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The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

Posted by: Matthew Turner 15/04/2011 @ 15:43
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 129
Films seen this week: Thor, Super, Winnie the Pooh, Cold Weather, A Small Act, Everywhere and Nowhere, Cedar Rapids, Scream 4, Jack Goes Boating, Arthur
FILM OF THE WEEK: Cold Weather

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
And lo, a new obsession was born. I should say upfront, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (the title has now been shortened to just Adele Blanc-Sec) is already my second favourite film of 2011, just behind True Grit and just ahead of this week's Cold Weather. I had never heard of Adele Blanc-Sec before blogging about the trailer last year, but the trailer promised a female Indiana Jones-style heroine, a group of polite mummies and a giant pterodactyl terrorising the streets of 1912 Paris, so I was already desperate to see it.

I am happy to report that the film more than lives up to the trailer (full review next week) and is a pure delight from start to finish. At the press screening I attended a few weeks back, I ended up sitting next to a friend of a friend who turned out to be something of an Adele Blanc-Sec obsessive and after the film he enthusiastically explained all about the original bande dessinee albums (i.e. French comic books or graphic novels) by Jacques Tardi and outlined exactly how the film measured up to the comics, explaining that it was a combination of the plots from volumes 1 and 4. I'm a big fan of things like Asterix, Tintin and Lucky Luke so I rushed out and bought (well, ordered – they're not widely available here yet) a copy of the book from the good people at Gosh Comics. (It wasn't cheap, let me tell you, but it's a beautiful hardback edition).

I can't really give too much of the plot away, but the plot of the movie is actually an improvement on the plot of the book; the two plots (pterodactyl, mummies) mesh together well (not that we get mummies fighting pterodactyls – that might have been even cooler) and Besson adds an emotionally engaging subplot that works well (it's fair to say that in the books, Adele is quite a lot colder and not nearly as attractive as she is in the film).

What's most striking, however, is how faithful Besson's direction has been to the look of the graphic novel, right down to recreating some of the book's most indelible images, such as Adele smoking in the bath. Apparently the second volume is out in November (or so some expert at Kapow told me this weekend) and I can't wait to read it. I'm also desperately hoping for a sequel (see interviews with Luc Besson and Louise Bourgoin). More Adele Blanc-Sec, s'il vous plait.

Trailerwatch: Super
“SHUT UP, CRIME!” Slight deviation from the norm this week, in that I've actually seen Super as it was the surprise film at the Kapow Comic Convention I attended last weekend. (I totally called it as the surprise film too, so somebody was feeling pret-ty smug when the credits came up, but I digress). Directed by James Gunn (Slither, the online PG Porn series), it's essentially like an even more fucked-up version of Kick-Ass with a bit of Ghost World thrown in.

Rainn Wilson plays a middle-aged loser who works as a chef in a diner and who married ex-junkie co-worker Liv Tyler by catching her at a particularly vulnerable moment. However, when Liv leaves him for drug-dealing gangster Kevin Bacon, Rainn snaps and, inspired by comic shop geek Ellen Page, dons a superhero costume in order to fight crime as The Crimson Bolt. His weapon of choice? Um ... a wrench. Perhaps you can already see where this is going? Needless to say, Page decides she wants in on the crime-fighting action too and dons her own costume to become his sexy sidekick, “Boltie” (the costume for which is sure to be a big hit on the cosplay/fancy dress circuit).

Basically, if you thought Kick-Ass wasn't offensive enough, then Super is the movie for you. The trailer only hints at the dark places the film goes to, none of which I'll spoil here. Suffice it to say, it's very, very funny, but also very, very wrong. It's the performances that make it though – Ellen Page is fantastic and delivers one of the best comic performances I've seen in a long time. Wilson is perfectly cast too – like with his portrayal of Dwight in The Office, he somehow he manages to play borderline psychotic and yet still remain sympathetic. There's no official UK distributor for this yet, but word on the street is that the rights will be sold at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, so watch this space ...

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):Three new entries this week with mumblecore mystery Cold Weather (a sort of slacker Sherlock Holmes), Kelly Reichardt's minimalist western Meek's Cutoff and dick joke extravaganza Your Highness all making it into the top ten. I've dropped True Grit from the list because it's deep into its second run and probably won't be around much longer but it's still out there if for some unfathomable reason you still haven't seen it. I'll also put in a good for heart-warming documentary A Small Act and also for Scream 4, which is a lot more fun than I was expecting it to be, if not quite as much fun as it should have been.

Interview-wise, we have an exclusive interview with Source Code director Duncan Jones (one of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever done), where he talks about the ending of the film, a semi-exclusive interview with Little White Lies writer-director Guillaume Canet and exclusive interviews with Luc Besson and Louise Bourgoin (another of the most enjoyable interviews I've ever done, but for slightly different reasons), director and star of next week's wonderful Adele Blanc-Sec (see above). Elsewhere, you can still read our exclusive interview with the lovely Rachel Hurd-Wood (star of Tomorrow, When The War Began), our junket interviews with Sucker Punch director Zack Snyder and stars Emily Browning and Jena Malone, a round table interview with Jim (son of Ken) Loach for Oranges and Sunshine and our exclusive interviews with the cast of Chalet Girl (Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick and Tamsin Egerton).

1. Cold Weather
2. Meek's Cutoff
3. Source Code
4. Submarine
5. Archipelago
6. Chalet Girl
7. Rio
8. Your Highness
9. Oranges and Sunshine
10. Limitless

DVD of the Week: On Tour (released 25th April, RRP £15.99)
This week's DVD of the Week (or technically next week's as it's not out till the 25th) is On Tour, directed by actor-turned-director Mathieu Amalric. The film is set in present day France and centres on Joachim Zand (Amalric), a former TV producer who returns from America with a troupe of New Burlesque artistes including Mimi Le Meaux (Miranda Colclasure), Kitten on the Keys (Suzanne Ramsey), Dirty Martini (Linda Marracini) and Julie Atlas Muz (Julie Ann Muz). Having lured the girls to France with the promise of a show in Paris, Joachim tours the troupe round a series of French coastal towns while desperately struggling to make good on his word.

Miranda Colclasure is terrific as Mimi Le Meaux (her real stage name; each member of the troupe is a real-life burlesque artiste), delivering a powerfully charismatic performance that showcases her confident, sexy stage persona, but also reveals a heart-breaking vulnerability underneath. Amalric is equally good and there's strong support from each member of the troupe, whose colourful personalities generate an appealing ensemble chemistry. The film is also beautifully shot and Amalric's direction is extremely impressive, displaying a Robert Altman-esque naturalism that gives the film a documentary feel. In short, this is an enjoyable, well made and superbly acted drama that marks Amalric out as a director to watch. Highly recommended.

Extras include an interview with Amalric, which sadly wasn't included on my review copy.


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