Cinecast Episode 441 – Lust and Aimlessness

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Back on track with Shane Black. The boys are able to reconvene this week with not one, but two main theatrical reviews for your spoiler pleasure. We start it off this week with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in a good old fashioned buddy-cop, action/comedy The Nice Guys. It really ties the room together.

Next up is Yorgos Lanthimos’ first English language film, The Lobster. This one is a little bit more difficult to parse out. It stars one Colin Farrell and one Rachel Weiss among others; it is a twisted and comedic (deadpan?) look at love, relationships and dating in a world painted like only this particular director can portray. Kurt and Andrew attempt to hash out what it all means. Kurt revisits the glory days of Saturday morning cartoons and Andrew just wishes he had seven bowls of Captain’s Peanut Butter Crunch.

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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Blu-Ray Review: Victoria

Director: Sebastian Schipper
Based on a Story by: Sebastian Schipper, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Eike Frederik Schulz
Starring: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski
Country: Germany
Running Time: 138 min
Year: 2015
BBFC Certificate: 15


Hype can be a dangerous thing. When you hear too much praise for a film you’re almost destined to be disappointed. Very few films can live up to the expectations mounted through countless five star reviews and personal recommendations. Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria is one film I’d read several glowing reviews for and heard friends rave about surrounding its cinematic release here in the UK. With Curzon Artificial Eye releasing the film on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK, I got my hands on a screener to finally watch the film for myself and I can safely say it has lived up to my very high expectations (although I think I might have given the film 5 stars if I’d have watched it ‘cold’).

Victoria follows (quite literally) the titular character (Laia Costa), a young Spanish woman living in Berlin, as she leaves a nightclub and befriends Sonne (Frederick Lau), a ‘native’ Berliner. Blatantly flirting with her, Sonne shows her the after-club night life with his three male friends. Victoria is a fairly innocent ‘good’ girl, but these boys are wild and mischievous, breaking into cars and stealing beers. Victoria seems to enjoy joining them and embracing this ‘bad boy’ attitude, but as the crimes they’re involved in suddenly get much more serious, she realises she’s in too deep, but is forced to go along with it.

If you’ve read anything about this film I imagine you’re aware of the fact that the film is presented entirely as one long, unbroken shot. It seems to be the film’s main selling point, particularly as this is no ‘hidden’ cut job like Birdman. No digital trickery made this merely look like a one shot, real time experience. It was all done for real. Supposedly it took 3 attempts, but the crew eventually managed to keep everything working as it should for the fairly hefty running time of the film.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Firm (1989)

Director: Alan Clarke
Screenplay: Al Hunter
Starring: Gary Oldman, Lesley Manville, Philip Davis
Country: UK
Running Time: 67 min (broadcast version) 68 min (director’s cut)
Year: 1989
BBFC Certificate: 18


TV has been enjoying a new golden age over the last 10 years or so with a wealth of talent coming from and moving back to the format. There are plenty of classy, genuinely great series being produced around the world, from popular high budget HBO productions like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, to classy British offerings like Sherlock and slick Scandinavian crime sagas like The Killing. The TV movie however, still has some stigma attached to it. The more recent big TV events have all been longer format or at least mini-series. Few one-off features have made waves recently as not many seem to get made. I think too many people are of the mind that if a film is any good, why didn’t it get released in theatres or at least get a good home release before being streamed to our regular channels at no extra cost.

In Britain though, there was once a long tradition of classy feature length television drama. Known largely at the time as ‘television plays’, series such as Armchair Theatre and Play for Today, running from the 50’s until the 80’s, would present audiences with an original one off film/play in each ‘episode’. Two time Palme d’Or winner (as of yesterday) Ken Loach made a name for himself in this format with the 1966 television play Cathy Come Home and fellow Cannes favourite Mike Leigh also made a number of plays, including Abigail’s Party. The television play format fizzled out in the mid-eighties though as series became more popular.

Between 1985 and 1994, the BBC tried to keep the flame burning though, with Screen Two and Screen One, which brought back the idea of one-off original TV features, this time shot on film. Previously, television plays tended to be studio-shot affairs, more like live plays. One of the directors contributing to this series was Alan Clarke, who had made a number of controversial TV films and a couple of theatrical features since the mid to late 60’s. He died from cancer at only 54 years old but his last production was released on Screen Two, the football hooligan drama The Firm, which courted controversy again, but has held a strong reputation over the years and is now being released in a special collector’s edition Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK by the BFI, packaged along with another of Clarke’s controversial films, the short Elephant.

