WFF 2014 Review: A Most Violent Year


Truth be told: if you haven’t seen a J.C. Chandor movie, you’re missing out. Like, seriously missing out. That doesn’t however, mean that you should skip A Most Violent Year. Actually, that means that you should see A Most Violent Year as soon as possible and then head back and check out the director’s previous work.

Also written by Chandor, A Most Violent Year sounds like the most boring movie ever about the most dry industry ever. Oscar Isaac plays Abel Morales, the owner of a heating oil company in the early 80s when people, instead of having deals with the electric or gas company for their heating, they negotiated heating oil prices with the providers directly. Life has been good for Morales. He’s risen through the ranks from driver to owner, married a beautiful, smart woman, and he’s just about to close the biggest deal of his life.

But all is not well at Standard Oil: the company is under investigation for fraud, the bank has pulled out of their real estate deal, trucks of oil are being stolen right from Morales’ nose and to make matters worse, now Morales’ seemingly perfect home life is starting to show cracks. It’s definitely a violent year for Morales but not in sense you might imagine.

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San Andreas [trailer]

Can we please, please stop with the children’s choirs singing a famous pop-song in “slow motion” for trailers. I think it started with Fincher’s The Social Network and now just about every other trailer uses the “effect”. Knock it off, on such a winter’s day!

In other news, John Cusack was unable to save the world in 2012. Perhaps The Rock and Paul Giamatti can do it in 2015. Because this ain’t your daddy’s earthquake; this is the big one.

Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller Again. A Little Older.

So I know we’re almost a week late to this party, but hey, we’ve been around for a while and it takes us some time to catch up to the younger kids. Also, Charles Grodin.

Baumbach really hasn’t done much for me with his (in fact I quite loathe) last three films. But because of how great Squid and the Whale is, I keep on giving him the benefit of the doubt, even though I’m pretty sure I’ll be let down… with the potential for vomit. So I watch this trailer trepidatiously. And at first I got a bit of the Frances Ha, hipster, pretentious, rich, white people problems, but at the midway point my guard was worn away and I found myself smiling through the rest of trailer. So much so that I watched it again. More smiles. It certainly is still people with problems, but they’re problems more of us can relate to, they’re believable and they’re presented (at least in this trailer) in much more of a light-hearted manner.

I will relent and see this theatrically. I look forward to more smiles. Also, did I mention Charles Grodin?


Trailer: White God

White God

Winner of the Prize Un Certain Regard Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, White God is described as “a brutal, beautiful metaphor for the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe”:

When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen, because it’s mixed-breed heritage is deemed ‘unfit’ by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called ‘unfit’ dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time housepet who has learned all too well from his ‘Masters’ in his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hands that beats him.

Friday One Sheet: Inherent Vice

OK, this is not exactly a movie poster for Inherent Vice, but the cover for the reprint of Thomas Pynchon’s source novel. It darn well should be a movie poster though. Los Angeles neon soaked nights, lots of colourful characters, all occupying the headspace of the central character, a side-burned and spacey Joaquin Phoenix. This is one of my favourite ‘posters’ of the year.

Cinecast Episode 374 – Too Lazy to Cheat

We’re a bit at odds this week and the uneven release schedule sort of keeps us constantly out of flux. The good news this week is that we’ve got a guest to contradict the assininty of Andrew and Kurt with long time listener Thomas Wishloff from Sunset Rising. We weigh in on the merits of Carell’s Oscar hopes, Mark Ruffalo’s brilliance, the intricacies of Peter Weller and François Truffaut or Urban vs Altman and the discovery of the pervasiveness of stage productions. How we never got into the ins and outs of the new Star Wars trailer is a miracle (here’s a hint: Kubrick is far more fascinating); but hopefully you’ll enjoy the show anyway.

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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Bond. 2015. Spectre.

Skyfall was the first Bond film I saw that I felt wasn’t a novelty. It was a proper film (as Mark Kermode might say). It was gorgeous. It had interesting characters. The story was intricate and plot fulfilled. But the nostalgia was still there. Today all of the nine one-one on the next Bond film dropped in one fell swoop. Director, cast, title, villain and some marketing material.

So glad was I to hear that Sam Mendes would be returning for another go around! For twenty years, no Bond film has been made by the same director. So when they finally got one right, it’s wonderful to hear the news that they’ll be bringing back essentially the same team.

Of course, the first question I had was, “will they bring back Roger Deakins as cinematographer?” Alas no, but coming in at a close second – that I’m more than happy with – is Hoyte Van Hoytema, who has done some of the best looking cinema of recent years (e.g. Her, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Let the Right One In).

Next on the list is actors. Let’s just say my attention is garnered! Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw (returning as Q), Ralph Fiennes (spoiler character), Dave Bautista, Léa Seydoux, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) and Albert Finney.

So yeah, I’m usually not that all caring about the next Bond film, but this one jut jumped up pretty high on my list of must sees in 2015. What do you guys think of all the news dropping today?



Blu-Ray Review: Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages

Director: D.W. Griffith
Screenplay: D.W. Griffith, Anita Loos, Hettie Grey Baker, Tod Browning, Mary H. O’Connor, Frank E. Woods
Starring: Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, Constance Talmadge, Alfred Paget, Miriam Cooper, Margery Wilson
Producer: D.W. Griffith
Country: USA
Running Time: 168 min
Year: 1916
BBFC Certificate: PG

My initial introduction to the work of D.W. Griffith didn’t go down too well. In the middle of last year I sat down to watch his controversial classic The Birth of a Nation and I did not enjoy the experience. Not only was the film uncomfortably offensive (which I was expecting), but I found the first half incredibly tedious. It was clearly a work of great importance, but I found it a real chore to watch. So when I was offered the chance to review his epic follow up, Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages, I almost turned it down. However, my desire to work my way through the classics crept in and after enjoying a run of excellent silent films over the last couple of months I decided to take the plunge.

Through groundbreaking intercutting techniques, Intolerance tells four stories of love struggling through intolerance of various forms in different eras and locations. The earliest is set in ancient Babylon, where a free-spirited mountain girl fights for her prince amongst a time of religious rivalry. The next shows a few scenes from the later life of Jesus Christ when the Pharisees condemned him. Another shorter section is set in 1572, following a doomed relationship during the build up to St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris. The final and most extensive section (alongside the one in Babylon) is set in the present day (1916), where social reformers make the lives of a young couple increasingly more difficult.

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