Film Facts 4.29.16
It’s not a secret that Ernest Hemingway blew his brains out with a shotgun. It was a nice day for a white wedding. Hemingway didn’t leave a suicide note because he no longer felt he could write.
While it’s not particularly well directed the feature Papa: Hemingway In Cuba depicts an in-depth profile of the personality of the famous writer in the year before his death. He was a bastard surrounded by sycophants. He was a visionary who avoided the world of corrupt politicians and mobsters, and yet lived in their backyard. He was a guy who just wanted to go out on his own damn yacht and catch a marlin.
Bypassing scandal was something that Hemingway couldn’t do as he was caught between the Mafia, the Cuban Batista regime, rebels led by Castro, the FBI, and his own personal demons. Much of the story is told through the eyes of journalist Denne Petitclerc (played by Giovanni Ribisi as Ed Meyers) who lived for a while at the Cuban Hemingway manse.
Papa was shot on location in Cuba including the Hemingway estate, giving the film a patina of reality.
The Green Room takes the genre of siege melodramas and turns it on its head. It’s not easy being a punk rock band with bad management. The Ain’t Rights find themselves booked into a terrible gig at a skinhead club in the middle of nowhere in Oregon.
When members of the band inadvertently witness a murder they are forced to hole up in the club’s green room and fend off attacks from the outside.
The Green Room is at once claustrophobic and thrilling. Director/writer Jeremy Saulnier lends the proceedings a gritty film noir atmosphere. Cast members include Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat and Patrick Stewart. While the titular room is indeed green, the bad guys wear red shoelaces.
The animated French film Avril et le monde truqué translates literally as April and the Fake World. The American release title is April and the Extraordinary World but the print I saw for review was labeled April and the Twisted World. And a delightfully twisted world it is.
The 1870 Franco-Prussian War never happens and Napoleon III doesn’t die like he did in institutional memory. April wants to re-write the future. And that’s cool because there’s a talking cat.
An experiment gone awry in 1870 changes the course of world history. Famous scientists are put under lock and key. Steam becomes the dominant resource, not electricity.
We flash forward to the 1930s where the Earth subsists on coal and charcoal. Modern inventions and modern electricity don’t exist. The Nazi plague never existed. Instead a multi-cultural Euro alliance developed complete with an Euro rail system. The real war is between France and North America, fought over trees.
A few years later we are immersed in an unworldly combination of alien politics (think lizard) and a secret plot that has the greatest scientists of the era reduced to robots without original thought.
Thus begins April and the Extraordinary World. And did we mention there’s a talking cat.
Philippe Katerine voices the cat, Darwin. You would be familiar with Katerine if you watch a lot of French films, as Katerine is also is known as a composer, as well as a director and actor. Marion Cotillard, who is the name above the title, voices April.
April and the Extraordinary World unwinds with the kind of self realized awareness that makes you think you are watching something like Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. AATEW is that good.
There’s the usual falling action, which brings all the characters, talking felines, reptilian overlords, and innocent victims to a steady halt. But not before you give yourself over completely to April and Darwin.
April and the Extraordinary World opens at the River Oaks Theatre this weekend. The RO3 will alternate a French language version with a version dubbed in English.