FNC 2019: J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps (I Lost My Body, 2019)

J'ai Perdu Mon corps

Director (and co-screenplay): Jeremy Clapin

Voice Cast: Hakim Faris, Victoire Du Bois, Patrick D’Assumcao

A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again. – IMDB

French animated features always seem to have a darkness to its overall premise. In this case, this upcoming Netflix France Original film (according to this poster is set to release in the end of November) follows two sides of a story. The first is the story of Nafouel, a pizza delivery boy having a bad day that ends up having a random conversation with a girl through a building intercom during a rain storm outside and is intrigued by this stranger and finds a way to approach her while on the other side, it follows a severed hand trying to go through the city to reunite with the body it belongs to. Its easy to see that these two stories are linked together and who this severed hand belongs to and yet, alternating between the two and having it converge at the end gives this film so much charm. Perhaps of the timeline jumping back and forth between the two that the story sometimes does have moments of disjointedness.

Somehow French animated films have such good grasp hitting those bizarre themes and finding just the right balance of humor to make it work. J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is a fine example of this. While Naoufel’s side of the story feels a bit awkward and maybe a tad sketchy if you think about the almost stalker-ish way he chooses to approach this girl. At the same time, he is somewhat of a rather unpleasant character or simply flawed and fairly shallow which is where this film falls short slightly. It all depends on how his character is viewed although there are some believable moments of clumsiness and his trying to work hard to get her attention and some missteps that he does which makes some funny moments. As I always like to mention, flawed characters to begin with makes for the better development characters as they have so much more room to grow and that definitely applies in this story.

Where it does shine right from the beginning is starting with how the severed hand is introduced and the moments of how it goes from location to location. There’s a lot of dark humor to be had, especially as it meets all kinds of things and dangers along the way and is essentially defenceless. Some come out with mostly unexpected outcomes and that just makes each step of its way back to the body that it belongs to even more rewarding in the end.

Overall, J’ai Perdu Mon Corps is exactly as its title hints at. The winning factor here is how it uses the whole concept of a severed hand and can create a rather charming and humorous story out of it. It fits into the whole charm of French animation that is a tad odd but still works out overall to have those dramatic moments as well. As a feature-length directorial debut for Jeremy Clapin, its definitely one that lands very well and has a unique premise.

J’ai Perdu Mon Corps will be hitting theatres for a limited release in US (November 15) and UK (November 22) and also hitting Netflix (for most countries) on November 29th (all based on research on the Internet, so please check or correct me in the comments if you have other more accurate info).

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TADFF 2019 Shorts: Turbo Killer/Far Horizon/Flip

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

The next batch of three shorts is here! These were screened with a shorter length feature called Blood Machines, which happens to be a sequel to the first of these three shorts reviewed here. The others suitably work with this post-apocalyptic sort of concept with quite a bit of imagination and creativity behind each of these premises.

Turbo Killer (2016)

Director (and writer): Seth Ickerman

Cast: Joelle Berckmans, Guillaume Faure, Marc-Antoine Frederic, Noémie Stevens

 Set up like a music video with a great soundtrack, Turbo Killer is a visual feast. The color palette pops. The story is abstract but still somewhat easy to understand about a post-apocalyptic world where a man accidentally transports a woman and then another masked man comes to save her. Its a fun little (almost) 5 minutes short that truly shows something that can be expanded on.

Far Horizon (2019)

Far Horizon

Director: Sara Martins

Set in 2025, Far Horizon is episode one of what I’d expect would be a series with fairly short episodes. Episode 1 is called survivor. While the context isn’t quite there, the synopsis of this is pretty much that a group of soldiers search the desolate land and end up going to look through, what they believe, is an abandoned field hospital for a supply run and ends up finding the first survivor in three years.

The tone here is done well. The suspense is also quite good. The cast also works as well as the characters definitely seem to have something more to learn about. The whole episode/short builds in tension as the suspense and darkness of each scene hides a lot of whats around them, limiting the vision and giving the final discovery such a nice element of surprise. Its rather impressive and if this is an actual series, it’d be nice to see where it heads for story-wise.

