Friday One Sheet: Canadian Side Boob

A subtle difference between Canadians and Americans is in regards to sex and nudity on screen. For years, movies that have been “R” rated in the United States for (often mild) sexuality or nudity get the softer “AA” (now 14A) rating in north of the border. This is reflected visually in the Canadian-Spanish co-production Menorca, a film about a suburban mom who sheds her domestic shackles on a journey of self-discovery. Clearly, the poster wants to show that ‘soccer moms’ are not dead yet, and if they want to have a beer while sunbathing topless in the wastelands of suburbia, it is a reflection that life doesn’t end with a mortgage. The Canadian version (above) of the poster reflects this. The US version (below) paints a bikini on each of the ladies, which diminishes, somewhat, the impact of pretty effective poster for this kind of drama.

Menorca gets a Canadian release sometime in December. There is no indication (at the moment) if it will even get a release in the United States, let alone the modified poster hang in any American movie house. It it currently playing at the Whistler Film Festival British Colombia, and there is a short trailer tucked under the seat, as well.

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Trailer: Fences

Bring on the Oscar bait!

OK, perhaps this is not fair, when you have performers this good, namely Denzel Washington, and the incomparable Viola Davis, well, then I am certainly down for a ‘lay its cards on the table’ period family melodrama. Judging form the trailer below, one can likely expect to be told how to feel by the music and pointed dialogue alone, even those these actors could comfortably pull this off without all the cinematic excess. Both of them did, indeed, accomplish this in 2010, during the award winning Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences stage-play.

Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.

Fences gets a limited theatrical release on December 16th before a wide release December 25.

Sunday Video Essay: Swearing In Film

Here is a pithy, but intelligent survey of how swearing can be, and is, used in various classic and contemporary cinema brought to us from Youtube channel, Now You See It. Whether it is Rhett Butler not giving a damn at the end of Gone With The Wind, or just about every character in Fargo dropping F-Bombs on that most dangerous of fools, Jerry Lundegaard, or Jules Winnfield’s reaction to the idea of giving a guy a foot massage in Pulp Fiction, I think this essay elucidates a lot of intrinsic notions of how to swear on screen.

Friday One Sheet: Alien Covenant

One simply cannot argue with the simplicity of the teaser poster for the latest (8th?) entry in the Alien franchise.

Lots of negative space, the Alien hiding so close in the dark, this could be an image taken directly from the first, and still classic, film. When Ridley Scott went the prequel route with Prometheus, the marketing was very coy about whether or not the film was connected to the franchise, and in this prequel-sequel (second prequel?) they are being as clear as possible. The Xenomorph outside of perhaps Frankenstein, Dracula, and Godzilla, is the one of the most iconic creatures in popular culture, and it certainly makes a lot of sense to maximize its use at this point.

Also, most succinct tagline ever: “Run.”

Get Your Cast to Mars – The Pre-enactment

Get Your Cast To Mars was originally a three part (+ bonus episode) micro-podcast focusing on the planet Mars in the movies. Matthew Brown and Kurt Halfyard considered the red planet as an image, an idea, and a somewhat rare place visited in the cinema of the past 100 years.

We are back for a second season focusing on Mars on Television – specifically, the Ron Howard/Brian Grazer produced six part mini-series that began airing on National Geographic and FX in November 2016. We are sticking with the three part format again for the purposes of this podcast, looking at the series in pairs. Here we look at the unusual nature of the show (hybrid doc/fiction) and its hyper-aspirational tone.

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

 

The Complete First Season of Matt and Kurt getting their Cast To Mars:

 
 
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Review: Nocturnal Animals

For the engaged cinephile, right from the opening credit sequence of Nocturnal Animals, you will know you are in good hands. Hyper-glossy and daringly un-commercial in the same breath, it puts some fine Lynchian bonafides on the table early. Then the camera pulls back from this tone-setting overture to reveal that these seemingly context free images (which will remain unspoilt by me, but might prevent the film from playing in a multiplex near you) are very much present, and in fact are part of the gala launch of a Los Angeles art gallery.

