Trailer: Woodshock


 

Directed by the Mulleavy Sisters, Kate and Laura, who made a splash in the fashion world with their Rodarte collection, Woodshock, their first feature promises an impressionistic, acid-trip portrait off loss and grief. The film is getting a release from risk taking production/distribution label, A24. Starring Kirsten Dunst (in full Melancholia mode) shown in super-long-shot, her tiny form up against mighty Redwood trees and endless watery vistas. Woodshock, at first glance appears to be in the space between Sophia Coppola and Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition, all lovely anxiety. The ubiquitous Danish actor Pilou Asbaek (Game of Thrones, The Great Wall, Ghost in the Shell) co-stars.

Woodshock is getting a theatrical release on September 15, 2017.

Blu-Ray Review: 12 Angry Men – Criterion Collection

Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay: Reginald Rose
Based on a Story by: Reginald Rose
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam
Country: USA
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 1957
BBFC Certificate: PG


12 Angry Men has long been a favourite of mine, so you must forgive my review if it gets too gushing. It’s a popular classic, so much has already been written about it and I can’t compete with the more intellectual or eloquent writers out there. As such, I’ll try to keep this write-up brief. I imagine most people interested in classic cinema will have already seen the film, so you should probably just skip to the section in bold at the end to see how Criterion’s Blu-Ray release stacks up. Suffice to say, it’s excellent and easily replaces my bare-bones DVD copy.

For those of you not aware of the film, the setup of 12 Angry Men is a rather simple one. 12 jurors are assigned to a seemingly cut and dry murder case, where an eighteen year old hispanic boy is thought to have murdered his father. The film starts after the case has been put forward and the jurors are asked to deliberate over the evidence and decide whether or not the boy is guilty. It’s clearly iterated that if there is any reasonable doubt that he didn’t do it, the boy must be deemed not guilty. If he is found guilty, he will be sentenced to death.

The 12 men enter the jury room on a hot summer’s day and soon take a vote. 11 of them are quick to declare the boy guilty, but one man (Henry Fonda) isn’t so sure. He isn’t confident of the boy’s innocence necessarily, but wants the reluctant men to at least discuss it and not rush into sending the boy to die. The decision must be unanimous, so the 12 men break down all the facts of the case and argue the ins and outs, which slowly begins to turn the decision around.

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Trailer: Blade Runner 2


 

The full trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s epic-scaled Blade Runner sequel has arrived, and it is glorious. In terms of future hologram bespackled cities, Ghost in the Shell, in hindsight was simply an amuse-bouche to the feast that Roger Deakins has prepared for us. Cold grey-blues, Fury-Road oranges, infinite whites, and twinkling Atari lights.
Oh My.

In terms of new cast members Robin Wright and Jared Leto introduced here, as does Ana de Armas (blink at the right point, and you will miss Dave Bautista).

I hope the story is as beautiful as everything on display here. I expect nothing short than greatness, even as I believe that movie will explicitly, in no uncertain terms, finally INSIST that Deckard is a replicant, and likely all of the police force.

Blown away here at the moment, though. Enjoy.

Trailer: The Limehouse Golem


 

“Even madness has its own logic.” I love a good period-procedural, and this London set 19th century serial killer mystery is verdantly populated with character, costume and blood.

Bill Nighy plays the investigator, Eddie Marsan one of the suspects, and Daniel Hays the beat-walking cop (for invisible character actor context, many saw him murdered by Diego Luna in the early minutes of Rogue One, but I like his contributions to the Red Riding Trilogy, Mr. Nobody and several recent Mike Leigh pictures among other things). Olivia Cooke is the central witness and narrator of the picture, which aims to combine a lot of elements into a satisfying old-school kind of whole.

Spanish director Juan Carlos Medina could not quite pull juggling so many balls in his debut feature, Painless, a horror-investation about children in a mental asylum and the consequences of this institution across the years. By all accounts at last Septembers edition TIFF, The Limehouse Golem does not suffer from such muddled narrative confusion.

Set on the unforgiving, squalid streets of Victorian London in 1880, our tale begins in the baroque, grandiose music hall where the capital’s most renowned performer Dan Leno (Douglas Booth) takes to the stage. The whimsical thespian performs a monologue, informing his dedicated audience of the ghastly fate of a young woman who had once adorned this very stage, his dear friend Elizabeth Cree (Olivia Cooke); for the beguiling songstress is facing up to her forthcoming death by hanging, having been accused of murdering her husband John Cree (Sam Reid). Lizzie’s death seems inevitable, until Detective Inspector John Kildare (Bill Nighy) is assigned to the case of the Limehouse Golem – a nefarious, calculating serial killer, murdering innocent, unconnected victims, leaving behind barely identifiable corpses – and his distinctive signature in blood. All is not what it seems and everyone is a suspect and everyone has a secret.