Flip (2019)

Flip

Director: Jessica Grace Smith

Kept in a post-apocalyptic future trapped in a bunk, mother Flip and daughter Plug need to find a way to escape their prison. Flip tries to protect Plug as much as possible and kept her away from Helmet, a growling aggressive beast (of sorts) that goes to visit them and abuse her. However, when things go wrong one day, Plug finds the courage to protect her mother and fight back.

Whether its the design of the mother and daughter or the world or even the villainous Helmet, Flip is a very well-executed short. Running at 13 minutes, this one has more depth than the typical short and actually manages to show off a lot of the elements of their entrapment as well as their dangerous situation and the creeping fear of the inevitable if they do stay there. The action sequence and the stakes in the story make Flip a really good short (and even one that could merit a full length project to see what this world has to offer more especially for this mother and daughter duo).

That’s it for these three shorts!
If anything, these short films show that there’s still a lot more to explore in the whole post-apocalypse idea or a dystopian future.

 

 

Blog Tour: Hope by Terry Tyler (Review/Giveaway)

Hope

HOPE
BY: TERRY TYLER

Hope

Publication Date: May 24, 2019
Genre: Dystopian/Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller set in a dystopian near future – the UK, Year 2028.

Blogger Lita Stone and journalist Nick Freer live and work online, seeing life through soundbites, news TV and social media. Keeping the outside world at bay in their cozy flat, they observe the ruthless activities of the new PM and his celebrity fitness guru wife, Mona (hashtag MoMo), with the mild outrage that can be quelled simply by writing another blog post.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, multinational conglomerate Nutricorp is busy buying up supermarket chains, controlling the media, and financing the new compounds for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Lita and Nick suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, until the outside world catches up with them – and Lita is forced to discover a strength she never knew she possessed.

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REVIEW

Hitting quite close to home as the main character Lita is a blogger who talks about fairly touchy subjects in a future dystopian UK that results in rather dire circumstances, Hope is a gripping psychological thriller. Its dystopian setting is one that has similar goals to those familiar with movies like The Purge, where the government schemes in their own way to thin out the non-working class which is seen as being a burden to the society and disposed of in whatever way possible. “Out of sight, out of mind” kind of deal. This dystopian future is always a nice topic to look at as it also refers to different events that has happened in our current day and age and how it has affected the future of the UK (such as Brexit). This setting opens up through the eyes of Lita about the levels of governmental control, its manipulation of technology, the lies and secrets as well as its schemes to push the non-working class or the poor/less fortunate to these camps called Hope Village in the middle of nowhere and working to live there for credits while having a lot of underlying issues that the three soon discover for themselves.

Separated into a few parts in the book quite cleverly, the situation of Lita and her two friends, Nick and Kendall end up in different locations as they move from one place to the next trying to maintain their bond and stay together as they view each other as family. Each location creates a new section of the story which gives it structure. In each phase, it moves from the struggle to stay afloat as things go sideways for each of them one by one and how it leads them to live in a Hope Village which makes them desperate for change and their actions to this puts them in a much worse situation.

Its these situations that also give Lita the hard times that give her character a lot of development. It shifts from each location from the honest blogger to a much more toned down version that treats situations a little smarter through her many losses throughout the story and shifts her character trajectory. While a few of these situations, from the reader’s view is quite easily predictable and doesn’t quite do any out of the left field. Its really the combination of all these events that make Hope quite an intriguing read.

The finesse of crafting  each of the characters and the hardships they encounter each lead to their own outcome. The setting of this dystopian future UK also is one that has lots of discover. It manages to touch on a lot of the different angles from the government motives to the characters reactions and how to face this situation and find their ways to uncover the secrets trying to be hidden. There’s also a little to think about this dystopian future as the society going backwards as these Hope Villages feel very similar to restrictive camps in history. As thrilling as this might be, where it falls short just a little is that it was fairly predictable and I like thrillers to be slightly more shocking. While I say that, there is no doubt a lot of really great writing and story execution done here. 

