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Free State of Jones

During the Civil War some people from Jones County in Mississippi got tired to be regularly fleeced by the confederate army. So a bunch of farmers and escaped slaves decided to fight back and, since they couldn’t get help from the North either, they created their own independent country. In parallel we follow a descendant of the main character who, eighty-five years later, is on trial for intermarrying while being one-eight black! An historical movie that just shows us things never change. An interesting movie to watch now as the Republicans try to roll back the African American right to vote. It is certainly a difficult subject and that’s probably why it was not well received by the viewers and didn’t make any money (they recovered just about half of the production cost!). Personally, I quite enjoyed it: despite the controversial subject it manages to remain entertaining, as there is a good deal of action, it is interesting because it is based on a true story and it is beautifully filmed. What more could I asked? It’s on Netflix, so give it a try!

FreeStateOfJonesFree State of Jones : USA, 2016, 140 min.; Dir./Scr.: Gary Ross (based on the books The Free State of Jones by Victoria E. Bynum and The State of Jones by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer); Phot.: Benoît Delhomme; Ed.: Pamela Martin & Juliette Welfling; Music: Nicholas Britell; Cast: Matthew McConaughey (Newton Knight), Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, and Keri Russell; Rated 14A. It has received a score of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes (64% from the audience), 53% on Metacritic and 6.9/10 on IMDb. stars-3-5

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This is quite an interesting post-apocalyptic movie. The survivor of a solar flare that devastated earth build a robot to take care of his dog when he will be gone — he suffers from radiation sickness since the flare destroyed the ozone layer and earth is bathed in cosmic rays. Because there’s a huge storm coming he must leave his refuge and decide to travel to San Francisco. Through the journey we learn a little more about his past and how the human civilisation was destroyed. However he has little time left to train the robot and teach him concepts like caring and trust. It feels like a prequel to Simak’s novel, City, where a robot and some talking dogs are overseeing a post-human civilization. As the robot is like a little kid, this is a kind of coming of age story. It is surprising how much a single actor (well, it’s Tom Hanks after all), a CGI robot and a dog can be entertaining ! 

FinchFinch : USA, 2021, 115 min.; Dir.: Miguel Sapochnik; Scr.: Craig Luck & Ivor Powell; Phot.: Jo Willems; Ed.: Tim Porter; Music: Gustavo Santaolalla; Cast:Tom Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones (motion-captured Jeff); Rated PG. It has received a score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes (66% from the audience), 57% on Metacritic and 6.9/10 on IMDb. stars-3-0

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News of the world

More Tom Hanks. A former Confederate officer, who has nothing left to go back to, is traveling from town to town reading newspapers to the busy locals for a meagre fee. During his travels he finds a young girl of German origin who was kidnapped and raised by Native American and now speaks only Kiowa. He brings her to the local outpost of the Bureau of Indian Affairs so she can be repatriated to Castroville where she has surviving relatives, but the army — too busy trying to maintain law and order — cannot take care of her. Reluctantly, he decides to undertake the four hundred miles journey on his own. After facing many dangers he succeeds in his mission, only to realize that her relatives would only use her as a labourer on their farm wasting her great potential… It could be just a cute adventure movie if it was not loaded with civil rights implications (the relocation of Native Americans in Indian Territory) and set in such a gritty and harsh environment. I didn’t realize that Texas was such a dry place. It is a western full of action, but also rich in thought provoking concepts which highlights a very interesting period of American history: the Reconstruction era. The peace took a long time to come back particularly in frontier area like Texas. It makes of this movie a fascinating story (unfortunately it didn’t make any money, recovering only a third of its production cost… A shame!). 

NewsOfTheWorldNews of the world : USA, 2020, 118 min.; Dir.: Paul Greengrass; Scr.: Paul Greengrass & Luke Davies (based on the novel by Paulette Jiles); Phot.: Dariusz Wolski; Ed.: William Goldenberg; Music: James Newton Howard; Cast:Tom Hanks (Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd), Helena Zengel (Johanna Leonberger / Cicada), Elizabeth Marvel (Ella Gannett); Rated PG. It has received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (89% from the audience), 73% on Metacritic and 6.8/10 on IMDb. *** stars-3-0

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The summit of the gods

This is a French animated movie that adapts one of Jiro Taniguchi’s masterpieces: Kamigami no Itadaki (神々の山嶺) — the seinen manga was originally serialized in Business Jump monthly magazine from 2000 to 2003 and compiled in five volumes by Shueisha; it was published in France by Kana in 2004 under the titled “Le sommet des dieux” and in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon in 2007. It was also adapted into a Japanese live-action film directed by Hideyuki Hirayama. 