The Limehouse Golem opens this September.

Blu-Ray Review: Melody

Director: Waris Hussein
Screenplay: Alan Parker
Starring: Mark Lester, Tracy Hyde, Jack Wild
Country: UK
Running Time: 103 min
Year: 1971
BBFC Certificate: PG


I opened my review of My Life as a Dog this morning by professing my love for coming of age dramas, and what do you know, the other title I had to review today is another coming of age film. What’s that old saying about buses?

Rather than telling a period tale of burgeoning adulthood in rural Sweden though, Melody (a.k.a. S.W.A.L.K. – what a hideous title!) is set in present day (early 70s) London and follows Daniel (Oliver himself, Mark Lester), a middle class boy starting at a mixed comprehensive school with a range of likeminded young rascals. Daniel befriends a naughty but likeable lad called Ornshaw (Jack Wild, also of Oliver! fame). The two are from very different backgrounds, which cause a few issues, but generally they’re inseparable as they get into mischief at school and home. That is until Melody (Tracy Hyde) comes on the scene.

Melody is a good natured dreamer who lives in a council flat with her mother, grandmother and father, although the latter spends more time at the pub than home. Daniel falls madly in love with Melody when he spies on her dancing at school. He stalks her (in a well meaning 12 year old sort of way) until eventually Melody falls for his charms too. All is peachy with them, but Ornshaw isn’t too happy about his friend being otherwise occupied so friction develops between the two boys and the couple get in trouble with their family and the school when they demand to be able to get married now, not in the future as the law demands.

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Blu-Ray Review: My Life as a Dog

Director: Lasse Hallström
Screenplay: Lasse Hallström
Based on a Novel by: Reidar Jönsson
Starring: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Brömssen, Anki Lidén, Melinda Kinnaman
Country: Sweden
Running Time: 101 min
Year: 1985
BBFC Certificate: PG


I‘ve always had a soft spot for coming of age films. I don’t know whether it’s nostalgia for my own childhood or wish fulfilment for what I would have liked to have done back then, but I’ve always enjoyed watching tales of teens on the brink of adulthood, finding themselves through some sort of adventure or crucial experience. I’ve got several favourites, but the one I come back to again and again is Stand By Me. The quotable dialogue, camaraderie between friends and thrill of going off on a ‘mission’ together out in the wilderness all help make it one of my personal all time favourite films. So when Lasse Hallström’s critically acclaimed Swedish coming of age drama My Life as a Dog was offered up to review, I was keen to see if it lived up to the similar films I have a fondness for.

My Life as a Dog centres around and is narrated by Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius), a 12 year old boy living in Sweden in the late 1950s with his older brother and sick mother (Anki Lidén). The two boys get into so much trouble, particularly Ingemar, that their mum is forced to separate them, sending her youngest son to live with his uncle Gunnar (Tomas von Brömssen) and aunt Ulla (Kicki Rundgren) far from home. She’s too ill to deal with both herself and their father is abroad with work and doesn’t seem to have the ability or interest to come back. Whilst living with his uncle in a rural town, Ingemar struggles to control his developing teenage hormones. His young mind is confused as to what to do about an attractive local woman who uses him as a defence against an artist making a nude sculpture of her, as well as a sporty tomboy, Saga (Melinda Kinnaman), who falls for him. All the while, he is troubled by the fact that his beloved mother wants to get rid of him and is dying, a fact he pretends to ignore.

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Cinecast Episode 482 – A Six Demon Bag

Two movies could not be more different in tone. First up is an indie horror from a first time director who has made a minor masterpiece in Hounds of Love. Next up is a SPOILER review of the rainbow psychedelia that is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II. Kurt saw some fireworks at HotDocs; and a hobby horse revolution among other things. Andrew revisited his favorite Ted Jonathan Demme film, turned his brain off with the third xXx movie and then perused the entire history of film over the past seven days. It was a busy week for both the guys, but there’s always time to record a show – even if it is eight in the morning.

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

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Director: James Gunn (Slither, Super, Movie 43)
Writer: James Gunn
Producers: Kevin Feige
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Kurt Russell
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 136 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd

 


Three years ago, The Guardians of the Galaxy was considered the first big risk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, completely removed from the rest of the Avengers on other planets with characters even avid comic book readers weren’t overly familiar with, all led by an actor who was primarily known as the chubby goofball on an NBC workplace sitcom. To the surprise of everyone, the movie became an absolute juggernaut on release, a critical and commercial smash that immediately cemented itself as one of the most beloved entries into the franchise, even considered the very best by many. The fact that it was so much weirder and very different to the rest of the MCU ended up being the thing that people loved most. With an irreverent wit, a group of anti-hero characters who hated everyone as much as they loved themselves banding together to save the galaxy, and a bright, extravagant visual palette that popped in a way that directly opposed the bland, grey tones of the rest of the MCU, the first Guardians was lightning in a bottle that would be impossible to capture twice.

