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Light Up Your Summer Nights With Some Great Gaslight Fantasies: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec and The Eterna Files

22 Aug

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is a French film based on the graphic novels of the same name by Jacques Tardi.  Adèle Blanc-Sec is an adventurous Victorian-era Parisian reporter who seems a fusion of Nellie Bly and Indiana Jones.  She is played by Louise Bourgoin who manages to seem proper and intelligent even in the film’s more comedic moments.  Adèle goes to Egypt hoping to find Ramses II’s physician who she believes when revived will be able to heal her sister who is currently in a comatose state due to a tragic hatpin related accident.  But upon returning home she finds that the professor she had counted on to bring back the mummy is on death row since he was practicing his telepathic technique by hatching a pterodactyl egg; the pterodactyl is now soaring around Paris causing mayhem.  There is also a romantic subplot and lots of humor in this fun French Action Adventure from Luc Besson, the man behind The Fifth Element.  If you are a steampunk fan you should love this film as much as I did.  You can borrow the DVD of the film and the first volume of the graphic novels it is based on from BCCLS Libraries.

The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber

The Eterna Files is the first novel I had read by Hieber, but I had enjoyed her story, Charged, in the short collection Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: A Collection of Gaslamp Fantasy I wrote about in a previous post.  I had the opportunity to see Hieber read at the Steampunk’s World’s Fair and with her background as a trained actress, she truly brought the characters to life.  You can see her reading samples of her work on her YouTube channel and for those in the area come see her do a special presentation about the Ghosts of New York right in time for Halloween on October 29.  The Eterna Files focuses on two teams of scientists and mystics, one in the United States attempting to create immortality and the other in England investigating supernatural events and attempting to stop the Americans from creating an eternal leader.  The Eterna Files is set during the Victorian period and the clothes and locations are vividly described.  There are a lot of characters to keep of track of but I enjoyed the interweaving of the two teams’ narratives.  A few characters are also featured in her other works and I’m interested to check them out as well, but did not feel that I was at a disadvantage having not read them before The Eterna Files.  The Eterna Files and several of Hieber’s other novels are available from BCCLS libraries.

Bonus Book:
Insider’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion by Hannah Rothstein

For those inspired by these titles and wanting to get in to some Neovictorian fun, check out Hanna Rothstein’s Insider’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion available to Hoboken and other BCCLS card holders through Hoopla.  This short nonfiction work will give you a brief overview of steampunk’s inspiration and the different types of outfits that Steampunk cosplayers (fans that dress up in costume) wear to conventions and meetups.  Included are full color photographs and hyperlinks to resources for further information.  Some of her prose is a bit on the florid side with concoctions of mixed metaphors, but due to the nature of the topic that seems apt.  The publisher Hyperink specializes in creating ebooks based on popular online blogs.  Rothstein has a background in fashion studies and art and has written copy for popular hipster retro fashion site Modcloth.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

See and Listen to the World with Hoopla!: My Favorite International Choices Available on Hoopla

27 May

Hopefully our Hoboken Public Library Resident Cardholders have already been enjoying movies, TV shows, music, and audiobooks from Hoopla, but if you haven’t yet checked it out, do so today!  I listed a few of my highlights for Hoopla’s debut already.  For this post I thought I’d look at some of the great international selections you can check out from Hoopla.  Of course you can find hit American movies like The Big Lebowski or listen to artists like Jay-Z, Delta Rae and of course Hoboken’s own Sinatra, but I’m also having lots of fun enjoying a plethora of International choices available from Hoopla.  In the honor of the eight free checkouts per month you can have from Hoopla, here are eight international choices I have enjoyed.

Farewell My Queen


Image via Hoopla

The French period drama, Les Adieux à la Reine (Farewell My Queen), is set just before and after the fall of the Bastille at the Palace of Versailles.  It is based on the best-selling novel by Chantal Thomas (the print book is available from HPL).  Léa Seydoux stars as Sidonie, one of Marie Antoinette’s servants whose main task is to read novels, fashion magazines, and other publications to her monarch.  Sidonie is clearly in love with the Queen, but Marie Antoinette though giving her special favors and confidences at times also seems cold and aloof at others.  Definitely borrow Farewell My Queen if you are a Francophile or a fan of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette for another distinctive depiction of the Queen, masterfully acted by Diane Kruger.

