Archive for the ‘General Ramblings’ Category

  • No TADFF/TIFF for Me.

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    TIFF 09Today was the first day of my new job. It looks like a great job and I’m pretty happy to be doing something new for a while. There is one terrible side effect of the new job and that is I have to wait for holidays to build up once again. I’ll have enough holidays built up by the fall for my regular family trip but I will not have enough for neither of Toronto After Dark nor the Toronto International Film festival. I was thinking I could do Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver but they are all shortly after TIFF and they just won’t work out either. It looks like I might be thinking of Sundance in January but I would like some other suggestions. The festival needs to be in North America and should take place sometime very late in the year or early in the new year. Any suggestions?

  • Jericho May Get a Feature Film

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    I had heard of the TV-show Jericho back when it came out. I knew that it was post-Apocalyptic and dealt with the “what-if” scenario of nuclear attacks in the US, something I think about far more than I should. I knew it starred Skeet Ulrich, who is a solid actor that never really did much considering the talent that he had (I think all of the early-Johnny Depp comparisons hurt the guy). I knew that it gained a pretty huge cult following fairly quickly and after the cancellation of the first season, a bunch of loyal fans sent 40,000 pounds of peanuts to CBS offices in protest, which brought it back for a second season before being canceled again. I never watched it while it was on though, mostly because I have major commitment issues and can only watch shows that I can watch on my own time, when I am ready and bored, whether online or through DVD.

    Of course, that all changed with the sweetness that is Hulu, and just today – because I am hungover and don’t feel like accomplishing anything and all of the basketball games on TV today are painfully one-sided – I watched the first two episodes of Jericho. If they are any indicator, it is a quality show that I’m going to enjoy. It’ll be a bummer if I really get into it and it ends abruptly, like one of the best damn shows I have ever watched, Deadwood (fun fact: this show stars a Deadwood alum, the awesome Gerald McRaney). Luckily though, recalling shades of the Firely/Serenity deal, they’re looking to provide proper closure to the series with a feature film, something we seem to be seeing more and more of as the years go by (although unfortunately not for Deadwood).

    According to executive producer Dan Shotz, “It’s not just wishful thinking. We’ve been developing a feature to hopefully make, because we would love to. I mean, Jericho is so built in a way, especially where we left off season two, to create a feature. So our hope is to launch this comic-book series and then with the development at the same time of the feature, hopefully get that launched as well.”

    Cool. This may be the new show I watch when I’m eating my dinner or microwavable pizza or have forty extra minutes to spare at night. Has anybody out there watched this show? What do you think? Am I crazy for starting to watch this show and once again putting off watching Battlestar Galactica, which I have the first two seasons of and never watched?

    Sound off in the comments, minions.

  • We’re Only 6 Years Away from Hover Boards!

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    Watching clips from Back to the Future 2 at work today, I realized that all the great technological advances that occur between Marty McFly’s teenage years and to the point where he meets himself as a father is actually only 6 short years away – 2015!

    So in the next few years, you can look forward to not only hover boards but also mechanized shoe laces, dehydrated pizzas that expand and cook in seconds and the ability to watch fifteen different channels of television all at the same time. I can’t wait.

    Hoverboard

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  • Mamo #133: And the result was apathy

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    Mamo!

    Mamo, the show about movies and popular culture, is now available at rowthree.com! If you’re new to the podcast, welcome; if you’re a returning listener, consider therapy. In today’s episode, we’ll be having our long-awaited look at the long-awaited Watchmen, and consequently mull whether our long-awaiting was worthwhile. And, we promise, nary a “who watches” pun will you find.

    Visit us on iTunes:

    All previous Mamo! shows can be found at
    Mamocast.blogspot.com
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  • OMFG. 1978 Indiana Jones Story Conference Transcript.

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    Excuse me while I clean myself up. I just peed a little.

    I know that I don’t really have the time to spend on such luxuries like reading for pleasure these past few months, but when I stumbled upon Mystery Man on Film’s post about a 125-page .pdf transcript of some conversations between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan during 1978 about a little movie that happens to be my favorite of all-time – Raiders of the Lost Ark – I had to see it with my own eyes. This thing is all over the internet today and I couldn’t resist the temptation. I immediately downloaded the sucker and started reading away (and have a feeling I may be reading the whole thing tonight). It’s the Genesis of Indiana Jones: “In the beginning, George and Steven created Indiana Smith…”

    Really, this is one of the coolest film-related documents I think I have ever read. These guys are talking candidly about the creation of the character that is Indiana Jones, the other characters, the film itself, the story arcs, everything – and it makes for some mind-boggling, fascinating reading. We really get a firsthand glimpse at what goes into collaborating to create an iconic film like this.

