Soul – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Soul.

Story

What does it mean to be human? Do we have a fated purpose? What is life? Do cats have souls? This movie answers and philosophizes left, right, and centre. All while pulling us along a body swap adventure. It’s funny, fun, and has lots to think about.

Despite the trailers making it look it it would, I’m glad the movie didn’t fall into the “Transformed POC” trope.

Story: 1

Characters

The main character is written in such a way that we sympathize with him immediately. There’s no doubting his dream. Then as we see his life through the eyes of another character we start to see his obsession with making it has hurt his ability to live in the moment. It’s a subtle transition that was so well done.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was mostly okay but in some parts was amazing. The conversation with his mom, the barber, and the double meanings of so many bits of dialogue between him and 22 are extremely well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie wasn’t about grand vistas and fantasy landscapes like Onward but instead was a lot more about details and abstract concepts. This movie was beautiful. The wood grain on the mother’s tailor shop to the minimalist interpretation of the great beyond’s light. This was breath taking.

The music was fantastic. I love how the pieces he plays are representative of his character growth. I look forward to buying this album.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was beautiful and fun. My mind still races at the world building. My daughter (4yo) loved it but my 18 month old didn’t sit through it. I’m not sure why. Either way, it’s not a knock on the film but it certainly isn’t the best for small kids.

Score: 1

Overall

The writing and music alone had me enthralled with their complexity and subtly. This movie is smart, funny, beautiful and certainly full of Soul.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

2020 JenEric Movie Reviews

Hello Movie Lovers,

This year I seem to have watched, and reviewed, 73 films. Wow. Below is a list of them in decending star order. Within each catergory they are in alphabetical order.

5 Stars out of 5

4.5 Stars out of 5

4 Stars out of 5

3.5 Stars out of 5

3 Stars out of 5

2.5 Stars out of 5

2 Stars out of 5

1.5 Stars out of 5

1 Stars out of 5

0.5 Stars out of 5


What do you think? Do you disagree on any films?

Éric

The Three Musketeers – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1993 film The Three Musketeers.

Story

I’ll be honest I only vaguely remembered this and expected it to be a hammy comedy. I was pleasantly surprised. The story was the traditional Musketeers with lines very similar to the book. The beginning was a little slow but overall it was great.

The book is a classic and most movies and shows don’t do it justice.

It was very white, which is both historically inaccurate and frustrating for a work by a black man.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters are great and hold their own versus other versions. The actors are fantastic at what each needs to do. Tim Curry chews the scenery in a way that’s both hilarious and terrifying.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are lines in it that are brilliant and picked from the books. (With a flick of my wrist I can change your religion.) and then there’s nearly everything Porthos says that is pure gold.

The dialogue manages to oscillate between drama, comedy, and gravitas in a way that is rarer than I like.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

I’ve watched this movie on VHS, DVD, and now Disney+. The scenery, sets, costumes, and shooting are fantastic. However, when this movie goes dark, it’s so dark that I can’t see it (I’m talking contrast not content. Also I hadn’t watched this in over 20 years and the frustration with the dark scenes was the only thing I remembered clearly). I missed 90% of what happened in the tunnels and darker scenes. It’s extremely annoying.

The music absolutely splendid. The ballad at the end is so completely 1990s.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I really like the balance of funny action adventure, with serious drama. It kept everyone in the family interested (except the toddler who only sat still for a few sword fights).

Score: 1

Overall

This is quite possibly my favourite adaptation of the story and I have nothing but nice things to say. I think it’s pretty good at adapting the material.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

Ever After – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film Ever After.

Story

An interesting twist on the Cinderella story that concentrates more on the meeting and courting before the ball of the lovers. It makes the love story feel slightly more real.

One of the few “realistic” takes on a classic fairy-tale that manages to work.

Score: 1

Characters

The evil stepmother was evil, the prince was handsome, and the Cinderella was spunky and kicked ass. I like that one of the stepsisters was nice.

I’m not super comfortable with the portrayal of the Romani in the movie. Showing them as brigands and thieves with a sense of honour and humour is very cliché and borders on racist.

