In an ongoing effort to share the art of video essays (and possibly in the future, make a couple of our own) we bring you the Sunday afternoon video essay. Here is a nice summation, from Rishi Kaneria, of how to shoot objects of significance and how they function in visual storytelling. Enjoy!
Director: Burr Steers (17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud)
Novel: Jane Austen (kinda), Seth Grahame-Smith (kinda)
Producers: Marc Butan, Sean McKittrick, Brian Oliver, Natalie Portman, Annette Savitch, Allison Shearmur, Tyler Thompson
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Matt Smith
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 108 min.
I don’t understand the appeal of Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” As a fan of Austen, I could never quite figure out why anyone would feel the need to mix the literary classic with the zombie apocalypse. If the goal was simply to turn Lizzie Bennet into a more independent woman, then Grahame-Smith missed the point of Austen’s novel. But alas, I digress.
I had no interest in the book and just as little in the upcoming adaptation. And then the trailer happened. For a moment, I allowed myself a modicum of excitement: this might actually work!
“Squint! Squint against the grandeur!” so the film director can be heard offscreen during a series of dailies, which unspool in a Hollywood Studio screening room midway through Hail, Caesar! If the Coen Brothers did not definitively poke their finger in the eye of the crass factory of dreams that is tinsel town in Barton Fink, they take another look, albeit a more broader and effervescent one, at the foibles of making pictures in the late 1940s. Considering they use the same fictional studio, Capitol Pictures (“Where the writer is king!”) one might think of their latest as the loosest of sequels to that 1991 Cannes winning film. More interestingly, Hail, Caesar! is a playfully spiteful grab-bag of in-jokes in old Hollywood and the own eclectic filmography.
Josh Brolin is Eddie Mannix, Capitol Pictures’ executive producer, problem solver, and media fixer, a character loosely based on the real man of the same name, who served the same function for MGM (and was thought to be complicit in the death of the original on-screen Superman, George Reeves.) The Coen’s give us an exceptionally busy 27 hours in the life of Mannix, the span of time between two Catholic confessions, where the devoutly converted catholic obsesses over the minutiae of his marriage and personal life, while compartmentalizing, and fully omitting, the myriad of sins of his profession.
A job that entails supervising four movies being shot on the studio lot, all plagued by problems in their own unique ways. The sword-and-sandals, ‘Jesus Picture’ star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, sillier than ever – an injoke reminiscent of Steve Buscemi’s ever decreasing mortal remains in the Coenography) is missing, and the gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton, both underused), the sailor tap-dancing musical has an alarming case of closeted gayness (and a wonderful cameo from the Highlander frenchman, Christopher Lambert), the Busby Berkeley mermaid picture has a star (Scarlett Johannson, in a glorious Noo Yawk accent) and whose fish tail is getting more ill-fitting by the hour due to a pregnancy scandal about to break, and a Euro-flavoured drawing-room melodrama has been saddled with an aw-shucks singing cowboy leading man (Alden Ehrenreich in a breakout performance) who is far, far out of his depth.
Mannix navigates this shifting sea of apocalyptic problems (at one point, a mushroom cloud is presented on screen in the manner of The Hudsucker Proxies‘ Hula-Hoop), strung together by the Coens with their penchant for noir-ish plots, with an almost savant-like talent that is the antithesis of both the Dude, Jeff Bridges’ boozy and drugged flailing in The Big Lebowski, or Billy Bob Throton’s Ed Crane, the quietly ambitious Barber in The Man Who Wasn’t There. Whitlock’s kidnapping is abetted by both by a spiked drink and a dry cleaning truck, so they are clearly nodding to both, while demonstrating there are so many orthogonal directions to take neo-noir that the surface has only been scratched in the past 75 years.
It is all about the colour palette with this eye-grabbing key art for indie horror picture, Ava’s Possessions, a film I regret missing when it played last years Fantasia Film Festival (had it had this poster, I might have made time for it!) With its vibrant teal gradient, blood red martini and pale skin tones each making the other stand out a little further. The pink neon titles further evoke the bar-fly allusions that go right along with the tagline. Superb!
Kurt Halfyard & Nat Almirall swap their togas for khakis, jackets, the occasional blue turtleneck, and suave buttons to bring you another microcast, this time focusing on the celebrated, allegorical, and surreal 1967 series The Prisoner.
Conceived by the enigmatic Patrick McGoohan, “The Prisoner” follows a British ex-spy who ‘privately, personally, and by hand’ resigns his post only to be gassed and spirited to a bizarre Village, a place where all the other peculiar inhabitants are identified by numbers and overseen by an ominous, but ever revolving Number 2. As the spy, now renamed Number 6, seeks an escape, Number 2, ‘by hook or by crook,’ attempts to uncover the reason for Number 6’s resignation.
Join Numbers K & N as they break down each of the 17 episodes, unraveling the metaphors, tracking Number 6 on the Dickishness Behavior Scale, engaging in a bit of the ultra passive-aggressiveness, and lavishing praise on the monolithic Leo McKern.
What do the Cold War, Lewis Carroll, Gay Barry Goldwater, and Lava Lamps(tm) have in common? What is the best way to escape from being tied to a chair? How do you make a Village Iced Tea? And what is up with those umbrellas? Listen in, and then you will know everything…
The first three episodes are available now for streaming (see table of contents below) or in the RowThree podcast feed to send to whatever listening device you prefer:
Welcome to the AFTER THE HYPE BEST of 2015 episode. Bryan, Jon, and Ryan sit down and take some calls from the guys over at DEUS EX COMICA, special guest JEFF, and even SPECIALER guest – THE HADUKEN FROM HOBOKEN HIMSELF – NICK FRIEDEMANN. The episode is jam-packed with 2015 goodness so get to listening!
Sooooo we sort of missed December due to the festival craziness and then January… well, that was all my fault. That’s what a week of holidays will do to you. It made my brain so mushy I forgot that we were supposed to record and then regular January stuff happened and time just vanished!
It was probably for the best. January at the movies looked absolutely terrible. Good news is, Coleen, Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) are back just in time for some of the good stuff to start our year of podcasting off right!
Other stuff mentioned this episode:
– Entrance to the Salmar Theatre in Salmon Arm BC:
– Colleen and her swanky new mic:
Was it the weather or is it the
shitty inconvenient way films are released in theaters these days? Or does it depend on your geography or disposition? Or a little bit of everything? In short, we didn’t get to the “main releases” (of boats in storms or feminist westerns) this week and instead opted for some VOD experimentation with Vincent Cassell in Partisan. A solid film with problems is the verdict. The Watch List is fairly eclectic this week but a whole lotta witchin’ going on. From Winona Ryder to Vin Diesel, we cover the gamut. Andrew and Kurt also spend some time in the kitchen cooking up some spaghetti westerns before heading to Southeast Asia for a thriller and some kung-fu. Like a snake in the eagle’s shadow, there is no escape for the good the bad or the ugly; there most certainly will be blood inside Llewyn Davis.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
It is trailer day here at Rowthree, and here we have Don Cheadle’s biopic of Jazz (er, social music) legend Miles Davis, which is seems to be retold as a heightened story of cool, crime and a wee bit of heist excitement. Not your run of the mill biopic, for sure, and Cheadle is on double duty as both the star and the director (his debut film after his adaption of Elmore Leonard’s Tishomingo Blues fell through a decade ago).
Miles Ahead apparently did not set the New York Film festival on fire when it debuted there last October, but it certainly looks like a fun time at the movies. Any movie where Ewan MacGregor is sucker-punched in the face can’t be all that bad. It gets a release via Sony Pictures in a couple months on April Fool’s Day.