Goodreads: 4/5 

Where to Buy:

Amazon UK
Amazon
Universal Link

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler is the author of nineteen books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Hope’, a dystopian, psychological drama set in the UK, a decade into the future. She is currently at work on ‘Blackthorn’, a post-apocalyptic stand-alone story set in her fictional city of the same name. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

October 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com
Lisette Brody (Guest Post) http://lisettebrodey.com/
Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

October 15th

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Tommye Turner Talks (Review) http://tommyeturnertalks.com

October 16th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Books Teacup and Review (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

October 17th

LoopyLouLaura (Review) https://www.loopyloulaura.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

October 18th

I’m All About Books (Review) https://imallaboubtbooks.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Crossroads Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

Blog Tour organized by:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

 

FNC 2019: Diner (2019)

Diner (2019)

Diner

Director: Mika Ninagawa

Cast: Tina Tamashiro, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kubota Masataka, Hongo Kanata, Okuda Eiji, Maya Miki, Anna Tsuchiya

Kanako Oba uses a mysterious site to apply for part-time work. As a result, her life is soon in jeopardy. She is forced to work at the restaurant Diner as a waitress or she will be killed. The restaurant is membership only and their customers are all contract killers. – MyDramaList

If John Wick’s elite assassin world was moved to a diner exclusively crafted to serve their culinary needs with experiences specific for their business and and pleasure with the Japanese over the top flair, this is what Mika Ninagawa’s Diner would best relate to. Engulfing its scenes by flamboyantly dangerous characters, techno, punk and classical background music to pair with its scenes and constrasting sharp color palettes in a dark underground setting, its a feast for for the senses on many levels.

Mika Ninagawa’s vision for Diner is visually stunning. From its pink lettered neon lettering to its stylistic introduction for each characters and its choice of how each of them interact with the female lead, Kanako Oba (Tina Tamashiro). There’s a lot of style and substance in Diner from how the culinary experience is shown to the different over the top meals are done to the reactions as well as how the action scenes are done. It has a lot of the fun and over the top elements of Japanese films that add a certain level of weird but fun especially when matched with the different killer and the rooms they eat in, each matching the killers personality.

Talking about character designs now, the main story revolves around Kanako Oba where Tina Tamashiro does a lovely job at playing this quiet and shy girl whose life is mostly summarized in the opening scene rather uniquely blending with its background music, which honestly sets the tone for what to expect, and tackles the main issue of her shyness and unknown desire of what to do in life because she feels unwanted until she sees a colorful picture of Guanajuato that makes her try to find a way to get money to go. In terms of character design and possibly development, her character is the focal point and also the most developed throughout this story. However, opposite her is male lead playing the Diner owner and head chef also an ex-elite assassin, Bombero (Tatsuya Fujiwara) who is very tough on her because those preceding her have died due to the dangerous clientele. Bombero is a fun character mostly because he has this subtlety to his character that relies a lot on his observation and what he does but then also has this loneliness that he closes himself off to because of the company he keeps.

Flamboyant characters are a center of Japanese films when it comes to over the top elements and here, the assassins themselves, as shallow as their characters are with not a lot of back story to work with, are perfectly suited to simply push the story forward and give those little hurdles or connections with Kanako Oba to surprise and frighten her in this new setting. It all works up to the point that every killer has a weakness and tipping point and it all leads to the final dinner where it discusses the decision of change of crime lord that runs the Yakuza entirely which of course, doesn’t run smoothly and has some crazy action sequence. Of course, there are a few selected assassins that get a little more screen time than others and one of them called Skin (Masataka Kubota) really takes his role and runs with it in such an impressive way.

Diner is a really entertaining sort of film. While the culinary element might be done a little more to fit a culinary experience title, there is still a lot of impressive balance between the crime thriller and the whole setting in a diner. Its a straightforward story and not hard to imagine where all this leads but keeps it on the fun level. Most of its characters are fairly shallow in development and yet, due the film’s length and staying on path, they achieve what the film needs to set up these main characters to deal with this final group. The action scenes are well choreographed and there’s some ridiculous moments, not to mention the ending result is a bit of a headscratcher logically, however, somehow because of the over the top elements in Japanese films, anything is possible so its easy to let it pass.

Diner has a second screening during Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 15th at 8:35pm at Cinema du Parc. You can find more info HERE.

