Cinecast Episode 257 – Her and Her Giant F’n Mouth

Cinéastes assemble! The entire crew is back for this full throttle episode of the Cinecast in which we lather love all over Joss Whedon… or do we? Kurt Halfyard made a last minute decision to check out Avengers just before recording – remember this is the guy that gave Cabin in the Woods a rather scathing review. So thinks might get interesting **(SPOILERS!!)**. After Marvel talk, we get into the homework submissions for the week and I can tell you that thanks to Matt Gamble, the grades are all over the map; no F’s yet, but everything from D’s to A+ are handed out. From there, Kurt wraps up HotDocs, Matt brings up a sore spot in another take on Lockout while Andrew listened to rap and watched Hackers. Lots of “stuff” here – who knew Kurt had a vasectomy?

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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Full show notes are under the seats…
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M-SPIFF Review: tohsdaeH



Director: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Life After Love, The Rocket)
Screenplay: Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Novel: Win Lyovarin
Producers: Raymond Phathanavirangoon, Pawas Sawatchaiyamet
Starring: Nopachai Chaiyanam, Sirin Horwang, Chanokporn Sayoungkul, Apisit Opasaimlikit, Kiat Punpiputt
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 105 min.
Country of Origin: Thailand

An interesting premise with engaging character quickly goes sour and strays dangerously close to flat out boring in the second half of Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s ninth feature film, Headshot. A talented under cover cop/detective is framed for a murder he didn’t commit. In order to leave prison early, he agrees to work as a hitman for a mafia-like political faction. In an assassination gone wrong, our hero takes a bullet to the head,wakes up from a coma three months later to find that his vision is now upside-down. From there it’s a non-linear story about revenge, corruption and finding solace.

Using mostly flashbacks, we’re told the back story of our hero and how he came to be the man he is today. Watching this slowly evolve is a treat and rather quite exciting and engaging… for the first thirty minutes or so. As the story unfolds, bringing us closer to the present, the more and more contrived and convenient things start to become. And likewise, more and more tedious.

Things get pretty boring from about the halfway point to the end; with even the action sequence(s) being not of any particular interest – though I can appreciate the heartful attempts in at least trying to make things interesting with locales and style. In the end, the plot is obvious and contrived; feeling a bit like bad 90s film making. On top of that, the craft is not all that stylistically interesting.

A good premise that goes uphill really fast, then the bottom falls out from beneath us and I really just wanted to get the hell out of the theater to get some munchies and make the early bus home.

M-SPIFF Review: Sleepless Night



Director: Frédéric Jardin
Writers: Frédéric Jardin, Nicolas Saada, Olivier Douyère
Producers: Marco Cherqui, David Grumbach, Jean-Jacques Neira
Starring: Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Julien Boisselier, Joey Starr, Laurent Stocker
Country of Origin: France
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 89 min.


During an early morning drug robbery, the culprits make off with a dozens of kilograms of cocaine, but one unlucky fellow, Vincent, gets tagged with a stab wound, and even worse, has his face spotted by the dealers he is stealing from. But wait a minute. Vincent and his partner are cops who have plotted a rogue, and quite illegal heist for some much needed cash. Vincent, all ready at odds with ex-wife gets in trouble when the owner of the drugs, Jose – a snappily dressed middle-man who operates out of a Paris night club the size of a small airport – kidnaps his son Thomas in exchange for Vincent returning the drugs. During a packed night, the hand-off at the club gets royally messed up as two more branches of the police, Vincent’s partner, the Turks who are trying to buy the drugs from Jose and at probably a couple of other interested parties join the chase as Vincent’s changes of getting his son back dwindle and his changes of getting beaten, shot, stabbed, busted, or simply bleeding death on the floor increase – exponentially. As far as I can tell, the entire film takes place within 24 hours, but the pacing is so relentless, that at times, it feels like a single whirlwind take.

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M-SPIFF Review: Starbuck



Starbuck DVD Cover

Director: Ken Scott (Life After Love, The Rocket)
Screenplay: Ken Scott, Martin Petit
Producer: André Rouleau
Starring: Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand, Dominic Philie, Marc Bélanger
MPAA Rating: 14A
Running time: 109 min.

It’s always a welcome surprise when a movie you’ve never heard of impresses. That was the case when I saw Ken Scott’s Starbuck.

Starbuck Movie StillCo-written by Scott and Martin Petit, this plot is one that will have you shaking your head. Bon Cop, Bad Cop’s Patrick Huard stars as David Wozniak, a 42 year old man who still lives like an irresponsible teen: he’s seriously in debt, has a grow-op in his living room to help pay the bills and works at the family butcher shop delivering meat. He’s well loved by everyone but he’s also not trusted with anything of importance because he tends to muck things up. But he has a good heart and when it comes right down to it, he’ll do what he can to help those he loves.