Mood Indigo (L’Écume des Jours)


Image via Hoopla

The Surreal Tragic Romance, Mood Indigo is a French movie based on Boris Vian’s 1947 novel Froth on the Daydream.  It stars Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, who I have been a fan of since another quirky French film, AmelieMood Indigo includes a resident mouse played by a man in a mouse suit, a piano that when played creates cocktails themed to the music, and other unique visuals.  Mood Indigo was co-written and directed by Michel Gondry, who was also responsible for the eccentric American film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and several of Bjork’s music videos.  Fans of Gondry’s work should be captivated by Mood Indigo.

Jack and The Cuckoo Clock Heart


Image via Hoopla

Jack and The Cuckoo Clock Heart is based on the book La Mécanique du Cœur by Mathias Malzieu and concept album by his band Dionysos.  The music for the movie is also provided by Dionysos and it proves a cooler sound track than many similar animated movies.  The version available from Hoopla has been dubbed in English, but is set in Scotland, France, and Spain.  What I enjoyed about the movie is though it is darkly whimsical and could be described as Steampunk, it does both in a decidedly unique French way so is different from American Steampunk and spooky playful American animations like those of Tim Burton.  The story’s beautiful, but sad ending could provide an opportunity to discuss with older children about grieving and loss.  You can also borrow the CD La Mécanique Du Coeur by Dionysos from Hoopla.



Image via Hoopla

If you and the kids in your life enjoyed Monsters, Inc., you should also find this Spanish/French coproduction a delight.  Although it was originally animated in Spanish, the English dubbing synchronization is excellent.  Nocturna tells the story of a young orphan named Tim who is afraid of the dark and only can sleep through the night because of his special star.  One evening his star disappears and when he goes looking for her he encounters the cat shepherd, who introduces him to the world of Nocturna where whimsical humanoid creatures orchestrate everything at night from the tangles children get in their hair to the banging of the window panes.  The traditional style drawn animation has a muted color palate of mostly browns and golds and a unique visual style.

L’Ame Immortelle


Image via Hoopla

I mentioned in my last Hoopla related post about being excited to download Austrian Darkwave act, L’Ame Immortelle’s latest album.  Like their earlier recordings, I enjoyed it very much and listened to about a dozen times during the seven days I had it checked out.  Their music features a juxtaposition of electronic music with gritty male vocals with more atmospheric cabaret or almost operaesque female vocals. This seems a fitting style for their many songs of love and longing sung in German and English.  You can borrow several of the recordings on Hoopla; I especially like Jenseits der Schatten featuring the amazing track “Tiefster Winter”, which is for me one of those songs I enjoy listening to over and over again.

Ruby Gloom


Image via Hoopla

Fans of Tim Burton, Roman Dirge’s Lenore graphic novels, and Invader Zim, will find charm in Ruby Gloom, a Canadian Animated show.  Ruby Gloom looks like a gothic Raggedy Anne and always stays positive despite living in a gloomy old mansion with her black cat and a raven named Poe.  This whimsically spooky show isn’t too scary for kids, but will be especially appealing to tweens.  I fell in love with Ruby Gloom when I found a clip online so was thrilled to find all three seasons available on Hoopla.

Birthday Massacre


Image via Hoopla

For those who want a bit more whimsical darkness from our Northern neighbor this time in musical form, listening to Canadian band Birthday Massacre is a must.  One of my favorite bands they have a goth/emo look, but to me a wider appeal beyond either of those genres.  Their music has a distinctive electronic sound and exclusively use violet tinted imagery with reoccurring motifs like rabbits on their artwork (the founding members met getting fine art degrees) gives them a dark fairy tale like feel.  You can listen to a variety of their albums from Hoopla including their first Nothing and Nowhere and latest Superstition. So check them out; I hope you love them as much as I do.

Norwegian Wood


Image via Hoopla

If you are a fan of Anime (Japanese Animation), which is often geared to an adult audience, Hoopla has a variety of movies and TV shows to choose from.  But besides anime, there are several Japanese cinematic gems to check out with Hoopla.  Norwegian Wood (Noruwei No Mori) is based on Haruki Murakami’s classic coming of age tale about a teenager, Toru Watanabe, who leaves his hometown to go to school in Tokyo after his best friend, Kizuki, commits suicide.  He becomes involved in a love triangle with Kizuki’s girlfriend as well as an alluring fellow student Midori.  The student protests of the 1960s add an interesting historical backdrop for this romantic tale.  Murakami is one of the most popular Japanese author’s worldwide so his works are definitely worth checking out and several are available from Hoopla as audiobooks including the short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, whose title story includes characters from Norwegian WoodNorwegian Wood the book is available in print from BCCLS libraries; this and the other movies I have mentioned are also available from BCCLS on DVD.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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