Wes Craven: 1932 – 2015

 
Wes Craven had balls. He shocked (and still shocks) audiences in 1977 with the artful depravity of The Last House on the Left. He revitalized (or at least redefined for a time) the horror film escape in 1984 with an iconic character named Freddy Krueger. Then again in 1996, he took some meta-shots at some of his own work within the genre: . This once again brought about scores of copy-cats over the next two decades.

It’s safe to say that although not everything Craven touched turned to blood-curdling gold, the man was a legend not only within (though principally) a genre, but also the profession of screen writing and directing. At the age of 76, Craven has left us after a bout with brain cancer. He’ll certainly be missed but the filmography is here to stay and will certainly never die. Rest in peace sir.

Review: Turbo Kid

Turbo Kid

Turbo Kid is a BMX pedal-powered 1980s throwback, along the lines of Solarbabies or The Salute of the Juggar with a dollop of Brian Trenchard-Smith, set in that particular eras vision of 1997, vector graphic logo, synth score and all. The film has the curious honour of quite possibly the most film-funding logos (by my count, more than 10) up front, that it in a way comically sets a tone before film film even starts.

A Canadian – New Zealand co-production (a rare bird), it has the curious juxtaposition of French stop signs over recognizable New Zealand landscapes. Inside this bizarre (but comfortable) setting, we have a young scavenger who gets caught up in the war for water in the wasteland, and his own past on his own journey becoming the superhero in his favourite comic book. It is a journey that has some trouble smoothly connecting all its set-pieces, but within each scene there is oodles to love, particularly if you are a fan of early period Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Dead Alive). Saw blades fly, hot pokers singe and arterial sprays soak all corners of the screen.

There is a very self-aware ridiculousness that sees wasteland warriors huffing it on bicycles in football pads and metal masks that is inviting you not to take it seriously, and yet the film finds blessed heart in the form of Laurence Leboeuf, a superstar in Quebecois film circles that is completely unknown outside of the local industry. She plays a Cherry 2000 companion named Apple that has the most childlike enthusiasm towards hand-to-hand combat and touch-tag. Apple continues the ubiquitous 2015 trend of A.I. representations of onscreen along with Ex Machina, Tomorrowland and Chappie (amongst others). Every scene she is on screen the film is better for it.

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Friday One Sheet: Lady Macbeth

Justin Kurzel (The Snowtown Murders, and currently directing Assassin’s Creed) offers up a visceral adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and has two very power stars in the lead roles: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. When you have stars this good looking, you damn will put them on the poster. And indeed, the above poster eschews text and credit blocks to keep the focus on Ms. Cotillard. (Fassbender in his warpaint is tucked under the seat.) I often refer this kind of no nonsense design ‘South Korean’ style, because that country often likes a simple enhanced photograph to sell their blockbusters.

The only drawback to this, is that it doesn’t tell you the supporting cast contains David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Paddy Considine and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. villainess Elizabeth Debicki in supporting roles.

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Cinecast Episode 408 – Enjoy the Ineptitude

And so it is that we weed through the dregs that are the end of August. So much so, that Kurt refuses to join us for the beginning of this episode in lieu of getting to hang out with Guillermo del Toro for a screening of an early Hitchcock picture (more on that later…). In Kurt’s absence, Matt and Andrew lament our experiences with Nima Nourizadeh’s American Ultra and Aleksander Bach’s piece of shit known as Hitman: Agent 47.

But what better way to rekindle the passion, than to look back over the past half decade (kinda) and embrace (or berate) each other for our top ten picks for the “best” films of the last 5+ years?

Then we feel the need to at least mention a title or two (both old and new) in the Watch List – A moral panic crime thrillers, Nazi Germany and the latest power-house performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro. So, love and FFs (you’ll have to listen to decode that acronym) all around then, folks!

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

 

 
 

 

 
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After the Hype #106 – Birdman

ATHlogo_temp3Birdman-1

 

This week Bryan and Jon take on BIRDMAN, with the help of Cody, Ryan, and Anthony. There’s a lot of love to go around, except for that pesky ending, which our heroes can’t quite seem to agree on. Do yourself a solid and check out this episode.

 

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Trailer: Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth

Paolo Sorrentino has been a darling on the festival circuit in the past few years with both 2008’s Il Divo and 2013’s The Great Beauty. The latter of which walked home with the Best Foreign Language Oscar of that year.

Here he has oldsters, played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel ,struggling with retirement (or rather, impending retirement) at a boutique hotel in the Alps. The trailer for his latest, Youth, angles it as both an emotional and a pedantic experience. That sounds about right. Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda also star.

The film certainly looks gorgeous, was well received at Cannes, is playing on this side of the pond at TIFF, and opens commercially in December.

Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children’s confused lives, Mick’s enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.

Finite Focus: Tomatina

If you have seen today’s “Google Doodle,” or read this VOX story, you will know that today is the 70th Anniversary of La Tomatina. The strange Spanish festival in which as many as 50000 people have a tomato fight and soak in the acidic juices until the authorities fire-hose the lot clean.

In Lynne Ramsay’s magnificent 2011 film, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Tilda Swinton plays a mother who is resentful of both her having a child and her own upper-middle class domestication. She remembers her experience in Buñol, packed between young writhing bodies kicking around and basking in red juices. In another part of the film, Ramsay also uses Swinton framed in a grocery store by a wall of canned (tamed) tomatoes as the prison that mid-life has become.

The flashback sequence was shot during the 2010 Tomatino festival with Swinton in the middle, gloriously wide-screen and slow motion. The scene ends with Swinton’s mother waking up and leaving her house to find it (and her car) splashed in red paint by her fellow citizens, as her son, possibly stewed in the resentment and frustration of the mother, has grown up to become a neurotic sociopath responsible for murdering his fellow students in a school shooting – which of course is young people splashed in a different kind of red. Nature, meet nurture. Symbolism meet irony.