Trailer: Lucky

Happy 91st birthday Harry Dean Stanton! And the man keeps working, from his cameo in the Marvel Comic Universe, to reprising his part in the Twin-Peaks-verse (Fire Walk With Me) in Season 3. All those fine performances he gave to David Lynch over the years, here in this indie film Lucky, he gets to act along side Lync and get the rare starring role! Turtles, Ed Begly Jr., Tom Skerrit, Beth Grant, Ron Livingston and Barry Shabaka Henley also appear. This sun baked, crusty existential crisis (comedy) look marvelous, now can we talk about the bonus situation?


‘Lucky’ follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the quirky characters that inhabit his off the map desert town. Having out lived and out smoked all of his contemporaries, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself at the precipice of life, thrust into a journey of self exploration, leading towards that which is so often unattainable: enlightenment.

Friday One Sheet: Why Guns?

I am not meaning to pick on Atomic Blonde, a film I am very much looking forward to for both the amazing Charlize Theron and the impeccable camera work and fight choreography on display in the trailers. But take a moment at this poster as ask yourself does it really need a gun on display in it? Look closer. Now ask if it really needs an obviously photoshopped gun at an awkward angle. Wouldn’t the poster be better to showcase the movie star, the neon, the films title in a more minimalist way? I know marketing works best at a glance, not a deep closer look, but seriously, you almost get the lazy addition at a glance.

Putting guns on movie posters (and DVD/BLU-Ray box art) has been one of those time honoured traditions that is taken for a given that more people will buy or see your movie if violence and action are promised. But is this really the case? I am not aware of any exact research correlating the appearance of a fire-arm on the poster and box-office. I suspect just as many films bomb with the star holding a gun as not, but marketing puts them in the hands of the lead on the poster as a ‘just in case.’ It is often done really carelessly. Business Insider did a piece in 2016 on guns on posters and came to the conclusion in American wide release, 20% of all films have guns on the poster. That is not 20% of action films, or even 20% of ‘genre’ films, but everthing including period pieces, comedies, kids animated films, dramas, et cetera.

1 in 5!

If I may hazard a guess, it is likely that in action blockbusters it is more like 8 (or even 9) in 10. For a film like John Wick or The Expendables it makes sense to have a gun in the poster as the film is about assassins and soldiers on the warpath. It even makes sense in Atomic Blonde, which has been labelled sight-unseen as the ‘female John Wick.’ But does it HAVE to be there? Are there no smarter, better ways to make a movie desirable than without a gun? Particularly when you have to get a designer to retroactively smoosch one into the deign. See also: Robert Rodriguez’s vampire/heist comedy From Dusk Till Dawn. Or Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted which has Angelina Jolie branding a pistol in the most awkward way. Or the poster for Andrew Niccol’s In Time, where Amanda Seyfried looking longingly into Justin Timberlake’s eyes isn’t enough, she must be strangely holding a gun while doing so.

The Thailand poster might have used the original image to make their poster for In Time, although the rest of the photoshop colours are ugly, Seyfried is just lovingly resting her arm on Timberlake’s chest. Or maybe Thailand just don’t like guns. Take the poster for the American remake of Bangkok Dangerous, it looks like it is the exception (that proves the rule?) insofar as Nicolas Cage’s enormous hand is so awkward WITHOUT a gun.

In conclusion, maybe the world needs less lazy-photoshop, but part of good poster design involves demonstrating the idea or feeling of your movie without resorting to cliches (unless you are imploding them.)

Operation Net Neutrality

If you stopped by RowThree yesterday (and a lot of other sites around the free web) you might have gotten an alert saying you need to pay more to access the site; or maybe it was blocked all together. This was a world wide attempt to bring awareness to the very real threat of us losing our precious internet to the greedy ISPs and corporations. On July 12th, the web came together in a way it never has before to defend the free and open Internet.

Congress has already received more than 3 million emails and 100,000 calls. More than 1.7 million comments are on their way to the FCC (a new record for a single day). At Fight for the Future, the battle raged all day and it unfolded all over the net in real time. And more is coming…

As a small startup site ourselves, that potentially uses up quite a bit of bandwidth daily, with streaming videos and thousands of hours of podcast content, the fear of losing traffic because we can’t afford to compete with the big guys is of real concern to us and many other sites around the web – even some of the aforementioned big guys concur. We thank anyone and everyone who is doing their part to help retain net neutrality and keeping ISPs classified as common carriers under Title II. Thanks for your help, but the fight isn’t over. If you haven’t already and you live in the United States, be sure to pester your congressional representatives and let them know this is an important freedom/right of the citizen population.

This is not a democrats vs republicans thing. This is a fight that everyone who uses and cares about the internet should be involved with. For more information about Net Neutrality and why it is of utmost importance to everyone who uses the world wide web – either for personal or business purposes – here are a few places to visit:

Save the Internet
What you can do.