One such instance of caring in the late 80s led to a spree of sperm donations when he was in his 20s. Using the alias of Starbuck, David spent numerous hours in a little room doing his business into a little cup. Yes, it’s a bit strange but it got the job done and after collecting the funds he needed David went on with his carefree life until 20 years later, he gets a visit from a lawyer. The doctor who led the clinic David had frequented made the mistake of giving his sperm to all of the couples that came in for the period of one year and as a result, David is the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action suit to open the record books and make public the name of the man who is a “father” to them all.
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M-SPIFF Review: Café de Flore



Director: Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.)
Writer: Jean-Marc Vallée
Producers: Pierre Even, Marie-Claude Poulin
Starring: Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Parent, Hélène Florent, Evelyne Brochu, Marin Gerrier, Alice Dubois
Country of Origin: France
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 120 min.



I was somewhat shaken walking out of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film and needed to actually catch my breath off to the side of the cell-phone checking hordes. It was partially due to several very personal reactions to a few moments and characters, but mostly because the film was absolutely magnificent in just about every respect. I’ve found my “I can’t imagine seeing a better film this year” film.

Vallee’s Young Victoria didn’t exactly win any converts in major production house circles, but anyone who saw C.R.A.Z.Y. has probably already given him a lifetime pass. As great as that film was (and if you haven’t seen it, please track it down via any legal means possible and also give a listen to the Movie Club Podcast episode specifically on that film), Cafe de Flore has just surpassed any reasonable expectation of what this filmmaker could do. Possibly even all the unreasonable expectations too. It shows a command of thematic content across multiple stories, an inate feeling of putting music to images and an almost perfect sense of flow. He knows when to ask his actors to be subtle, to bring forward some emotion and when to go BIG. He knows when to keep a scene going, when to stay with a take and when to cut across stories and time periods. That’s what I’m left with as I consider my reaction to the film – everything seemed dead on perfect.

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M-SPIFF 2012 Review: Alps



Director: Giorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth)
Writers: Giorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Producers: Giorgos Lanthimos, Athina Rachel Tsangari
Starring: Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris
Country of Origin: Greece
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 93 min.



“There are many types of lighting receptacles, that come in both professional and consumer grades.”

“Cold is a word that winter swimmers do not know.”

This is the icy-precise line-reading one comes to expect from writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos. Those who got an offbeat intellectual charge out of his weird fable Dogtooth or simply enjoyed the alien-dance moves of actress Aggeliki Papoulia are in for more of the same with ALPS, perhaps a spiritual sequel which features similar visuals and narrative beats. Things are taken out of a singular location of the Greek director’s previous film, and the insular family dynamic is scaled up to a group of people who form the eponymous organization. The business concept behind ALPS is one of role-playing and empathy. People who recently lost of a loved one can hire an ALPS employee to impersonate the deceased for a few days or weeks to ease through the grief process. As the film demonstrates exceptionally well, the barrier between indulging a client’s grief and devolving into a form of prostitution is a rather thin and permeable one. The domineering boss of ALPS, a gymnastics coach who does not indulge his star pupil (also an ALPS employee) in song choices for her routines. Instead he makes unexplained demands: “You are not ready for pop music.” As CEO of ALPS he is more like a pimp. When his star employee (Papoulia), a nurse who spots potential clients from the pool she encounters – families attending to their dying loved ones at the hospital – decides to go rogue and take on a customer outside of ALPS, justice is swift and bloody, an arbitrary. It takes the form of a chastising game which obfuscates the use of naked power and authority.

Of the many sights and sounds on display for our amusement and consideration are the book-end displays of gymnastics. The first scored, as an act of counterpoint foreshadowing, to Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna” (is there a more overused piece of ‘epic music’ in cinema?) and slyly puntastic use of pop-electro hit from the 60s “Popcorn.” A game of charades to keep the ALPS rank-and-file in good form. A few client visits and other mini-set-pieces all serve to underscore the fusion of high and low culture; the earnest and ironic execution is how it goes in this new wave of Weird Greek Cinema of which Lanthimos is the undeniable star.
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M-SPIFF 2012 Review: God Bless America



Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Producers: Jeff Culotta, Sarah de Sa Rego, Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr
Country of Origin: USA
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 99 min.