The curator and architect of the exhibit (but, tellingly, not the artist) is Susan, played by Amy Adams in heavy make-up, and chunky jewelry. The deep lighting makes her red hair stand out like smoldering coals in the dark. Forget for the moment director Tom Ford’s penchant for enhancing surfaces, Adams delivers an understated inner-performance entirely with her eyes and posture. Mere seconds on screen and you can immediately deduce she is unhappy with the not only the exhibit but with her many if not most of her life choices.

Later that evening, Susan is abandoned to stew in her own juices by her husband (Armie Hammer) who is the kind of high-stakes businessman that is required for a cross-continental flight upon a moments notice. Nocturnal Animals is a film about we process our thoughts when alone, versus reacting in the company of others.

It is also a master-class in ‘show-don’t-tell’ filmmaking. A brief domestic conversation, prior to her husbands exit from the film, is practical and efficient. We learn that their glass and concrete mansion and designer lifestyle is on the verge of bankruptcy, but again, the body language and framing suggest that money, in and of itself, is the least of their problems, matrimonially.

The very same evening, Susan receives a package in the mail from her previous husband, whom she has not spoken to in nearly two decades. The manuscript of his soon-to-be published novel is included with a personal note thanking her for the inspiration (and life experience) provided finally write something significant. The book shares the name of the film, but the film is adapted from Austin Wright’s 1993 novel, “Tony and Susan.”

Tony is the name of the character in the book that Susan reads, a man whose family is threatened and jeopardized on a lonely West Texas highway by a gang of good ol’ boys led by an extraordinary effective, and completely unrecognizable Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who has come a distance from Kick-Ass and wins the Tom Hardy award for chameleon-like disappearance into a part.

It is exceptional that Ford has made a film about a woman that spends the bulk of the runtime sitting on her couch (or bed, or in the bath) reading a book, into one of the most compellingly ‘lean-in’ films of the year. Half of the film is devoted to the novel, which is anchored by a Zodiac or Nightcrawler calibre performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, and a scene-stealing Michael Shannon as a cancer stricken Texas Sheriff who is endearingly funny, and yet, simultaneously scared the absolute shit out of me. The remainder is split equally between Susan’s languorous present, and flashbacks to her optimistic courtship with her first husband and youthful writer, Edward; also played by Gyllenhaal.

The cross-cutting and transitional matching shots (note a certain red couch, for instance) provide an invigorating road-map to what the movie is actually about. The editing in this film, the fimmaking in general, is among the best films of the year. And, it is in a genre, the psychological thriller, that is so radically absent, presently, that make this is a breath – a gale? perhaps a tempest – of gloomy air.

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Friday One Sheet: Rogue One (Japanese Character Posters)

A handsome set of blue-white character posters for Star Wars: Rogue One has been put out for the Japanese market. And while the design is somewhat ‘floaty heads’ (or at least floaty torso and up), one cannot help be consider just how damn good Ben Mendelsohn looks as an Imperial Director. Also, the Star Wars marketing team has gone ‘all in’ on the tropical beach imagery for this advertising campaign, both in Japan and in the USA.

You can find the rest of the posters over at ImpAwards.

Trailer: Skull Island

It appears that Kings of Summer director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, has crafted a good old-fashioned monster mash with the ongoing effort to establish a US-Kaiju franchise. The film is listed oddly enough as a sequel to Gareth Edwards’ 2014 remake of Godzilla, Not Peter Jackson’s wonderful 2005 version of King Kong. However you wish to parse studio franchise building, here we have Helicopters, dinosaurs, white-painted aborigines, explosions, and the big ape himself, King Kong – although judging from the one-liners, it is John C. Reilly that is going be the most fun. He joins Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Shea Whigham, and John Ortiz in a pretty solid character-actor kind of cast.

It looks fun and rather inconsequential, what a good summer blockbuster should be.

Trailer: Beauty & The Beast

Disney is hard at work grinding out live action version of all their animated features. Emma Watson, Luke Evans and Dan Stevens do exactly what you expect them to do with lots of CGI and flowery movie sets, in this very familiar looking 2017 Beauty & The Beast directed by Bill “Kinsey” Condon. While I have certainly enjoyed Branagh’s Cinderella and Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (I missed Favreau’s Jungle Book, but by all accounts it is serviceable), fair warning that Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid are all on the assembly line for handsome-but-forgettable consumption.