Cinecast Episode 490 – The Other Leg

An honored guest has arrived at our table. Despite being the enemy, let’s show him some of our southern hospitality shall we? Yes girls, Ryan McNeil from The Matinee has graced our table with his presence. With their interruptery nature, Kurt and Andrew will try not to cut him off at the legs while we look back at Don Siegel’s 1971 feature, The Beguiled. Simultaneously, and in true R3 multi-task fashion, we review Sofia Coppola’s 2017 feature, The Beguiled. It’s always fun to compare and contrast. From there, we hit The Watch List. Andrew is out as he’s been exploring the galaxy on his Xbox, but Ryan goes about as mainstream as you can get with the new Spider-Man, then does a 180 and digs right into early Olivier Assayas. Kurt drops by the Bong Joon-Ho marathon for some more Okja and Memories of Murder.

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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Film Review: Elite Force: Operation Mekong

Director: Dante Lam
Screenplay: Kang Kei Chu, Dante Lam, Siu Kwan Lau, Eric Lin, Wai Ching Tam
Starring: Eddie Peng, Hanyu Zhang, Carl Ng, Ken Lo, Jonathan Wu, Pawarith Monkolpisit
Country: China, Hong Kong
Running Time: 123 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: 15

Only yesterday, in my review of Westfront 1918 and Kameradschaft, I wrote about my love it or hate it relationship with war or true life stories on film, and what do you know, another one that touches on both comes along a day later.

Elite Force: Operation Mekong (a.k.a. Operation Mekong or to use its original Chinese title, Mei Gong he xing dong), is not a war story as such, but it sees an elite task force battle against a drug baron with so much force it feels like one. It’s based on the actual ‘Mekong River massacre’, which happened in 2011, and the ensuing anti-drug operation that followed. In the tragic event, two merchant ships were attacked on the Mekong River on the borders of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, in the Golden Triangle area (a place synonymous with the drugs trade), and the 13 Chinese crew members were murdered. In the film, the crew members are initially suspected of being involved in drug smuggling after 900,000 meth pills are found on the scene. However, an informer tells them otherwise and when the merchants’ bodies are found and they look to have been executed, a special Chinese task force is deployed to investigate and arrest the drug baron suspected of ordering the massacre, Naw Khar (Pawarith Monkolpisit).

This is one of those cases I discussed yesterday when it very much feels like the grim reality of the actual events have been amped up and glossed over to make an exciting piece of entertainment, rather than a sensitive or intelligent examination of them. However, I was fully prepared for this after reading a few reviews and knowing the film was being marketed as a balls to the wall action film. As such, I tried to ignore any issues of authenticity or sensitivity and sat down to enjoy some explosive violence, the likes of which Hollywood rarely delivers anymore but Asia has been dishing out for decades.

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Blu-Ray Review: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.

Director: Roy Rowland
Screenplay: Dr. Seuss, Allan Scott
Starring: Tommy Rettig, Peter Lind Hayes, Hans Conried, Mary Healy
Country: USA
Running Time: 89 min
Year: 1953
BBFC Certificate: U

I read a couple of bedtime stories to my kids every night and there’s nothing worse than a dull or insipid children’s book (particularly when you’re begged to read the same ones repeatedly), so I do my best to try and find books we can all enjoy. My go to author is Dr. Seuss (or, to use his real name, Theodor Seuss Geisel). His rhyming prose, complete with wacky made up words is a joy to read out loud and his illustrations are wonderfully unusual and imaginative. His work has had a troubled history on the big screen though. There are some classic animated adaptations (largely shorts), but very few live action ones. In fact only one was made before his death in 1991, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T., released back in 1953 when he wasn’t yet a household name. There might only be one because the special effects weren’t advanced enough before the turn of the millennium to capture Seuss’ wild imagination, but it might be largely down to the fact that Dr. T. was a huge commercial failure. It didn’t get much critical love at the time either and Seuss called the film a “debaculous fiasco”, omitting any mention of it in his official biography. So you get the feeling he didn’t let anyone make any live action features after it was released.

Over the years though, Dr. T. has been embraced as a bit of a cult classic and has since been seen in higher regard. As such, our friends at Powerhouse Films have seen fit to re-release the film on dual format Blu-Ray and DVD through their Indicator label. Being a big Dr. Seuss fan, I couldn’t resist requesting a copy to see whether or not it deserved this second life after being so cruelly rejected on its initial release.

