DVD Review: Two Women

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Screenplay: Cesare Zavattini
Based on a Novel by: Alberto Moravia
Starring: Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Raf Vallone, Carlo Ninchi
Country: Italy, France
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 1960
BBFC Certificate: 15

Nouveaux Pictures and Argent Films have recently merged together to form a new distribution company in the UK, called CultFilms. According to their press release, they “will create luxury releases of quality foreign and arthouse films. Every title will be a high end, collectible product, and extras will feature one or more in-depth documentary.” This sounded exactly up my street of course, so as soon as I heard about CultFilms I asked if I could help promote their releases by reviewing them. The first films they’re bringing out are two Italian classics starring Sophia Loren; Vittorio De Sica’s Two Women, which I will review here, and Ettore Scola’s A Special Day, which I will get to at a later date.

Vittorio De Sica was a director and actor who is most famous for being one of the leading figures in the Italian neo-realist movement. Two of the films he made as part of this during the 1940’s, Shoeshine and Bicycle Thieves, both won honorary Academy Awards and he went on to win another couple of Best Foreign Language Film awards later on in his career as well as being a regular fixture at Cannes. So he was certainly in favour with critics around the world.

De Sica’s 1960 film, Two Women, was another Oscar winner, taking home the Best Actress award for Sophia Loren. This was particularly special in fact, being the first time an acting Oscar had been given to a non-English language speaking part. I must admit, it’s not a film I was particularly aware of, although I’m no expert in Italian cinema. I liked Bicycle Thieves a lot though and the acclaim garnered on this later film piqued my interest.

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Trailer #2 for Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals

The second trailer for Tom Ford’s sublime sophomore feature, Nocturnal Animals is cut out of order compared to the actual film, but feels like it is more ‘in order’ than the first trailer. If that makes sense. There is a lot of editing trickery going on here, which is par for the film itself. If you want big dollops of Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon, well, then this ought to do the trick for you. See this movie when you can, it is one of the best films of the year.

Nocturnal Animals opens in NY & LA on November 18th and goes into wider, but still limited release in other markets on November 23rd.

Toronto After Dark Review: The Lure

Mermaids are apparently popular again. Disney is currently remaking their animated hit as an expensive live-action feature, and Stephen Chow’s, The Mermaid ended up being an epic-sized cash-machine of a blockbuster in his native China. But whoa there now, here is a first feature, and one of the most confident film debuts, particularly for a style this tricky, to come along in some time. If you love weird yet meticulous filmmaking that is simultaneously both classic and fresh, then you are going to want to remember the name Agnieszka Smoczynska. Her deeply unorthodox adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, as a Polish period musical he has given the original title Córki Dancingu, literally translated to Daughter of the Dance, for domestic release, but for the rest of the worlds as simply called, The Lure, comes with a wheelbarrow full of superlatives: shocking! sexy! subversive! sublime! entertaining! visionary! And just plain catchy.

Smoczynska takes the classic, literal, fish-out of water tale, and places it in a burlesque club in 1980s Poland. When a family of musicians (whose main gig is to play back-up for the strippers at a night-club) discover two mermaids in the water while drinking and singing on the beach, they bring them aboard as part of their act. Sort of like adopting two new children, and drop them right in to soft-core sex trade. This hardly sounds like it could be the beginning to a mainstream Hollywood film, but trust me, it kind of is. However, I doubt, if it were, there would be the scene where the owner casually examines the ‘tail-vagina’ on the one of the ‘maids and declares, ‘it is fishy, but I like it.’ Nudity and sexual hunger, both casual and intense, are rampant in The Lure, but because of Smoczynska’s acute sense of how to stage-dress, light, and shoot the film like an Blondie video on steroids, these things are not off-putting or controversial, they are part of the films sense of style and sensibility. Somewhere in Iceland, Bjork is going to see this movie, slap her forehead and say, “Shit! How did I never make this movie?!” Furthermore, if in 2016 you still need an argument for more women directors, well, here is another great one to put on the pile.

Michalina Olszanska (a major rising actress in eastern Europe, who for lack of a better explanation is a blend between Juno Temple and Kristen Stewart) and Marta Mazurek (here exquisitely channeling Sissy Spacek) play the pair of mermaids, Golden and Silver. They are, in essence, the aquatic version of twenty-something party girls looking for shits and giggles up for a quick stop in Poland before swimming onward to America. But Silver beings to fall in love with their blonde young band-mate, Mietek. She is strongly warned by her ‘sister,’ as well as another air-touring underwater creature named Triton, who looks like the Kurgan and rocks a riotous punk act in Warsaw. Unsurprisingly, Mermaids and Mermen are obviously great, charismatic singers-of-songs, and The Lure has a seemingly endless capacity for incorporating classic mer-mythology among the drama and the musical numbers. The crisis of the films (after a quick rise to fame) is that if Silver falls in truly in love, but the love is not returned, then she will cease to exist. In an honest, if not particularly wise, sacrificial gesture to earn the love of her bright young thing, she decides to remove her tail and become a human. (Wait for that set piece! It’s a serious OMG bit of genre craft!) The mermaids may want to fall in love human-style, but they are vicious, cunning, and selfish creatures when they want to be. They make no bones about it, and neither does the filmmaking.
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Friday One Sheet: A Cure For Wellness

I will happily admit that this poster doesn’t tell me anything really, about the film, other than the credit block (if you squint) indicating that it is the latest film from Gore Verbinski. But simplicity is underrated in movie marketing these days, most posters favouring photoshop clutter, or a long series of character posters, or ugh, head floating above a landscape. So a bright azure apothecary bottle with a girl floating in the liquid on a stark white background might not be the most creative thing in the world, but it certainly stands out. I look forward to February, as new Verbinski is always a good thing!

w00t! **Updated** with a quite excellent trailer which feels like THE KNICK TV series crossed with 1963’s THE MIND BENDERS and GdT’s CRIMSON PEAK.

