Friday One Sheet: Diminuendo

H ere is a simple, but eye-catching poster for a shoe-string A.I. picture, Diminuendo. Someone thought it would be a good idea to use the smallest typesetting possible, and drop the weird tagline, “Even silence can be broken.” (Of course silence can be broken!) on the simulacrum’s cheek. There is so much negative space here, it seems like a strange choice. Well, so is the casting. Director Bryn Pryor who does 21st century Corman kind of stuff like #iKillr and Cowboys & Engines, as well as a fair number of porn films, has assembled Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Leah Cairns (Interstellar), Gigi Edgley (Farscape) and male porn star James Deen (who was pretty solid in The Canyon). Make of that what you will, but it’s really hard to read their names, if that is the aim. The poster was designed by MOTTO, who also did much of the designs for Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge

I am uncertain whether or not this poster will appear in cinema lobbies, or the film end up at a theatre Near You, but if it did, despite its flaws, you would probably look twice, and this is more than the effect of more expensively mounted one-sheet campaigns. So kudos for that.

Trailer: I, Olga Hepnarová

An interesting companion piece to Antonio Campos’ Christine, insofar as if you are aware of the character at the heart of the matter, cannot help but be ‘waiting’ for the inevitable in I, Olga Hepnarová. Likewise, here, it is the lead performance makes the queasy journey worthwhile. Michalina Olszanska (The Lure) essays a portrait of the 22-year-old mass murderer Olga Hepnarová, who was the last person executed by the Czechoslovakian government in 1973 for driving her delivery truck through a crowded sidewalk in Prague.

Presented in stark monochrome, it is a very uncomfortable movie about the effects of bullying (by her peers, by her family, by the state) and particular state of mental health – two subjects that are as relevant today as they were in the 1970s. I quite liked the film when I caught it at Fantasia, as difficult as it was to watch (and less than a week after a similar incident occurred in Nice, no less).

Also, man, that still above is very reminiscent of Michael Haneke, which is kind of the head-space one can easily occupy while watching this trailer. The film is being theatrically released in a few US markets by indie outfit Strand on March 24, 2017.

Blu-Ray Review: The Creeping Garden

Directors: Tim Grabham, Jasper Sharp
Starring: Mark Pagnell, Heather Barnett, Bryn Dentinger
Country: UK
Running Time: 84 min
Year: 2014
BBFC Certificate: E


Although they’re both documentaries, I couldn’t have picked a more different film than The Creeping Garden to follow up Gleeson to watch and review. Where the latter was a moving, very human film made up from raw, home movie style footage, The Creeping Garden is an unusual, cerebral and stylish affair. As such it was a bit of a shock to the system, and I still haven’t quite settled my thoughts on it in my mind. I’ll give it a go here though as I write my review.

Co-directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp (who I’ve met a couple of times through a festival I help organise), The Creeping Garden is a documentary that explores the study of plasmodial slime mould. It sounds like an unusual and dull subject for a feature length documentary, but although I’d agree that it’s unusual, there’s more to slime moulds than you might imagine. Although they look like and were originally classified as fungi, they are in fact organisms which can move, eat and have a surprising level of intelligence for their appearance.

The film interviews and looks at the work of a number of scientists, amateur enthusiasts, musicians and artists who all deal with or take inspiration from slime moulds. As such, the film is almost about them as much as it is about slime moulds. A little like Room 237, part of the hook of the film is how unusual the work is from this incredibly niche group of people and how deeply they delve into it. The studies here are less crackpot than those of Room 237 though of course, so the filmmakers are in no way poking fun at or exploiting the strange habits of these slime mould experts. In fact Grabham and Sharp seem as interested and obsessed as they are, as the camera thrives on shots of the organisms.

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Review: Gleason

Director: J. Clay Tweel
Screenplay: J. Clay Tweel
Starring: Steve Gleason, Michel Varisco-Gleason, Mike Gleason, Scott Fujita
Country: USA
Running Time: 110 min
Year: 2016
BBFC Certificate: 15


About a year ago I guested on the LAMBcast for one of their Roll Your Own Top 5 episodes and I presented my list of the ‘Top 5 Films to Make a Grown Man Cry’. It consisted of five films I found particularly emotional, spurred on by the fact that since becoming a father three years ago I’ve found myself crying during films a lot more than I used to. Since making that list I haven’t got any less soft, but I have seen a couple of films that would easily muscle their way onto it. One was A Monster Calls, which had the whole cinema sniffling away from start to finish, and the other was this, J. Clay Tweel’s documentary Gleason.

Gleason tells the story of Steve Gleason, a former professional American football player who found fame for blocking a punt in the team’s first home game after Hurricane Katrina, a game that became a symbol of recovery in New Orleans. In 2011, a couple of years after he retired from playing professionally, Steve was diagnosed with having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a brutal disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. This results in difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing, meaning that sufferers’ life expectancy is usually around only 2-5 years.

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Review: Bitter Harvest

In between the two World Wars, the then nascent Soviet Union, in a barbarous act of mismanaged nation building, starved north of seven million Ukrainians to death, all the while violently appropriating the land and the crops from the ‘bread basket of Europe.’