I adore Da Vinci as an artist, inventor, and plot device but it made me sad that they had to remove a positive female role from the story to have him in there. Couldn’t they have made Gustave’s patron a famous female artist?

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This is a movie with a lot of dialogue and a lot of subtext. It might be a Cinderella story but it takes a lot from modern romantic comedy banter and Much Ado About Nothing.

I’m not sure how quotable it is, but listening to the banter and dialogue is like listening to a good musical piece.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie includes some beautiful locations and clothing. It was beautifully shot but everything was marred by a weird blue-green filter. It darkened the movie and made everything look wrong rather than stylish.

The music was lovely and unobtrusive but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Watching a movie this long with a three year old and a fourteen month old isn’t very conducive to fun. The three year old liked the colours and movement but lost interest in the long conversations that were the heart of the movie.

Despite that, I enjoyed myself and look forward to watching it with them when they’re older.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie manages to strike the perfect balance between love story, fairy tale, and alternate history. It’s romantic and lovely without much to cringe at.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Christmas Setup – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas Setup.

Story

Borrowing partly from indie slice of life and partly from Christmas romances, this is an easy to watch mix of the two. There’s a mystery and a little angst, but overall wasn’t too bad. There are two parts that I didn’t like. I hate the trope of forcing a character to go on stage and then they rock it. If someone doesn’t want to do it, they shouldn’t be pressured. The second time it happened the character didn’t even do what they were supposed to.

I did however love the mirroring in the story of the train station and the main characters. That was cute and awesome.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Fran Drescher plays the perfect meddling mother. She’s never hurtful and she’s somehow always respectful. A nice change of pace for this character archetype. The rest of the cast is both pretty and easy to watch. The characters are believable and overall pretty authentic. I really liked the dynamic of the brothers and how they had to work at understanding each other.

I also like that the main couple being gay didn’t add to the drama but still influenced the character’s stories and conversations.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie had an interesting effect. I laughed and loved the clever dialogue… but I don’t remember any of it. It was fast and clever and never took itself seriously.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot, the clothes were fantastic, and locations were stunning. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the “Northern Lights” scene that looked pretty fake.

The music was good if not memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was fun to watch. It kept my 18 month old completely enthralled. I’m thinking it was the banter, but it could have been my popcorn. The entire family liked it and I hope there will be more like it in the future.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adorable Christmas love story that is made all the better by wonderful dialogue and authentic representation. I liked this one and look forward to buying a copy for annual watching.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Resolution Review 2020

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

What a year this has been. I’ve been extremely lucky overall, but it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.

I made 13 resolutions last year and then this summer I checked in to see how I was doing.

Calvin and Hobbs reading a newspaper. Calvin says, “These are interesting Times”.

Writing

1. Finish Writing The Dancing Lights (Failed)

Well this failed completely. I’ve had a really hard time writing this year. I need to find a way to force myself.

2. Finish Writing Paragenesis (Failed)

I’ve decided to rename this one… again. Other than that, I haven’t touched this since early in the year.

3. Write a Monthly Serial Story (Success)

Yay I did it. and I think it’s pretty good: Read this year’s serial story

JenEric Designs and Coffee

4. Ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs (Success)

It’s a year of change and there will be more in the new year.

5. Design and Produce 2 new coffee flavours (Success)

We released Apple Pie and a new branding for our unflavoured medium coffee. I’ll take that as a win.

6. Print, Package, and Sell Oneshot – The Simplest RPG (Fail)

I really think this will sell better at conventions if I can keep the price down. It’s on hold until the world is more vaccinated.

Editing and Marketing

7. Finish Playtesting the higher levels of Fadds (Success)

We tested the higher levels and it was great. I have a really good group at the moment and they’re finding all the loopholes and issues. I’ll hopefully keep going in the new year.

8. Figure out how to market my books better (Fail)

This is a great goal and a great idea… I wish I had something beyond this… I’m not great at pushing my stuff.

Personal

9. Read 20 books (Failed)

I managed 11 books this year. It’s not as much as I’d like, but like writing, I’ve had a hard time finding time to read.

