, a mash-up of two volumes from a series of BDs by Tardi, one of the most respected practitioners of the medium.
Adèle Blanc-Sec (Blanc-Sec "comme le vin", as she says) first appeared in print in 1976. She's a cynical but intrepid Indiana Jones-esque heroine of the Belle Époque who writes books about her curious adventures which often involve occult elements or mad steampunk science, as well as sly digs at official corruption or incompetence. She's endearingly frowny, with freckles, but unsurprisingly has undergone prettification for the screen in the comely shape of Louise Bourgoin, a former "Miss Météo" (weathergirl) for Canal+, who in 2009 was nominated for the César du meilleur espoir féminin (most promising actress) for her role as - yes! - a weathergirl in Anne Fontaine's La fille de Monaco.
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Here's a primer for how to endure Old Dogs if an unfortunate series of circumstances should place you where seeing it is unavoidable. Arrive late and leave early. In between, visit the concession stand as frequently as possible and stand in the longest lines. Drink a gallon of water beforehand so multiple visits to the restroom are mandatory. Hopefully, this will limit your exposure to a level where Old Dogs loses its toxicity and is merely uncomfortable, although I'm not sure that's possible. More tests are needed but there are some experiences no one should be subjected to even in the name of science. It may be that forced viewing of this film has been outlawed by the Geneva Convention.
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Waitress is a pleasant dramatic comedy that overcomes its tonal inconsistencies by presenting an engaging lead character with whom its virtually impossible not to empathize. The film makes its share of missteps, occasionally feeling a lot like a sit-com and sometimes calling attention to quirky filmmaking devices that don't work (such as a character's face being frozen for an inordinate amount of time in a single expression). In the end, however, Adrienne Shelly's movie has enough of a heart that it's easy to forgive, if not entirely overlook, such issues.
Gone Baby Gone
Gone Baby Gone is powerful stuff - a movie that derives its plot twists from moral conundrums rather than from narrative sleight of hand. The best mystery novels are the ones that use the genre as a stepping-off point for developing characters and examining issues. First-time director Ben Affleck has successfully captured the essence of a written mystery on the screen. The production engages viewers not only on an emotional level but on an intellectual one. As the onion-like layers of the story are peeled away to reveal new ethical dilemmas that force the lead character to question what truly is "right," we are invited to answer those questions alongside him then evaluate whether the consequences of his choices justify the decisions he made. It's a rare motion picture that provides such an uncompromising perspective of what is right and what is moral.
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Those regarding Blade II as a travelogue will not be planning their next vacation to Prague, where the bulk of the motion picture takes place. (Economic considerations caused it to be filmed there.) The Eastern European city is portrayed as a shadowy hellhole that's crawling with vampires. Like the recent Queen of the Damned, Blade II postulates that today's society is in part populated by the creatures of the night. They're everywhere. In fact, the ratio of the undead to the living in Prague appears to be ridiculously high.
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Anne Fontaine's Nathalie... has taken 2 1/2 years to attain U.S. distribution, and even that will be just a limited peek in select art house venues before a quick turnaround onto DVD. (A medium in which it has been available in France since 2004.) That Nathalie... has received any interest is due in large part to the star power of three of France's biggest names: Gerard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, and Emmanuelle Beart. The film is exactly what audiences have come to expect from French cinema (and what the generic sterotype predicts): a talky affair where dialogue and character development replace plot and action, with a little tasty nudity thrown in for good measure.
"I have always liked European cinema and, originally, I was going to make this for $200,000 on 16mm black and white. So I decided to write a movie with a lot of French language and use subtitles, and them make it a violent action picture... For the most part, I wanted to write an extreme example of what my generation is about - people who are living for the moment. I know there are optimists out there, those who are trying to make things better, but it's the momentum of a diseased culture that's difficult to stop. At the same time, [Killing Zoe] is still kind of a comedy. You really have to look at the craziness for its comic value."
- Roger Avary, writer/director of Killing Zoe
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Hurlyburly is a talky film - the entire movie is constructed around lengthy sequences of dialogue where the characters talk and talk and talk, often saying nothing. However, because the vocal rhythms are so perfect, the words are so well-chosen, and the performances are so powerful, listening to so much talk is a pleasure, not a chore. It's possible to lose oneself in Hurlyburly, precisely because nearly every line has a hypnotic quality. The action and suspense is in the words, not the deeds. We don't wait to see what the characters will do next, we wait to hear what they will say next.
The descendants of the first ones to travel space are regarded as people of lesser worth. Half a millennium after the first ships launched in search of a better life, the Pilgrims still are discriminated. When the Kilrathi declare war against the human race, it is up to Christopher Blair, Pilgrim halfling, to help avoid complete annihilation. Since the Kilrathi managed to conquer a Navcom unit, they know the jump coordinates to Earth. And since the terran fleet is two hours further away from home than the Kilrathi fleet, the only hope of Mankind is to set trust in a Pilgrim, who can astrogate by feeling and does not need a Navcom unit - its all genetics.
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The sexy, evil scientist Doctor Humboldt is attempting to resurrect an Ancient Egyptian king named Thotep in order to start the Fourth Reich. The only ones able to bring the mummy back to life are Professor Cleve and his daughter Kristen, whom Humbolt tries to seduce for the incantation. She fails and forces the girl to revive the creature. Now Kristen has to combat it and Humboldts henchmen in a hail of bullets, leather and skin.
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In the Cut
Following the gruesome murder of a young woman in her neighborhood, a self-determined woman living in New York City--as if to test the limits of her own safety--propels herself into an impossibly risky sexual liaison. Soon she grows increasingly wary about the motives of every man with whom she has contact--and about her own.
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Love Is the Drug
Jonah Brand (John Patrick Amedori) is a scholarship student at a private school full of wealthy students. Poor and lacking the social confidence of his classmates, at graduation he finds himself attracted to Sara Weller (Lizzy Caplan), who is part of a group of sex and drug users that include her sometime boyfriend Troy (Jonathon Trent) and their friends Lucas (D.J. Cotrona) and Erin (Jenny Wade).
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The Ultimate Western Spoof. A town where everyone seems to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land, Hedley Lemar, a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new sheriff from the Governor. Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black sheriff in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty winning over the townspeople.
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Don't Look Now
John and Laura Baxter are living in Venice when they meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom claims to be psychic. She insists that she sees the spirit of the Baxters daughter, who recently drowned. Laura is intrigued, but John resists the idea. He, however, seems to have his own psychic flashes, seeing their daughter walk the streets in her red cloak, as well as Laura and the sisters on a funeral gondola.
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A Horrible Way to Die
An escaped murderer is in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend, who has fled to start a new life in a small town.
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Mr Bones 2: Back from the Past
The story of Hekule, the King of Kuvukiland who is given a gemstone by the dying Kunji Balanadin. The stone is cursed and causes Hekule to become possessed by the spirit of the mischievous Kunji. It is up Mr. Bones, the royal witch doctor to cure his King and get rid of this cursed stone by returning the gem to its home in an Indian fishing village.
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