FNC 2019: Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC (2019)

Family Romance LLC

Director (and writer): Werner Herzog

Cast: Ishii Yuichi, Mahiro Tanimoto

A man is hired to impersonate the missing father of a young girl. – IMDB

How far would you go to create a certain feeling? Family Romance LLC is a company that finds professional actors to create a certain moment crafted to their needs whether its a stand-in husband at a ceremony or setting up a surprise moment to relive an experience or in this story’s central story, a father returning to know a daughter. It takes a look at how a person’s desire to escape loneliness and feel wanted or important can lead them to create these fictitious moments and where does it stop.

Family Romance LLC approaches its rather personal material in a well-rounded structure. It focuses on the main story which is a mother hiring a man Ishii (Ishii Yuichi) to be the father of her 12 year old daughter Mahiro (Mahiro Tanimoto) who has left them since she was 2 and the following outings this “father-daughter” go on to build their relationship while seeing how this man Ishii reports back to the mother. At the same time, it gives another side of the story of Family Romance LLC and that is the other types of services that it offers for other people in need which gives a broader extent of how far these services can go and the boundaries and limits and how it is run on other levels.

While that is the case, Family Romance LLC will at times feel disjointed as it jumps from one scene to the next whether in his main vein or the little cases of different people that approach Ishii hiring their different actors for their different emotional voids. At the same time, its hard to determine whether this is a documentary or a drama as the main cast are non-professional actors sharing the raw story based on “rentaru furendo”, an actual type of agency like Family Romance LLC that exists in Japan. Perhaps its because these actors, mostly focused on Mahiro and Ishii that makes this film feel ever more realistic and at times, see that their attachment does form and how it will end as father-daughter relationships is something that can be replicated not exactly an act that can be forever. Especially as these two, despite their awkward interactions growing slightly better by the end, do spike some connection to these people and wonder whether on any level these lies are better especially for the daughter who may have believed to have found her father again but to inevitably have to lose him at some point depending on how far this act can go.

Family Romance LLC is a tough film to watch. Its not for everyone especially in terms of pacing and it blurs that line between cinema and reality. It looks at the society and the emotional voids that individuals will have as well as how far they will go to replicate feelings, relive moments and create this fake sense of security or happiness and find their own bliss. However, it also emphasizes on the actor hired, Ishii Yuichi and as much as this is a business and he can’t love or be loved (something along those lines), emotions are part of being human and he has to know where to draw the lines, no matter how difficult and as subtle as those feelings are portrayed, those struggling moments add a lot to the film as Family Romance LLC shows many sides of the story. For this premise, which is hard to portray, director Werner Herzog makes the best of it and delivers a fairly immersive film that will make you ponder on how far the lonely society will go and how significant emotional voids are in life.

Family Romance LLC has another screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 19th at 9:20pm at Cineplex Odeon Quarter – Salle 10. You can find more info HERE.

FNC 2019: Little Joe (2019)

LITTLE JOE (2019)

Little Joe 2019

Director (and co-writer): Jessica Hausner

Cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Phénix Brossard, David Wilmot

Alice, a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe. – IMDB

It’s never a good idea to play God and mess with the biology of any living organism as we’ve seen time and time again in movies of all genres. Little Joe plays as a science fiction fantasy drama with horror elements. It probably would most be related to films like Invasions of the Body Snatchers and yet, Little Joe, this new species of red flower that is both sterile and produces a fragrance that generates happiness looks a little like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’s Truffula trees (in a smaller flower version).

Little Joe is a slow-burn fantasy drama. Running at 105 minutes, the execution of pacing in this film could definitely have been polished further. A lot of the scenes do manage to leave enough space for the viewer’s imagination to wonder which way it could go as well as what the flowers named Little Joe’s real effect is. The mystery element is present giving it some fairly thrilling moments.

Little Joe is a reflection of how nature’s biology, no matter how it is changed, will always find a way to survive. Just like animals in the wild who adapt and change to protect themselves, Little Joe’s also manage to do the same. When discovering the “motives” of Little Joe (it does sound silly to think a plant has motives), its what gives the layers of the film. However, there is too much in the middle part of being stuck in the cycle of the after-effect of Little Joe and not so much progressing the story further, which makes it drag out a little too much before the finale. Its the technical elements here that works well like the design of Little Joe, the color palette, as well as how some of the scenes are done which gives it so much style.