It tells the story of photojournalist Makoto Fukamachi who, while covering a failed attempt to climb the Everest in Kathmandu, hears that Mallory’s camera has been found. If true this would change the history of mountain-climbing if someone had a definitive proof that Mallory’s expedition had been the first (or not) to reach the summit. Fukamachi thinks that the man in possession of the camera is Jôji Habu, a Japanese mountaineer that has not been seen for years. Back in Japan, he starts investigating Habu, researching archives and interviewing some of his old colleagues and friends. Through his investigation — which has become an obsession — we learn more about who is this Habu. Fukamachi finally catches up to him in the Himalayas as he is preparing to climb the Everest southwest face in winter and without oxygen ! He proposes him to cover his expedition and slowly earns his friendship and trust. What mountaineers seek is the thrill of the journey and achieving the goal, sometimes forgetting about their safety or even the necessity of a return trip…

It is a beautiful story, full of action and suspense, that constitute an ode to mountaineering. As far as I can tell, it seems quite faithful to the manga. The animation is really splendid and is quite a tribute to Taniguchi’s superb artwork. A must-see !

SummitOfTheGodsThe summit of the gods : France / Luxembourg, 2021, 90 min.; Dir.: Patrick Imbert; Scr.: Patrick Imbert, Magali Pouzol & Jean-Charles Ostorero (based on the manga by Jiro Taniguchi and the 1998 novel by Baku Yumemakura); Dir. Art.: David Coquard-Dassault; Ed.: Benjamin Massoubre & Camillelvis Théry; Music: Amine Bouhafa; Prod.: Folivari & Mélusine; Voice Cast:Damien Boisseau (Fukamachi), Lazare Herson-Macarel (young Habu), Eric Herson-Macarel (old Habu), Kylian Rehlinger (Kishi), Philippe Vincent (editor in chief), Gautier Battoue (young Inoue), Jérôme Keen (old Inoue), Elisabeth Ventura (Ryoko), François Dunoyer (Ang Tsering), Luc Bernard (Ito), Marc Arnaud (Hase), Cédric Dumond (Nima); Rated PG. It has received a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (86% from the audience), 78% on Metacritic and 7.5/10 on IMDb. stars-4-0

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Dune: Part One

The House Atreides receives as a new fief from the Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV the planet Arrakis. It was previously under the rule of their arch-enemy, the House Harkonnen, and is the only source of the most precious substance in the universe, the Spice, as it is essential to the Spacing Guild Navigators. It expands consciousness, giving them the prescience needed for interstellar travel. However, it is a poisonous gift. House Atreides has become too powerful and the Emperor seeks to destroy them. Unassuming young Paul Atreides, the only son to the Duke, must leave his beloved Caladan for the dangerous desert planet. After an assassination attempt, the betrayal of his family by the Imperial House and the invasion of his new home by the cruel Harkonnen, he must flee with his mother into the desert and seek refuge among its native population, the Fremen. Against all rules of her Order, Paul has been trained by his mother in the Bene Gesserit way which gives him an hidden advantage. Quickly, the young boy will have to become a man and step into a prophetized future…

As far as I can remember the novel, the movie seems to be faithful to the original story. It seems to be the best adaptation of the novel so far. Some aspects were changed or removed to better suit a cinematic narration but the original spirit of the book is all there. None of those changes bother me. It was quite a powerful book and the movie is even more powerful as it offer strong imagery and soundtrack. The action is good. The cast is well chosen (Zendaya as Chani is perfect!). My only complaint is… where and when is the rest of the story !!! I can’t wait for the release of the second part. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s any planning for going further than the first book… A must-see if you like great sci-fi or are a fan of the novel.

Dune-2021-posterDune: Part One : USA, 2021, 156 min.; Dir.: Denis Villeneuve; Scr.: Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts & Eric Roth (based on the novel by Frank Herbert); Phot.: Greig Fraser; Ed.: Joe Walker; Music: Hans Zimmer; Prod.: Legendary Pictures; Cast:Timothée Chalamet (Paul Atreides), Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica), Oscar Isaac (Duke Leto Atreides), Josh Brolin (weapon master Gurney Halleck), Stellan Skarsgård (Baron Vladimir Harkonnen), Dave Bautista (Rabban), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Mentat Thufir Hawat), Zendaya (Chani), David Dastmalchian (Mentat Piter De Vries), Chang Chen (Suk doctor Wellington Yueh), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Imperial ecologist Dr. Liet-Kynes), Charlotte Rampling (Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam), Jason Momoa (swordmaster Duncan Idaho), and Javier Bardem (Fremen leader Stilgar).; Rated 13+. It has received a score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes (90% from the audience), 74% on Metacritic and 8.2/10 on IMDb. stars-4-0

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Capsule reviews [002.021.353]

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