An Autumn Tale (Conte d’automne) is a quiet and touching romantic drama directed by French great Eric Rohmer. It’s the last of his film cycle based on the seasons (the others are similarly named, and similarlyloved). The plot focuses on Magali, a widowed woman in her mid-forties whose 2 best friends decide, independently, to set her up with a man. Sounds typical, and the usual confusions and embarrassments do come to pass, but the movie’s strength is the delicacy and honesty with which it portrays these moments.
Rohmer was 79 when he directed this film (from 1998), and it’s proof positive that the quality of one’s work need not suffer with age. The movie has an extremely slow pace, though this reveals itself as one of its best aspects — slowed down, the viewer has time to establish a true connection with the extremely believable characters. Autumn Tale has an incredible 97% at Rotten Tomatoes. Kenneth Turan says that “besides being one of his wisest and most enjoyable films, it also has the light-fingered vigor and panache more chronologically youthful directors are not always able to muster.”
Criticker users agree. Not an incredible number of people have seen Autumn Tale, but there are very few scores in its list which aren’t colored a dark green. So if you’re feeling shell-shocked from bombastic fare like G.I. Joe and Transformers, maybe you’d find this quiet romance set in the French countryside a welcome relief.
One of the most surprising hits of the summer has inspired a lot of discussion at the Criticker Forums. District 9 came out of nowhere with a bunch of unknown actors and immediately landed on the tentative versions of many Best Of 2009 lists. At Criticker, it’s gotten even more traffic than Tarantino’s long-awaited Inglourious Basterds.
The District 9 forum thread was started by user frederic_g54 at the beginning of July. From the very beginning, it’s a pretty contentious discussion and quickly dives into ideas like, “Is it valid to defend or rip films you’ve not yet seen?” (My response to that is definitely yes).
So whether or not you’ve seen the movie, feel free to join the discussion and contribute! The Criticker Forums can always use some fresh insights.
I seem to remember that in 2004, Disney released a film called Home on the Range, which was going to be their last hand-drawn movie ever. Oh, the hand-wringing! Instead of the glorious, natural storytelling produced by magical human hands, we’d now be forever subject to the stories churned out by soulless Animation Robots. Goodbye to cherished treasures like Home on the Range or Oliver & Company, and hello to slick, heartless fare like The Incredibles or Wall-E (it sure didn’t take long for the Animation Robots to spit out a story about a ROBOT!)
This is my sarcastic way of pointing out that no one really misses “hand-drawn” animation. Under the leadership of Pixar, animated films are experiencing a true Renaissance, both creatively and popularly. Turns out that the soul remains when the tools change. And I’m not about to get excited about a film that trumpets regression as its main selling point.
But regardless of what I think, The Princess and the Frog is going to premiere, and will likely be a big hit. It’s a hand-drawn musical adventure set in New Orleans, and is being billed as a return to Disney’s roots. Oh Lord… “musical” + “New Orleans”? It’s going to be jazzy. There will likely be wacky Cajun accents. We must pray that they had the decency not to write a hurricane into the plot.
The Princess and the Frog will be opening toward the end of this year, just in time for Christmas. So if you’re bored of “same-old” crap like an old man who flies his house to South America, you can now look forward to a truly magical and ground-breaking story of a princess who kisses a frog. Yeah!
A strong week for films new to DVD is headed by Adventureland — a surprisingly mature and very-well received comedy from the creator of Superbad. But the Criticker Pick for this week is Goodbye Solo, an award-winning film about a cab driver who tries to talk an old man out of suicide by re-introducing him to the joys of life.
Adventureland – Average Tier 6.87 A comedy set in the summer of 1987 and centered around a recent college grad (Eisenberg) who takes a nowhere job at his local amusement park, only to find it’s the perfect course to get him prepared for the real world. Adventureland @ Amazon
Duplicity – Average Tier 5.01 A pair of corporate spies who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses. Duplicity @ Amazon
Sunshine Cleaning – Average Tier 5.40 In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business — a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service — with her unreliable sister. Sunshine Cleaning @ Amazon
Fighting – Average Tier 3.58 In New York City, a young counterfeiter (Tatum) is introduced to the world of underground street fighting by a seasoned scam artist (Howard), who becomes his manager on the bare-knuckling brawling circuit. Fighting @ Amazon
Criticker Pick!Goodbye Solo – Average Tier 7.07 A cab driver tries to convince an elderly man not to go through with his plans to jump off a mountain Goodbye Solo @ Amazon
Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) was one of the more beloved TV shows of the past couple decades. It ran from 1988 to 1999, with 198 episodes and a full-length movie. The premise is as simple as it is ingenious: make fun of bad movies.
Some of the worst movies of all time were mocked hilariously by Joel Robinson, Mike Roberts and their robotic friends during the show’s run. Criticker user ralexwr has created a public collection which gathers all these films. With “classics” like The Leech Woman and Outlaw of Gor represented, a chuckle can by elicited just by reading the names.
The list is currently incomplete… with 84 films, there are still over a hundred missing. This is a public collection so, if your favorite MST3K episode isn’t there, you can add it yourself. Check out the collection now!