    Check out Mystery Man’s blog post (because he deserves all the credit in the world for this write-up and he says it all better than I could), which gives plenty of excerpts from the document, along with his commentary, if you’re looking for a condensed version. You can also download the entire thing right there, for your drooling pleasure.

  • Updated Hunger Poster and Trailer

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    I‘ve been thinking of doing a post on 6 months after TIFF reflections. I’d look at the movies that I saw and missed and the ones I’ve caught since. One of those movies is Hunger (Marina’s Review from VIFF). As a pure coincidence IFC films just contacted me to ask me if I’d like to update the trailer and poster for Hunger. Well…. yes I would so here without further ado is the official poster and trailer for Hunger. I still haven’t seen it so I can’t really comment on the movie other than saying that it is one that I regret having missed at TIFF last year.

    Official Synopsis: In 1981, a deadly serious battle takes place in the infamous H-block of Belfast’s Maze Prison. Republican inmates, led by Bobby Sands (Fassbender), refuse to eat until the British government acknowledges the IRA as a legitimate political organization. Steve McQueen’s commanding direction captures the phsyical details of their struggle. Is it suicide or martyrdom?

    Hunger is finally receiving its wide release on March 20th.

    Hunger
  • Screenshot Quiz #139

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    Look closely.

    screenshot139
  • Haunting in Connecticut Motion Poster

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    Many of us felt that the poster for The Haunting in Connecticut was somewhat disturbing… well I just have to say the still poster doesn’t hold a candle to the following motion poster. The motion poster is a bit noisy so I put it under the seat.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Clearing Away the Cobwebs

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    THIS POST WILL REMAIN AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND. FOR UP TO DATE CONTENT PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE NEWER POSTS THAT MAY HAVE SHOWN UP SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT. THANKS!

     

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  • WTF Moment of the Day: American Psycho 2

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    American Psycho 2I realize this comes years too late but I’m so shocked I didn’t know about this that it’s deserving of a WTF moment. Out of the depths of the interweb which appears to be suffering its own form of recession (except around here of course. Around these parts we’re in full swing and our stock even appears to be going up. Invest now!), I stumbled on news that in 2002, Lions Gate was desperate enough to produce and release, albeit direct to DVD, American Psycho 2 which, according to IMDb, was known as The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die during production.

    Oh yes, someone decided it was a good idea to make a sequel to Mary Harron’s great film.

    I’m not sure what’s worse: the film’s tagline (“Angrier. Deadlier. Sexier.”), the fact that it’s directed by a guy named Morgan Freeman or the fact that it managed to attract the attention of Mila Kunis and William Shatner. Seriously Will, I expected more.

    And the trailer. Oh good god it’s bad. Take a look:



    Oh yeah. For a minute there I thought I’d found the wrong one but alas, I was simply mislead.

    But, if like me, you’re actually curious to see how bad this thing really is, you don’t even have to rent it. You see, it’s streaming for free (and legally I might add) right here. If I can find the time this weekend, I’m definitely checking out this atrocity.

  • Andrew’s Oscar Recap

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    Penélope Cruz and her trophyPenélope Cruz wins. Is there anything else that matters? Not really, but let’s talk about it anyway. First of all, Hugh Jackman.

    Well, we really didn’t see much of the host this evening. But when he was on, he was charming, graceful and even-keeled. We didn’t get a whole lot of side-splitting jokes, but we did get plenty of singing and dancing numbers (which is to be expected from a previous Tony Awards Host). The dancing number that was performed single-handedly by Jackman (well, he had plenty of help from the props crew) was loads of fun, particularly The Reader portion of the dance. Whisking Anne Hathaway from her front row seat to help with the Frost/Nixon bit worked surprisingly well too (and Anne Hathaway can sing… well!). His second dance montage didn’t do much for me, but hey, you can’t hit it out of the park every time.

    Which leads to an interesting trend that I noticed throughout tonight’s telecast: picking on the nominated films no one saw and taking loving jabs at the Academy voters a bit for not nominating more popular films such as comedies or comic book movies. I think The Dark Knight was mentioned more than once throughout the evening in a baffled sort of way. I’m a bit surprised at the awards for taking those rips in stride. But I think main-stream watchers can appreciate this and that’s who the Oscars Presentation wants/needs to attract.