Unquestionably, The Holocaust has received the lion’s share of cinema treatments when it comes to mid-20th century genocide, but to the best of my knowledge, Bitter Harvest is the first English language take on Holodomar. For such a monumentally horrific moment in history, the story of that brutal period of famine deserves a better telling than this clumsy, cluttered affair.

Hollywood (and the many Canadian film efforts that are often caught in its gravitational orbit) is very good at taking national crises and lathering on a mushy romance for the sake of butts in seats. From Pearl Harbor to Passchendaele, handsome, misguided attempts at turning history lessons into callow entertainment abound. (The weird irony is that with few large exceptions – Titanic – those butts rarely find those seats.)

Bitter Harvest is the latest casualty of this kind of folly. it’s a Canadian production with a predominantly British cast about a significant (and unimaginably horrific) moment in Ukrainian history. Director George Mendeluk, a 30-year veteran of directing for television, from episodes of Miami Vice to The Highlander: The Series), has spent the last decade almost exclusively making tele-movies. Here, it seems he cannot shake the more blunt – make sure the slowest customer ‘gets it’ – storytelling of the Lifetime genre.

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Cinecast Episode 474 – Logan, Get Out!

Two big movies getting rave(!) reviews from critics. Andrew and Kurt are less than enthused for at least one of them. I believe the phrase “masterpiece” is being thrown around alot these days for films that will mostly be forgotten in six months. Get Out manages to shake up the mold a little bit and there is some discussion to be had there. But the adoration for Logan is pure bafflement on both sides of the table. Kurt decides the American Western tie-in is a good opportunity to revisit the classic Shane. Andrew takes the race card to a different level with American History X. Also The HBO series keep on coming as well as a Zemeckis throwback from the turn of the millennium. This is a dusty car ride of a Cinecast that, unlike Logan, has a destination and a purpose.

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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After the Credits Episode 205: March Preview

It’s Belle. It’s really BELLE!

Summer is officially here. Seriously? It’s still snowing in Vancouver!

Who cares about the weather. What’s really important is the fact that as far as Hollywood is concerned, summer movie season is here.

Join us this week as Dale (Letterboxd) and I (Letterboxd) delve into the huge list of releases this month. And we mean huge. From big titles like Logan (see it!) to smaller titles like Suntan, March is looking mighty fine.

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Friday One Sheet: Like Me

SXSW is coming, and since it is a slow and uninteresting week in posters this week, I thought I would highlight this eye-catching design for Glass Eye Pix’s colourful indie drama, Like Me. Imbued with a bunch of jarring elements, palm trees with Christmas lights, a vintage car on a beach, a white mouse on the shoulder of (presumably) the protagonist (who is subtly sporting a gun as well). I know very little about the film, but the poster posits that I should check it out. I look forward from the reports from the festival next week.

Review: Logan

Director: James Mangold (Cop Land, Girl Interrupted, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine)
Screenplay: Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
Starring: Doris Morgado, Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Patrick Stewart, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 135 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found at Quiet Earth

 


At this point, the superhero genre has devolved into a yearly battle for delivering ever-more bombastic movies. Sometimes they have interesting stories but mostly it’s about big action sequences smashed between some quirky dialog and maybe an inkling of story. Some of these movies are more fun to watch than others but of the comic book adaptations of the last few years, the most interesting work is being done on the small screen – until now.

The marketing suggested that Logan, director James Mangold’s second Wolverine movie, might be in a different class than the rest and this time, the marketing didn’t lie.

This superhero/action/western hybrid unfolds in 2029. In this future, Logan is aging, healing slower than before and caring for Charles Xavier. Their not-so-peaceful living arrangement is up-ended even further when Logan is approached by a woman who wants him to take a little girl named Laura to South Dakota. That meeting sets rolling a whole load of trouble in the form of Donald Pierce, Dr. Rice and an army of mercenaries determined to get their hands on the girl at any cost.
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Trailer: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2

A new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, means a new 1970s pop-rock collection of song, and that is led off here with Fleetwood Mac. All of showcased here, including a lot more of the effortlessly effective humour from James Gunn’s direction. Oh, and Kurt Russell. This particular corner of the Marvel universe is the only one I bother with, because it more than the rest of the studio’s franchise building efforts feel beholden to corporate sameness. Guardians of the Galaxy still feels like it has its own personality, and some directorial auteurism, propelling it along.

Trailer: Alien Covenant

Let the franchise pandering continue with the latest trailer for Prometheus Sequel, or just another Alien movie, Alien: Covenant. Clearly the trailer is highlighting a lot of classic tropes of the ever increasing franchise of xenomorph films, but the trailer does highlight an interesting dynamic across all these varied films, that of the community on the ship. The first Alien movie was blue-collar workers in space, and the second film was gung-ho marines, the third movie was uneasy inmates and the fourth one was, ahem, Firefly. Prometheus was an uneasy collection of corporate mercenaries, kind of 2nd and 3rd string of competence (hence all the dumb mistakes they make, which people relentless write off as ‘plot holes’ or ‘bad writing’.)

Covenant has the crew organized as romantic couples, settlers for a new world. Since sex and violence and inter-species rape has always been churning in this franchise, I’m actually quite curious to see how this plays out. But at the moment, yes, all the ‘give them what we think they want’ aspects of the Covenant marketing campaign have been putting up a lot of red flags.

Also, the Australian and New Zealand locations sure look sweet here.