10. Don’t Burnout (Success)

November almost killed me after some health issues. I came very close to a total burnout.

11. Be More Patient (Partial Success)

I’ve lost my temper a lot more than I should. I hate yelling. I hate that sometimes it’s the only way either child listens to me. I think I’ll say I half succeeded.

12. Play Some Video games with Dragon (Success)

It’s been ridiculously busy but we’ve played a few times. It’s fun and I hope we can manage it more in the new year.

13. Play Some Board Games with Dragon (Success)

We’ve played a few times and the holidays will hopefully lend themselves to some more games.


Looks like 7.5 successes out of 13… That’s 58%. For 2020, I’ll take it.

Here’s to hoping 2021 is a better year, for everyone.

Éric

The Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Story

It was a cute Christmas story but was derivative and predictable. Each beat (no pun intended) was expected and the middle bits dragged a little.

The emphasis on the necklace felt like an unused thread, and the “magic” inventor granddaughter proved she was smart and then the plot didn’t let her fix or make anything. It also contained one of my most hated tropes, where the adults don’t listen to the kids.

I’m trying really hard to ignore the moral, ethical, and humane questions of creating sentient toys and being able to mass produce a slave toy race that you can “reprogram” when they don’t behave.

Score: 0

Characters

The acting in the movie is superb. The characters are mostly pretty awesome. I didn’t really like the mail woman / love interest. Her constant mis-naming rubbed me the wrong way. Overall she came off as a male Christmas love interest, which I’m not a fan of.

The Jeronicus and his apprentice storyline is sad but extremely well acted. Journey was a joy and should have had a larger part in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was appropriately steampunk meets modern day in a way that only a holiday fable could do. Some overly sappy and some kinda deep.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The sets, clothing, lighting, character design, and worldbuilding are fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and background information on posters, etc is meticulously done.

The music is fantastic, although I would have liked one last big number at the end.

I found the choreography a little repetitive, but not enough to dampen my awe at the music and visuals.

Score: 1

Fun

I was awed by the first few frames and hooked by the first song. It wasn’t until the midway point that I fell a little out of love but it passed fast enough. My family and children were riveted. The 17 month old would stop and watch, or dance, at every song and cooed at the adorable robot.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen with some amazing songs and more than a little magic. It falls flat if you think about it too long, and all the beauty and wonderful acting doesn’t cover up the lack of original story.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Fantasy and Taters

Hello fellow readers and writers,

I’d like to address an age old argument: Potatoes in Fantasy.

Image from Lord of the Rings.
Gollum asks, “What’s taters, precious? What’s taters, eh?”
Sam replies, “Po tay toes”

Potatoes in Fantasy?

There’s an argument that potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other non-European food don’t belong in medieval fantasy.

The argument goes that a fantasy should stick to it’s temporal cultural roots. Since potatoes are a South American food, they shouldn’t exist in a European inspired fantasy.

It continues to go along the lines of dragons being a fantasy element and potatoes being a real like element that having the first makes it fantasy and the second lazy writing.

Potatoes, apparently, hurt an audience’s suspension of disbelief.

What’s your opinion Éric?

I think that if you are writing a historical fantasy or any form of historical fiction, you should make sure to avoid anachronisms.

I can even see the argument for gritty, or realistic fantasy trying to be as close to it’s cultural inspiration as possible.

No, really, what do you think?

Okay fine. I think no potatoes in fantasy is overly didactic, ridiculous, and extremely condescending. I think it’s another way to gatekeep and I think it leads to people who don’t know shit complaining about false anachronisms.

If a damned potato throws you out of a fantasy story, then maybe you should consider only reading historical novels.

The 11th Doctor points at Strax the Sontaran and says, “I’m the clever one, you’re the potato one.” Which is honestly how I see the condescending pendants that make this argument.

In my opinion, if you want to write french fries into your fantasy, go right ahead. I’m a fan of kitchen sink style fantasy (throwing everything into it including the kitchen sink.)

We’ve been giving King Arthur full plate armour for the past hundred years, so why the hell shouldn’t we use potatoes?!

Do you disagree?

Éric