Teaser Trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow was the talk of the town a few years back when she won Best Director and Best Picture (among others) at the Oscars for her visceral war film The Hurt Locker. This year she’s back with another war-related film, the sure-to-be controversial Zero Dark Thirty (previously referred to as Kill Bin Laden), again working with her Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal.

The film is about the manhunt and eventual killing of America’s public enemy No. 1 Osama bin Laden. The project was already in the development stages as a film about the search for Bin Laden but the news of his killing, to be quite blunt, gave it the perfect conclusion.

The first teaser for the flick has appeared online which you can view below, complete with a gritty style and blacked out lettering. I’m getting a Homeland meets Body of Lies vibe from this one, what do you think?

Zero Dark Thirty stars Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler and Edgar Ramirez. It is scheduled for release in the U.S. on December 19th, 2012 (after being moved from its pre-election October spot in response to accusations of it being an Obama administration propaganda film) with other release dates sure to be announced soon.

Review: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis Movie Poster

Director: David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome, A History of Violence)
Screenplay: David Cronenberg
Producers: Paulo Branco, Martin Katz
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 108 min.

Director David Cronenberg used be all about creeping us out while making us think. With the likes of The Fly, Scanners, The Brood, Dead Ringers and my personal favourite Videodrome, he delivered some of the most memorably creepy imagery in film history within what somehow still managed to be intelligent and thought-provoking experiences.

As of late, however, Cronenberg’s tact has changed to a more grounded approach with often shocking moments of violence thrown in for good measure (see A History of Violence and Eastern Promises). His last film A Dangerous Method, a disappointingly subdued and frankly tame experience, certainly wasn’t a return to the earlier style and going by his latest, Cosmopolis, he doesn’t seem be much interested in that anymore.

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Review: The Avengers

The Avengers poster

Director: Joss Whedon
Screenplay: Joss Whedon
Producers: Kevin Feige, Avi Arad, Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 142 min.

Marvel has been very clever with the way they’ve been building up to The Avengers. Instead of rushing into things and doing the big movie right away they, with the exception the two lesser known members, dedicated a movie to each of the heroes (or two movies in the case of a certain billionaire hero), exploring their respective back stories thoroughly and giving them purpose and, most importantly, giving us purpose to invest ourselves in them.

So after five movies and more fanboy hype than just about any movie to be released this year short of The Dark Knight Rises, does The Avengers live up to the hype? Absolutely.

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David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time Video is as Weird as You’d Expect

Anyone who knows anything about the world of David Lynch – his movies, paintings and music – will find it absolutely no surprise that the video for the titular track from his first solo album Crazy Clown Time is strange. Basically consisting of people acting out exactly what’s in the lyrics – including pouring beer, a woman taking her top off and a man setting his mohawk on fire. Yeah, it’s as strange (and awesome!) as it sounds.

An exercise of being straightforward with your music? Or just weird for weird’s sake?

I’ve been a big fan of David Lynch for a number of years now (he might be my favourite director at this point in time) and while, admittedly, that fandom might have clouded my judgement of his musical talents, I still found Crazy Clown Time an oddly addictive album. The title track isn’t anywhere near my favourite from the album (that would be Good Day Today) but it’s hypnotic in a very Mulholland Drive/Inland Empire-esque way.

Dive down the Rabbit hole by watching the video below:

Finite Focus: Ben Affleck Gets His Comeuppance (Dazed and Confused)

I only saw Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused for the very first time about a year ago and it became an instant favorite. It’s one of those flicks that I find insanely rewatchable because of the distinct characters, quotable dialogue, terrific soundtrack and a general sort of laid back, “it’ll be all right on the night” attitude. And it has a host of actors before they were really known names, from Milla Jovovich and Matthew McConaughey to Rory Cochrane and Nicky Katt (to name but a few).

Also in the mix is one Ben Affleck, playing bully Fred O’Bannion who makes it his mission to smack in the ass with a paddle all those juniors who escaped his clutches during the last day of school (I’m sure that school “tradition” makes much more sense to those in the US!). There are so many great scenes I could have chosen to highlight but ultimately I decided on the one in which O’Bannion gets what he deserves. I hate the kind of person that Affleck plays in the movie (being mean and nasty for no good reason) and I get so much satisfaction seeing him get his comeuppance like this every time I watch it.

Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom

We’re big fans of idiosyncratic filmmaker Wes Anderson around here with the likes of The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou loved by many of the Row Three team (although I personally don’t care for Zissou all that much). Any new film by him is quite an event and his latest Moonrise Kingdom is no exception, the trailer for which has just hit the web over at Apple.

