Trailer: Young Ones

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A few days ago, Kurt posted the trailer to an upcoming sci-fi film starring Antonio Banderas titled Automata. It looked interesting and slick and gritty and, most importantly, it was filmed from an original screenplay (even if the story itself didn’t seem all that original).

Today comes the trailer for another original sci-fi film which appears even grittier. From writer-director Jake Paltrow (brother of Gwyneth), it’s titled Young Ones and I’m immediately sold by two points: its stars Michael Shannon and it’s described as a sci-fi western. From Rotten Tomatoes:

YOUNG ONES is set in a near future when water has become the most precious and dwindling resource on the planet … The land has withered into something wretched. The dust has settled on a lonely, barren planet. The hardened survivors of the loss of Earth’s precious resources scrape and struggle. … From writer/director Jake Paltrow comes a futuristic western, told in three chapters, which inventively layers Greek tragedy over an ethereal narrative that’s steeped deeply in the values of the American West.

Andrew O’Hehir of Salon described it as part Mad Max and part John Ford western. Even Geoff Berkshire of Variety, who was critical of the film, wrote that it was like a “cinematic graphic novel” and could likely gain a cult following, but had no chances of commercially succeeding.

I’m sold.

Young Ones also co-stars Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (who you might remember as the son from The Road). It drops into limited U.S. theaters on October 17, 2014.

Trailer: Sonic Highways

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Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is no stranger to filmmaking. Besides all of his band’s rather cinematic music videos, last year, Grohl directed the superb documentary Sound City (which still proudly boasts a 100% rating on on Rotten Tomatoes) about the San Fernando Valley recording studio that rocked the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Metallica and Nirvana. While it may have gone relatively unseen and won few awards, it’s unquestionably one of the greatest rock documentaries to ever grace the screen.

This year, the Grohl-led Foo Fighters have collaborated with HBO on a television show, titled Sonic Highways (like their upcoming album), that will chronicle their creation of their upcoming LP which was recorded in eight different recording studios in eight different American cities (Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, DC).

As described by Rolling Stone, Grohl says of the show and album: “This isn’t just the making of our most ambitious album. This is a love letter to the history of American music.”

Sonic Highways debuts on HBO on October 17, 2014.

Review: Mission Blue

I am never one to say no to beautifully lit underwater photography, either in grainy 16 mm or pristine HD. Here there is plenty, but the most compelling image in activist/biopic documentary, Mission Blue, is that of a lone plastic lawn chair, sparsely illuminated on the ocean floor. It is a bit of detritus found thousands of miles from land and a reminder that the consequences of our civilization of convenience and plenty, range far. This is hardly news to you, savvy filmgoer and documentary enthusiast, and director Fisher Stevens (with Robert Nixon) are aware that the audience for their film knows the ocean has been used by humanity as a vast sewer.

Thus, the intent of their documentary is to frame things in a new perspective. That is to say, collectively, we have made this colossal mess over pretty much a single lifespan. Take a minute to think about that. With no irony whatsoever, the example span, writ large, is the accomplished Marine Biologist Sylvia Earle, celebrity scientist since the 1960s who is now pushing 80 and still full of life and passion for preservation of earth and memory. But things have changed pretty dramatically since she dipped her toe into the Gulf of Mexico as a child.

Stevens, if you recall, has an Oscar for producing another piece of aquatic activism, 2010’s The Cove, and here he spent three years with Earle, in wetsuits, diving off The Galapagos Islands, on the lecture circuit with bottled water, and in her memories – as a child, spouse (three husbands), mother, numerous expeditions to untouched parts of the world, and even a brief time as government bureaucrat managing The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mission Blue again confirms Werner Herzog’s musing that exploring the deep oceans is analogous to exploring the stars. How deep is the ocean, how high is the sky. The difference is that in our terrestrial big blue, there are teeming amounts of ‘alien’ lifeforms, glowing and gracefully moving; things that make James Cameron’s chemiluminescent CGI recreations in Avatar kindergarten stuff by comparison. Cameron and Earle respectfully tussled over who got to ride in his deep diving submersible to the bottom of the Mariana Trench a few years ago. Earle broke deep diving records via JIM suit in the 1970s, earlier, she was of the first people to live for a lengthy period of time in an underwater habitat. She lobbied the ‘king of the world’ to get his his tall skinny ass out of his own gear, and give her a shot at going deeper.

She burned through several marriages, had a bunch of kids, and generally shattered any 1950s or 60s notion of the domestic female, becoming a celebrated science icon along the way. She reflects on the difficult of the balancing act for family, and it’s not hard to scale up the notion to how we manage the planet. Mistakes were made, and things chug along, older, more frail, but still hanging in and carrying on. It is a major plus to have the Earle do the bulk of the films voice-over; she is as complex and compelling a human being as one would expect.

She can say, “I saw the before. I saw the after,” when it comes to the death of so many of the worlds great coral reefs and other vibrant parts of the planets hidden depths. The massive depletion of so many types of species of fish (Cod, Menhaden and even the mighty and feared shark) in service of feeding, often indulging, a human population that ballooned from two billion to seven billion people, happened over her lifetime.