There are only a few central characters which keeps the story tightknit and easy to follow. The main character is Alice, played by Emily Beecham who does a pretty decent job as she discovers that her experiment has a more serious effect than she anticipated. Her performance is one of the better elements of Little Joe as a while. Playing opposite her is Ben Whishaw as her colleague Chris who has romantic feelings for her. Ben Whishaw has the look to him that just shows off something strange is going on so it makes his character give away a little too much at times. At the same time, the other element of the story is who Little Joe is named after which is her son Joe, played by Kit Connor. Much like a lot of the very obvious character personality shifts throughout the film, its anything but subtle, which is odd. 

All of those little issues with characters and performances and pacing can probably be overlooked however, Little Joe also likes to use the overbearing sound effects to create the jumpscare element or create an uneasiness. Subtle films (like this one or The VVitch or Vivarium) would benefit from letting those unsettling feelings come from the power of quiet scenes rather than bombarding the audience’s eardrums with an array of sounds which after a few times feels more annoying than unsettling.

Its a pity that Little Joe is somewhat of a disappointment as it had a lot of very nice technical elements and a premise that had a lot of potential to be good. However, the repetitive pacing and the over-deliberate need to make the characters act strange as well as the overpowering soundtrack wears it down. As good as the cinematography is and how the colors of both the species and the lighting here works, it feels a bit like style over substance. Of course, if you are fans of films I mentioned above, then this film might be for you.

Little Joe has one more screening at Festival du Nouveau Cinema on October 20th at 5:15pm at Cinema du Parc. You can find more info HERE.

TV Binge: A Discovery of Witches (Season 1, 2018)

A Discovery of Witches (Season 1, 2018)

A Discovery of Witches

Cast: Matthew Goode, Teresa Palmer, Valarie Pettiford, Malin Buska, Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Aiysha Hart, Edward Bluemel, Gregg Chillin, Trevor Eve, Louise Brealey, Elarica Johnson

Diana Bishop, historian and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampires. – IMDB

A Discovery of Witches is a fun little gem. Season 1 is neatly packed at 8 episodes and stars the talented but rather underrated (in my opinion) Matthew Goode (I mean, have you seen him in Stoker?) and the very charming Teresa Palmer as they are paired up as two magical individuals, vampire and witch who unexpectedly and much against the magical order’s rules, fall in love with each other, except maybe its not that surprising with later discoveries.

A Discovery of Witches

Granted its only a few episodes long for the first season, the story does have some odd execution issues that probably lean more on building a romantic foundation between the two characters a lot in the first half before bringing in the magical dangers in the second half. This execution is good and bad. Its good because the characters of Matthew and Diana become quite the connected couple and we can root for them together. The bad is that, it takes a little away from the thrills of this world of magic and keeps that part relatively more shallow and piles it on a lot more in the second half. I haven’t read the source material so maybe that is also how the book is.

A Discovery of Witches Season 1

While I say that, Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer are amazing as a couple and probably will end up on couples to ship together for sure. Their characters Matthew and Diana are fascinating together even when some of the dialogue is very been there done that and maybe even a tad cringey however somehow whenever ancient vampires come into play, it all becomes a little more acceptable because they are expected to be old-fashioned. The connection they have is great on screen and they have some believable chemistry and passion between them. It also helps that Diana learns from him as he learns and protects her from the magical world that she isn’t quite familiar with. At the same time, they balance out because while she lacks control in her powers, she is also a tough character with determination not only for their love but other elements as well. TV couples that somewhat grow and better themselves together make for strong characters.

A Discovery of Witches Season 1

Where this season and possibly the story itself has its limits is in some relatively annoying characters who almost seem endless and have no sense of danger to them. Like the girl above playing Satu (Malin Buska) who honestly is supposed to be scary or unsettling through the constant character design of quiet and glares. Her character felt quite useless throughout although how they end the season 1 (and depending on what Season 2 does with it) might change that thought. While there are other fairly disposable characters here presented, which probably only feels that way because the season is so compact and has a good number of characters revealed but never quite having enough place to be memorable or meaningful.

This first season of A Discovery of Witches is honestly setting up a lot of foundations and giving an outline of the characters and the world and magical politics, that set the stage for whats to come in future seasons. Many shows tend to do that as something of an introductory. Luckily, there’s enough here to have Season 2 greenlit and hopefully will be released soon.