So how do you follow that up? The whole idea of the first Guardians was that it was fresh and unique, but even before it came out the film already had its sequel confirmed, which gave returning writer/director James Gunn (who recently announced that he’ll also be back for the third Guardians film) a tall task. His response, as is the case with most sequels, was more more more. That word defines The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and it’s got connotations both good and bad. Guardians 2 is weirder, more energetic, more colorful, with more action and even more humor than the first. It’s also jam-packed with more characters all fighting for more screentime, more plot, more exposition, more storylines, and more dead spaces in between all of the good stuff. It’s a fun ride, immediately capturing the spirit of the first, but there’s an undeniable feeling of simply returning to the well rather than bringing the kind of refreshing verve that the first movie brought.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a nice change of pace from the rest of the MCU (particularly its most recent entry, the unbelievably dull origin story Doctor Strange) but by its very nature as a sequel, it can’t pop to the full extent of its predecessor. Guardians 2 gets off to an excellent start, with an opening credits sequence that rivals the greatest of any scenes in the MCU to date. With all of the character introductions and the team established from the first movie, we’re able to slide right back into the groove of things as the returning quintet (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel) of the title immediately bring back the dysfunctional family chemistry that they formed so well three years ago. Things look like they’re setting up for an epic opening battle, the kind we’ve seen in most of the MCU movies, but right as the tension rises and their behemoth alien opposition arrives to the party, the focus instead narrows in on little Baby Groot, who kicks on the tunes and starts grooving. While the battle rages on out of focus in the background, we instead watch Groot dance around to “Mr. Blue Sky” with utter glee.

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Shiners


 

Opting for nothing less than an examination of the purpose and philosophy of 21st century labour – in short, how and why do we work in an era of automation and disposable consumerism? – Stacey Tenenbaum’s re-evaluation of the humble shoe shiner smashes any and all Dickensian or Jim Crow notions of the trade with smiles and (mostly joyful) tears.

She travels the globe, from Times Square to La Paz, Bolivia and from Sarajevo to Etobicoke to assess the evolution of the most local of services: cleaning and burnishing shoe leather in a public space. Shiners addresses socioeconomic hot buttons issues of the day, such as race, class, ecology, automation of labour, addiction, politics and human dignity. But, it is first and foremost a character study in a waning trade that has always attracted interesting characters. Combine this with Van Royko’s low-f-stop cinematography and you almost smell the oil, leather, and Kiwi.

Tactile close-ups of fingers and cloth, skin on skin, are mixed with medium shots to emphasize the ‘power-difference’ between the person ‘in the chair’ (which is not always a literal chair) and the shiner, which the film then smoothly undoes. Finally, a healthy mix of wide shots to show their labour employed inside the context of their city. Shiners has a craftswoman’s ebb and flow as Tenenbaum effortlessly flits back and forth across their stories.

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Friday One Sheet: Blade Runner 2049

Unfortunately it looks like the rage that was minimalism isn’t quite dead yet. I say unfortunately because while minimalism has its time and place, I tend to prefer creativity and flashiness and color – when it’s done well. Minimalism tends to stifle creativity and encourages laziness. Case in point here. Not these aren’t handsome looking posters; on the contrary they are quite eye-catching and definitely set a mood. But at the same time, they’re kind of boring.

And if you ask me, they look like Mad Max: Fury Road and a Fast and Furious movie respectively. Which I’m hoping, Bladde Runner 2049 is nothing like; despite the fact that I do like those movies, I’m hoping Blade Runner: 2049 is a bit closer to something like Looper in tone; or at least in pacing.

At any rate, I remain cautiously optimistic about this film. One moment I’m excited, the next I’m apprehensive. This new poster set does really nothing to swing the proverbial pendulum either way for me. So here’s to more hoping and waiting.

After the Credits Episode 208: May Preview

Last meal?

We have officially entered summer movie season and this year, it seems the studios are really entrenching themselves in the concept that if a tentpole is opening on any given weekend, nothing else can open for at least two weeks because they won’t make any money.

At least that’s what it feels like looking at this month’s calendar which includes a couple of potentially huge blockbusters spread a few weeks apart with only a few titles of interest to tide viewers over.

Join us as Dale (Letterboxd), Colleen and I (Letterboxd) look at what’s coming in May.
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