    Hugh Jackman hostsSo what better way to do that than with montages. You’re probably thinking, “yeah right, another montage of 150 black and white people, 90% of whom I’ve never even heard of.” No no no, the telecast this year had a little high octane for the guys, a little relationship/romance for the ladies and some stellar animation for the kiddies. I thought this was a nice touch and added a bit of fun for everyone to the evening. For the kids, several of the top animated films of the year had clips glued together to make for a superb fun and entertaining bit of action. And speaking of action, the editing together of several great action sequences of the year was really spectacular. It started with cars and racing and shifted gears quickly to guns and explosions, to fist fights and sword fights, top notch stunt work (i.e. falling) and ended on a high note of all the jumping cars from the year’s films (Speed Racer, Wanted, Bond, Death Race, TDK, etc. etc.). And all of this edited note for note and beat for beat with… some song that fit in well with the atmosphere.

    For laughs, we had James Franco and Seth Rogen doing a bit in their Pineapple Express characterizations. If you’re a fan of those characters, you got it. If not, maybe not so much. But Franco’s Pineapple character getting a little misty-eyed over his Best actor presentersMilk character and then getting a little too touchy/feely with Rogen was a highlight of the evening. Oh and @Ben Stiller: c’mon; that gag was already done at the Independent Spirit Awards the night before.

    How about the new format this year? I for one really liked the way the presentations were made for the acting categories. Seeing five of the older actors who had won Oscars (Shirley Maclaine, Michael Douglas) give a personal “pep talk” to each of the nominees (Anne Hathaway, Sean Penn) was a really neat and original way to announce the nominees. Huge kudos to whoever came up with that idea.

    Then there’s the music, or lack thereof. The Awards needed to snip some time off of their presentaion this year and one of the more obvious ways to do that would be by cutting the music down a bit. Well, they succeeded with doing that; but instead of cutting the music all together, they mixed it into a sort of montage and all played by the Oscar orchestra. While it was some pretty music, it was also kind of slow and bogged down the flow of the show. Either keep it or cut it would be my suggestion. The straddling the fence approach didn’t really work for me. But hey, that’s just one man’s opinion.

    And of course there were all of the winners. The most surprising had to be neither The Class nor Waltz with Bashir going back to their home country with a statue. Nope; instead, a little film out of Japan (Okuribito) no one’s heard of takes the cake. I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t comment on it’s worthiness, but nevertheless it is surprising.

    The least surprising of course was Ledger’s win for the Joker. Was that not the lock of the show… maybe ever? Hardly worth mentioning it was so obvious. As was Slumdog’s sweep of almost everything it was nominated for.

    In the acting category, we all knew it would be Penn or Rourke. Both were equally deserving in my eyes, but I sure was rooting for Rourke. He’ll maybe never see that opportunity again, which is a real shame. This is a win that, no matter which way it went, could be and will be debated for years to come. Plus, we didn’t get to see a (potentially) clean version of his speech from the night before. If you didn’t see it, you need to find Kate Winslet winsit on YouTube asap. It’s entertaining stuff.

    And Kate Winslet finally gets her much deserved trophy. As much as I was rooting for Hathaway, I knew this was Winslet’s year and was prepared for that. And anyway, she has worked the hardest for it and she has been shut down year after year after year. She truly deserves this and I think everyone was happy for her – especially her dad sitting way in the back of the theater.

    Did I mention Penélope Cruz took home and Oscar? Her speech was the cutest of the night and thanking Almodóvar was a nice touch. Congrats darling!

    So I guess all in all it was a pretty good show and a real success in terms of cutting back on the time factor and bringing a little something for everyone to the table. If only the nominees had been a bit more… accurate. Keep these changes in place for next year and tweak one or two things and bring back Jackman and I think you’ve got a real crowd pleaser on your hands. Just amke sure you nominate the right films this year Mr. Gainis!