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Friday One Sheet: The Birth Of A Nation

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Sundance hit, and brilliant act of cultural re-appropriation, The Birth Of A Nation got a striking ‘sepia-flag’ styled poster in both still form, and (below) motion form. This is the first time I’ve heard the concept of a motion poster expressed as a ‘living poster.’ Not sure if that is a construct of the marketing department here, or if this is a wider change in language for an advertising concept that has yet to truly take off. Either way, this is perhaps the best execution of a motion poster to date.

Still form or ‘living’ form, both focus on how things go from a single act of rebellion or idealism to a full blown movement.

Mamo 448: Manbaby Boobytits

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Do you hear the slurping, mewling sounds of the internet fanboys roiling in disgust (once again) because women exist? It was hard not to get hit by the spray this week as the Cinema Massacre web site (!) achieved the seemingly impossible, and turned GHOSTBUSTERS into the most politicized film release of the year. We tackle the outrage, and then dovetail to this week’s other gender war, #toofemale.

After the Hype #140 – X-Men: The Last Stand Vs. Origins: Wolverine

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We’re joined by special guests Coy Jandreau and Elliot Campos to talk two of perhaps the worst X-Men films out there – X-MEN: THE LAST STAND & X-MEN: ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – all in celebration of hopefully NOT the worst X-Men film coming out! For our breakdown we make both Coy and Elliot take a film and give us the synopsis. The whole episode is so epic we had to run a little on the long side. Enjoy!

COY – Marvel Movie News | TWITTER | Many coffee shops in los angeles!
ELLIOT – TWITTER | Super Hero Sampler | Beyond School

 

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Trailer #2: Ghostbusters

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Less Kate McKinnon (sad-face), more ghosts (happy face). The new trailer continues the aspect of the marketers addressing the online imbroglio about gender (and concert stage diving in the 21st century). If you have not had the pleasure, it seems that conversation on the internet about this forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot quickly veers into mass hysteria; please keep it civil in the comments section, folks.

Trailer: Hell or High Water

I love a good modern western, be it No Country For Old Men or A History of Violence, films that take a lot of the themes of the genre and yet are set in modern times, with a contemporary look. Here we have Chris Pine and Ben Foster playing brothers with some financial problems they feel can be solved by robbing banks. Jeff Bridges plays the aging sheriff looking to get to the bottom of the mystery. It’s all soaked with honeyed cinematography, masculinity (facial hair, and crude language abound) and a fair amount of desperation. Nothing particularly original here, but the pleasure of this kind of movie is in the details.

Hell or High Water is written by Taylor Sheridan, fresh off Sicario, scored by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, and has a lot of pedigree for a simple story. Just the way I like it.

A story about the collision of the Old and New West, two brothers—Toby, a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner, a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger—come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the cross-hairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms.

Blu-Ray Review: The Last Command

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Screenplay: John F. Goodrich, Herman J. Mankiewicz (titles)
Based on a Story by: Josef von Sternberg, Lajos Biró
Starring: Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell
Country: USA
Running Time: 88 min
Year: 1928
BBFC Certificate: PG


Josef von Sternberg was a major player in late silent and early sound cinema. His popularity reached its peak with the hugely successful and acclaimed Blue Angel (which I reviewed here a few years ago – http://blueprintreview.co.uk/2013/01/the-blue-angel/). However, not long after this, some of the subsequent films he made with Angel’s star Dietrich failed at the box office and he also fell out with Ernst Lubitsch, then head of production at Paramount. So he lost control over his pictures and his career soon fizzled out. A number of Sternberg’s early films have been lost, but The Last Command, one of his breakthrough hits, remains and Eureka have felt fit to add it to their Masters of Cinema series.

The Last Command opens in Hollywood in 1928 where a successful Russian director, Leo Andreyev (William Powell), is trying to cast a film he’s making about the Russian revolution. When looking through a pile of head shots he comes across the face of Sergius Alexander (Emil Jannings). This elderly gent was actually a former Russian general so is perfect for the part and, as we learn through a lengthy flashback, crossed paths with Andreyev in the past, as the director used to be a revolutionary. The flashbacks also show that a woman tied their stories together, Andreyev’s lover, Natalie Dabrova (Evelyn Brent), who was also a revolutionary. Realising that the general was fond of her, Natalie seduced her way into his inner circle and plotted to kill him. However, the more time she spent with him, the more she sympathised with him and realised he loved his country as much as she did. So the film charts her dilemma before showing the audience what Andreyev has in store for his former enemy.

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