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Blu-Ray Review: Westfront 1918 & Kameradschaft

War films are a genre I’m always a little wary of. On one hand, some of the best examples rank among my favourite films of all time (I’d put Apocalypse Now in my top 5 for instance). On the other hand, they’re a type of film that can really bother me if they’re flawed. I tend to think I’m a generally positive critic. I rarely give very low scores or write venomous reviews, but when I do, it’s often for a war film that’s rubbed me up the wrong way. I think this is because they’re usually based on actual events, so when a hackneyed genre cliché, insensitive patriotism, or some hammy acting crops up, it stands out as feeling ‘fake’, glossing over some complex, important and/or often horrific events. I feel the same about biopics and any other ‘based on a true story’ films too. When I’m reminded I’m watching a film merely ‘based’ on reality, it takes me out of the experience and can feel disrespectful to those involved in what’s being portrayed. In films I know are pure fiction I can turn a blind eye to cinematic cliches more easily.

So I’ve always got my guard up when watching war films or anything based on reality, but I decided to take a chance with this double set of GW Pabst films, the war movie Westfront 1918 and the film he made a year later, based around a mining disaster, Kameradschaft. Pabst is a director whose work I hadn’t delved into yet and Eureka’s Master of Cinema label never releases anything not worth watching, so I left my reservations at the door and took two journeys into the past.

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Friday One Sheet: 2017 Year of Pink

We are only halfway through the year, and there sure have been a lot of posters shaded pink. I noted this a few weeks ago when The Beguiled and Baby Driver, and I bring it up again because a LetterBoxd user, Matthew Buchanan, handily assembled a host of 2017 posters to underscore the point. Now I am sure with certain shades (Blue or Grey for instance) you can easily just grab a pile of posters in any year and infer that it was a banner year (pun intended) for a certain shade, but pink is an less than typical colour to do a poster with across the history of cinema, and the trend seems real. Even war films, like the latest Planet of the Apes feature got in on the action with bright pink trees providing the backdrop. Horror films, like Raw and the above Dead Shack, science fiction parables like Okja and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, gross out comedies like Rough Night and The Wedding Invitation, all genres seem represented in this trendy phase.

Blu-Ray Review: Terror in a Texas Town

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo (credited as Ben Perry)
Starring: Sterling Hayden, Nedrick Young, Sebastian Cabot, Carol Kelly, Victor Millan
Country: USA
Running Time: 81 min
Year: 1958
BBFC Certificate: PG

Terror in a Texas Town is a film I hadn’t heard of before to be honest, but whenever a western or film noir crops up on Blu-Ray or DVD I feel obliged to review it as I’m a fan of both genres. Well the press release for this described it as a cross between both genres, so I was even more interested than usual.

Terror in a Texas Town is a black and white B-movie western from the late 50s which sees a greedy hotel owner, McNeil (Sebastian Cabot), use brute force to drive local farmers off his land after pay-offs don’t work. Using the cruel gunman Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young) to do the legwork, McNeil’s latest target is the Swedish immigrant Sven Hansen (Ted Stanhope). Crale kills Sven, as he won’t budge, and it looks like McNeil has got what he wants, as he’s paid off the sheriff so the death won’t be investigated and Sven’s Mexican friend Mirada (Victor Millan), who witnessed the murder, is too scared to talk anyway. However, soon after, Sven’s son George (Sterling Hayden) arrives in town and claims the farm is now rightfully his, causing problems for McNeil. On top of this, he’s determined to find out who killed his father and bring him to justice. McNeil of course asks Crale to sort it out – initially without force, but after a while it looks like there’s no other way. Hansen struggles on, but he can’t get justice without the help of Mirada and the rest of the town, who are too frightened to stand up to the two tyrants, McNeil and Crale.

As that last sentence suggests, Terror in a Texas Town bears more than a passing resemblance to High Noon, which was released a few years prior to this. Like that film, Terror in a Texas Town plays out as an allegory of the anti-Communist witch hunts in America during the 50s, which is unsurprising given the writer was the famously blacklisted Dalton Trumbo (writing here under the pseudonym Ben Perry). The film’s hero and the man who has the information to bring down the villains are outsiders (George is Swedish and Mirada is Mexican), but they have to lose their fear to face them and need the support of the general public, who are also afraid to put a stop to it. This message becomes particularly clear in the final act and adds some weight to proceedings, after most of the rest of the film plays out like a typical revenge western. I’m not quite sure I see the noir aspects, although the film has a tough edge many 50s westerns don’t share.

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Cinecast Episode 489 – The Han Solo Moment

Being that it’s the holiday weekend in ‘merica as well as Maple Syrup-ville, the boys keep it focused on just two movies this week. The event picture that is Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver hit theaters this past week and we dive begrudgingly headlong into that mess. And land on somewhat of a more even keel with the straight-to-Netflix original film, Okja starring Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton – and yes, Paul Dano gets a beat down. Watch out for SPOILERS throughout this episode, but it’s a fun mid-morning around the coffee table.

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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