IMDB describes the plot as:

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, as a young boy and girl fall in love they are moved to run away together. Various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down — which might not be such a bad thing.

The cast is to die for with the likes of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton inhabiting this particular example of the director’s unique world. The trailer is vintage Wes Anderson but as far as I’m concerned that’s a great thing. Watch it below.

Moonrise Kingdom is scheduled for a limited U.S. release on May 25th.

Top 10 Biggest Disappointments of 2011

We’ve come to the end of what has, in my eyes anyway, been a pretty damn great year for film. Row Three’s annual best of lists post is still to come but since no cinematic year is ever perfect I thought I’d post what are my personal biggest movie disappointments of 2011. These are not necessarily the worst of or even bad films, heck they might even be pretty good in their own right. But these are the ones which personally didn’t live up to the high expectations I had for me them.

So here goes, my biggest big-screen let-downs of the past 12 months:

10. In Time

Just making my list at number 10 is Andrew Niccol’s wasted opportunity In Time, a film with a terrific concept – a world where time is literally money, with people working for and buying things with increments of time (2 minutes for coffee, 30 minutes to ride the bus to work etc.) – that is frittered away to concentrate on running around and building a “relationship” between two leads, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, who don’t have the sufficient chemistry together to make it convincing. Still fluffy fun but in no way delivers on its amazing premise.

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Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Directors: Tomas Alfredson
Screenplay: Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan, John le Carre (novel)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Dencick, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham.
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Robyn Slovo, Alexandra Ferguson.
Country: UK/France/Germany
Running Time: 127 min
Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes with a lot of impressive credentials: it’s based on a best-selling novel by John le Carré, it’s helmed by the director of a successful Swedish vampire movie, a previous mini-series adaptation of the book is fondly remembered (at least by people of a certain generation) and it has one of the best British casts in recent memory. The possibility of utter disappointment looms over it like a cloud. But it thankfully proves that a film with such hype behind it going in can completely deliver.

Set during the Cold War, Gary Oldman plays ex-MI6 agent George Smiley who is brought out of retirement to help uncover a mole planted by the Russians years ago.

It’s perhaps understandable the trailers sold the film as a lot more of an all-out thriller than it actually is. The trouble, though, is it might draw in audiences who are expecting something faster paced when in reality this is much slower than you might expect. However, it’s never once dull or boring, taking its time to build a quiet suspense and anticipation which gives it a palpable energy, a fascinating heartbeat.

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Review: The Rum Diary

Director: Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I, Jennifer 8)
Producers: Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, Graham King
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli, Aaron Echkhart, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins.
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 120 min.

The work of the late Hunter S. Thompson has been brought to the big-screen a couple of times now with Where the Buffalo Roam and more famously Terry Gilliam’s appropriately bizarre Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Now to add to the pile we have The Rum Diary, from writer/director Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I), a decisively less memorable and infinitely safer film than one would hope for based on the work of such a fantastically unique author.

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Shorts Program: Connecting

This is a slightly older short film but it just popped into my head again recently and I wanted to highlight for anyone who may not have seen it (which I presume is most of you). Made in 2005 by Dan Turner (who also made a couple of other shorts called 4:37 and Second Guest), Connecting won Best Film at Total Film Magazine’s Short Movie Awards and came runner-up as the “Best Film From the North” at the Kino Film Festival.

It’s one of those shorts you’re best knowing as little about before watching but to clue you in just a tad it features a man on a bus who is annoyed by all the phone-related sounds he is hearing around him and eventually gets extra annoyed (nae angry) when he hears a cell phone continue to ring without anyone answering it and stopping the noise.

I’ll say no more than that, watch the short below:

Review: Straw Dogs (2011)

Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy DVD Cover

Director: Rod Lurie (The Contender, The Last Castle, Resurrecting the Champ )
Producers: Rod Lurie, Marc Frydman
Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgård, James Woods, Dominic Purcell, Rhys Cairo, Drew Powell, Billy Lush, Laz Alonso, Walton Goggins
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 110 min

Sam Peckinpah’s original Straw Dogs caused massive controversy in the UK when it came out in 1971. Alongside Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Peckinpah’s tale of survival and man’s inner animal didn’t sit well with the British Board of Film Classification, leading to cuts (particularly to the notorious rape scene) and even banning in the mid 1980s. It’s now a classic that remains controversial and a genuinely tough watch to this day.

Jump forward 40 years and we have writer/director Rod Lurie’s redundant, pointless, and almost entirely ineffective remake that takes the interesting jagged edges of the original and smoothes them out to make a predictably polished Hollywood version.

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