While a couple on the run setting fires to America’s citizens and their warped sense of “good” isn’t really anything all that new, Bobcat Goldthwaite is able to take the idea and add some twists to the idea; while more importantly stirring in some pretty clever and funny dialogue to boot.

Frank is a slave to the everyday corporate grind (in a cube). His family life is gone, everyone surrounding him is an over-the-top caricature of a pop media drone and society as a whole seems hell bent on almost purposefully dumbing itself down into an “Idiocracy.” Rather than offing himself, Frank decides that maybe in the interest of preserving or “fixing” society as he knows it, it would be better to get his hands dirty and start taking care of business. Which would entail exterminating those responsible for such abhorrent behavior and their mentalities. Along the way he picks up an admiring high school girls who sees the world as just as “dead” as Frank does. Together they’re on the run, eliminating all those that “deserve to die.”

The bullets and violence that one expects from this sort of fare is fun for a while, but slowly loses its impact and sick fun fairly quickly. Especially since the movie can never elevate itself beyond the awesome depravity of the opening scene in Frank’s neighbor’s house, with whom he shares a wall. What works surprisingly well however and keeps the movie chugging along at a pretty even pace, are the two lead performances in Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr; the former ironically appearing only in Disney related projects previously. The two play their parts with gusto and their moments of “extreme dialogue” are moments not to be scoffed at. Skewering of everyone from the obvious (Fox News, American Idol, Westboro Church, etc.) to the more fun and obscure (Diablo Cody, cinema texters, or people who give high fives and misuse the word “literally” [YES!]).
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M-SPIFF Capsule Review: Smuggler



Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Screenplay: Katsuhito Ishii, Masatoshi Yamaguchi, Kensuke Yamamoto
Comic: Sheila Kohler
Producers: Rosalie Swedlin, Christine Vachon, Julie Payne, Andrew Lowe, Kwesi Dickson
Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Masatoshi Nagase, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Hikari Mitsushima
Country of Origin: Japan
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 114 min.


So right off the bat I screwed up my schedule at The Minneapolis Film Festival and was forced to see something I hadn’t intended on seeing. No fault of the festival or the scheduling – this was simply my tiredness and my inattention to the task at hand. So instead of seeing the director vignette, V/H/S/, I tried another late night screening in Katsuhito Ishii’s Smuggler

Smuggler is a sort of comedy-action mash-up in which a young, failed actor is forced to work as a smuggler of corpses and other contraband for a local crime lord in a world of whacky crime syndicates, Yakuza fashionistas and fearless, expert assassins. The premise sounds kind of cool. Alas, it is not.

I mostly found the humor to be of a way too childish and stereotypical, caricature nature. Nothing in this movie was remotely funny to me. Nothing. But the humor that is not of my taste isn’t what bothered me so much as the fact that it is saturated throughout a movie that is very serious in tone and subject matter otherwise. I can’t tell what the director was going for as an overall style or tone for this picture as it is all over the place. There’s some very serious (unironic), dramatic voice-over narration right next to some goofy thugs with big teeth acting like Laurel and Hardy followed by an explosive action sequence only to be followed by more “humor the foolish.”

There are moments however that make this watchable. There is a pretty intense torture sequence that while certainly could be construed as nothing more than torture-porn by some, is actually quite effective and really helps to bring about a full character arc. The martial arts sequences are pretty spectacular. Not only from a choreography standpoint, but because it’s all shot in a high frame rate and replayed in hyper-slow motion; most likely shot on the Phantom. An otherwise 35 second sequence is drawn out into about 2 minutes of face pummeling and teeth shattering.

These moments are few and far between however and mostly I just found the characters to be uninteresting at best and grating at worst. The humor fails miserably and the shifts in tone baffled me. Mostly I’d say avoid unless you know exactly what you’re getting into here.


Flyway Pubcast #5 – Xan Aranda Talks About Andrew Bird Documentary

Today’s Pubcast is brought to you by Andrew, Matt, Flyway regular Xan Aranda (of the Chicago Short Film Brigade) and Summit Beer Brewing Company. Though Xan has typically been involved with programming the shorts for Flyway Film Fetival in the past, this year she’s here pretty much just for the fun of it. Of course this isn’t to say she doesn’t have stuff to talk about.

Her documentary, Fever Year, featuring musican/songwriter Andrew Bird is on the way. Andrew James meanwhile is busy with his 12 year-old scotch (thanks Peri!) so I defer to my girlfriend Emma to ask the tough questions before Gamble goes back to his gushing. Welcome to the drunken shenanigans that is Flyway 2011!


Meanwhile, check out the trailer for FEVER YEAR under the seats…

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