After the Hype #161 – The Blair Witch Project



Welcome to the final chapter in our month of LOW BUDGET HORROR REMAKES! We’re joined by Graham Mason and Evan Scott Russell to talk the found footage movie that started it all: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Recoil in horror as we take you on a journey of diminished returns and a not-nearly-as-enjoyable experience as the first time we saw it in the theater.


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Cinecast Episode 459 – De-Scarify

Some differences of opinions on this week’s episode. Because Gamble is not here, we are civil about it and it never comes to blows – sorry about that. We might try to step things up a notch on the tension scale for future episodes, but perhaps we will stay in casual discussion mode for a while. At any rate, this week we are reviewing Benna Fleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, et. al. in Gavin O’Connor’s The Accountant. Next up, we pre-cover a little bit of Toronto After Dark Film Festival with their Friday screening of The Lure.

For The Watch List, both of the guys look back a month or two at previous 2016 releases. Kurt is hopeful that there is an extended version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children out there somewhere to enjoy, while Andrew is kind of wishing that Nerve never existed in the first place. As a quick side tangent, Kurt relished Thirteen Days after last week’s discussion. Andrew secretly watched most of it again too.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!


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Toronto After Dark Review: In A Valley Of Violence

In Sergio Leone’s classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly, one of many iconic scenes involves a gunfighter sneaking up to murder Eli Wallach’s Tuco in the bath-tub. The anonymous heavy lost his arm in a shootout with Tuco in the opening scene of the film, and seeking bloody revenge, as is par for the course in so many westerns, he stops first for a smug monologue about how it took months to learn how to shoot with his other hand. As the grimy Italian blonde savours the reversal of fortune (again, a staple of this superb film) with words, Tuco turns the table because he has his pistol in the bath-tub. He blows away the smug, would-be killer through the soap suds. To the corpse, he lectures, “When you have to shoot, SHOOT. Don’t talk.” It would not surprise me in the slightest, if it was this scene alone that inspired Ti West to make In A Valley of Violence, a film that seems a full featured examination of what amounts to a throwaway 2 minutes in a 179 minute film. More recently, HBO’s Deadwood, The Coen Brothers’ True Grit remake, and the recent pair of Quentin Tarantino gunslinger film have set out to prove that excessively loquacious, but nevertheless savoury, dialogue is a wholesome part of the Western that bears at least some consideration.

Ethan Hawke plays civil war deserter Paul, who, after a Shakespearean styled prologue with a drunken Irish priest (Burn Gorman doing what he so wonderfully does) about the nature of where he finds himself, ends up nevertheless caught up in the local toxicity of a friable futureless village-slash-movie-set called Denton. He tries to keep his head down and sip his drink at the bar as the local blowhard and sadistic bully, Gilly (Generation Kill & The Wire‘s oily-but-wide-eyed James Ransome), who also the deputy and son of the town’s sheriff, picks a fight with him for no reason other than that Paul a stranger in a place that, you guessed it, don’t like no strangers.

Pestered to the point of violence, and equally important to the point of speaking (mainly to the audience) he says that he just wants to hang out with his preternaturally cute, Lassie-like, dog and make for Mexico to forget the horrors of the war. Anyone who has ever seen a western, hell anyone who has ever seen some movies, can spot what is coming a mile away. Don’t get me wrong though, the point of the film seems less about realistically defined characters or completely reinventing the wheel (West even shoots on 35mm film, although he favours 1.85:1 over cinemascope to keep things somewhat small) and more about playing with familiar tropes of the western. This auto-critique of the genre, whose often deadpan and straight-up approach to many familiar situations is sure to be abrasive to some.

Paul being forced to deal revenge to many of the denizens of Denton is without question a given in this sort of thing. As Paul reluctantly returns to town with guns a-blazin’, it is more through dialogue than gunfire that the showdown at high noon takes place. If there is a mission statement to In A Valley of Violence it is (as stated above) when to speak and when not to speak.

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After the Credits Episode 197: VIFF Dispatch #2


We actually recorded this show earlier this week but things have been so crazy, it’s only going up today. Lucky for you, the festival is almost over at this point so we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduling posting in the coming weeks. Anywho…

In this dispatch, I’m (@themarina) joined by festival corespondent Bill Harris (@soundjam69) of the Green Screen of Death to talk about some more movies.

We’ll be coming at you with one final show in the coming days to wrap up the fest and count down our favorite films. Until then, be sure to follow-us on twitter, follow the festival hashtag #VIFF and check out the festival website for screening information – VIFF repeats have been announced and screenings will continue into next week!