How many sharks have people killed compared to how many people sharks have killed? A million to one ratio, most likely. And that is just fishing for the fins that are craved so much in Chinese soups. This does not even count all the dead zones in the ocean we’ve caused in the past 50 years: not just dumping garbage, or Exxon Valdez oil-disasters, these are almost minor compared to the run-off of farming fertilizer carried in the water table and rivers into the oceans which plays holy hell with the eco-system. If the oceans are the planets temperature regulations system, climate change is not just carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is also the barren spaces we’ve wrought; a chair with a view of the annexation of Earth’s very own ‘Galaxy of Life.’

OK, one can get a little depressed about this stuff, and so, like many activists docs, Mission Blue exits on a hopeful note. The eponymous organization to designate the equivalent of 20% of the ocean space as aquatic National Parks. (No drilling, no dumping, no hunting.) A fifth of the ocean allowed a breather to recover from the burden the last 100 years of human history seems reasonable and sane.

Whether or not you find this documentary didactic or obvious (humans muck up nature, it’s what we do) or even a commercial for Earle’s Mission Blue project, this does not change the fact that it is all clearly and compellingly presented. The discarded lawn chair is a source for almost a paralyzing melancholy, but we can just pick the damn thing up and let nature fix herself.

Mission Blue available exclusively on Netflix, and the trailer is below:

Friday One Sheet: Kite

The advance reviews for this live action version of the cult-anime movie may be terrible, but I love the simpliclity of the key hart here. Emphasize the pink hair, the title card and the blood (although inexplicably, the blood to the left of India Eisley’s shoulder is black for some reason.) It is a striking enough image with the ever present fire-arm, a mandatory accessory on nearly all action movie posters.

Cinecast Episode 364 – Fetishizing the Pen

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may find yourself in the seats of the third row. And you may ask yourself, well…How did I get here? We ask ourselves the same questions. With no main review this week, we’re stuck with our home viewings and The Talking Heads. Which is plenty when you consider the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, John Turturro, Fisher Stevens and James Cameron. With nothing to talk about, it’s a mouthful folks (two, actually).

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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Teaser: The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

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The unconventionally animated film from Studio Ghibli, The Tale of Princess Kaguya will very likely be the last feature directed by either of two Studio Ghibli founders, in this case Isao Takahata. (Hayao Miyazaki’s eulogy-like came out last year.)

It played very, very well to Cannes, and will also be playing TIFF, and the couple Ghibli-philes that I know have both declared it a masterpiece. In light of it coming to North American soil, here is the dialogue free teaser-trailer for Anglophones. Have a look.

Trailer: Autómata

Automata

Ah, Millennium Entertainment, the 21st century Golan-Globus, only with slightly bigger budgets and lots and always a movie star at the centre. This is the company that brought us 88 Minutes, Trespass, and The Expendables franchise. Occasionally it works out for them, as in Bad Lieutenant: New Orleans or The Paperboy, but mostly it is easy, marketable but derivative and forgettable stuff without an auteur director at the helm.

Spanish produced science fiction action/empathy flick Autómata looks like a mix of I, Robot and Elysium with a dash of Cherry 2000, considering the presence of Melanie Griffith as a robot scientist. Robert Forster and Dylan McDermott are here for some support work (along with the voice of Javier Bardem).

Animator and Visual Effects-man Gabe Ibáñez follows up his mystery thriller, Hierro.

Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation, routinely investigates the case of manipulating a robot. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Review: Wet Behind the Ears

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Director: Sloan Copeland (Unreal, Synapse)
Writers: Sloan Copeland
Producers: Sloan Copeland, Jessica Piervicenti, Benjamin Zimbric
Starring: Margaret Keane Williams, Jessica Piervicenti, Doug Roland, Michael Giese
MPAA Rating: NA
Running time: 92 min.


The period of time after college can be hard. For most people, it means leaving campus or leaving home and looking for work but for some that search for the perfect job could prove difficult. Such is the case with Samantha, a keen young woman who is having trouble starting her life. A recent grad, she’s made plans to move in with her friend Vicky in the city but as the date of their move-in approaches, it becomes clear that Sam isn’t going to have the money to pay for her half of the rent since she’s unable to find a job. After a number of failed attempts to get herself hired, Sam is forced to leaver her bestie to search for a new roomie while Sam, deflated, moves back into her old room at her parent’s place in the burbs until she can get a job.

The thing about Wet Behind the Ears is that unlike most of its counterparts, it can’t rely on name actors to get attention and must instead rely on quality and though it shows its budget constraints around the edges, writer/director Sloan Copeland’s third feature is far more interesting than the set dressings.

Relative newcomer Margaret Keane Williams sparkles as Sam, the young and naïve college grad who can’t find work. Williams carries the movie and though she has some good supporting help, namely Jessica Piervicenti as her best friend Vicky and Doug Roland as Dean, an old high school friend, the rest of the supporting cast is mostly laughably bad. Williams often shares scenes with folks who seem to have been pulled off the street and asked to memorize and recite some lines on queue which deflates a couple of scenes but Williams keeps it together, managing to salvage the occasionally awkward and even a couple of truly terrible moments.

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