  • Row Three Narcissism: Movies We Watched

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    Movies We have WatchedIt is Oscar day today, and while you are distractedly waiting for the show to ‘get on with it.’ a welcome distraction may be (if we may humbly suggest) to check out what the Row Three writers have been looking at this week. Instead of revisiting this years crop of Oscar hopefuls, we’ve been swimming through genre flicks, classic cinema and Martin Scorsese’s ouvre. As always, the complete list of the FILMS WE WATCHED can be accessed via the icon on the right-hand-sidebar. A sampling from the last fortnight is below:

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) 4/5
    In comparison to today’s heist/hostage movies, the original “Taking of Pelham 123″ feels a little quiet, predictable and maybe even stagnant would be a good characterization. But the shrewd performance of Robert Shaw and the somehow comedic, but clever role of Lt. Garber played by Walter Matthau is really what makes this film fun. Combined with quirky dialogue and a whole host of quality character actors (is that Jerry Stiller?), this is an hour and a half of quality entertainment. Since Tony Scott’s remake is not far from the multiplex, you may want to brush up with the original. – ANDREW

    Battle Royale (2000) 4/5
    This modern classic cult film that remains unreleased in North America is abashed B-film that has several dozen Grade 9 students murder each other in a fascist government game/experiment. While some may have you believe this is a allegory for teenage entrance into adult society, really it is an excuse to put some controversial and gory set-pieces into action. Much of the exposition and character building (everyone is a high-school archetype) is a bit clumsy for master-filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku (this was his last film at age 71), the premise is visceral enough to demand attention in a ‘what is going to happen next’ sort of way. No punches are pulled, in particular by comedian-director-actor Takeshi Kitano, here pretty much playing ‘himself’ as the administrator of punishment. – KURT

    The Flower of My Secret (1995) 3.5/5
    Per usual with Almodovar’s stuff, the melodrama and only slightly ineresting storyline is usually beside the point (at least for me). With a couple of exceptions (All About My Mother and Volver), I’m mostly only interested in Almodocar’s films for their color and composition. The amount of color contrast and diversity is bordering on otherworldy and would be staggeringly hideous and overwhelming in real life. But somehow Almodovar and crew are able to make it appear normal, but also beautiful. With this film, it’s really no different – composition is everything. Many of the sequences seem needless and tedious. Much of the dialogue is terribly boring. I’m sure Pedro himself would disagree, as would legions of his fans possibly, but I don’t mean for it to be an insult. I’m simply not interested in the characters or their story; I’m interested in what physical context in which Almodovar puts them in. And he does it again here admirably. – ANDREW

    Tales From Earthsea (2006) 4/5
    This Studio Ghibli release was directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki. As one might expect from a Studio Ghibli film, the animation is flawless (in fact, I’d rank it right up there alongside the elder Miyazaki’s finest). Yet, while the movie’s story is engaging enough, it lacks the smooth flow of Studio Ghibli’s most acclaimed works – DAVE

    La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928) 5/5
    Simply the most modern-feeling Silent Film ever made. To this day film has an alien feel due to the perfect melding of lead actress and a visceral type of storytelling seemingly constructed completely from facial reaction shots. Unforgettable and disturbing. -KURT

    Grizzly Man (2005) 4/5
    Werner Herzog finds an interesting and new way to capture is exploration of the implacability and hostility of nature. Putting damaged activist Timothy Treadwell under the microscope post-humously after he was eaten by the bears he loved, along with Herzog’s sublime voice-over, the film at first seems to be a tribute to amateur protectionism and filmmaking but then slyly turns to a condemnation of Treadwell’s egotistic hubris to ‘protect’ a portion of Alaska already classified as a protected national park. This makes Grizzly Man equally compelling as a portrait of human nature. – KURT

    The Color of Money (1986) 4/5
    The Color of Money is not a Martin Scorsese film; this is an attack launched time and again at this film, from critics and fans alike. The truth is, it really isn’t a Martin Scorsese film. I mean, it is…he directed it…but it’s not in that it doesn’t have the same energy, the same bravado as a typical Scorsese work. It follows its story too closely, the camerawork doesn’t seem as interesting, and even the situations are (gasp) somewhat formulaic. I concede on all of these points, but in no way do so to damn the film outright, or to cast it out of the great director’s filmography (as some wish they could do). With The Color of Money, we bear witness to Martin Scorsese sitting comfortably in the back seat, allowing his star, Paul Newman, to drive. Does this make The Color of Money a bad film? Absolutely not. It makes it an atypical Scorsese film, nothing more. After all, if Martin Scorsese decides to stay out of the limelight every now and again, who better to take his place in it than Paul Newman? So, don’t go into The Color of Money expecting a Martin Scorsese film, but don’t let that scare you away, either. It is a Paul Newman film, and the great actor is certainly worth the price of a few hours of your time. – DAVE